Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 27th, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, January 1st, 1980
Director: Chin-Ku Lu
Writer: Kuang Ni
Cast: Kuan Tai Chen, Tak Yuen, Hsueh-erh Wen, Lung Wei Wang, Lau Chan, Miao Ching, Fai Wong Lam, Hok Nin Lau, Fat Tsui, Hang-Sheng Wu, Eddy Ko, Wan Han Cheng, Ching Ho Wang
DVD released: May 13th, 2008
Approximate running time: 96 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Letterboxed Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Mandarin, Dolby Digital Mono Cantonese, Dolby Digital 5.1 & Mono English
DVD Release: Media Blasters/Tokyo Shock
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.99
Synopsis: The Three Devils are a trio of diabolical kung fu masters who terrorize the locales. Everyone fears them except Jin Tien-yun whose superior martial arts skills threatens to end their reign of terror. The Three Devils gang up on Jin Tien-yun who narrowly escapes with his life. Jin Tien-yun fate is put in the hands of a clumsy young martial artist named Gao Jian who is constantly bullied b y his peers and his masters. Gao Jian takes Jin Tien-yun in and nurses the kung fu master back to full strength. Jin Tien-yun repay’s Gao Jian by teaching him everything things he knows about Kung Fu. The Three Devils have not forgotten about Jin Tien-yun and anyone who gets in their way with be killed.
The Master was directed by Chin-Ku Lu who’s other notable films as a director include Black Dragon and Death of Bruce Lee. Plot wise The Master is an engaging and well mapped out tale about revenge and humility. The acrobatic martial arts sequences are all well executed. The film opening sequence were Jin Tien-yun squares off against the Three Devils sets the bar pretty high for what is to follow. The only scene that comes close to matching the intensity of the opening fight scenes is the film’s final were Gao Jian takes on the Three Devils one by one.
The Gao Jian character is a nice change of pace from your standard revenge kung fu film protagonists. The evolution of this inept martial arts pupil into a full blown kung fu master is near flawless. Yuen Tak’s performance perfectly balances comedy. Other notable films that Yuen Tak has appeared in include My Young Auntie and Eight Diagram Pole Fighter. Yuen Tak’s fighting style and on screen persona is very similar to that of Jackie Chan.
Even though he is not the star of the film the most memorable performance is Kuan Tai Chen (Heroes Two, Crippled Avengers) as Jin Tien-yun. The film is filled with many colorful characters like the Three Devils and the two students who constantly bully Gao Jian. Ultimately The Master is a well rounded martial arts film that does a satisfying job blending action and plot.
The Master is presented in a letterboxed widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. The image looks clean and colorful. Unfortunately the non anamorphic image lacks the detail presents in other Tokyo Shock Shaw Brothers titles like Challenge of the Masters which is anamorphic. There is mild edge enhancement that is noticeable throughout.
This release comes with four audio options. There are Cantonese, Mandarin and English Dolby Digital mono mixes. The fourth audio mix is a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix in English. All around all the audio mixes are clear and evenly balanced. There are no problems with distortion or any other audio defects. Removable English subtitles that are error free, easy to read, follow and understand have been included.
Extras for this release include the original Cantonese trailer and newly created Cantonese and Mandarin trailers for The Master. Also included with this release is a stills gallery (20 images) and a textless version of the opening credits. The main extra for this release is a nine minute interview with Chen Kuan Tai speaks in his native language and English subtitles have been included. Chen Kuan Tai discusses his lawsuit with Boss Shaw and how he became involved in the film The Master. Rounding out the extras are trailers for other titles currently available on DVD from Tokyo Shock. Overall Tokyo Shock’s DVD release for The Master leaves a lot of room for improvement.