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The Master: The Complete Series (1984) - Blu-ray Review

TV Show Review

4 beers"Hi, I'm Max Keller."  It's how each episode of this short-lived but beloved series kicks off.  And fans will be happy to know that Kino Lorber has done them proud with this 3-disc HD release, featuring newly remastered versions of some of their favorite episodes. 

Lee Van Cleef (Angel Eyes in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly) is such a badass. A. Bad. Ass. Hear me? Whether in spaghetti westerns or in action flicks told a thousand times over, his squint is as poisonous as Clint Eastwood’s, even if his legacy was never as bankable as Blondie’s. Thing is, no matter what he was in, the dude showed up. And, here with The Master, his traded the spurs for ninja stars and continues to kick all sorts of ass throughout America.

City by city, the crime fighting duo who make up the episode focus of The Master – Cleef as John Peter McAllister, an American veteran who stayed in Japan to learn the ways of the ninja, and Timothy Van Patten of The White Shadow fame as his pupil, Max Keller - find themselves as an odd pair of heroes.  Together, they search for a daughter McAllister didn’t know he had. Mostly, though, they help citizens fight mean baddies while McAllister’s ninja clan, represented mostly by Okasa (Sho Kosugi), pop up to remind him of their anger. This, of course, is the clan he broke with to go in search of his daughter and their insult knows no bounds.

Salvaged from the mini-movie bastardization that this single season ultimately got distributed as, Kino Lorber – giving us a look of things to come with their upcoming 4K Kolchak: The Night Stalker handling – present the series as it was meant to be seen: hour-long episodes. There are 13-episodes, in fact, and the stunts – ranging from a death-defying building crossing via tight wire and jumping onto a fast-moving car from a tall pole – keep your eyes on the screen. There are high kicks, ninja stars, swords, and more and that’s all thanks to McAllister’s background as a fleet-footed ninja.

In case you’ve been living in a hole, the middle part of the 1980s was very good to ninjas. We had American Ninja, The Karate Kid, The Last Ninja, Shogun, the G.I. JOE cartoon, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Metal Hero Series, Karate Kommandos, reruns of Kung Fu and so on. You get it. The whole Karate scene was popular, too. Hell, even my fat ass took classes. I wasn’t any good and a fly could kick my ass, but I did it. I did it, Master Yoda. And there it is; we were obsessed with martial arts and its many methods.

But the viewing habits of many Americans did not include The Master. It was dead in the water before it had even cut free of the dock. And that is unfortunate. Yes, this is on the weaker end of the television spectrum. Even by the 1980s standards (where Knight Rider and Airwolf reigned supreme), there are less than stellar production values on the screen; crummy locations abound. But one battle on top of a tall building erases all that.  

That being said, the series, created and written by Michael Sloan (The Equalizer), features a slew of great guest stars – including Demi Moore, Claude Aikens, Clu Gulager, Stuart Whitman, Diana Muldaur, Doug McClur, and George Lazenby – and a rocking’ theme song written by Rocky’s Bill Conti. The action is pretty nonstop, too, as our heroes go from town to town helping the oppressed. Like The A-Team, this show has all the right ingredients to be pretty damn cool especially when you consider the awesome custom van they drag through each episode in.

The Master has all the right moves. Hell, even Robert Clouse (Enter the Dragon) and Gordon Hessler (Pray for Death) directed a handful of the episodes. Maybe now, in remastered HD, it will matter.


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TV Show Details

The Master: The Complete Series (1984) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
Runtime: 1 hour episodes
Creator: Michael Sloan
Cast: Lee Van Cleef, Timothy Van Patten, Shô Kosugi
Genre: TV | Action
Tagline: The Master Is Here! He's the supreme warrior. Even his eyes can kill you. His student is the supreme heartthrob. His eyes can melt you.
Memorable Movie Quote: "You must be a lot of laughs at a party."
TV Distributor: NBC (1984)
Official Site: Release Date: January 20, 1984
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: February 20, 2018
Synopsis: Focuses on the adventures of John Peter McAllister (Lee Van Cleef, For a Few Dollars More), an aging master ninja and his young pupil, Max Keller (Timothy Van Patten, Class of 1984). The mismatched duo drive around from town to town in a custom van, helping people in need, while being pursued by McAllister’s old nemesis, master ninja Okasa (Sho Kosugi, Revenge of the Ninja)


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The Master: The Complete Series (1984) - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray Review


Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Kino Lorber
Available on Blu-ray - February 20, 2018
Screen Formats: 1.33:1
Subtitles: None
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit); English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz, 24-bit)
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; three-disc set
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Kino Lorber presents The Master: The Complete Series on 1080p with a fine remastering job for its HD debut. Using the original 35mm negatives for the restoration is damn impressive. Colors are pumped up. Shadows are more defined than ever. Interior scenes have depth and warmth and the exterior shots feel alive and vibrant, which is cool considering the many nighttime action scenes in this series. There are textures in the clothes of the cast and, overall, a bit more vibrancy to what has previously been issued on 1080p. The sound is presented in a thunderous DTS-HD Master Audio mono that adds a bit more thump to some of the action scenes. The aspect ratio of the release is the original 1.33:1.  




Special Features:

Be happy its on blu-ray. There are only trailers for the special features.


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The Master: The Complete Series (1984) - Blu-ray Review