Blu-Ray Review: Last Hurrah for Chivalry / Hand of Death: Two Films by John Woo

There have been very few film-makers who began their careers in Asian cinema and then made the successful transition to Hollywood. Whilst the language barrier is an obvious difficulty, it’s often cultural differences which provide the biggest hurdles. John Woo is a notable exception. He first came to prominence in the 1990s, with his films such as The Killer, Hard Boiled and A Better Tomorrow influencing filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino. Woo went on to bring his brand of chaotic and bloody action to American; most notably with Face/Off and Mission: Impossible II. However, some of his earlier work is less well-known.

Last Hurrah for Chivalry

A merchant enlists two mercenary master swordsmen (Wei Pai and Damian Lau) to exact revenge on a kung-fu master. However, all is not what it seems. As the plot twists and turns, Woo ensures that the bloodshed and violence is set to eleven. Whilst the action is deftly choreographed and the stars impress, it’s the plot which really holds everything together. He’s created an absorbing revenge thriller with multiple layers.

Hand of Death

Whilst Woo’s fourth film, Hand of Death, may not be quite on par with Last Hurrah for Chivalry, it does afford us early glimpses of Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung. Shih Shao-Feng (James Tien), a Manchu warlord, is hellbent on wiping out all the Shaolin disciples. As the remnants flee to escape this massacre, it falls on the brightest student (Tao-Liang Tan) to assemble a group to stop him. Hand of Death contains some great fight sequences and stunt work.

Special features:

  • Stunning 1080p presentation of both films on Blu-ray, from brand new 2K restorations
  • Cantonese, Mandarin and English audio options
  • Optional English subtitles
  • Brand new audio commentaries on both Last Hurrah for Chivalry and Hand of Death, by martial-arts cinema authority Mike Leeder
  • Archival interviews with director John Woo
  • Trailers for both films
  • Reversible inlay featuring original poster artwork
  • Limited Edition Collector’s booklet featuring new writing by film writer Matthew Thrift [2000 copies]

Last Hurrah for Chivalry / Hand of Death: Two Films by John Woo  is released on Blu-ray by Eureka Entertainment on 24 June.

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