In the world of martial arts cinema, one of the greats is Hung Kam-bo, known more commonly as Sammo Hung. His resume includes acting, stunt choreography, writing, producing, and directing in films released by Cathay Asia, Bo Bo Films, Shaw Brothers Studios, and Golden Harvest, to name a few. Never afraid to take a punch or make himself look silly, Hung is an incredible talent who constantly offers shine to those around him, demonstrating that when one actor or scene looks good, it only uplifts them all. For his second Golden Harvest production, following-up 1977’s The Iron-Fisted Monk, Hung directed and starred in Warriors Two (贊先生與找錢華), a wuxia action dramedy co-starring Bryan “Beardy” Leung Kar-Yan, Feng Hak-An, and Casanova Wong. Thanks to Arrow Video, marital arts fans enjoy a 2K restoration of either the original Hong Kong or shorter International Cut, as well as a small gathering of previously released materials and two new commentary tracks.
When Cashier Wah (Wong) isn’t advising his friend Fatty Cheun (Hung) on ways not to get scammed, he’s working at the local bank. One evening, he accidentally overhears the owner of the bank, Mr. Mo (Feng Hak-An), discuss a plan to kill the mayor and take the position for himself. When trying to report this, he trusts the wrong person and finds himself on the wrong end of Mo’s men. Escaping with the help of Cheun, Wah asks local Wing Chun master Tsang (Kar-Yan) to train him so that he can better protect himself and the town. Reluctantly, Tsang accepts, setting the master and all his students on a collision course with Mo’s men that places the entire fate of the town at their feet.
Coming to Warriors Two blind, the film is not entirely what one expects. The opening is akin to a Shaw Brothers Production (The 36th Chamber of Shaolin) where a voiceover introduces Master Tsang and his Wing Chun fighting style, as well as Wah. Between watching the two spar and the narration, there’s a sense that these are the titular warriors, but that’s not the case in the slightest. It really comes down to Wah and Cheun, which is strange as our introduction to Cheun is one of a bit of a dunce, whose businesses are ruined via scammers or by eating his inventory. Hung portraying such a foolish character has continued throughout his career, so it’s not a particularly surprising element to the film and does offer quite a bit of natural humor to the otherwise tense proceedings. The issue is that the further into the film the audience goes, the more prominent Cheun becomes and this fool gets plenty of people killed. While that does add drama to the film, it results in quite a bit of imbalance in tone. There’re elements that remind the audience of 1972’s One-Armed Boxer — a crew vying for control of an area, betrayals, murder, and a great deal of martial arts combat — except Warriors Two is also infused with levels of comedy that are consistently enjoyable yet undercut the dramatic tension over and over. Thankfully, the audience can count on the stunt work in the film to dazzle. Even when it feels far less kinetic than modern action releases like The Roundup: No Way Out (2023), one can’t help but be impressed by the choreography and intensity that the cast bring to the on-screen conflicts.
In a regular home release review, especially one of an older theatrical release, I would offer information on the packaging, any included physical home release materials, as well as share the process of creating the print. Though a review copy was provided by MVD Entertainment Group to conduct this home release review, it is a check disc and only comes accompanied by the film and on-disc materials. According to the press release and official release sites, there are two different retail edition (one with and one without a slipcover), an illustrated collector’s booklet, a reversible foldout poster, a reversible liner to display one of two covers, and several on-disc materials. Though I cannot speak to the process of creating the 2K restoration, the press notes indicate that the original elements of both versions of the film came from Fortune Star.
The restoration itself is strong. The colors are cleaned up and more natural, with increased detail noticeable. In particular, though likely not intentional, as a result of the restoration, one can get a fairly good look at the hairpiece application Hung is wearing whenever there’s a close-up. The paint used to indicate blood is shiny and red, the blues of Tsang’s disciples are a lovely dark shade, and the shininess of Kam Fung’s (Cheung Man-Ting) blades is blinding. In terms of sound, though the audio is monoaural, the dialogue is clear, and the foley work that’s added to the action is pristine. Once one finds a comfortable volume, there’s no need to adjust at any point, that’s how good the balance is.
The on-disc bonus features are a mix of new and old. There’re two commentary tracks, one for the HK Cut and one for the International Cut – with Frank Djeng and actor Bobby Samuels on the HK Cut and action cinema experts Mike Leeder and Arne Venema on the International Cut, affording martial arts fans options if they want to watch the film and learn something as they go. The fact that they have different people on each track is a nice little boon for home viewers as it means that neither one will sound the same, even if some information may overlap. There are also two archival features: a 2005 documentary titled The Way of the Warrior: The Making of Warriors Two and a separate solo interview with Kar-Yan. Rounding out the on-disc features are two theatrical trailers, one in Cantonese and one in English, and a 1:16 minute automated image gallery. Not a whole lot of new on this release, so the focal point when deciding whether or not to purchase this edition may be the restoration and physical features that accompany it.
As of late, physical media proponents have come to count on boutiques like Arrow Video, 88 Films, Shout! Factory, and MVD Entertainment Group for their high quality martial arts action restorations. In the last few years alone, we’ve gotten a slew of Hung (Millionaires’ Express), Jackie Chan (Gorgeous), Michelle Yeoh (Royal Warriors), Cynthia Rothrock (Yes, Madam!), Donnie Yen (Tiger Cage), and Cynthia Khan (In the Line of Duty III & IV) new editions, each one providing an opportunity for folks to visit or revisit the cinema that influenced creatives like Jesse V. Johnson (Avengement), Chad Stahelski (John Wick franchise), and David Leitch (Atomic Blonde). No doubt that Warriors Two is a strong addition to anyone’s home collection, offering a bridge between classic HK cinema and modernity.
Warriors Two Special Features:
- 2K restorations from the original elements by Fortune Star of both the original HK Theatrical Cut and the shorter Export Cut
- High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation
- Original lossless Cantonese and Mandarin mono audio for the HK Theatrical Cut, plus lossless English mono for the export cut
- Two choices of English dubbed audio for the HK Theatrical Cut: the original export dub mono (with Cantonese patches for missing scenes) and the newer 5.1 dub created for international DVD presentations
- Optional English subtitles for the HK Theatrical Cut and English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing on the Export Cut
- Commentary on the HK Theatrical Cut by martial arts cinema expert Frank Djeng & actor Bobby Samuels
- Commentary on the Export Cut by action cinema experts Mike Leeder & Arne Venema
- Archival documentary The Way of the Warrior: The Making of Warriors Two, featuring interviews with stars Sammo Hung, Bryan “Beardy” Leung Kar-Yan, Feng Hak-An, Casanova Wong and Wing Chun master Guy Lai
- Archival interview with Bryan “Beardy” Leung Kar-Yan
- Original theatrical trailers
- Double-sided fold-out poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Joe Kim
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Joe Kim
- Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Jonathan Clements and original press materials
Available on Blu-ray from Arrow Video June 6th, 2023.
For more information or to purchase, head to the official MVD Entertainment Group Warriors Two webpage.