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Sting of the Dragon Master (When Taekwondo Strikes) 
Written by: on April 11th, 2009

Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, 1973
Director: Feng Huang
Writer: Feng Huang
Cast: Angela Mao, Jhoon Rhee, Billy Chan, Chi Chu Chin, Sammo Hung Kam-Bo, Kenji Kazama, Ching-Ying Lam, Andre Morgan, Wilson Tong, Lai Wang, Ing-Sik Whang, Anne Winton, Carter Wong, Biao Yuen

DVD released: November 22nd, 2007
Approximate running time: 91 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: IIB (Hong Kong)
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo Mandarin
Subtitles: English, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese
DVD Release: Joy Sales
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC (Hong Kong)
Retail Price: $9.99

Synopsis: During the Japanese occupation of Korea the local resistance comes to odds with the Japanese contingent. A French priest is captured and tortured near to death, then offered in exchange for the leader of the resistance.

The original trailer claims this to be “A 5 Star production from Golden Harvest” with “an international action cast” and “must see – don’t miss it”. Well, that’s no empty hype. The trailer also identifies each of the martial artists and their specialties. There are so many stars that they don’t even mention Sammo Hung, who has a substantial part as a vicious Japanese enforcer.

There are actually two female martial artists in the film. Top billed Angela Mao (Broken Oath) steals the show whenever she’s on screen, in one of her finest performances. Anne Winton makes her sole film appearance along with teacher and mentor Jhoon Rhee (‘Father of American Taekwondo’) in his only feature appearance, as well. Rhee is actually the star of the film and his fighting scenes are quite impressive. Anne Winton delivers some good kicks but mostly gets beat to a pulp and provides reaction shots while Angela and Rhee take on the master villains.

This is a rather bleak and serious drama and the Japanese are presented as purely evil. There’s virtually no humor, but there are numerous beatings, tortures, killings, and even a little whore mongering. The two youths cause all the trouble by repeatedly ignoring the sage advice of the elders (specifically Jhoon Rhee). Rebellious rebels?

The real star here is not even Angela, it’s the truly excellent martial arts choreography.  When Angela is attacked by a gang of thugs, they don’t stand around in a circle and attack her one by one. They impulsively charge with no master plan, but sometimes 4 or 5 at a time and all attacking with drawn swords. This actually plays to Angela’s advantage, since they hamper each other as she nimbly outmaneuvers them, and there are more than a few ‘friendly casualties’.

The DVD:

This is another winner from Joy Sales Legendary Collection. Widescreen anamorphic with Mandarin (stereo) and English subtitles. The print does show occasional damage, but is quite enjoyable with good colors and clarity. Appears to be uncut judging from the scene of naked breast fondling. Extras include the essential trailer and a photo gallery of lobby cards.

Martial arts films generally must choose between actors in lead roles and fudge the action, or martial arts masters in the leads and the narrative suffers. This film combines the best of both worlds and is an exceptional “5 star production from Golden Harvest”.

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