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The Hand of Death (1976)

Posted: 18 Mar 2017, 19:50
by Ivan Drago
Director: John Woo

Starring: Dorian Tan Tao-liang, James Tien, Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Chu Ching, Yeung Wai, Kim Ki-ju

(Note: The original English title on Chinese prints was Countdown in Kung Fu. What the heck is that supposed to mean?)

Another nostalgic favourite of mine, this is an early John Woo film featuring Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung, which has ensured that's it's beaten most of the other Golden Harvest 70s kung fu flicks to the post when being selected for video re-release (and a slew of misleading video covers).
Which does a disservice to Dorian Tan Tao-liang, who is the star of this film, and he handles it rather well – it's surprising he didn't stick with Golden Harvest, but after this he was mostly Taiwanese based. For some reason, Jackie's "autobiography" refers to him having an alias of "Bruce Liang", and consequently some reviewers dismiss him as a Bruce Lee clone, just as others dismiss him for not being Jackie. Poor guy can't catch a break!

John Woo is definitely doing a Chang Cheh style film here: lots of male bonding and bare shirted heroics, with very little female presence at all. There's far less blood than in Chang's Shaolin cycle, stylish training montages, and…surprisingly slow fighting. But, to be fair, this is Sammo's first attempt at stylish "shapes" rather than his more modern street fighting style, but it does feel like we've gone back four years to Lady Whirlwind's punch, pause, block, pause, kick pace. The film also stretches credibility in that Tan doesn't just kick villain James Tien's head off the first time they meet – poor Tien's "Goose Fist" (the English dub's mistranslation of "Stork Fist") does not exactly move like gangbusters.

And that funky 70's theme tune will stay in your head for decades…


Re: The Hand of Death (1976)

Posted: 22 Mar 2017, 09:58
by saltysam
haven't watched this in many years, need to dig it out.

Re: The Hand of Death (1976)

Posted: 24 Mar 2017, 17:48
by Markgway
Fox R1 DVD is currently the best version.

I'd happily buy it on Blu, but, hey, Fortune Star...................

Re: The Hand of Death (1976)

Posted: 26 Mar 2017, 17:00
by saltysam
Yeah that's the one i have