Half a Loaf of Kung Fu (88 Films) Blu-ray Review + Screenshots + Packaging

We finally have Half a Loaf of Kung Fu on blu-ray and 88 Films has done a bang up job with it.

Studio: 88 Films
Release Date: July 1st, 1978 (theatrical) / May 16th, 2022 (blu-ray)
Run Time: 1 hour 36 minutes 29 seconds
Region Code: B (locked)
Picture: 1080p (2.35:1 aspect ratio)
Sound: English LPCM 2.0, Cantonese LPCM 2.0, Cantonese LPCM 2.0 (alternate), Mandarin LPCM 2.0
Subtitles: English
Slipcover: Yes
Digital Copy: No
Starring: Jackie Chan (credited as "Jacky"), Dean Shek, James Tien, Doris Lung, and Wu Ma
Written by Tang Ming-chi
Directed by Chen Chi-hwa
Rating: BBFC: 18 (martial arts violence)




What's It About?

A bumbling long haired acrobat named Jiang desires to practice kung fu. He finds an advertisement for work at the Mansion as a bodyguard. Jiang doesn't get the bodyguard position, but cons his way into a job using his kung fu skills, and gets himself into the middle of some shady business. He is told not to go near the "guest room" where the special guest is staying. A fellow employee tells Jiang that there is an evil witch who lives in the guest room and is not to be disturbed. Jiang of course is caught spying on her and is run off the land. He then encounters two kung fu masters fighting in the woods. He watches one kill the other, and when he leaves Jiang takes the body into town to collect the reward. Using the money from the reward, Jiang tries to fulfill his kung fu dreams and find a master. He is suddenly attacked by the crazy witch and is about to lose until a mystery master shows up and beats her. The master turns out to be a bum, and teaches Jiang kung fu. He then goes on a journey with a princess to find a special jade plant. (taken from Wikipedia)

Film Review

Back when DVDs were first to hit it big, there were many smaller companies that would release films on DVD that they may or may not have had the rights to. These releases were often very cheap ($10 or less) and they would come packaged in a cd jewel case housed inside a cheap cardboard case. These films were almost never in widescreen and they usually in English only.  This was the first way I saw HALF A LOAF OF KUNG FU

There was also a DVD released in the states from Columbia/Tri-Star Home Video that was English only and fullscreen. I never bought this release as I wanted to wait for something better. I already had one shitty release of the film, so why would I need another.

The film is a spoof on the genre of martial arts films, especially the ones that were released in the 70's. The film starts out with Chan donning various costumes of famous martial arts characters and making goofy faces. Unfortunately the film doesn't get much better than this. The film wants to be both a spoof and a serious martial arts film and never really finds the right balance. There will be a scene with Chan mugging for the camera and then a scene with a character who is about to die and the characters are standing around taking it seriously. The comedy doesn't work most of the time and the fight scenes, when they do show up, are lackluster. It doesn't help that Chan's character doesn't know any martial arts for the majority of the film. 

HALF A LOAF OF KUNG FU is the film that Chan needed to make before he refined his comedy in SNAKE IN THE EAGLE'S SHADOW and DRUNKEN MASTER. The film's humor is all over the place and the fight scenes feel like an afterthought like they wanted to make a comedy but were forced to include fight scenes for the box office. I am thankful we have these films on blu-ray as they give us a look at what Chan was doing before he met the right people and started making classics.


Presented in the film's original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, HALF A LOAF OF KUNG FU looks really great. The first thing you will notice is the film grain. The opening of the film takes place in front of black background and the grain is pretty heavy. This was good news as film grain is always welcome (as it's supposed to be there). The rest of the film has moderate to heavy film grain depending on the scene. The lighter scenes even have noticeable film grain. Detail is not particularly high even in closeups. This is ok as the film was shot on cheap film stock. Colors and skin tones are excellent and the whole transfer has a very film-like look and feel to it. 

There are four audio tracks here for us to devour and I have to say that the original Cantonese track is the best sounding one, but the others are pretty good. There are English subtitles for the film and for the onscreen text.


Audio Commentary with Asian Cinema Experts Mike Leeder and Arne Venema
Japanese TV Spot
Hong Kong Trailer
Japanese Trailer
English Trailer

88 Films has given us a really nice looking slipcover for this release, designed by RP "Kung Fu Bob" O'Brien. The artwork does a great job of capturing the spirit of the film and the different characters and scenes. The clear 14mm blu-ray case features reversible artwork with one side featuring the "Kung Fu Bob" artwork with the other side featuring the film's original theatrical poster. Inside the case you will find a folded up poster featuring the same two pieces of artwork as the blu-ray case cover. A 32-page booklet with an essay about the film by Matthew Edwards along with promotional materials for the film. The disc art is the theatrical poster artwork and is locked to REGION B.


HALF A LOAF OF KUNG FU is not a very good film. The comedy is all over the place and fight scenes leave a lot to be desired. The blu-ray is really nice with great picture and sound along with a kickass commentary from Mike Leeder and Arne Venema. This release is for Chan completists only. 






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