[box cover]

Magnificent Butcher

From the "classic" period of Hong Kong action flicks comes 1979's Magnificent Butcher, yet another retelling of the legend of Wong Fei-Hung, immortalized by Jackie Chan in Drunken Master and by Jet Li in Once Upon a Time in China. This time around, the bumbling student — here called Butcher Wing — is played by Sammo Hung, and he keeps running afoul of the unpleasant Five Dragons Kung Fu school. When Da-Hoi (Yuen Biao), son of the Five Dragons master, rapes and kills Butcher's sister-in-law and then frames Butcher for murder, Butcher must clear his name by finding the real killer — and train like the wind, to exact vengeance on Da-Hoi and his father. Despite its rather heavy subject matter, Magnificent Butcher takes the usual Hong Kong tack of injecting a lot of good-hearted humor to balance the tragedy and, of course, amazing chop-socky action. Directed by Woo-ping Yuen, who later became known to U.S. audiences for his work on The Matrix and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the film showcases both Sammo and Yuen Biao in their prime — the fight scenes are breathtaking, choreographed without any of the fancy editing and other cheats of modern HK-influenced action flicks. Especially good is a fight between co-choreographers Yuen Biao and Lan Ching-Ying, using a variety of styles in a fluid, kinetic ballet of flying fists. But this is still Sammo Hung's film, and few could combine humor and martial arts like he could — and man, for a chubby guy, that Sammo could move. Fox's DVD release offers an impressive restored print in an anamorphic transfer (2.35:1). The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is clean and clear; offered are the original Cantonese and a truly horrible English dub (subtitles in Emglish or Chinese). Also on board are the original theatrical trailer and a newer trailer plus a photo gallery, a reel of Sammo Hung clips set to music, cast and crew bios, promo materials, and production notes — plus trailers for Fox releases City Hunter, Hong Kong 1941, The Transporter, and Kiss of the Dragon.. Keep-case.
—Dawn Taylor

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