BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review

Shawscope Volume One - Limited Edition - Blu-ray Review

Shawscope Volume One - Limited Edition

This set from Arrow Video is arguably their best release yet.  It is indeed a labor of love as the company has carefully curated and gorgeously presented a selection of all-time Shaw Brothers classics in this box set.  You read that correctly.  From King Boxer to Mighty Peking Man and everything in between, it is all here in the first of hopefully several volumes from the company.

"this carefully curated and gorgeously presented selection of all-time Shaw Brothers classics merely represents the tip of the iceberg of the studio’s rich output, making it both an ideal starting point for newcomers and a treat for hardcore fans alike."


Interestingly enough, Kung-Fu in Hollywood was introduced to audiences with Cary Grant in 1927's The Awful Truth, when he famously takes down Micki Morita, playing a Japanese houseboy, who introduces himself with the line, “Me Jiu-Jitsu” and Grant, ever the cool cat, responds with, “is that so?  Well, me Jiu-Jitsu, too” and flips him to the side of the room.  If it sounds completely out of place in a romantic comedy, just know that audiences loved the moment as East meets West.  

Yet, it wouldn’t be until the middle of the 1960s when Asian fighting styles would truly be appreciated with the arrival of A Shot in the Dark, starring Peter Sellers as the unflappable Inspector Clouseau who regularly gets attacked - per orders - from Burt Kwouk as Kato.  Kung-fu, though, would take another couple of years to firmly take hold in America, but when it did . . . WOW.  The asian cinematic influence was everywhere.  From styles to dance and beyond, literally everyone WAS Kung-Fu fighting.Shawscope Volume One - Limited Edition

And this ROCK STAR of a set absolutely celebrates that phenomenon.  From here on out, let Arrow Video do the talking.  This set damn near sells itself!

"After an undisputed reign at the peak of Hong Kong’s film industry in the 1960s, Shaw Brothers (the studio founded by real-life brothers Run Run and Runme Shaw) found their dominance challenged by up-and-coming rivals in the early 1970s. They swiftly responded by producing hundreds of the most iconic action films ever made, revolutionizing the genre through the backbreaking work of top-shelf talent on both sides of the camera as well as unbeatable widescreen production value, much of it shot at ‘Movietown’, their huge, privately-owned studio on the outskirts of Hong Kong.Shawscope Volume One - Limited Edition

This inaugural collection by Arrow Video presents twelve jewels from the Shaw crown, all released within the 1970s, kicking off in 1972 with Korean director Chung Chang-wha’s King Boxer, the film that established kung fu cinema as an international box office powerhouse when it hit Stateside cinemas under the title Five Fingers of Death. From there we see Chang Cheh (arguably Shaw’s most prolific director) helm the blood-soaked brutality of The Boxer from Shantung and two self-produced films in his ‘Shaolin Cycle’ series, Five Shaolin Masters and its prequel Shaolin Temple, before taking a detour into Ho Meng-hua’s King Kong-inspired Mighty Peking Man, one of the most unmissable insane giant monster films ever made. Chang’s action choreographer Lau Kar-leung then becomes a director in his own right, propelling his adoptive brother Gordon Liu to stardom in Challenge of the Masters and Executioners from Shaolin. Not to be outdone, Chang introduces some of Shaw’s most famous faces to the screen, including Alexander Fu Sheng fighting on the streets of San Francisco in Chinatown Kid and, of course, the mighty Venom Mob in The Five Venoms and Crippled Avengers. Finally, Lau and Liu successfully meld high kicks with humor in two of their masterworks, Heroes of the East and Dirty Ho, also featuring such fan favorites as Wong Yue, Hsiao Hao and Kara Hui.

From kickass kung fu killers to crazy kaiju knockoffs to culture clash comedies, this carefully curated and gorgeously presented selection of all-time Shaw Brothers classics merely represents the tip of the iceberg of the studio’s rich output, making it both an ideal starting point for newcomers and a treat for hardcore fans alike." 

For fans of KILLER Kung-Fu Klassics, this set is a no-brainer.  Bring on the second volume already!

5/5 beers

Shawscope Volume One - Limited Edition

Blu-ray Details

Home Video Distributor: Arrow
Available on Blu-ray
- December 28, 2021
Screen Formats: Various
Subtitles
: English, English SDH
Audio:
Various
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; eight-disc set
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

With this collection, fans get High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentations of all twelve films, including seven new 2K restorations by Arrow Films, an Illustrated 60-page collectors’ book featuring new writing by David Desser, Terrence J. Brady and James Flower, plus cast and crew listings and notes on each film by Simon Abrams, New artwork by Sam Gilbey, Matthew Griffin, Chris Malbon, Jacob Phillips, Ilan Sheady, Tony Stella, Darren Wheeling and Jolyon Yates, hours of never-before-seen bonus features, including several cast and crew interviews from the Frédéric Ambroisine Video Archive, and if that is not enough, there are two CDs of music from the De Wolfe Music library as heard in six of the films, exclusive to this collection.

Video:

Arrow Video presents these kung fu classics on 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 from a 2K restoration effort provided from the preservation negatives. The results are stunning and crisp and totally unexpected for a low-budget film like this one. The masters have been digitally scrubbed and combined to offer the best-looking color print positive. The hues are properly detailed and bright, and the saturation offers an evenly handled look at the fashions of the time period.

Audio:

The sound – presented in the original 1.0 mono audio - is adequate for this release.  There is a new optional English subtitle translation included with the release.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • See Special Features for the breakdowns.

Special Features:

Look below, Heathens!  This puppy is loaded.  BRING ON VOLUME TWO ALREADY!

Disc One – King Boxer

  • Brand new 2K restoration by Arrow Films from a 4K scan of the original negative
  • Newly restored uncompressed Mandarin and English original mono audio
  • Newly translated English subtitles for the Mandarin audio, plus English hard-of-hearing subtitles for the English dub
  • Brand new commentary by David Desser, co-editor of The Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema and The Cinema of Hong Kong
  • Newly filmed appreciation by film critic and historian Tony Rayns
  • Interview with director Chung Chang-wha, filmed in 2003 and 2004 by Frédéric Ambroisine
  • Interview with star Wang Ping, filmed in 2007 by Frédéric Ambroisine
  • Interview with Korean cinema expert Cho Young-jung, author of Chung Chang-wha: Man of Action, filmed in 2005 by Frédéric Ambroisine
  • Cinema Hong Kong: Kung Fu, the first in a three-part documentary on Shaw Brothers’ place within the martial arts genre produced by Celestial Pictures in 2003, featuring interviews with Jackie Chan, Jet Li, John Woo, Sammo Hung, Gordon Liu, Lau Kar-leung, Cheng Pei-pei, David Chiang and many others
  • Alternate opening credits from the American version titled Five Fingers of Death
  • Hong Kong, US and German theatrical trailers, plus US TV and radio spots
  • Image gallery

Disc Two – The Boxer From Shantung

  • Brand new 2K restoration by Arrow Films from a 4K scan of the original negative
  • Newly restored uncompressed Mandarin and English original mono audio
  • Newly translated English subtitles for the Mandarin audio, plus English hard-of-hearing subtitles for the English dub
  • Interview with star Chen Kuan-tai, filmed in 2007 by Frédéric Ambroisine
  • Interview with assistant director John Woo, filmed in 2004 by Frédéric Ambroisine
  • Interview with star David Chiang, filmed in 2003 by Frédéric Ambroisine
  • Conversation between stars Chen Kuan-tai and Ku Feng, filmed at a Shaw Brothers reunion in 2007 by Frédéric Ambroisine
  • Hong Kong and German theatrical trailers, plus US TV spot
  • Image gallery

Disc Three – Five Shaolin Masters / Shaolin Temple

  • Uncompressed Mandarin and English original mono audio for both films
  • Newly translated English subtitles for both films, plus English hard-of-hearing subtitles for the English dub
  • Newly filmed appreciation of Chang Cheh by film critic and historian Tony Rayns
  • Interview with star Kong Do, filmed in 2003 by Frédéric Ambroisine
  • Elegant Trails: David Chiang and Elegant Trails: Ti Lung, two featurettes on the actors produced by Celestial Pictures in 2003
  • Alternate standard-definition version of Shaolin Temple
  • Alternate opening credits from Five Masters of Death, the US version of Five Shaolin Masters
  • Alternate opening credits sequences for Shaolin Temple
  • US and German trailers for Five Shaolin Masters
  • Hong Kong and German trailers for Shaolin Temple
  • Image galleries for both films

Disc Four – Mighty Peking Man

  • Uncompressed Mandarin and English original mono audio
  • Newly translated English subtitles for the Mandarin audio, plus English hard-of-hearing subtitles for the English dub
  • Brand new commentary by Travis Crawford
  • Brand new interview with suit designer Keizo Murase, filmed in 2021 by Daisuke Sato and Yoshikazu Ishii
  • Interview with director Ho Meng-hua, filmed in 2003 by Frédéric Ambroisine
  • Interview with star Ku Feng, filmed in 2004 by Frédéric Ambroisine
  • Behind-the-scenes Super 8 footage from the archives of Keizo Murase
  • ‘Unrestored’ standard-definition version
  • Alternate opening credits from Goliathon, the US version of Mighty Peking Man
  • Hong Kong, US, German and Dutch theatrical trailers, plus US TV spot
  • Image gallery

Disc Five – Challenge Of The Masters / Executioners From Shaolin

  • Brand new 2K restoration of Challenge of the Masters from the original negative by Arrow Films
  • Uncompressed Mandarin and English original mono audio for both films, plus Cantonese mono for Challenge of the Masters
  • Newly translated English subtitles for both films, plus English hard-of-hearing subtitles for the English dubs
  • Newly filmed appreciation of Lau Kar-leung by film critic and historian Tony Rayns
  • Interview with star Gordon Liu, filmed in 2002 by Frédéric Ambroisine
  • Interview with star Chen Kuan-tai, filmed in 2007 by Frédéric Ambroisine
  • Textless opening credits for Challenge of the Masters
  • Alternate English credits for Executioners from Shaolin
  • Hong Kong theatrical trailers for Challenge of the Masters
  • Hong Kong and US theatrical trailers for Executioners from Shaolin
  • Image galleries for both films

Disc Six - Chinatown Kid:

  • Brand new 2K restoration of the 115-minute International Version from original film elements
  • 90-minute Alternate Version
  • Uncompressed original Cantonese audio for the International Version, with newly translated English subtitles
  • Uncompressed original English audio for the International Version, with optional hard-of-hearing subtitles
  • Uncompressed original Mandarin audio for the Alternate Version, with newly translated English subtitles
  • Select scene video commentary by co-star Susan Shaw from 2021
  • Elegant Trails: Fu Sheng, a featurette on the actor produced by Celestial Pictures in 2005
  • Hong Kong, US and German theatrical trailers, plus US TV spot
  • Image gallery

Disc Seven – The Five Venoms/Crippled Avengers

  • Brand new 2K restorations of both films from the original negatives by Arrow Films
  • Uncompressed Mandarin and English original mono audio for both films plus Cantonese mono for The Five Venoms
  • Newly translated English subtitles for both films, plus English hard-of-hearing subtitles for the English dubs
  • Brand new commentary on The Five Venoms by critic Simon Abrams
  • Interview with star Lo Meng, filmed in 2003 by Frédéric Ambroisine
  • Chang Cheh: The Master, a featurette about the director produced by Celestial Pictures in 2003
  • Hong Kong and US theatrical trailers for The Five Venoms
  • Hong Kong theatrical trailer for Crippled Avengers
  • Image galleries for both films

Disc Eight:

  • Brand new 2K restoration of Dirty Ho from the original negative by Arrow Films
  • Uncompressed Cantonese, Mandarin and English original mono audio for both films
  • Newly translated English subtitles for both films, plus English hard-of-hearing subtitles for the English dubs
  • Brand new commentary on Heroes of the East by Jonathan Clements, author of A Brief History of the Martial Arts
  • Newly filmed appreciation of both films by film critic and historian Tony Rayns
  • Interview with Heroes of the East star Yasuaki Kurata, filmed in 2003 by Frédéric Ambroisine
  • Alternate opening credits for Shaolin Challenges Ninja, the international version of Heroes of the East
  • Alternate English credits for Dirty Ho
  • Hong Kong theatrical trailer for Heroes of the East, plus US TV spot
  • Hong Kong theatrical trailer for Dirty Ho
  • Image galleries for both films

Disc Nine: The Music

  • MUSIC FROM SHAOLIN TEMPLE, MIGHTY PEKING MAN AND CHINATOWN KID (CD)
  • MUSIC FROM THE FIVE VENOMS, CRIPPLED AVENGERS AND DIRTY HO (CD)

Blu-ray Rating

  Movie 5/5 stars
  Video  5/5 stars
  Audio 4/5 stars
  Extras 5/5 stars

Composite Blu-ray Grade

5/5 stars

 

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