Written by: Michael Den Boer on January 7th, 2007
Theatrical Release Dates: Hong Kong, 1972 (The Bloody Fists), Taiwan, 1982 (Moonlight Sword and Jade Lion)
Directors: See-Yuen Ng (The Bloody Fists), Karl Liao (Moonlight Sword and Jade Lion)
Cast: Chan Siu Sing, Kuan Tai Chen, Fang Yeh, San Kuai, Kwok Choi Hon, Sally Leh (The Bloody Fists) Chung-erh Lung, Angela Mao, Luo Hui Shaw, Chiang-lung Wen, Tao Wong, Sam Yuen (Moonlight Sword and Jade Lion)
DVD released: January 2nd, 2007
Approximate running time: 97 minutes (The Bloody Fists) 94 minutes (Moonlight Sword and Jade Lion)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (Both Films)
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono (Both Films)
DVD Release: Warner Brothers
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $12.97
The Bloody Fists: The Japanese want to set up a judo school in a re mote Chinese village where the rare Dragon herb grows. This herb is the only known cure for a plague that has been affecting people around Asia. Jang Wu-dip (Chang Sing) is a fugitive who is just passing through town. He contracts the deadly plague on his way out of town and when one of the townspeople help save his life he decides to stay and to pay them back for saving his life he helps them to get rid of the Japanese.
What this one lacks in plot it more then makes up for with its high flying marital arts action which was choreographed by none other then Yuen Woo-ping. The film opens with a man who reveals himself as the fugitive attacks some men in a car and he soon discovers that he has been set up by the police who now have him surrounded. Calmly he takes out his comb and then breaks in half before springing into action. After kicking lots of ass he manages to escape the clutches of the law once again. This opening is spectacular and it sets the stage for action set pieces that are yet to come.
This film was directed by See-Yuen Ng who would later go on to direct the infamous Brucexplotation film Game of Death 2. His visual eye not only perfectly captures the action during the more dramatic moments he makes excellent use of the scenic surroundings. One familiar element in this film is its use of China vs. Japan which is a theme that appears in many marital arts films. There is a sub plot that also pops up from tithe to time where two young people are engaged and she doesn’t want he lover to die fighting the Japanese. These moments add very little to the story and since there tend to be very short in length they don’t hurt the film as a whole. The action is brutal and sometimes graphic.
The cast is made up a few familiar faces like Lam Suen who plays the Chinese traitor who is willing to sell anyone even family out to make a quick buck. Lam Suen is very good at playing the slimy double crosser. There is no clear cut actor who gets the most screen time, still there is no doubt that actor Chan Sing is the main attraction as he overpowers every scene with charisma and mind blowing skill. He has many solid fight scenes in the film with the grand finale being his best of the lot. Ultimately The blood Fists is the type of marital arts film that can be enjoyed even after multiple viewings.
Moonlight Sword and Jade Lion: Chu Siew Yen (Angela Mao) must find her masters brother if she ever wants to learn the truth behind her parents’ death. She quickly discovers that all is not right shortly after she arrives in town when all the locales are less then helpful and seem to known nothing. Along the way Chu Siew Yen meets a man who is also looking for someone a woman named Su Yen. They decide to team up when it become clear that the two people they are looking for are somehow connected.
Moonlight Sword and Jade Lion is a slow moving adventure that has an occasional outburst of dazzling action. The film stars Angela Mao (Angela Mao Ying) as Chu Siew Yen a sword fighting martial artist who can handle her own against any woman or man. Angela Mao is this films greatest asset and lonely saving grace. She is featured in all the most memorable fight sequences with my favorite moment where she fights the man who she later teams up with in the restaurant while they are eating. The hand to hand and use of objects around them as weapons and shields is inventive and perfectly put together. This film while not Angela Mao best still shows why she was one of the first female action stars to achieve stardom during the marital arts craze of the 1970’s.
The costumes and sets look well constructed and not cheap. This film also contains an interesting sub plot about two jade loin necklaces that are halves and when put together they person in possession of these will have the power to rule the kung fu world. This sub plot along with the main plot of Chu Siew Yen searching for the truth about her parents’ death blends nicely together. It is too bad that with such a strong plot that there are as many slow moments as they are in this film because when the action gets going the film really cooks. Ultimately most martial arts fans will find Moonlight Sword and Jade Lion a tedious affair while the more brave who work their way through it will find a flawed and times entertaining film.
Warner Brother’s martial arts double feature presents both films (The Bloody Fists & Moonlight and Jade Sword) in a non anamorphic letterboxed widescreen which preserves their original 2.35:1 aspect ratios. Both transfers suffer from mild print damage and color fluctuation. Details range from strong to soft with images in the background looking not as sharp as they do in the foreground. These films both bear the Pagoda Films banner and when comparing them to the Crash cinema releases which also bear the Pagoda film banner these transfers included for this new release from Warner Brothers looks identical to the transfers used for the Crash Cinema releases.
Both films come with only one audio option a dubbed English audio mix which is presented in a Dolby Digital mono. There is some noticeable instances of hiss and mild distortion, still none of these sound defects become to overbearing to take you out of the picture. These English dubs sound like you typical kung fu dub from the 1970’s. Dialog is easy to follow and music and effects sound robust.
This is budget line release from Warner Brothers and outside of a trailer for “The Promise” they only other contents include for this release are the two films (The Bloody Fists & Moonlight and Jade Sword). Also of note the back cover art lists that these films are presented in a standard version that preserves their original aspect ratios. This unusual wording on the box almost leads one to believe by saying standard version that they mean full frame and not widescreen which both films are clearly in widescreen. It also doesn’t help that the screenshots on the box cover art are in a full frame aspect ratio.
Warner Brothers The Bloody Fists & Moonlight and Jade Sword double feature is worthy addition to every kung fu fans collection and for those who didn’t buy these films when previously released by Crash Cinema. Now they can acquire them at a new more affordable price, highly recommended.