one of Wong Fei-Hung's most well-known students, Lam Sai-Wing, The
Magnificent Butcher highlights once again, Yuen
Woo-Ping's exceptional choreography skills.
The superb cast, featuring the likes of Chong
Fat, Lee Hoi-San and the one and
only Kwan Tak-Hing, take part in some
stunning bouts of martial artistry.
From the film's opening scenes, through to its finale, Woo-Ping's
stamp of quality is evident throughout.
Sammo plays the role of Lam Sai-Wing - the mischievous student of
Kwan Tak-Hing's Wong Fei-Hung.
As was the way with many films of the period, slapstick comedy,
cracking martial arts, and utterly evil villains are woven into
a fairly simple plot.
Where the Magnificent Butcher differs is the high-standards of its
Whether they involve Yuen Biao taking
on Lam Ching-Ying's elbow-knives
and fan, or Sammo Hung's Five Animals
versus Lee Hoi-San's Five Elements,
their execution and imagination never wane.
If the film has one failing, then it's one which can be levelled
at many films of the genre - the rather one-dimensional characters.
Whilst the performances are excellent, with Sammo imbuing Sai-Wing
with a great deal of warmth and charm, the dramatic aspects of the
plot never quite manage to equal the martial ones.
This doesn't ruin the film, but it does reduce the emotional tension
which would have made the film's final confrontation all the more
only recently viewed the MIHK VHS version, my desire to compare
the two was undeniable.
In hindsight, I shouldn't have bothered...the DVD simply shatters
the video's picture quality in all respects.
From the crisp detail, colour and deep black levels, through to
the cleanliness of the print, this HKL release is quite superb.
The greyish nature of the night-time scenes, present on the VHS
version, are all but gone, leaving a presentation which you'll be
hard pressed to fault.
The only disappointment comes during the Calligraphy battle between
Master Ko and Wong Fei-Hung.
Although nothing to do with HKL's encoding, the "shimmering"
effect present on the print is very noticeable. It looks as if someone
is waving a piece of cling film across the screen, and whilst it
lasts only about 2 minutes, it's a distracting blemish on this otherwise
more solid-sounding Cantonese remix is provided on this disc, featuring
less "fake" directional effects than previous HKL soundtracks.
Because of this, it's fairly unspectacular to listen to, but does
the job without too much hassle.
witnessed the slightly Westernised translations found on their previous
discs, I was concerned about the subtitles before viewing the movie,
as the Magnificent Butcher contains many Kung-Fu terms.
Thankfully, my fears were mostly allayed. Whilst some sentences
are simplified, and others slightly mis-translated, the "flavour"
of the subtitles are far more consistent with the tone of the film.
Being the same bio. found on the Eastern Condors disc, this
20 minutes feature has the same scrolling text and spoken word format
In a rather odd move, HKL present a biography that contains
no textual information. Instead, "voice-over man" reads
his lines whilst clips from Yuen's films are shown at the side of
I'm not quite certain what HKL were aiming for, but the film clips
are so much more appealing than the biography that I just sat through
the whole thing with the sound down, watching the fight sequences!
A collection of 26 film stills.
UK Promotional Trailer and the Original Theatrical Trailer
Sammo Hung (12 mins).
This English language interview uses the first 7 minutes of the
footage from the Eastern Condors
DVD interview. Sammo then moves on to discuss the merits of Kung-Fu,
and his feeling towards Yuen Biao and
This whole feature really only contains about 3 minutes of new material,
and if you already own the Eastern
Condors disc, you'll be very disappointed by this half-hearted
Filmed in the early 90's, this 20 minute interview conducted in
Cantonese, is a fairly interesting discussion revolving around Yuen's
career and aspirations.
However, it's a shame the interviewer was unable to glean some more
insightful information from Yuen, as their conversation never really
sparks the imagination.
This easy to find "extra-extra" contains 2 photos of the
real Lam Sai-Wing, and a number of stills taken from the film's
deleted, or unused, footage.
Once again, Bey Logan produces the goods.
Providing historical facts about Lam Sai-Wing, as well as many pieces
of film-related information, Bey really gets his teeth into his
subject matter with this engrossing commentary.
just short of greatness due to its less than stellar dramatic content,
there is still much to be enjoyed from this 1979 film - action,
action and more action!
Disregarding the unavoidable "shimmering" present on the
print, HKL's transfer of this 22 year old film is as good as it
gets, and for any self-respecting fan of Traditional kung-fu, this
is a must.