Written by: Michael Den Boer on May 28th, 2004
Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, 1983
Director: Sammo Hung Kam-Bo
Writers: Sammo Hung Kam-Bo, Jing Wong, Barry Wong
Cast: Biao Yuen, Ching-Ying Lam, Sammo Hung Kam-Bo , Hoi San Lee
DVD Released: May 25th, 2004
Approximate Running Time: 105 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: DTS Cantonese, Dolby Digital 5.1 Cantonese, DTS English, Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Subtitles: English, Chinese
DVD Release: 20th Century Fox
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $9.98
Synopsis: Leung Chang (Yuen Biao), is known through out the town of Fut Shan as The Street Brawler, because of his Kung Fu supremacy. He has learned several fighting techniques from various teachers and he frequently boasts about his conquests. Leung Chang has yet to find an opponent to match his skills until he meets Leung Yee Tai (Lam Ching Ying), an opera performer who plays a female character. Leung Yee Tai is a master of the Wing Chun based martial arts and he easily beats Leung Chang who is informed during the fight that his father has bribed every opponent to take a fall fearing Chang might get hurt. Soundly beaten Leung Chang lying in the arms of his assistant, Leung Yee Tai tells Leung Chang that his kung fu is really useless.
Leung Chang wants to learn Kung Fu from Leung Yee Tai, but Leung Yee Tai wants nothing to do with him. Leung Chang buys the opera troop and procures Chang a job as Ye Tai’s assistant in hopes that he will teach him the proper art of Wing Chun. When a fight breaks out during one of the opera performances Lord Ngai who is in the audience is impressed with Leung Yee Tai Wing Chun fighting skills and challenges him to a fight. Leung Yee Tai’s Kung FU is steadily beating Lord Ngai until Leung Yee Tai has an asthma attack and Lord Ngai offers to end the fight and resume it at another time. Lord Ngai and Leung Chang are more alike then they realize. Lord Ngai has hired assassins to watch out for his son and dispose of anyone who poses a threat. Eventually Leung Yee Tai with the assistance of his brother Wong Wah Bo (Sammo Hung Kam-Bo), agree to teach Leung Chang the art of Wing Chun. Leung Chang and Lord Ngai meet for the final showdown to see once and for all who the Kung Fu king is.
The Prodigal Son shows off the acrobatic prowess of Yuen Biao, still Lam Ching-Ying who plays Leung Yee Tai steals the show with his lightning fast Kung FU. The fight scenes are truly remarkable there were no wires, no special effects, just talented martial artists going hand-to-hand in extended, close-quarter bouts. Sammo Hung Kam-Bo direction is impressive in The Prodigal Son as his editing and staging of fight scenes is razor sharp in execution. Sammo Hung Kam-Bo doesn’t make an appearance as an actor until the second half of the film and once he appears on screen he dominates as he in injects humor into the mix. Another thing that sets The Prodigal Son apart from other Kung Fu movies is that all the main characters have flaws that make them human and add more depth to the story.
The Prodigal Son is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2:35:1 and it has been Anamorphic Enhanced. The colors are vivid and the flesh tones look healthy while blacks are rich in detail. There is some grain through out and overall this is an impressive restoration job from Fox.
There are four audio options on this DVD English or the original Cantonese DTS or Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround tracks with optional English or Chinese subtitles. The English track is the newer of the two tracks in is stronger and cleaner then the Cantonese track. The Cantonese was sourced from mono and there is only so much that can be done when remixing mono into DTS or 5.1 stereo giving the Cantonese track a soundtrack that isn’t as beefed up as the English Dub.
Extras include Two Prodigal Son trailers (original and new), bonus trailers for Operation Scorpio, Royal Warriors, Game of Death 2 and The Young Master. With an A-list cast, a solid story and the expert direction of Sammo Hung Kam-Bo The Prodigal Son is a Kung Fu classic with enough skillfully executed martial arts sequences to satisfy even the most hardcore Kung Fu fan. If you weren’t already a fan of Sammo Hung Kam-Bo and Biao Yuen you soon will be after watching The Prodigal Son.