Arrow continues to upgrade Hong Kong classics to Blu-ray. Yuen Biao’s starring breakthrough, directed by Sammo Hung, is like a Shaw Brothers period Kung Fu movie but with impressive Peking Opera acrobatics and comedy.
There are some fun slapstick bits like an infinite repeating roll under the table and head bumps. Yuen can flip impressively. Hung trains him with a ball and jump rope while Yuen is like a human spring.
In HD, the look is not quite as clean as Shaw Brothers (check out Arrow’s ShawScope box sets for those) but it it’s a revolutionary upgrade to the VHS dubs we used to endure. Even compared to a DVD, it is sharper and brighter.
Hong Kong film experts Frank Djeng and Michael Worth give a commentary explaining the actors, themes and plot for regional specificities. They have a sort of reliable format on these commentaries, naming the dubbing voices, sharing production details.
On Knockabout, they do discuss scenes mocking gay characters, but reveal that later, Hung came around on that issue. They also tell a more detailed version of how Hung got the scar on his lip. They do not, however, point out which scenes have been added in the longer cut.
A collection of archival interviews complement the new commentary. Hung talks for seven minutes about his intimate knowledge of the performers and casting them for their skills.
Bryan Leung Ka-Yan talks about learning martial arts through his movie roles. Chan Sau Chung talks his trademark monkey Kung Fu for 24 min
The deleted scene is Yuen Biao doing kata on a red background, like a Bruce Lee movie. Then Hung comes out to put him to the test. It’s very impressive physical work just using bodies in an empty studio.