Thursday, March 16, 2023

Knockabout – Arrow Video (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, 1979
Director: Sammo Kam-Bo Hung
Writers: Tin-Chi Lau, Chik-Chin Huang
Cast: Ka-Yan Leung, Chia-Yung Liu, Yuen Biao, Kuang Yu Wang, Hoi-Sang Lee, Karl Maka, Tin-Chi Lau, Mars, Sammo Kam-Bo Hung

Release Date: March 28th, 2023
Approximate running times: 104 Minutes 46 Seconds (Hong Kong Version), 93 Minutes 6 Seconds (Export Version)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (Both Versions)
Rating: NR
Sound: DTS-HD Mono Cantonese, DTS-HD Mono Mandarin, DTS-HD Mono English/Cantonese, DTS-HD 5.1 English (Hong Kong Version), DTS-HD Mono English (Export Version)
Subtitles: English, English SDH
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $39.95

"Brothers and partners-in-crime, Yipao (Biao) and Taipao (Warriors Two's "Beardy" Leung Kar-Yan), have made an up-and-down career out of being hustlers, conning everyone from bank tellers to casino dealers. One day, they push their luck with the wrong man, martial arts master Chia Wu Dao (legendary Shaw Brothers fight choreographer Lau Kar-Wing), but convince him to reluctantly become their teacher in hand-to-hand combat. But upon learning Chia's dangerous true nature, Yipao turns to another master: a portly blinking beggar (Hung) trained in the ways of the monkey fist. Will this new skill defeat Chia's secret snake style?" - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.25/5 (Hong Kong Version), 4/5 (Export Version)

Here’s the information provided about the transfer, "It was restored in 2K resolution from original film elements by Fortune Star, who supplied this master to Arrow Video for this Blu-ray release. Further materials were kindly supplied for this release by Eureak Entertainment, originally produced for their UK edition."

Knockabout comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 45.8 GB

Feature: 26.7 GB (Hong Kong Version), 15.3 GB (Export Version)

The sources used for these transfers are the same as those Eureka Video used for their Blu-ray release. Colors are accurate, the image is crisp, and while black levels are generally good, they are not as strong in some of the darker scenes. 

Audio: 4.25/5 (DTS-HD Mono Cantonese, DTS-HD Mono Mandarin, DTS-HD Mono English/Cantonese, DTS-HD Mono English), 4/5 (DTS-HD 5.1 English)

The Hong Kong version comes with four audio options, a DTS-HD mono mix in Cantonese, a DTS-HD mono mix in Mandarin, a DTS-HD mono mix in English and Cantonese, and a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in English. It should be noted that the English/Cantonese hybrid track has some dialog in Cantonese since these moments were not dubbed into English.

The Export version comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in English, and included are removable English SDH subtitles.

All of the audio mixes sound clean, clear, and balanced, and the action sequences sound robust. The DTS-HD 5.1 mix sounds slightly fuller than its mono counterparts. The Export version’s mono mix is comparable quality-wise. Included with this release are removable English subtitles for the Cantonese language track, removable English subtitles for the Mandarin language track, and a non-removable English subtitle track for Cantonese dialog when watching the English/Cantonese hybrid track.


Extras for this release include a theatrical trailer (4 minutes 8 seconds, Dolby Digital mono Cantonese with removable English subtitles), an image gallery (90 images - stills/lobby cards/posters/press kit), a deleted ‘Red Room’ scene used as teaser footage for the Japanese release (3 minutes 52 seconds, Dolby Digital mono Cantonese with removable English subtitles), an archival interview with Grandmaster Chan Sau Chang, a master of Monkey Style kung fu titled Monkey Magic (24 minutes 43 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Chinese with removable English subtitles), an archival interview with actor/director Sammo Kam-Bo Hung titled Heavy Hitter (7 minutes 17 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Chinese with removable English subtitles), an archival interview with Bryan “Beardy” Leung Kar-yan (7 minutes 37 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Chinese with removable English subtitles), an audio commentary with Asian film expert Frank Djeng (NY Asian Film Festival) and Michael Worth for the Hong Kong version, an audio commentary with action cinema experts Mike Leeder & Arne Venema for the export version, reversible cover art, a slipcover (limited to first pressing), a double-sided fold-out poster, and a thirty two page booklet (limited to first pressing) with cast & crew information, an essay titled Brothers in Arms written by Simon Abrams, press kit & campaign book, and information about the transfer.


After years of working as a stuntman and playing minor secondary roles, actor Yuen Biao landed his breakthrough role as Yipao in Sammo Hung Kam-Bo's martial arts comedy Knockabout. The story of Knockabout is your standard martial arts tale, which features con-artists, revenge, and several martial arts training sequences. The action sequences in Knockabout are just about as good as you will see in any martial arts film. The mixing of comedy and martial arts is done extremely well, with the comedy never overshadowing the martial arts like it does in so many martial arts films from the 1980’s.

Sammo Hung Kam-Bo's direction in Knockabout is sublime. The pacing is outstanding, with each new scene being more exciting than the next. Sammo Hung Kam-Bo also has a prominent role in Knockabout as a fatty. The pairing of Sammo Hung Kam-Bo and Yuen Biao is what really sells Knockabout. They perfectly play off of each other, and the scenes they are in together are without a doubt the most memorable. Two other notable collaborations between Sammo Hung Kam-Bo and Yuen Biao are The Magnificent Butcher and The Prodigal Son.

In the lead role of Yipao, it is Yuen Biao who shines in his first starring role. Yuen Biao’s ability to glide through the air and contort his body is unmatched. In the role of Yipao’s brother, Taipao, is Ka-Yan Leung, whose other memorable films include Lightning Kung Fu, Dreadnaught, and The Postman Fights Back. Performance Yuen Biao's more cunningly resourceful Yipao makes a wonderful fall guy for Ka-Yan Leung. Ka-Yan Leung also handles himself really well during his fighting sequences. In the role of the ominous Silver Fox is an actor named Chia Yung Liu, whose more memorable films include The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, Master of the Flying Guillotine, Dracula and the Seven Golden Vampires, Shaolin Mantis, and He Has Nothing But Kung Fu. Chia Yung Liu is suave and sinister throughout. His fighting skills are on par with Sammo Hung Kam-Bo and Yuen Biao’s.

Besides the main players, Knockabout also does an admirable job of filling the minor roles with memorable characters that have some weight to them. There is a banker and his son who both have a large mole which has a lengthy strand of hair dangling from it. The chief of the police is also an unusual character in the way he solves disputes and handles criminals. Silver Foxes, two former partners that are now his enemies. They are first-rate fighters who can really take a beating despite their strong feminine qualities. The score, like many martial arts films from this era, features musical cues from other films The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly and Cross of Iron. Ultimately, Knockabout is one of the best martial arts comedies ever made.

Knockabout gets an excellent release from Arrow Video that comes with a solid audio/video presentation, two versions of the film, and a wealth of insightful extras, highly recommended.

Written by Michael Den Boer

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