Release Date(s)1978 (June 6, 2023)
Studio(s)Golden Harvest (Arrow Video)
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: A-
- Audio Grade: B+
- Extras Grade: A
Sammo Hung had been an actor for many years prior to directing The Iron-Fisted Monk and Enter the Fat Dragon, and Warriors Two was his third outing, co-starring with Casanova Wong (aka Ho Wang) and helming the project. Today it’s considered one the most authentic examples of the Wing Chun style of martial arts, as well as one of the best martial arts films ever made.
Fei Chung (Hung) sells his wares in town while under the tutelage of Tsang (Ka-Ya Leung), Master of Wing Chun. Chung’s friend, Cashier Hua (Wong), accidentally overhears a plot conducted by a man named Mo (Fung Hak-on) to kill the mayor and take over the town. He then unwittingly informs Mo’s right hand, Master Yao (Dean Shek ), which puts him in immediate danger. After being attacked and nearly killed, he’s saved by Chung at the last minute. After Hua’s wounds are healed, he and Chung beg Master Tsang to train Hua, which he reluctantly agrees to do. As he trains, the town is overrun by Mo and his men, and it isn’t long before Hua and Chung must face down their adversaries.
While Warriors Two carries a fairly predictable, run-of-the-mill plot, its execution is nothing of the sort. With a lean, mean running time of a little over 90 minutes (give or take depending upon which cut of the film you’re watching), it manages to mix humor with masterful fight choreography that’s often mesmerizing, particularly in the latter half of the film when the real action starts. The comedy is a little broad, but the majority of Warriors Two is well made and very entertaining.
Warriors Two was shot by director of photography Ricky Lau on 35 mm film, finished photochemically, and presented in the aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Arrow Video presents a 2K restoration master from “original film elements” by Fortune Star Media, with additional materials by Eureka. Both the original Hong Kong and international export versions are included. It’s worth noting that the opening and closing titles on both versions have been digitally re-created. These appear to be seamless branching presentations, both sporting a healthy bitrate, solid levels of fine detail, and a steady grain structure. The color palette offers a range of strong hues, with decent blacks and contrast. Everything appears clean, stable, and organic throughout (aside from the titles), with no major issues to speak of. It’s a very pleasant presentation.
Audio options for the Hong Kong version include Cantonese or Mandarin mono, as well as English 5.1 or mono. The English tracks are, respectively, the 2005 DVD dub of the film, and the original 1979 export audio with Cantonese patches for scenes that were never recorded in English. Audio for the export version is simply an English mono track, while subtitles for both versions are included in English. All of these are DTS-HD Master Audio tracks, and can only be toggled in the main menu. The Cantonese and Mandarin tracks are fairly narrow, but as far as performance, it’s a toss-up. The various emphases and tenor of the vocals work better at any given moment on one track over the other, and vice versa. Your mileage may vary in this department. In terms of sound effects, the Cantonese track seems to have the edge as everything sounds more natural, whereas the other tracks sound more canned. The hilarious classic English dub is far more enjoyable than its 5.1 counterpart. The 5.1 track even adds diegetic music into scenes, or at least it appears to be diegetic. Regardless, it’s more advanced and less natural to its source, never mind the quality of the performances, which are the poorest of the lot. However, having so many options is most welcome, no matter what your preference point is.
Warriors Two on Blu-ray sits in a clear amaray case with a double-sided poster and insert featuring new artwork by Joe Kim on the front and the original Hong Kong poster artwork on the reverse. Also included is a 32-page insert booklet containing cast and crew information, the essay A Bridge in Time by Jonathan Clements, a re-creation of the Golden Harvest press kit and campaign booklet, and restoration information. Everything is housed in a limited slipcover featuring the same new Joe Kim artwork. The following extras are included:
- Audio Commentary on the Hong Kong Cut by Frank Djeng and Robert “Bobby” Samuels
- Audio Commentary on the Export Cut by Mike Leeder and Arne Venema
- The Way of the Warrior: The Making of Warriors Two (SD – 45:37)
- Master Tsan and Cashier Wah: Interview with Leung Kar-yan (Upscaled SD – 5:15)
- Cantonese Trailer (Upscaled SD – 4:02)
- English Trailer (HD – 3:31)
- Image Gallery (HD – 75 in all)
The audio commentary for the Hong Kong version features martial arts cinema expert Frank Djeng and actor Robert “Bobby” Samuels, the latter a close friend of Sammo Hung. The two avidly discuss the background on the film, with Samuels bringing his own personal experiences with Hung to the fore. The audio commentary for the export version features action cinema experts Mike Leeder and Arne Venema. It could be described as a “fan” commentary of sorts, but anyone familiar with their other commentaries will know how ridiculously educated they are on Hong Kong cinema, which serve them well as they “fanboy” out, for lack of a better word. The Way of the Warrior is a 2005 documentary about the creation of the film and the Wing Chun style featuring Sammo Hung, Leung Kar-yan, Fung Hak-on, Casanova Wong, Wing Chun instructor Guy Lai, and Hong Kong cinema expert Bey Logan. In the brief interview with Leung Kar-yan, he discusses the character of Master Tsan and the making of the film. Last are a pair of trailers and an Image Gallery containing 75 stills of promotional photos, lobby cards, posters, press booklets, and home video artwork stills. Notable extras from previous releases that haven’t carried over include a video trailer from the 20th Century Fox Region 1 DVD release; an introduction to the film by film critic David Martinez from the Hong Kong Video Region 2 DVD release; and an audio commentary by Bey Logan and a UK promotional trailer from the Hong Kong Legends Region 2 DVD release.
Asian martial arts cinema on Blu-ray has been nothing if not plentiful in the last several years. Long-time fans can appreciate many of these films in presentations that put what came before them to shame. Warriors Two is one of the crown jewels of Hong Kong cinema, and with a very nice extras package in tow, can be enjoyed to its fullest.
- Tim Salmons