Umbrella has been releasing cult director Brian Trenchard-Smith’s Ozploitation classics — including Death Cheaters and Stunt Rock — on handsome Blu-ray editions. Finally, they’ve gotten around to the director’s first, and arguably best, film, The Man from Hong Kong. It’s the kind of debut that makes a name for a director, in part thanks to its star, Jimmy Wang Yu.
That’s right, Jimmy Wang Yu — star of such classics as One-Armed Swordsman, The Chinese Boxer and One-Armed Boxer. Wang had broken his contract with the famous Shaw Brothers studio and been banned, for a time, from making films in Hong Kong. The Man from Hong Kong gave Wang an opportunity to shine again after being eclipsed by such up-and-comers as Ti Lung (Five Shaolin Masters) and, of course, Bruce Lee. Indeed Wang’s role in the film was originally written for Lee.
The plot follows Wang arriving in Australia (after opening credits set to Jigsaw’s “Sky High,” a one hit wonder Bond-alike song written for the film) to get some answers out of a thug played by Sammo Hung, who may or may not be working for none other than George Lazenby. Yes, that George Lazenby. This film works well because Wang gets to show off as a character who disregards protocol and kicks ass all day long. The stunts are awesome, too. Have you ever seen Lazenby lit on fire? Now you can, in glorious HD.
Additionally, there’s something weirdly progressive about seeing a womanizing ass-kicker in 1970s Australia played by an Asian man rather than just another white guy.
For Mad Max fans, Immortan Joe himself, Hugh Keays-Byrne, shows up as one of Wang’s Aussie cop sidekicks.
Umbrella once again outdoes itself with high-quality packaging, as well as a number of special features and pack-ins. Features include a new interview with stuntman Grant Page, two documentaries also by Trenchard-Smith (along with Page and Lazenby) on stunts and kung fu, as well as audio commentary from the director, Keays-Byrne and Page. The release also features an original soundtrack CD (which is great because the soundtrack rocks). The best part? It’s region-free.