Monday, 1 November 2010

The Man From Hong Kong

East meets West in this 1975 Australian/Hong Kong co-production riffing on the megahit Enter the Dragon, and directed by Ozploitation favourite Brian Trenchard Smith. In the film, a Hong Kong police inspector, Fang Sing Leng comes to Sydney to interrogate a Chinese suspect (a early part for Sammo Hung) picked up for trafficking cocaine for local crime kingpin Jack Wilton. After the assassination of the Chinese, Fang resolves to smash Wilton's operation by any means necessary...

The short synopsis above doesn't quite capture the relentless mayhem of bullets, bombs, fights, high speed car chases and causal destruction of Trenchard Smith's deliriously entertaining action caper. Golden Harvest star Jimmy Wang Yu (One-Armed Swordsman) plays the Hong Kong super-cop who shows the Sydney police how its done. Wang Yu doesn't quite have the cool cynical attitude of Bruce Lee, but he still manages to bed down with two babes, as well dishing out some bone-crunching kung fu. His dust up with a contract killer in a Chinese restaurant kitchen is a classic.

Sterling support too from the rest of the cast. One-shot James Bond actor George Lazenby, is suitably slimy as Jack Wilton, while the best lines go to Mad Max villain Hugh Keays-Byrne who plays one of the Australian cops exasperated by Fang's less than delicate methods - at one point he declares "This is Australia mate, not 55 Days of Peking!"

Amazingly this was the director's first full length feature and his work here is absolutely top notch, shot in 'scope (by Picnic at Hanging Rock cameraman Russell Boyd, who captures some striking panoramic shots of Sydney harbour) and directed with incredible verve and considerable skill - check out the spectacular opening sequence where a car explodes perfectly framed against Ayers Rock! The film bounces from one action set piece to another with a manic energy, so much so that a short romantic interlude which could have been turgid in another film, serves as a welcome resting spot for the audience before slamming back into a thrilling car chase and the explosive finale.

Jimmy Wang Yu gets to grips with a burning George Lazenby - just one of the many amazing stunts in The Man From Hong Kong

Madman's Region 4 coded DVD of The Man From Hong Kong sports an excellent anamorphic transfer preserving the film's 2.35 'scope photography. The print used shows a little wear but it's perfectly fine. The stereo audio is strong too, with a rousing score and a catchy theme song that you will sing for days afterwards. Madman have issued The Man From Hong Kong as a lavish double-disc with a bounty of extras on disc 2. As well as trailers for the fim, we get some silent on set footage, and two additional Brian Trenchard Smith films - Kung Fu Killers (1974, 72 minutes) and Hospitals Don't Burn Down (1978, 24 minutes.) Trenchard Smith also provides an excellent commentary for the main feature. Essential viewing.

4 comments:

  1. I got this beauty in the post the other week (2 disc edition) and really enjoyed BTS's commentary - enlightening, witty and honest.
    Have you seen Stone Wes? That has a stand out performance from Hugh Keays-Byrne too; the man's unstoppable.

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  2. No, I have yet to pick up Stone - everytime I've gone cruising for the 2-disc-er it's been too expensive or not in stock. Funnily enough, off all the pre-cert vids that got the booth a few years ago (in a moment of craziness that you will appreciate), I still have the VTC tape of Stone. Damn, I must get this, I love violent biker pics...

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  3. I LOVE THIS MOVIE!

    Sorry. I finally tracked down a very nice DVD-R for this (unreleased on disc in America) movie - it must have been taken from a laserdisc or something as it's widescreen and crisp. Such a kinetic movie - and we have to throw in some love for stuntman Grant Page - who also got his start with this movie. He handled a lot of the stunts in this movie, and he's also the contract killer Wang Yu pursues through that great chase in the middle of the movie. (Who needs Parkour?) Because I can never resist - here's a post about Grant Page from my blog:

    http://craiglgooh.blogspot.com/2013/04/a-z-challenge-2013-p-is-for-grant-page.html

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  4. Excellent post Craig, and fantastic screenshots, thanks for including the link in the comment - all of which reminds me that I need to watch my copy of Stunt Rock !

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