Import Corner: Snake & Crane Arts of Shaolin (88 Films) Blu-ray Review

88 Films goes back to one of their earliest Hong Kong cinema blu-ray releases with spectacular results.

Studio: 88 Films
Release Date: March 8th, 1978 (theatrical) / January 16th, 2023 (blu-ray)
Run Time: 1 hour 41 minutes 15 seconds
Region Code: B (locked)
Picture: 1080p (2.35:1 aspect ratio)
Subtitles: English
Slipcover: Yes (hard slip box)
Digital Copy: No
Starring: Jackie Chan, Nora Miao, Chin Cheng-Lan
Written by 
Chang Hsin-Yi
Directed by 
Chen Chi-Hwa 
Rating: BBFC: 15 (strong martial arts violence)




What's It About?

A book developed by eight martial arts masters before their mysterious disappearance is being sought by various clans and gangs. The inscrutable Xu Ying-feng is pursued by them for both this and answers but is in pursuit of someone himself.


Presented in the film's original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and taken from a brand new 2K transfer from the original camera negative, SNAKE AND CRANE ARTS OF SHAOLIN looks really good. When it comes to the Lo Wei films that Jackie Chan made in the 70's, the transfers can look great (SNAKE IN THE EAGLE'S SHADOW, THE FEARLESS HYENA) or they can look fairly bad (THE KILLER METEORS). SNAKE AND CRANE ARTS OF SHAOLIN looks really good at times but kind of bad at times too. The film was made on the cheap so there are going to be all sorts of problems like shots being out of focus, colors looking off, and black crush. These things are problems with the actual filmmaking and not a problem with the transfer of the work done on the restoration. The actual transfer is pretty nice. The look and feel of the film is reproduced rather nicely here with many shots have a nice clarity to them. Colors are also nice and rich. Detail is never really that high in anything that isn't a close up. This is a good transfer of a kind of crappy looking film.

There are many shots that are out of focus and there are other shots that look like "process" shots, like the ones that are used to fade out of a shot, where it looks darker than the previous shot.

There are three audio options with the English track being the better track, although all the tracks are good.


Brand New Audio Commentary with Action Cinema Experts Mike Leeder and Arne Venema
Pick Your Poison - Rick Baker Remebers Snake and Crane Arts of Shaolin (19m 51s, HD, 1.78:1) Talks about his first discovery of the film. He says that this is one of Jackie Chan's personal favorites as he was allowed to be more of himself. The other films leading up to this he was more of a hired gun, told what to do on how to do it. He talks about the music in the film being used without a license as this was something that Hong Kong filmmakers did a lot. There is music used in Snake in the Eagle's Shadow that was not licensed and Magnificent Bodyguards used music from the Star Wars score. He also talks about how there are many people who claim to have "discovered" Jackie Chan. He talks about how good the film is and how it came out during a barrage of Chan films being released one right after the other.
Jackie Chan - Looking Again at the Lo Wei Era with Film-Maker Steve Lawson (10m 19s, HD, 1.78:1) Opens up by saying Jackie Chan was the most influential person on his career. He wanted to make Jackie Chan films and made a few that were influenced by Chan. He speaks a lot about Lo Wei and how he is perceived as a con man. He talks about how Lo Wei screwed him over with a ten-year contract and how Jackie Chan walked away from Wei to join Golden Harvest. He closes off by talking about Fearless Hyena II, a film that Lo Wei made with footage shot by Chan before he left, footage from other Chan films that Lo Wei owned, and new footage that was shot to bridge all the other footage together. 
Japanese Trailer (2m 12, HD, 1.85:1)
Japanese TV Spot (15s, HD, 1.33:1)
Stills Gallery (3m 22s, HD)

88 Films has really gone all out for their new SNAKE AND CRANE ARTS OF SHAOLIN blu-ray. We get a nice outer slip box like the ones that 88 Films have been using on their Limited Editions (THE YOUNG MASTER, RIKI-OH: STORY OF RICKY, and THE SEVENTH CURSE) for a few years now. The outer box features artwork by RP "Kung Fu Bob" O'Brien and looks great, as they always do. Inside the box is a 14mm blu-ray case featuring reversible artwork, with one side featuring the Kung Fu Bob artwork and the other side featuring the film's original theatrical poster. Inside the blu-ray case you will find six postcards that replicate the lobby cards from the film's original release. There is one blu-ray disc as well that house the film and it's special features. An 80-page perfect bound book that features two essays about the film from Matthew Edwards and Andrew Heskins along with plenty of screenshots from the film and behind-the-scenes photos. Last but not least, a double sided poster with the Kung Fu Bob art on one side and the film's poster on the other.

The disc is REGION B (locked)


88 Films is starting out 2023 with a bang. Their 4K release of DRAGONS FOREVER is amazing and so is this release. The picture quality (not counting the problems with the actual filmmaking) is really nice and the audio gets the job done. The special features are really great with another banger of a commentary from Mike Leeder and Arne Venema and I also loved the featurettes about the film and the Lo Wei era. The film is pretty damn entertaining and worthy of the upgrade that 88 Films provides.






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