Continuing my deep dive into Hong Kong films restored and remastered, Millionaire’s Express was Sammo Hung’s western. I always saw it as his Indiana Jones movie since it was an old timey globe trotting adventure, not to be confused with Jackie Chan’s Indiana Jones franchise Armor of God.
From the opening scenes you can tell the Millionaire’s Express Blu-ray will be the seminal experience of this movie. The white snow in “Russia” (actually Canada) is pure white and fire rages from the exploding hut to Yuen Biao’s fireman rescue.
The historic town Hung’s crew built is lush with detail. In HD you can see the texture of those walls, whether it’s real or carved in foam. The greenery along the railroad is also lush, and the train itself is shiny red.
MVD’s Blu-ray includes a lot of bonus features from the U.K. Eureka release. There are several Cynthia Rothrock interviews, perhaps the most prolific because she’s the English speaker of the cast. The newest interview covers her whole career from beginning training to the various Hong Kong films in which she starred.
A video from her website addresses Millionaire’s Express specifically. It includes stories of performers actually hitting each other, makeshift bathrooms and the wire stunt that Sylvester Stallone liked. By the 2007 interview, there is some overlap, but in that one she elaborates on the Hong Kong stuntmen hitting hard vs. American stuntmen who asked her to go easy.
The 2007 interviews seem to come from the Dragon Dynasty release as Shanghai Express. That may also be where the English language chyron for the alternate opening comes from.
In two different interviews, Sammo Hung explains his love of westerns and decision to do Bruce Lee moves. He gets specific about the controlled fires and the actual train, the inclusion of Wong Fei-hung as a character and training with Yuen Biao.
In another 2007 piece, Biao remembers the location, the extras in scenes with him, the writer and having to reset the train for every take. Also from 2007, Yukari Oshima talks about her training, discovering martial arts movies, getting stunt work, dealing with the language barrier and her admiration of Yuen Biao.
Two commentaries accompany two of the four cuts of Millionaire’s Express included. Regular Frank Djeng points out production details like the Russian military uniforms, visual effects, scenes taken out of other cuts, the Thai extras and the role Jackie Chan was supposed to play.
On the other track, Mike Leeder and Arne Venema get a lot more specific about Hung and Chan’s feud. It would ultimately resolve in time for Dragons Forever, and fray again before and after Mr. Nice Guy. They lso get into the weeds on every actor in the film, no matter how small a part. If you want to see them again, Leeder and Venema will recommend several other titles.