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Showdown at the Cotton Mill 
Written by: on March 15th, 2006

Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong , 1978
Director: Wu Ma
Cast: Chi Kuan-Chun, Tan Tao-Liang, Tang Hsiao-Wen, Tan Tao-Kung

DVD released: February 14th, 2006
Approximate running time: 84 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono
DVD Release: BCI Eclipse/Rarescope
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $9.98

The Chin Lun house is responsible for killing Hu Hui-Chien’s father. Hu shows up at their Wu Tang School looking for revenge and after he kills a few members of the Chin Lun house he is then forced to go into hiding. The Chin Lun family desperately wants to capture and kill Hu so they kidnap his family. Hu always seems to be one step ahead of them as he is able to free his family and find them a secluded place where they cannot be found. The Chin Lun place spies in the Shaolin temple which Hu is associated with and they also hire assassin’s to kill him once he has been lured out into the open.

Most martial arts films have simple plots and it is their action sequences which often set them apart. The marital arts choreography in Showdown at the Cotton Mill is not only dynamic in its execution it is down right impressive. Each fight sequence is unique as each subsequent fight scene tops the next one. Showdown at the Cotton Mill is a worthy follow up to The Shaolin Avengers.

Hu is a lone wolf who stubbornly wants to take care of things on his own and even though he is just one man he is able to take out as many a dozen men without even breaking a sweat. One thing that had me scratching my head through out the film was how inept Hu pursuers where as they left him slip away time and again. The plot while not completely original does compliment the action sequences which make up the bulk of the film.

Overall If you like wall to wall action then you will thoroughly enjoy Showdown at the Cotton Mill, recommended.

The DVD:

Showdown at the Cotton Mill is presented in a letterboxed 2.35:1 aspect ratio that faithfully retains the films original aspect ratio. Many martial arts films and films made in Hong Kong in general have not been well preserved through the years with many films being lost forever. The box art for this release states that this film had been though lost for many years until a film print was recently discovered and used as the source for this releases transfer. Due to the rarity of this film it is not a surprise the shape the elements used for this transfer are in as there is noticeable print damage in varying degrees through out the films entire durations. Sure it would have been cool if better elements existed, still the transfer used here is most definitely watch able and none of its flaws ever get in the way of enjoying this spectacular film.

This release comes with one audio option the films original Mandarin language track which is presented in a Dolby Digital mono. There is some minor hiss and distortion, still nothing that ever becomes to distracting. The dialog is easy enough to hear as it blends in with the rest of the mix. Burnt in Chinese and English subtitles have been included for this release are a few times move too quick to read. There are also a few instances in which the background image is bright which makes reading the subtitles difficult. Overall the subs despite theirs flaws are easy enough to follow and understand what is going on.

Extras for this release include a photo gallery with stills and lobby card’s that plays like a featurette. Other extras include demonstration videos for “Tae Kwon Do” and “Five Style Fist”. Each of these clips runs about three minutes each. The main extra for this release is twelve minute interview with Chi Kuan-Chun (Hu) and Chin Kwo-Chung. A wide variety of subjects are covered in a mere twelve minutes like working for The Shaw Brothers and working with Chang Cheh who first non Shaw Brothers film was “Showdown at the Cotton Mill”. Rounding out the extras is a six minute promo reel that shows the various Rarescope titles slated for future release and there is also a mini DVD insert card that has images form the film.

Rarescope rescues rare marital arts films from obscurity by releasing them on DVD in their original aspect ratio with a few extras and at a more then affordable price.

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