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Import Corner: Dragons Forever (88 Films) Blu-ray Review


The 1988 Jackie Chan/Sammo Hung/Yuen Biao flick, Dragons Forever, has finally been given the treatment it deserves from the fine folks over at 88 Films. Read our review to find out more.

Studio: 88 Films
Release Date(s): February 11th, 1988 (Hong Kong theatrical) / April 23rd, 1988 (Japanese theatrical) / January 1st, 1998 (home video) / March 16th, 2020
Run Time(s): 94 mins (Hong Kong and English versions) / 97 mins (Japanese version)
Region Code: B (locked)
Picture: 1080p (1.85:1 aspect ratio) (all versions)
Sound: Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 (Hong Kong and Japanese versions) / Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (Hong Kong and Japanese versions) / English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (Hong Kong version “remixed” and English versions) / English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (Hong Kong version)
Subtitles: English and English SDH
Slipcover: Yes (first printing only)
Digital Copy: No
Starring: Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Yuen Wah, Benny “The Jet” Urquidez, and Pauline Yueng
Written by Cheuk-Hon Szeto
Directed by Sammo Hung
Rating: 18 (strong violence)

THE FILM



Jackie Chan stars as a hot-shot lawyer hired by a Hong Kong chemical plant to dispose of opposition to their polluting ways. But when he falls for a beautiful woman out to stop the plant, Jackie is torn in a conflict of interest and asks his trusty friends Samo and Biao to help out at least until they discover the true purpose of the plant.

DRAGONS FOREVER is one of my favorite Jackie Chan films and one of my favorite from the 80’s. The comedy is one point and the action scenes are just amazing. This would be the last film the three brothers (Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, and Yuen Biao) would appear in together, as they had a falling out prior to the making of DRAGONS FOREVER. Sammo and Yuen would work on films together and Jackie and Sammo would work on films together, but for some reason, the brothers never made another film with the three of them. It’s a shame because they work so well together. They grew up together in a Peking Opera school, so they should know each other frontwards and backwards and that has never been shown better than here. 

Jackie Chan is known for going for the comedy in his fight scenes. His fights were never that brutal and he would always end up saving the bad guy if it looked like he was going to die. Sammo Hung was known for having very realistic fight scenes. Sure, they were heavily choreographed, but they were just brutal to the point that Sammo’s characters would kill their opponents more than they would save them (in the final fight at least). Yuen Biao was fast. He was acrobatic. His stunts were insane. 

Watching the brothers fight in DRAGONS FOREVER is amazing and sad at the same time. The fights between them are just so fluid and vibrant. They got the comedy and the action down pat and the fights together are some of the highlights of the film.

One complaint that I have with the film is the end fight scene between Chan and Benny “The Jet” Urquidez. The previously fought each other in Wheels on Meals which is one of my favorite fight scenes ever, and this was supposed to be the rematch. While it is a rematch, the film has to cut between two other storylines (the same was done with WHEELS ON MEALS), but the cutting here seems sloppy. As Chan and Urquidez are getting hot, the film cuts to another storyline and kills the momentum that the fight was building towards. This is down a few times and I don’t think that it helps the film at all. This fight should have been one for the ages, but it just doesn’t make the grade. It is a good fight, don’t get me wrong, but it could have been so much more than that.

Despite my complaint about the end fight scene, DRAGONS FOREVER is a great film. All three brothers work together so well and compliment each other while the film has a sweetness to it. Actually, the film could be seen as a romantic comedy and many do. The film works in almost every area it explores and that makes it one of the best films to come out of Hong Kong in the 80’s. 

THE PICTURE AND THE SOUND



Featuring a brand new 4K restoration, and presented in the film’s original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, DRAGONS FOREVER looks amazing. I have owned the film on multiple formats throughout the years and the film has never looked this good. The print is clean and debris free. Detail is extremely high throughout the film. Colors are natural and vibrant at times and skin tones are exactly where they need to be. Blacks are inky and film grain is present. This is one of the best restorations of a Hong Kong martial arts film I have ever seen and should be the benchmark for all other films to be judged against.

The sound here is just as amazing as the picture. Being owned by Fortune Star, DRAGONS FOREVER, like most of the other films from Fortune Star, was given a brand new English dub along with new sound effects to fill out the now 5.1 track. This track has haunted kung fu fans for over a decade. This track is here, but 88 Films has gone back to basics and included the original Cantonese and English dubs along with a hybrid track that contains the original English dub with the newer Fortune Star dubs included for scenes that were not dubbed. All of these tracks sound great and it was a true pleasure to finally hear the English dub I first saw Dragons Forever with all those years ago.

THE PACKAGING




THE MENUS 


Disc 1


Disc 2


THE FEATURES


Disc 1: Original Hong Kong Version (1h 34m 25s, HD)

Audio Commentary with Mike Leeder and Arne Venema- This the
highlight of the special features package. They talk about how the
title of the film is a lie, point all the times the actors are doubled
(which is a lot), and how much Hong Kong has changed in the
30 since the film’s release. There is not a dull spot during this
entire track and I can’t recommend it high enough.


Benny Forever (24m 36s, HD) Here we have an interview with Benny
“The Jet” Urquidez, who plays the main villain’s muscle. Urquidez spends
a long time telling stories from his competition days before getting to
talking about Dragons Forever. I really wanted to like this interview,
but I wanted to know more about the film and less about his fighting
days. Still, it’s not a bad interview and Urquidez is so positive that
you can’t hate on him.


Discussing Dragons Forever (7m, HD) This is an interview with David
Dessor who is a college professor. He talks about his love for Dragons
Forever and gives us some pretty standard history about the three
brothers and their history.


Hong Kong Cinema Forever (6m 5s, HD) Mike Leeder is the
next expert to be interviewed and most of the stuff he says here is
repeated in the commentary track.


Working with the Dragons (6m 15s, HD) Jude Poyer is the last of the
new interviewees. He has worked with Chan, Hung, and Biao on different
projects and spends the time he has here describing the differences between the three.


Double Jeopardy with Brad Allan (26m 36s, SD) This interview is the
first of 4 interviews from the Hong Kong Legends dvd of Dragons Forever.
Allan is the first non-Chinese member of the Jackie Chan Stunt Team.
He goes over his history and his work with the Stunt Team and work he
got because he was on the Team. 


Beyond Gravity with Joe Eigo (13m 2s, SD) Eigo has worked with Chan
on a few films during the early 2000’s and talks about his experiences with
Chan.


Kick Fighter with Andy Cheng (38m 46s, SD) Cheng also has worked with
Chan on a few films and talks about his experiences.


Thai Breaker with Billy Chow (34m 11s, SD) This interview begins with
Chow in a tournament before having him sit down to talk about his work with
the three brothers.


The Legacy of Dragons Forever (2m 33s, HD) A very brief borage of martial
artists and Hong Kong movie experts saying why they love Dragons Forever.


Deleted Scenes (3m 36s, HD) There are two scenes with Yuen Biao
and his doctor.

Japanese End Credits (1m 28s, HD) For some reason, Dragons Forever
didn’t include the outtakes during the credits like most Jackie Chan films, but
the Japanese version of the film did.


Outtakes and Behind the Scenes (13m 2sm HD) No sound here (as
recording sync sound was not done during this time in Hong Kong), but
we get to see what goes into the making of Hong Kong film. The score
plays while these scenes are going on as to have them be silent.

English Trailer (2m 20s, HD)

Hong Kong Trailer (3m 10s, HD) There is some really funky editing going on
here along with some sci-fi sounding effects.

Disc 2: English and Japanese Versions


Dragons Forever- English Version (1h 34m 9s, HD) Commissioned by
Golden Harvest for international audiences outside of Asia with full classic
English dub.


Cyclone Z- Japanese Version (1h 37m 54s, HD) Produced exclusively for the
Japanese market, this Cantonese language version includes two extra scenes
and an ending with outtakes. 

We also get a nice booklet with writings on the film as well as some really cool promotional material.

THE CONCLUSION 



DRAGONS FOREVER is one of my very favorite kung fu flicks. The three brothers make this a film that has stood the test of time. The fights are amazing and the comedy is funny. 88 Films has given the film the most royalist of royal treatments. The picture and sound have never been better and the special features package is worth every second it gives you. This is a must own release and it will happily see an entry on my “Best of” list at the end of the year.

THE SCREENSHOTS






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