Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 8th, 2014
Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, 1989
Directors: Terry Tong, Sammo Hung Kam-Bo
Writer: Kan-Cheung Tsang
Cast: Jing Chen, Adam Cheng, Jacky Cheung, Yamson Domingo, Hark-On Fung, Sammo Hung Kam-Bo, Philip Kwok, Ben Lam, Tony Chiu Wai Leung, Lieh Lo
BluRay released: April 22nd, 2014
Approximate running time: 96 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 Cantonese, Dolby Digital Stereo Cantonese
BluRay Release: Well Go USA
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $29.98
It that plot description has an air of familiarity to you that is because this film obviously borrows from Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai and to a lesser extent John Sturges, The Magnificent Seven (which is also a remake of the aforementioned Seven Samurai).
When it comes to remakes there are two well traversed paths, the first path try to remain faithful as much as possible to the original film or the second path try to expand upon the original idea and create something new, albeit something that retains the spirit of the original film. Unfortunately in the case of Seven Warriors it takes the first path and ultimately brings nothing new to the table.
Though credited to Terry Tong, there are a handful of sources which claim that Sammo Hung Kam-Bo (The Magnificent Butcher) was at least a co-director on this film. Sammo even has a cameo in the film’s opening sequence. As for his involvement in this film one need not look further then this films fight sequences which all bear strong resemblance to what one would expect from a film that was choreographed by Sammo.
Content wise this film can be broken into two halves, the first half which introduces everyone and what their motivations are? This first half is also weighed down by an abundance of humor. The second half of the film is where things really get going and it is during this half that the shift into a wall to wall action extravaganza.
As mentioned before the first half with its need for humor and knee deep in melodrama, most specially a series scenes that involve two male suitors who are vying for the same woman. The pacing early on is problematic as things to tend to drag from one moment to next during the first half. And though the pace picks up considerably by the second half of the film, all would have been lost had it not been for this film well executed action set pieces which dominate the latter half of the film.
Performance wise the cast do better than expected considering what they had to work with. This film’s standout performance goes to Lieh Lo (King boxer) in the role of Piu, the leader of a ruthless gang of bandits. On the flip side this film’s weakest performance comes from Tony Chiu Wai Leung (Hard Boiled, Bullet in the Head) in the role of Wong Way-Wu, a well dressed warrior who is more worried about hooking up then actually having to fight. Overall Seven Warriors is at best an average martial arts film that ultimately falls short due to its lack of own identity.
Seven Warriors comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Though the lighter scenes generally look crisp, the same can’t be said for darker scenes which also suffer from compression issues. Also colors in a handful of moments look a tad off. Overall like so many Hong Kong films from this era, the transfer looks plenty of room for improvement.
This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in Cantonese and a Dolby Digital Stereo mix in Cantonese. Outside of mild background noise, dialog comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced. Range wise don’t expect much as both audio mixes are limited in his area. Also included with this release are removable English subtitles.
Extras for this release are limited to a trailer for the film and trailers for others titles also available from Well Go USA. Overall Severn Warriors gets a serviceable audio / video presentation from Well Go USA.
Note: This film is also being released by Well Go USA on DVD.