The Fearless Hyena (88 Films) Blu-ray Review



88 Films continues their trek to remaster every Jackie Chan film they can get their hands on with The Fearless Hyena, the first film that Jackie Chan ever directed. Click on through to check out our review.

Studio: 88 Films

Release Date: February 17th, 1979 (theatrical) / August 10th, 2020 (blu-ray)

Runtime: 1 hour 37 minutes 47 seconds

Region Code: B (locked)

Picture: 1080p (2.35:1 aspect ratio)

Sound: Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 (original), Cantonese DTS 1.0 (alternative), English DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 (original English dub), English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (updated English dub)

Subtitles: English

Slipcover: Yes (limited to first 1,000 copies)

Digital Copy: No

Starring: Jackie Chan, James Tien, Dean Shek, Kun Li, and Tien-chi Cheng

Written by Jackie Chan and Lo Wei

Directed by Jackie Chan

Rating: BBFC: 15 (contains frequent moderate martial arts violence)



THE FILM



Shing Lung (Jackie Chan) is a youngster, living in a remote village with his grandfather who teaches him Kung-Fu. He keeps getting into fights, even though his grandfather warns him not to show their Kung-Fu to others. Lung, though, is tempted by some thugs he beat up to act as the Master of a Kung Fu school. This school's name apparently spreads far, as an old enemy of Lung's grandfather shows up and attacks him. Lung goes on training with the help of another member of the old gang, until he can eventually get revenge.


Throughout the years, I have seen a lot of praise for THE FEARLESS HYENA. I get that everyone and their mothers love Jackie Chan, but man, is THE FEARLESS HYENA a mess of a film.


The film starts with general and his three goons are going around China, killing off different groups. The first ten or so minutes are this general and his guys going after a master and his two subjects. This is all well and good: set up the villain with some heinous stuff like killing a bunch of people and give us the setting. We then move into the Jackie Chan stuff. He plays the grandson of a kung fu master and causes a lot of trouble for his grandfather by fighting others, thus teaching them martial arts. It’s a lame explanation for why the grandfather doesn’t really seem to like this grandson, but it is what it is.


Soon Chan has a job at a funeral home but quickly loses that when his boss becomes trapped inside of a coffin. After that, Chan seems to go into the ripping people off business with a guy who looks like the Chinese equivalent of Wendell Sanders from KEY AND PEELE (minus a few pounds). Chan has the fight students from different schools to keep his racket going. I am not sure what the racket is, but there is one.


Chan’s grandfather is killed by the general that we only saw once at the beginning of the film. This is where my problems with the film start to come into focus. We haven’t seen the bad guy in a very long time and we are expected to remember who this guy is. When he showed up again, I had to sit there and wonder if I had seen this guy before. We have been sitting through a series of long-form gags and NOW they want to reintroduce the film’s plot? I know that I am not watching this film for its plot, but this is just ridiculous. 


The comedy sections of the film aren’t even all that great either. There is a gambling scene where Chan loses all his money to cheat only to help another gambler out and then cheating him out of his money. The gags just don’t work. Some moments work. The entire school scam stuff is just awful with Chan dressing up as a rather unconvincing female in order to make people think that there are more people in the school then there actually are. 


The fight scenes are pretty good throughout the film. Chan has always been a great choreographer and the fights here are no exception. From the more villain, evil fights where people die to the goofy comedy fight scenes, Chan can do just about every type of fight scene. Chan always puts the most effort into his fight scenes because that is why the audience goes to his films.


THE FEARLESS HYENA is definitely not one of my favorite Jackie Chan films. While it is really nice to see Chan in his early days, but this is one of those films where it feels like Chan just wants to get through the film as fast as he can to get to the film he really wants to make. The comedy is pretty lame and the “all over the place” approach to the film just makes the film feel much longer than it actually is. Skip this one and go right to the films that Chan made with Golden Harvest.


THE PICTURE AND THE SOUND


Sporting a brand 2K restoration, and presented in the film’s original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, THE FEARLESS HYENA looks fantastic. Colors pop off the screen, especially reds and greens. Skin tones look very accurate and detail is high. 88 Films continues their quest to restore every Jackie Chan film out there with the beautiful picture found here.

Sound-wise, we have four different tracks. The first original Cantonese dub, alternate use of this dub with different sound cues found in the Japanese version of the film, and the original English dub in both it’s original mono sound and an update 5.1 track. Purists will go for the original Cantonese track, but I loved the English dub. There are some hilarious lines that are clearly not a translation of what is said onscreen. I don’t know the film that well to be able to tell the differences between the original Cantonese and the alternate one with the different sound cues, but they are here for fans.



THE MENUS




THE PACKAGING









The disc is REGION B (locked)

THE FEATURES

Commentary by Mike Leeder and Arne Venema - Another excellent commentary from Leeder and Venema. The two talk about the Lo Wei vs. Jackie Chan fights of the late 70’s, Jackie Chan as a director now versus then, and how the landscape in kung fu films have changed over the years.

Trailer (4m 6s, HD, 2.35:1) In Cantonese with English subtitles.


Japanese Trailer (3m 2s, HD, 2.35:1) In Cantonese with Japanese and English subtitles.


TV Spot (14s, HD, 1.33:1) In Japanese with English subtitles.



THE WRAP-UP



I did not like THE FEARLESS HYENA. I found the comedy to be boring and the plot almost nonsensical. Not even the fight scenes could save this film. The 88 Films blu-ray is another story. The picture and the sound are just amazing and the special features are worth sitting through. I can recommend this release for the commentary track alone.



THE SCREENSHOTS

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