Lady Whirlwind & Hapkido – Arrow Video (Blu-ray)
Theatrical Release Dates: Hong Kong/South Korea, 1972 (Hapkido), Hong Kong, 1972 (Lady Whirlwind)
Director: Feng Huang (Both Films)
Cast: Angela Mao, Carter Wong, Sammo Kam-Bo Hung, Han Jae Ji, Kung-chan, Ying Bai, Nancy Sit (Hapkido), Angela Mao, Chang Yi, Ying Bai, Kyung-Ah Oh, Sammo Kam-Bo Hung (Lady Whirlwind)
Release Date: January 17th, 2023
Approximate running times: 97 Minutes 29 Seconds (Hapkido), 88 Minutes 57 Seconds (Lady Whirlwind)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (Both Films)
Sound: DTS-HD Mono Mandarin, DTS-HD Mono English "Vintage Kung Fu Dub", DTS-HD Mono English "Vintage Hapkido Dub", DTS-HD 5.1 English "Revised Dub" (Hapkido), DTS-HD Mono Mandarin, DTS-HD Mono English (Lady Whirlwind)
Subtitles: English (Both Films)
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $39.95
"When director Huang Feng (The Shaolin Plot) jumped ship from Shaw Brothers to their upstart rivals Golden Harvest, he swiftly launched the career of a Taiwanese ingenue barely out of Beijing opera school named Angela Mao, who despite her fresh-faced femininity became one of Hong Kong's toughest action icons of the 1970s. Lady Whirlwind, directed by Huang in 1972, sees Mao dead set on avenging the death of her sister, only to find herself fighting a common enemy alongside the man she wants revenge on. Hapkido, made the same year, sees her once more pitted against a gang of Japanese thugs, alongside fellow soon-to-be kung fu legends Sammo Hung (Knockabout) and Carter Wong (Big Trouble in Little China) as disciples of the titular Korean fighting style, studying under real-life hapkido grandmasters Ji Han-jae (Game of Death) and Hwang In-shik (The Way of the Dragon). Originally released in the US as Deep Thrust and Lady Kung Fu respectively, these two restored martial arts classics show Mao at her mightiest - every bit as formidable as the great Bruce Lee, whose sister she played in Enter the Dragon the following year." - synopsis provided by the distributor
Video: 4/5 (Hapkido), 4.25/5 (Lady Whirlwind)
Here’s the information provided about the transfers, "Both films were restored in 2K resolution from original film elements by Fortune Star, who supplied these masters to Arrow Video for this Blu-ray release. Additional audio elements were supplied by Irongod2112 and other collectors, and the 35mm trailer for Deep Thrust (Lady Whirlwind) was kindly provided for scanning by Scott Napier. Additional audio sync work on both features was performed by Þorsteein Gislason."
Hapkido comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.
Disc Size: 45.3 GB
Feature: 28.6 GB
Lady Whirlwind comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.
Disc Size: 35.8 GB
Feature: 22.6 GB
The sources used for both transfers are in great shape, and they are on par with the other Fortune Star titles released in North America and the UK on Blu-ray. There are no issues when it comes to color saturation; flesh tones look correct; image clarity and compression are strong. That said, black levels for Lady Whirlwind fare better than they do for Hapkido.
Audio: 4.25/5 (DTS-HD Mono Mandarin, DTS-HD Mono English "Vintage Kung Fu Dub" - Hapkido, DTS-HD Mono English - Lady Whirlwind), 4/5 (DTS-HD Mono English "Vintage Hapkido Dub" - Hapkido, DTS-HD Mono Mandarin - Lady Whirlwind), 3.75/5 (DTS-HD 5.1 English "Revised Dub" - Hapkido)
Hapkido comes with four audio options, a DTS-HD mono mix in Mandarin; a DTS-HD mono mix in English titled Vintage Kung Fu Dub; a DTS-HD mono mix in English titled Vintage Hapkido Dub; and a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in English titled Revised Dub. The weakest of these four audio mixes is the DTS-HD 5.1 track, which pales in every way to the mono tracks. The strongest tracks are the Mandarin track and the English track titled Vintage Kung Fu Dub. The English track titled "Vintage Hapkido Dub" does not sound as robust as the other two mono tracks. Included with this release are two removable subtitle tracks: English for the Mandarin language track and English for Mandarin text/signs for the English language tracks.
Lady Whirlwind comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD mono mix in Mandarin and a DTS-HD mono mix in English. Both tracks are in great shape; dialog comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced, and fight scenes sound robust. That said, the sound effects are more pronounced on the English language track. Included with this release are two removable subtitle tracks: English for the Mandarin language track and English for Mandarin text/signs for the English language track.
Extras for Lady Whirlwind include an image gallery (25 images-stills/posters/lobby cards), Hong Kong theatrical trailer (3 minutes 23 seconds, Dolby Digital mono Mandarin with burnt-in English and Cantonese subtitles), U.S. theatrical trailer under the title Deep Thrust (1 minute 55 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), U.S. radio spot under the title Deep Thrust (1 minute 1 second, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), alternate English language credits (1 minute 34 seconds, Dolby Digital mono), an interview with Angela Mao’s son titled Kung Fu Cooking with Thomas King (31 minutes 49 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with actress Angela Mao tilted Lady Whirlwind Speaks (13 minutes 19 seconds, Dolby Dolby stereo Chinese with removable English subtitles), an audio commentary with Frank Djeng (NY Asian Film Festival) and martial artist/actor Robert “Bobby” Samuels, an audio commentary with Asian film experts Frank Djeng and Michael Worth, and an audio commentary with film journalist and author Samm Deighan.
Extras for Hapkido include an image gallery (66 images-stills/lobby cards/posters/other promotional materials), Hong Kong theatrical trailer #1 (4 minutes 21 seconds, Dolby Digital mono Mandarin with removable English subtitles), Hong Kong theatrical trailer #2 (4 minutes 3 seconds, Dolby Digital mono with English text), U.S. theatrical trailer under the title Lady Kung Fu (1 minute 33 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), U.S. radio spot under the title Lady Kung Fu (58 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), alternate opening credits: textless opening (1 minute 32 seconds, Dolby Digital mono), Hapkido: English (1 minute 44 seconds, Dolby Digital mono), Lady Kung Fu (1 minute 44 seconds, Dolby Digital mono), original vintage featurette (6 minutes 40 seconds, Dolby Digital mono Mandarin with removable English subtitles), an archival interview with Angela Mao (16 minutes 59 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Chinese with removable English subtitles), an archival interview with actor Carter Wong (17 minutes 1 second, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an archival interview with actors Sammo Kam-Bo Hung and Yuen Biao (9 minutes 21 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English and Chinese with non-removable English subtitles for Chinese), an interview with Angela Mao tilted Lady Kung Fu Speaks (18 minutes 1 second, Dolby Dolby stereo Chinese with removable English subtitles), an audio commentary with Frank Djeng and Robert “Bobby” Samuels, and an audio commentary with Frank Djeng and Michael Worth.
Other extras include reversible cover art, a slipcover (limited to first pressing), and twenty-eight page booklet (limited to first pressing) with cast and crew information, an essay titled Hurricane Angela written by James Oliver and information about the transfers.
Hapkido: The thing that becomes clear when you watch enough martial arts films is just how many films recycle themes and or elements from other films. And though there are only so many premises to choose from, it is obvious when a film is trying to cash in on another film. That does not appear to be the case with Hapikdo, whose narrative revolves around a clash between the Chinese and their Japanese occupiers. If this premise sounds familiar, that is because it is most famous because of Bruce Lee’s Fist of Fury (The Chinese Connection).
Another thing that the most memorable martial arts films have in common are solid opening sequences. And in this regard, Hapkido delivers a spectacular opening sequence that perfectly sets the table for what is about to come. The title of the film, Hapkido, refers to a Korean fighting style, which is pitted against the Japanese occupiers' fighting style. And it should not come as a surprise that fight scenes are Hapkido’s greatest strength. Most of the fight scenes feature a character who is greatly outnumbered.
Hapkido features an excellent cast that is headed by Angela Mao (Enter the Dragon) in the role of Kao Yu Ying, Sammo Kam-Bo Hung (The Magnificent Butcher) in the role of Fan Wei, and in one of his first roles, Carter Wong (Big Trouble In Little China) in the role of Kao Chang. This trio of actors portray three martial artists who go to China to open a school that teaches Hapkido. Though Angela Mao, at that point, is the most recognizable name, Hapikdo is truly an ensemble cast where all three leads are given the spotlight to shine.
Hapkido, like so many Hong Kong martial arts films, features music borrowed from other sources, like the main theme, which is the Emerson, Lake and Palmer song Eruption. Another music cue I noticed was from Bernard Herrmann’s score for Psycho. Finding actors who would go on to stardom is another enjoyable aspect of martial arts films. Jackie Chan (Police Story) and Yuen Biao (Knockabout) make very brief appearances in Hapkido. Ultimately, what Hapkido lacks when it comes to narrative is more than made up for by its wall-to-wall action set pieces and the charisma of its three leads.
Lady Whirlwind: Revenge is one of the most used themes in martial arts cinema. And when it comes to revenge, there is nothing worse than someone else taking away your chance to exact revenge. This is the scenario that unfolds in Lady Whirlwind, which revolves around a character named Miss Tien, a woman who is driven by her sister's death and a need to hold the man she believes to be responsible.
The Lady Whirlwind immediately draws you in with its brutal opening sequence, where a mob beats a man within an inch of death. From there, it is revealed who this man was and how he plays into the revenge that Miss Tien seeks. He also has his own plans of revenge, and on a few occasions, he convinces her to let him have his revenge, then they fight. Unfortunately, she is forced to save him multiple times when others once again come close to killing him. Her determination to have her revenge and not let anyone else take that option away is the driving force of the story at hand.
The main attraction of Lady Whirlwind is Angela Mao’s (Deadly China Doll) performance, which carries Lady Whirlwind. She delivers a scene-stealing performance that overshadows anyone who shares a moment with her. That said, the only other performance of note is Ying Bai in the role of the main villain. He delivers a great performance that provides Lady Whirlwind with a formidable foe. Another performance of note is by Sammo Kam-Bo Hung (Iron Fisted Monk) in the role of one of the main villains' henchmen.
Like so many Hong Kong martial arts films, Lady Whirlwind features music borrowed from other sources, like music cues from Diamonds Are Forever, Vertigo, and Marnie. And when it comes to the fight sequences, though they are well-executed, they are not that memorable. Also, Lady Whirlwind, like Hapkido, would feature a scenario where Chinese and Japanese square off with their fighting styles. In this cast, Tai Chi vs Karate. Though Lady Whirlwind is an action-heavy film, it is light when it comes to narrative. The result is a film that fans of classic martial arts should enjoy.
Lady Whirlwind & Hapkido get an exceptional release from Arrow Video that comes with strong audio/video presentations for both films and an abundance of informative extras, highly recommended.
Written by Michael Den Boer