the death of his father at the hands of Pai, Kao (Lau Kong) begins
to plot his means of revenge.
Having successfully befriended Chang, the town's best swordsman,
Kao sees his opportunity to enlist his help in killing Pai.
Chang's good nature and friendly personality lead him to also help
another skilled swordsman called Green, and the pair soon become
After a series of events, including Kao's attempted suicide, Green
and Chang decide to fulfil his wish for vengence by storming Pai's
However, it soon becomes clear that Kao's quest for revenge is but
a small piece in a much larger plot - one which could not only spell
the end of Chang and Green's friendship, but also their lives...
Showing many of the directorial flourishes which would later become
his trademark, John Woo crafts an excellent swordplay
drama, full of many memorable scenes.
As Green, Damian Lau provides a nice mix of gentle humour and world-weary
pessimism, and of the two leads is obviously the more gifted actor.
That's not to say that Wei Pai is poor, it's just that his performance
lacks the subtitles of Lau's, and he occasionally overplays certain
As a pair though, they work exceptionally well together, and their
natural chemistry shines through many times - particularly as they
make their assault on Pai's lair.
Almost single-handedly stealing the show is Lee Hoi-San's character
Pai, a psychotic Kung-Fu master whose desperation to improve his
techniques comes at the expense of his students lives.
A very funny scene is the one in which Pai exclaims his disgust
upon hearing the news that Chang and Green have killed some of his
men. Prior to this, and during him receiving this dreadful information,
he goes about kitting his students out in armour and then graphically
beating them to death!
Action Director Fong Hak-On choreographs, as well as features in,
some superbly intricate duels, and although the opening battle seems
rather staid the remainder of the fights are stunning.
The variety of weaponry on display is enough to warm the heart of
any Kung-Fu fan or student, with Kwan-Dao's, broadswords, spears,
chain-whips and straight-swords featuring heavily.
Although falling just short of becoming a classic, mainly due to
Wei Pai's acting limitations, Last Hurrah For Chivalry still comes
pretty close. The plot twists provide a nice change from the usual
formulaic storylines of many films from the same period, as do the
generally excellent performances and fight sequences.
the print's age - 1979 was over 20 years ago! - the transfer is
True, wear features throughout, but it's not actually that bad,
with many sections of the film containing only light speckles.
Aside from the physical condition of the print, Mega Star could
have done little better in their presentation of the movie:
Detail is excellent, as is colour reproduction, and the many intricate
costumes and weapons on display look beautiful.
Another feature of the transfer which Mega Star has had problems
with in the past are blacks - or dark greys as they have previously
Here, however, they seem to have solved this issue, with the numerous
night-time scenes looking almost as good as the daytime ones.
One final point I have to make is to those fans of traditional Kung
-Fu movies, who seem to have no problem with picking up Pan &Scan
DVD versions of their much-loved films.
Just to demonstrate how much you're missing when you continue to
to purchase these cropped releases (such as Drunken
Master and many of the US discs available), zoom into the picture
until it fills the screen.
Then watch your favourite scenes again....somewhat different isn't
In the past, before the advent of DVD, Pan & Scan was the only
way to watch these films. However, with the arrival of this new
format this should no longer be an issue.
If you continue to buy cropped and dubbed DVD versions of these
films, you send the message to the disc's producers that they can
release substandard products and still have people purchase them.
This then creates a vicious cycle, with the only loser being you
- the consumer.
So, my message is clear - refuse to buy substandard products.
It is only in this way that you will be able to ensure that Hong
Kong cinema is given the respect it deserves...
As a pleasant
surprise, Mega Star's 5.1 remix is excellent, although not for the
reason you might think...
The best aspect about this remix is that it's not really a remix.
The same mono soundtrack seems to have been played through the front
speakers, meaning that none of the reverb or tinniness found on
previous Mega Star mixes is evident.
A small amount of distortion can be heard occasionally, but apart
from that the sound is nigh-on perfect.
Also, just to add to my point above about Pan & Scan and dubbed
DVD's, listen to the Cantonese track and then the English one, and
try telling me that none of the drama is lost in the process...
from the odd simplified line of dialogue, and missed word, the subtitles
are exemplary, reproducing the the poetic quality of the dialogue
Thankfully, they also bear no relation to the English dubbing and
its cringeworthy, rejigged dialogue.
the menus are a step backwards for a Mega Star disc, with a lot
of garish colour and none too clear buttons, making them slightly
awkward to navigate.
Chapter-Stops and the fun theatrical trailer are available on the
disc. Also included are trailers for Naked Killer, Heroes Shed No
Tears, Duel To The Death, and Magnificent
However, my annoyance is with the biographies - only John Woo gets
one, and it's miniscule.
Considering Damian Lau's involvement in so many great films of the
period, as well as his appearance in more internationally well-known
films, such as The Heroic Trio, you'd think at least he warranted
nicely composed cover, using a smart combination of text and images,
makes for an appealing design.
However, two things about the back of the cover are not so impressive.
Firstly, one of the images of Lau is out of focus, with a ghosting
effect surrounding it.
Secondly, the plot synopsis, whilst very good, is incorrect.
It explains that Kao molests Chang's sister because of his jealousy
towards him, but at no time does this actually happen in the film,
nor is it referred to after the supposed event.
Apart those small, and rather basic errors, the packaging is attractive
enough to catch the eye.
being able to view this great film in its original language and
aspect ratio should be reason enough for anyone to check this disc
out, but allied with an equally excellent transfer and you have
a must-own film on a must-own disc....buy it now.