Spiritual Kung Fu: Limited Edition – 88 Films (Blu-ray)
Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, 1978
Director: Lo Wei
Writer: Pan Lei
Cast: Jackie Chan, Kao Kuang, Dean Shek, James Tien
Release Date: October 26th, 2020
Approximate running time: 98 Minutes 40 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: DTS-HD Mono Cantonese, DTS-HD Mono Mandarin, DTS-HD Mono Cantonese (Alternate Track With Different Music), DTS-HD Mono English
Region Coding: Region B
Retail Price: £14.99 (UK)
"Spiritual Kung Fu sees Chan as a novice at the Shaolin Temple who learns martial arts from a very unusual set of masters: the ghosts who haunt the temple. Under their spectral tutelage, he gains the skills he needs to defend Shaolin during its darkest hour..." - synopsis provided by the distributor
Here’s the information provided about the transfer, "New 2K Remaster of the Hong Kong Cut from The Original 35mm Negatives."
Spiritual Kung Fu comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.
Disc Size: 32.1 GB
Feature: 27 GB
The source used for this transfer is in great shape; it is the best-looking transfer for a Lo Wei/Jackie Chan collaboration that 88 Films has released. Flesh tones look correct, colors are nicely saturated, image clarity is strong, and outside of a few minor moments, black levels look very good. Also, compression is very good.
Audio: 3.75/5 (DTS-HD Mono Cantonese, DTS-HD Mono Mandarin), 4/5 (DTS-HD Mono Cantonese - Alternate Track With Different Music), 4.25/5 (DTS-HD Mono English)
This release comes with four audio options, a DTS-HD mono mix in Cantonese, a DTS-HD mono mix in Mandarin, an alternate DTS-HD mono mix in Cantonese with different music cues, and a DTS-HD mono mix in English. All four tracks sound clean, clear, and balanced. The English-language track is the most robust, while the Cantonese and Mandarin tracks are comparable quality-wise. Also, the alternate Cantonese track sounds fuller than the other Chinese-language tracks included with this release. Included are four subtitle tracks: removable English subtitles for the Cantonese language track, removable English subtitles for the Mandarin language track, removable English subtitles for the alternate Cantonese language track, and removable English subtitles for Mandarin text when watching the English language track.
Extras for this release include Hong Kong theatrical trailer (4 minutes 13 seconds, Dolby Digital mono Cantonese with removable English subtitles), English language theatrical trailer (3 minutes 22 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), Japanese theatrical trailer (2 minutes 34 seconds, Dolby Digital mono Cantonese with burnt in Japanese text and removable English subtitles), an alternate shot (15 seconds, Dolby Digital mono), scenes from the Korean version (3 minutes 24 seconds, Dolby Digital mono Korean with removable English subtitles), an archival interview with Jackie Chan, Stanley Tong and Sammo Hung Kam-bo titled Fighting Style (4 minutes 24 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with Hong Kong Cinema Expert Rick Baker titled Rick Baker on Spiritual Kung Fu (9 minutes 45 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an audio commentary with Hong Kong cinema experts Mike Leeder and Arne Venema, reversible cover art, 4 double-sided art cards (first print run only), an A3 foldout poster (first print run only), and a slipcase (first print run only).
Directed by Lo Wei, who is most remembered for directing two Bruce Lee films, The Big Boss and Fists of Fury. He collaborated with Jackie Chan on six films.
The narrative revolves around Yi-Lang, a mischievous martial arts student studying at the Shaolin temple. Along the way, he crosses paths with five ghosts who teach him a lost fighting style called ‘Five Style Fists’.
Made near the end of Jackie Chan’s time working with Lo Wei, Spiritual Kung Fu is an early example of Jackie Chan exerting his creative ideas. Though humor was already making its way into Jackie Chan films, notably a film like Drunken Master, Spiritual Kung Fu is the first Jackie Chan/Lo Wei collaboration that resembles the style of films that Jackie Chan would make into the 1980s and beyond.
Yi-Lang, the character that Jackie Chan portrays in Spiritual Kung Fu, is the type of character that he would return to throughout his career. A mischievous character who's always getting into trouble despite his good intentions.
Yi-Lang’s mentors in Spiritual Kung Fu are five ghosts who each have their own fighting style, and when combined, their fighting styles are unstoppable. Though supernatural kung fu would become massively popular in the 1980s with films like Encounters of the Spooky Kind, The Dead and the Deadly, and the Mr. Vampire films, it's easy to see how a film like Spiritual Kung Fu set the stage for the films that followed.
Jackie Chan is the main attraction of Spiritual Kung Fu; his performance overshadows the rest of the cast. Every moment his character is in is a highlight, while the narrative suffers whenever his character is not in a scene. That said, when it comes to the fight sequences, Jackie Chan delivers in spades.
Though the first half of Spiritual Kung Fu is light on fight sequences, it is during this opening setup that Jackie Chan is given an opportunity to show off his comedic skills. That said, once the fight sequences begin, they take up most of the latter half of Spiritual Kung Fu. The most memorable fight scene is saved for the finale, when Yi-Lang, with the assistance of five ghosts, takes on the main villain. Ultimately, Spiritual Kung Fu is a highly entertaining mix of kung fu and humor that fans of Jackie Chan should thoroughly enjoy.
Spiritual Kung Fu gets a good release from 88 Films that comes with a strong audio/video presentation and a pair of informative extras, recommended.
Written by Michael Den Boer