Mania Grade: B
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- Audio Rating: C+
- Video Rating: B-
- Packaging Rating: B-
- Menus Rating: B
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: 13 and Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
- MSRP: 14.98
- Running time: 102
- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Shaolin Rescuers DVD Review
By John Rose
December 21, 2010
Release Date: November 09, 2010
The plot may be secondary and lacking in taste but the fight candy is more than worth it and delicious.
What They Say
The legendary Five Venoms come together once more under celebrated director Chang Cheh (The Five Venoms) in Shaolin Rescuers. This spirited 1979 tale of heroism and friendship unites two blue-collar workers against a corrupt priest and his temple-terrorizing minions. Lo Meng (Hard Boiled) stars as a tofu maker, and Kuo Chue (the Brave Archer series) plays his sparring partner, a waiter with a talent for turning anything he touches into a weapon. When they meet a put-upon mill worker and a wounded Shaolin disciple, the action builds to one of the most thrilling final battles in the Shaw Brothers' canon: a masterfully executed five-on-five brawl that puts an over-the-top arsenal of weaponry in the lethal hands of the Venoms.
There are two tracks available on this release. One is an English track and the other is a Mandarin track and both are mono though encoded in 2.0. For the purpose of the review the Mandarin track was used and no dropouts or distortions were noticed. The English track was also sampled and no problems were noticed during those parts. It is a mono track so it isn’t all that great and the English track has a bit of the old kung fu dubbed ring to it but they are fair tracks and get the job done of communicating dialogue and sound without covering each other up.
Created in 1979 the film is presented in 16:9 non anamorphic ratio. The encode presents some good visuals and presents the colors as bright and strong. There is a touch of ghosting against bright background, slight noise, dot crawl, and some strong red color bleed at times but none are present to a great extent.
The cover of the release features the three main characters in their own unique color-blue, red and yellow in martial arts poses against a green background. There is also a white banner with the title in it about halfway down the cover which gives the appearance of rolling over onto the back. The back has the three main characters engaging in combat with three of the members of White Brows gang that they combat in the film. This is over a green background that has a scene from the film done in shades of green on it. The back also contains an image of the original theatrical poster and the date, director and five stars named. Along with that it also has five stills from the feature but this release did not have the slip cover previous Shaw releases have had. It does retain the Shaw Brothers print on the back of the DVD cover like other Shaw releases. The DVD label uses the image from the front cover of the release.
The main menu uses the cover image and it is used throughout the different menu screens with just the red character used for scene selection, the blue and yellow ones on the trailers screen and the Shaw Brothers wallpaper print on the audio selection screen. The menus are quick to respond to changes in selections and in acknowledging choices.
This feature contains no extras.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The film introduces us to all the key players in the film with a (mostly) one on one face off against a primarily red background with a little architectural backdrop. The film itself opens showing the character Jin doing a combination of training and making tofu. He receives a customer in the form of Yang Dabao who has come to buy tofu for the restaurant in which he works and the two trade martial arts moves while carrying the tofu. Jin’s boss arrives just as they have finished up and accuses Jin (justifiably) of slacking though with Yang’s help the boss is taken off Jin’s back. Though Yang has his own problems as he gets back to the restaurant as his boss yells at him for taking too long which Yang manages to offset despite not having someone to help him.
Jin later visits Yang at the restaurant and the two engage in a spectacular display of martial arts as they try to one up each other. Yang shows off his skills he learned fighting for food with his father as he is adept at using anything handy as a weapon. Jin then reveals he learned his martial arts when he was saved from a beating by a martial arts master whose named he never learned in the two years he studied for him before the master just vanished. Both men share a hope that their skills will give them a chance to do something great in the future rather than just proceeding with their day to day drudgery.
The plot is introduced when a character named Xiguan comes injured to one of the local temples to relate that the master known as White Brows has attacked another temple and they surmise he will appear at the temple Xiguan has made it to. Xiguan is sent off to cope with his injuries while the temple prepares for the coming fight and Xiguan is sent to see Zhou Cheng as he can make a medicine to heal Xiguan. Zhou runs a martial arts temple where he has a spectacular pupil named Zu Chai who he looks down on as the rest of his pupils are rich while Zu is not. Zu is a master at fighting on poles and incurred the jealousy of some fellow students who attempt to ambush him. While he is being besieged he is rescued by Jin and Jang which leads to him showing off his martial arts to them as well when they take him back to the restaurant.
At the same time as the three are at the restaurant the temple Xiguan attempted to warn is ambushed and obliterated. White Brows gang then goes looking for Xiguan to keep him from warning any others. Xiguan attempts to find help but discovers that White Brows reach is great as he is hunted by his gang and will get no help from Zhou acquiring his medicine. He collapses outside the tofu shop and is found by Jin. The three friends decide to help Xiguan get the medicine he needs and attempt to raise the cash to get the expensive medicine. They also meet up with a fourth member Han Qi who helps them out when the restaurant is threatened-and they will need it going forward. White Brow’s gang figures out that the men have been buying medicine for Xiguan and track down and assault the five men. What follows will be a long night spent holed up as Xiguan teaches them some new skills while the dread of the attack that the morning will bring with White Brows gang and the military men they have gathered builds. Can even five supremely skilled men stand up to such odds? And will Jin and Yang get to become the heroes they have dreamed of being?
The feature is a showcase of several of the stars in the picture and it shows. More time is spent showing of the main three characters and their skills than is given to the plot, which isn’t a bad thing as it is very basic but could use a few points of exposition-such as why White Brows’ gang is trying to wipe out other martial artists and why the government would supply troops. These questions are raised as the film tries to go with a bit more than the cliché “Hey you, why you look at me, OK we fight” reasoning that can infest some martial arts films but doesn’t quite pull it off. In a different picture it would be a bigger problem but this is a fight fans candy picture and sure delivers on that.
While Shaolin Rescuers is light on plot it more than makes up for it in action. The series has some of the best choreographed action I have seen in some time and it also takes time to blend in comedy as well. Martial Art film fans are in for a treat with the action on this feature.
Mandarin 1.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
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