Monday, September 18, 2023

Beach of the War Gods – Eureka Video (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong/Taiwan, 1973
Director: Jimmy Wang Yu
Writer: Jimmy Wang Yu
Cast: Jimmy Wang Yu, Wong Fei-lung, Tien Yeh, Hsueh Han, Shan Mao, Tsai Hung, Kwan Hung, Min Min, Chang Yi-Kuai

Release Date: October 23rd, 2023
Approximate running time: 101 Minutes 20 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: LPCM Mono Mandarin, LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English
Region Coding: Region B
Retail Price: £18.99 (UK)

"In the waning days of the Ming dynasty, Japanese marauders raid villages on the Chinese coast.  A wandering swordsman (Wang Yu) single-handedly dispatches a group of the foreign thugs, and agrees to help defend the town. He assembles a core team of highly skilled warriors, including mercenary knife thrower Leng Ping (Yeh Tien, Blood of the Dragon) and hot-headed swordsman Iron Bull Chao (Han Hsieh, One Armed Boxer). Together, they train the townsfolk to stand up to the foreign pirates, using strategy and skill. When the army launches an all-out assault on the town, a ferocious battle rages, leading to final conflict on the Beach of the War Gods.." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "the original Hong Kong theatrical cut from a brand new 2K restoration."

Beach of the War Gods comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray. 

Disc Size: 43.6 GB

Feature: 29.5 GB

The source used for this transfer is in great shape. Colors and flesh tones look correct, image clarity is strong, black levels look very good, and compression is solid. That said, there are a few minor instances where the image is not as strong as it is for the bulk of the transfer.

Audio: 4.25/5 (LPCM Mono Mandarin), 3.75/5 (LPCM Mono English)

This release comes with two audio options, an LPCM mono mix in Mandarin and an LPCM mono mix in English. Both audio tracks sound clean, clear, and balanced. Also, range-wise, these two tracks sound very good. That said, the Mandarin language track sounds fuller than the English language track. Included are removable English subtitles for the Mandarin language track.


Extras for this release include a stills gallery (35 images - posters/stills), a theatrical trailer (4 minutes 6 seconds, LPCM mono Mandarin with burnt in English subtitles), an archival interview with actor/director Jimmy Wang Yu (41 minutes 14 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an  interview with action cinema experts Mike Leeder and Arne Venema on the life and career of Jimmy Wang Yu (27 minutes 40 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with film critic and historian Tony Rayns (29 minutes 40 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), an audio commentary by Asian film expert Frank Djeng (NY Asian Film Festival), an O-card slipcase (limited to 2,000 copies), and a booklet (limited to 2,000 copies) with cast & crew information, an essay written by James Oliver, a review of Beach of the War Gods by Dr Craig D. Reid from his book The Ultimate Guide to Martial Arts Movies of the 1970s, and information about the transfer titled Notes on Viewing.


Directed by Jimmy Wang Yu, whose other notable films as a director are The Chinese Boxer, One-Armed Boxer, and Master of the Flying Guillotine.

The narrative revolves around a swordsman who recruits five fighters who help him train villagers against Japanese pirates.

Beach of the War Gods takes a familiar premise: Chinese defending their land against a foreign oppressor, in this case Japanese pirates. This is a scenario that has been used countless times in martial arts films like Fists of Fury and Heroes of the East. That said, the way in which it is employed differs from those aforementioned films, with the combat style in Beach of the War Gods closer resembling samurai films than what one expects from Hong Kong swordplay films.

The main attraction of Beach of the War Gods is Jimmy Wang Yu, who not only directed but also wrote the screenplay and is the star. His character, Hsia Feng, is cut from the same mold that his most celebrated characters were. His character is given a solid character arch in which he is given a hero's sendoff after a bloody battle with the Japanese pirates. Despite not being one of his more memorable performances, it is a solid performance that greatly aids the story at hand.

When it comes to the rest of the cast, most of their characters are mere props that further advance the narrative. Another notable performance is by Wong Fei-lung in the role of Hashimoto, the leader of the Japanese pirates. This is a ruthless character that makes a formidable foe for Hsia Feng.

Beach of the War Gods is a well-made film that had a good amount of resources at its disposal. And the result is a film that far exceeds expectations. The premise is well executed, and the narrative does a great job building momentum towards a sensational finale. And though the narrative does a good job establishing key characters and their motivations, there is a sizable amount of time devoted to the characters preparing for the impending battle. It is the epic battle that culminates Beach of the War Gods where this film excels the most. Ultimately, Beach of the War Gods is a solid action film.

Beach of the War Gods gets a first-rate release from Eureka Video that comes with a strong audio/video presentation and a wealth of informative extras, highly recommended.

 Written by Michael Den Boer

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