Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 26th, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, 1979
Director: Liu Chia-liang
Writer: Kuang Ni
Cast: Liu Chia-liang, Hou Hsiao, Kara Hui, Lieh Lo
DVD released: August 9th, 2011
Approximate running time: 115 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Mandarin, Dolby Digital Mono English
Subtitles: English, Spanish, English SDH
DVD Release: Arc Entertainment / Dragon Dynasty
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $14.99
Though countless martial arts films from the 1970’s were built up around a unique fighting style that was often derived from animals / insects. Very few of these can match the awe inspiring acrobatics on display in Mad Monkey Kung Fu. And while this film does a superb job setting up, who everyone is and what their motivations are? There is no doubt that it is its action set pieces which are the glue that holds everything together.
Narrative wise, while this film is nothing more than your standard revenged themed martial arts extravaganza, in which a fallen martial artist trains a pupil as the means to exact his vengeance. The way in which said story evolves is done in such a tongue and cheek way that there is never a dull or wasted moment. In fact it would be hard to imagine this film working as well as it does, if they more comedic aspects of this production were toned down or eliminated all together.
Not to be overlooked are the performances from the rest of the cast which include, Lieh Lo (King Boxer) in the role of the crime boss responsible for crippling Chen, Kara Hui (My Young Auntie) in the role of Chen’s sister and this film standout performance comes from Hou Hsiao (The Martial Club) in the role of Monkey, the young man who becomes Chen’s more than apt pupil. Ultimately Mad Monkey Kung Fu is a fast paced film that has a satisfying mix action and offbeat humor.
Dragon Dynasty presents Mad Monkey Kung Fu in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original ‘Shawscope’ aspect ratio. Once again Dragon Dynasty has done a very good job that is in line some of their better Shaw Brother’s transfers. Colors and flesh tones look accurate, black and contrast levels look consistently good and details look crisp. There are no problems with compression and the image remains stable throughout. Also this new transfer from Dragon Dynasty is proper NTSC transfer and not a standard conversion like the region 3 DVD release from IVL / Celestial.
This release comes with two audio options, a Dolby Digital Mono mix in Mandarin and a Dolby Digital Mono mix in English. Both audio mixes sound clear, clean and balanced throughout. With the main difference between the two being that the Mandarin audio mix sounds more robust, than the English audio mix, which at times lacks range. The English subtitles have many instances where they are different than what is being said during the English ‘dubbed’ audio mix and they do not appear to be ‘dub titles’.
Extras for this release are limited to a promo for titles available from Dragon Dynasty. Overall Mad Monkey Kung Fu gets a strong audio / video presentation from Dragon Dynasty.