No, Odd Couple is not the film in your mind right now. Yes, it’s the same name (minus an article). But rather than mismatched bickering comedians, this features twin Hong Kong icons Sammo Hung and Lau Kar-wing (who also directed) in dual roles — each as a student and master in two teams of martial arts warriors.
Hung and Kar-wing are, respectively, the King of Sabres and King of Spears, old masters who annually duel to a stalemate, so they pass on their rivalry to their students; here, the actors switch alignment, with Hung playing the student to Kar-wing and vice versa. But before they can see the battle through, an old enemy captures the masters — whom the students must now team up to rescue.
Odd Couple is often rightly acclaimed as one of its era’s greatest classical weapon-themed fight films. These sequences are simply stunning, and Eureka’s new 2K restoration brings them to life in a way unmatched by previous printings. The final fight is simply astonishing and has lived rent-free in my head for years. However, Hung and Kar-wing are old pros who also make Odd Couple extremely entertaining during its more comedic moments.
If the gorgeous visual rendition of such martial-arts madness isn’t enough, Eureka has included a bevy of extras, including archival interviews and two audio commentaries. A particular favourite is commentary by Eureka staple Frank Djeng, who always delightfully contextualizes these underseen films. The booklet also includes an excellent essay. Eureka has done a stellar job on these Legends releases, which remaster and / or repackage many classic Hong Kong films in the Western releases they deserve. Their best releases are Region B, though, meaning Americans may want to research region-free Blu-ray players. Trust me: It’s worth it. Although labels like Criterion, 88 Films and Arrow are starting to focus more on Hong Kong classics, they’re still behind what Eureka has been releasing for years. Case in point: They’ve now delivered a significant amount of Hung’s filmography. If you’re starting a collection of classic Hong Kong martial-arts cinema, Odd Couple would be a fine addition to your collection.