Magnificent Warriors Review
A very young looking Michelle Yeoh stars here in an early role that never really calls for her to act much, but instead relies on her obvious physical attributes and rarely matched fighting and daring stunts abilities. Cast as an adventurer called upon to help stop the advancing Japanese army from overthrowing a remote village during World War 2 Yeoh is teamed up with a variety of characters who all help add to this shallow but enjoyable eighties action comedy romp. Putting in what can only be deemed as a cheeky performance Yeoh is superb to watch in this early role as she struts her way through the film quite effortlessly raising many a persons eyebrow with her rye smiles and cheeky grins. Being a slightly below par comedy action film the energy she puts into her character helps the audience get past any of the plot deficiencies to a point where you can simply sit back and enjoy the varied outrageous action sequences. The supporting cast, Richard Ng in particular, all put in decent performances, mostly comical in nature the various roles are all played with typical aplomb, be they spy, bumbling prince, the scoundrel or the love stricken princess, all of the stereotypes are covered here.
Throughout the fairly short running time we are treated to several explosive action sequences all of which feature Michelle Yeoh in top form. Standout sequences include a night time escape where she moves at frantic speed while taking on a huge number of opponents, delivering her moves with both grace and determination it becomes very hard to take your eyes off the superb action being carried out onscreen. Also look out for the early sequence where Yeoh puts in an astounding rope dart display (in a similar sequence to the Jackie Chan rope/horseshoe sequence in Shanghai Noon) which is showcased via a superb use of slow motion. The final battle between the Chinese and Japanese provides plenty of action including a great sequence where Michelle Yeoh and Chindy Lau team up to dispose of the bad guys while in-between there are several comical sequences with Richard Ng that are used to good effect although you may question Michelle Yeoh's look of glee as she takes to a mini-gun to reek havoc on the Japanese army! Sadly, the action sequences are not all good. One scene that stands out for being mind-numbingly dull is the aerial dogfight sequence (Yeoh is a pilot) which, although I am sure it was a rarity back in 1986 Hong Kong (and is still not something we see that much of today) and quite a novel inclusion it is just so devoid of excitement and so poorly edited that I almost reached for the remote control to forward past the scene!
Contrary to what the information on the case informs us Magnificent Warriors is a Region 0 encoded DVD.
Magnificent Warriors was shot in the 2:35:1 Widescreen format but for some reason or other HKL were provided with a 2:06:1 cropped print so this is how the film is presented here with the usual benefit of Anamorphic Enhancement. The cropping is never really all that noticeable apart from the fact that it looks slightly strange on your TV due to featuring two smallish borders that are more akin to a PAL videogame that anything else! I have included a basic comparison between the original 2:35:1 Aspect Ratio (as seen in the included Trailer) and the cropped 2:06:1 Aspect Ratio at the end of this review as well as a mixture of screenshots in-between the text (the vertically taller shots come from the film, the vertically smaller shots come from the Trailer). Getting past these aspect ratio problems HKL have again provided us with an astounding transfer of a print that is in exceptional condition considering its age. There are literally no signs of wear and tear except in the end credits (which I do not think were remastered to the same level as the main feature) while detail is of a high level throughout (the exteriors of the city look superb). Colours are reproduced accurately while black levels are consistent although one scene under the Palace (with Youda and Sky001) did show brief signs of pixellation on my TV. Another pleasant surprise is the practically non-existent level of grain featured with only the aerial dogfight sequence letting the transfer down in this area.
Once again HKL have provided us with Dolby Digital 5.1 remixes of both the original Cantonese Dub and the less preferable English Dub. For this review I stuck with my preferred Original Language option and yet again the 5.1 remix for the Cantonese dub is of a decent quality featuring clearly audible dialogue focused via the central speaker while implementation of the rears is restricted to opening up the musical accompaniment although there was the occasional localisation effect noticeable in the various battle sequences. As always the remastered English subtitles are of an extremely high quality featuring flawless presentation.
First up is an animated biography for leading lady, Michelle Yeoh. Running for just over 21-minutes this is another highly informative biography from the Hong Kong Legends team that looks at her early beginnings as Miss Malaysia, to her decision to become the Queen of Hong Kong Action Cinema (and the many films that era encompassed) all the way through to her most recent success, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. One aspect of her life that will certainly become apparent after listening to this biography is how Michelle Yeoh truly is the female equivalent of Jackie Chan (if only because of the large number of injuries she has sustained through her work).
Next up we have an excellent 15-minute interview session with Michelle Yeoh. Filmed recently here in England Michelle is a joy to listen to as she speaks (in English) about her lengthy career, including language difficulties, her first encounter with Jackie Chan through to her work with him (in Police Story 3) and of course no interview with a Hong Kong Action Star would be complete without a short section on stunts gone wrong!
Another superb extra feature comes in the form of the advert that marked Michelle Yeoh's first television appearance. Fresh from winning the Miss Malaysia contest we see Michelle in true eye candy form alongside Jackie Chan as they advertise (rather poorly) Guy Laroche watches. This is a great inclusion that both Jackie and Michelle fans will garner a lot of enjoyment from.
To round off this disc we see another disappointing Photo Gallery whose only worthy inclusion is the original Poster Artwork (that is ruined by the annoying overlay of the artwork with the menu design) and of course for your viewing pleasure both Hong Kong Legends own Promotional Trailer is present along with the Original Theatrical Trailer for Magnificent Warriors.
Magnificent Warriors is another highly enjoyable Hong Kong action fest and while it falls short of the various Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Sammo Hung titles HKL have released in terms of overall satisfaction it still provides a good evenings entertainment and an exciting prospect with regards to future Michelle Yeoh titles. Apart from the obvious aspect ratio problems which will annoy certain individuals (see below for more) this is a fine DVD release from HKL that although short on the extra features front provides enough background information to keep us content until the next Michelle Yeoh release.
Here are some comparison shots for those concerned about the Aspect Ratio. 2:35:1 Screenshots were taken from the HKL Promotional Trailer, 2:06:1 screenshots were taken from the film and are as close to each other as I could manage.
Screenshot 1 - 2:35:1 Version
Screenshot 1 - 2:06:1 Version
Screenshot 2 - 2:35:1 Version
Screenshot 2 - 2:06:1 Version
Screenshot 3 - 2:35:1 Version
Screenshot 3 - 2:06:1 Version
Last updated: 19/04/2018 18:39:13