Dragon Lord
HONG KONG LEGENDS
 
Starring:
Jackie Chan, Mars, Wong In-Sik, Fong Hak-On
 
Directed By:
Jackie Chan
Year:
1982
Run Time:
92 mins
Producer: Hong Kong Legends
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Languages:
CANTONESE 5.1, English 5.1
Subtitles:
English, English HOH, Dutch
W/S Subtitles:
Yes
Ratio:
2.35:1 Anamorphic
Region:
PAL 2
Genre:
Traditional Kung-Fu / Comedy - 15 (UK)
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MOVIE
6/10

Assuming the persona that would go on to make him a hit with audiences around the world, Jackie Chan plays the amiable and, at times, dim-witted rascal around which this simple story revolves.

He and his closest friend (played by Mars) both fall for the same girl, and, in a bid to win her affections, Jackie falls foul a gang of smugglers.
As would be expected, this leads to a showdown with the gang and its leader (a freaky-eyed Wong In-Sik), in order to save the day.

Whilst almost everything about this so-so 1982 effort fails to create a satisfying whole, its few flashes of brilliance almost convince me to recommend its purchase.
That Chan's character has little kung-fu ability, relying more on his physical dexterity and amazingly high pain threshold, makes for a breath of fresh air in itself. Unfortunately, whilst being able to marvel at some of the tortuous falls and tumbles during the early sequences, it quickly becomes wearing.
Without any clean, crisp, and above all else, exciting techniques on display, the final battle between Chan and Wong In-Sik fails miserably in comparison to their all-out showdown in The Young Master.
That Jackie managed to so impressively combine this "Sloppy versus Stylish" action choreography in that later film only highlights the weaknesses inherent in its execution here.

If there is one reason alone to watch this film it would have to be for its extraordinary "Golden Shuttlecock Tournament" sequence, in which Jackie and a plethora of his stuntmen display some astonishing keepy-uppy skills.
As the scene unfolds it becomes clear as to why this unofficially (or perhaps officially?) holds the record for most "takes", apparently clocked at over 1000, as the shuttlecock is kicked between the players without touching the ground.
Sadly, that sequence, and a few other ingenious moments, fail to ignite this pot-boiler, and as the film wore on I found myself counting down the minutes until the end credits rolled.

PICTURE
5/10

A DVD is only ever going to be as good as its source material, and unfortunately it seems as though HKL have been somewhat shortchanged.
From the opening sequences onward, a large amount of grain is visible across the print. This is certainly not helped by the fluctuating black levels, which do nothing but highlight the image's grainy appearance.

As would be expected of HKL, almost all signs of wear and tear have been removed, although some of the print damage must have obviously exceeded their powers of restoration.

Colours bleed on occasion, although the print contains a generally muted colour palette.
Thankfully, detail is average throughout, although scenes do vary greatly at times.

Overall though, this is possibly the poorest transfer I've seen in some time from HKL. Whilst much blame can be laid at the door of the original material, the flickering blacks and schizophrenic detail levels make this a disappointing effort.

SOUND
5/10

Anyone expecting a reference-quality, surround-sound experience will obviously be sorely disappointed, as almost everything about the Cantonese soundtrack is centre-focused.

Dialogue contains some distortion and hiss, but this doesn't become too distracting.
Surround usage, when employed, is often very unnatural and sounds particularly awkward.

SUBTITLES
5/10

The script isn't really the main focus of this film, and this is reflected in the basic, though generally fine, subtitles.
How the phrases "know your arse from your elbow, "footie", and "Golden-goal" got into the mix though is something only HKL can answer...

EXTRAS
8/10

Firstly, the de rigueur Bey Logan commentary, along with Theatrical and UK Promo trailers, are provided. In addition, trailers for The Young Master, Project A, Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Stars, Swordsman, First Option and Flaming Brothers also make their way onto the disc.

The best extra by far is the lively, informative interview with Mars in which he talks openly about his Hong Kong roots and film involvement.
Another pleasing extra is the interview with Production Manager Louis Sit. His insight into specific elements of the film is at times enlightening, and certainly makes for a worthwhile watch.
Sadly, the only other extra available is the 10 minute interview with Wong In-Sik, which suffers badly due to his rather poor English. The interview also is far too general in the subjects it covers, and I felt slightly cheated that more time was not devoted to exploring some of the behind-the-scenes elements of Dragon Lord.

CONCLUSION
5/10

For Wacky Jackie completists this may seem like a required purchase. However, due to the DVD's lackluster picture and a less than enthralling film, for everyone else this isn't...

MOVIE 6/10
PICTURE
5/10
SOUND
5/10
SUBTITLES
5/10
EXTRAS
7/10
MENUS
7/10
PACKAGING
6/10
OVERALL 5/10