I always go on about getting to see Hong Kong movies in this quality and Dragons Forever on 4K isn’t about to shut me up. From the Golden Harvest logo on a pure black background, Dragons Forever opens up to a bright, clear pictures. The grain of the film is always lively and bouncing around, but the colors of awnings, table clothes and factory metal are lush.
Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao fly gracefuly through this environment. The fight in the apartment in the dark is almost like the silhouette fight in Skyfall.
Dragons Forever couldn’t have been surround sound in 1988 but it is here. Doors close in the rear, office banter fills the room. Clanking weapons and grunts emerge from the surround speakers in the action scenes. So does the speed boat motor in a boat chase.
Dragons Forever comes in a large box with artistic renderings of the three brothers as they looked in 1988. It sure beats Miramax’s releases with photoshopped heads. If you like the art, it also comes with a poster of it.
With 10 interviews and more bonus features, Dragons Forever could be a whole project. So I’m here to help you pick which ones to focus on.
40 minutes with stuntman Chin Kar Lok covers his career from Shaw Brothers to Hung’s stunt team and all the different styles he learned. He credits Chan and Cory Yuen with bringing Hollywood safety ot Hong Kong stunts. Chin also emphasizes diplomacy as much as stunts, and discusses working on other films with Hung, Chan and Yuen.
Writer Szeto Cheuk-Hon speaks for 48 min and admits Chan could be prickly, though he’s never disrespectful towards him. Szeto also explains how actors’ availability often dictated the structure of ensemble films.
Benny “The Jet” Urquidez gives 24 minutes from meeting Bruce Lee to working with Jackie Chan. Urquidez’s time as a Karate teacher sounds like The Foot Fist Way with his students. Urquidez describes meeting Chan on Wheels on Meals and making actual contact in their Dragons Forever fight.
Interviews with Cinema Studies professor David Desser, producer and casting director Mike Leeder and future stuntman Jude Poyer are all 6-7 minutes. Though they each have different perspectives, these three come across as fans and appreciators of Dragons Forever.
A 26 minute interview with the late Brad Allen appears to be from 2005 o 2006, given the math of saying he’d joined the Jackie Chan Stunt Team eight years prior. He’s not connected to Dragons Forever but would work with Chan and lead his own stunt teams so it’s great to have this moment in time captured.
Joe Eigo and Andy Cheng also worked with Chan after Dragons forever but share their stories of the industry, Eigo for 13 minutes and Cheng for 38. With more time, Cheng gets into more anecdotes of action stars doing specific individual stunts.
Billy Chow did appear in Dragons Forever but his 34 minute feature focuses on his real kickboxing career. A lot of his colleagues provide commentary on Chow’s skills.
In a two minute short on the legacy of Dragons Forever, modern filmmakers reflect on its impact. 13 more minutes of outtakes and behind the scenes footage show how much they trim down to two or three minutes for the credits role. These aren’t as dramatic as the mishaps included in the credits, but there are still stunt flubs.
The two music videos are just stills from Dragons Forever, not an actual ‘80s video. So it’s the English and Cantonese version of the song. Additional cantonese dialogue is just 40 seconds with Jackie Chan in the pizza restaurant with the salad bar.
Two commentary tracks can’t help but cover some of the same ground, but each one elaborates on different aspects. Tai Seng’s Frank Djeng and producer FJ DeSanto are informative about the film’s locations and the voice actors who dub the leads because Hong Kong films weren’t shooting sync sound. They point out all the additional scenes in the Japanese cut.
Djeng and DeSanto touch on how Chan had to keep his marriage a secret because even on screen romances upset his female fans. They also describe Hung taking care of his stunt team but also gambling away his earnings. They also explain some Hong Kong inside jokes like the Pizza World salad in the aforementioned scene.
Leeder and journalist Arne Venema provide a bit more detail on the Three Brothers’ feud prior to Dragons, and the more salacious aspects of Chan’s love life. They also focus more on distinguishing Chan and Hung’s stunt teams. They also point out where you can see doubles and padding, but be clear the doubles were mainly because the stars were busy filming on another unit. They all do plenty of impressive things themselves.
The booklet includes two good articles, too. A history of the Three Brothers points out where to spot Chan, Hung and Yuen in their early stunt player roles, and describes how a Police Story injury prevented Chan from taking part in a Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars fight. The second provides biographies on Dragons Forever’s three female stars giving them their due.