Color, 1972, 105 mins. 57 secs.
Directed by Chung Chang-wha
Starring Lo Lieh, Wang Ping, Chao Hsiung
Arrow Video (Blu-ray) (US/UK RA/RB HD), Dragon Dynasty (DVD) (US R1 NTSC), Celestial (DVD) (Hong Kong R1 NTSC) / WS (2.35:1) (16:9)

Color, 1972, 134 mins. 25 secs.
Directed by Chang Cheh & Pao Hseuh-Li
Starring Kuan Tai Chen, Li Ching, David Chiang
Arrow Video (Blu-ray) (US/UK RA/RB HD), MVL (Blu-ray & DVD) (Germany RB/R2 HD/PAL), Celestial (DVD) (Hong Kong R1 NTSC) / WS (2.35:1) (16:9)

Color, 1974, 109 mins. 42 secs.
Directed by Chang Cheh
Starring David Chiang, Ti Lung, Alexander Fu Sheng, Chi Kuan-Chun, Meng Fei, Wang Lung-Wei
Arrow Video (Blu-ray) (US/UK RA/RB HD), Celestial (DVD) (Hong Kong R1 NTSC) / WS (2.35:1) (16:9)

Color, 1976, 119 mins. 56 sec. / 121 mins. 57 secs.
Directed by Chang Cheh
Starring Fu Sheng, Chi Kuan-Chun, Ti Lung, David Chiang
Arrow Video (Blu-ray) (US/UK RA/RB HD), Celestial (DVD) (Hong Kong R1 NTSC) / WS (2.35:1) (16:9)

Color, 1977, 89 mins. 30 secs. / 90 mins. 21 secs.
Directed by Ho Meng-Hua
Starring Evelyne Kraft, Danny Lee, Feng Ku
Arrow Video (Blu-ray) (US/UK RA/RB HD), 88 Films (Blu-ray & DVD) (UK RB/R2 HD/PAL), Media Target Distribution (Blu-ray) (Germany RB HD), Disney (DVD) (US R1 NTSC) / WS (2.35:1) (16:9)

Color, 1976, 97 mins. 10 secs.
Directed by Liu Chia-Liang
Starring Gordon Liu, Chen Kuan Tai, Lily Li, Lau Kar-leung
Arrow Video (Blu-ray) (US/UK RA/RB HD), Celestial (DVD) (Hong Kong R1 NTSC) / WS (2.35:1) (16:9)

Color, 1977, 100 mins. 14 secs.
Directed by Liu Chia-Liang
Starring Chen Kuan Tai, Lo Lieh, Wong Yue
Arrow Video (Blu-ray) (US/UK RA/RB HD), Celestial (DVD) (Hong Kong R1 NTSC) / WS (2.35:1) (16:9)

Color, 1977, 114 mins. 38 secs. / 90 mins. 15 secs.
Directed by Chang Cheh
Starring Alexander Fu Sheng, Shirley Yu, Susan Shaw, Phillip Chung-Fung Kwok
Arrow Video (Blu-ray) (US/UK RA/RB HD), Koch Media (Blu-ray & DVD) (Germany RB/R2 HD/PAL), Celestial (DVD) (Hong Kong R1 NTSC) / WS (2.35:1) (16:9)

Color, 1978, 102 mins. 18 secs.
Directed by Chang Cheh
Starring Chiang Sheng, Sun Chien, Phillip Chung-Fung Kwok, Lo Meng, Pai Wei
Arrow Video (Blu-ray) (US/UK RA/RB HD), Dragon Dynasty (Blu-ray & DVD) (US RA/R1 HD/NTSC), Celestial (DVD) (Hong Kong R1 NTSC) / WS (2.35:1) (16:9)

Color, 1978, 106 min. 34 secs.
Directed by Chang Cheh
Starring Chen Kuan Tai, Lu Feng, Phillip Chung-Fung Kwok, Lo Meng, Sun Chien
Arrow Video (Blu-ray) (US/UK RA/RB HD), Dragon Dynasty (DVD) (US R1 NTSC), Celestial (DVD) (Hong Kong R1 NTSC) / WS (2.35:1) (16:9)

Color, 1978, 104 mins. 58 secs.
Directed by Liu Chia-Liang
Starring Liu Chia-Hui, Yuka Mizuno, Yasuaki Kurata, Naozo Kato
Arrow Video (Blu-ray) (US/UK RA/RB HD), Dragon Dynasty (DVD) (US R1 NTSC), Celestial (DVD) (Hong Kong R1 NTSC) / WS (2.35:1) (16:9)

Color, 1979, 103 mins. 29 secs.
Directed by Liu Chia-Liang
Starring Gordon Liu, Wong Yue, Wang Lung Wei, Lo Lieh
Arrow Video (Blu-ray) (US/UK RA/RB HD), Celestial (DVD) (Hong Kong R1 NTSC) / WS (2.35:1) (16:9)

A name and logo that warm King Boxerthe hearts of martial arts fans around the world, Shaw Brothers is so much more than that with a century-plus catalog of films ranging from romantic musicals King Boxerto extreme horror. However, it's their action output that really put them on the map in the U.S., particularly during the kung fu craze of the 1970s when their product proved to have a voracious audience. After that the majority of their films were difficult (if not outright impossible) to see for many years until Celestial Pictures purchased the library in the early '00s. After that the floodgates were opened, resulting in hundreds of English-friendly VCDs, DVDs, and ultimately Blu-rays around the world that led the astonished discovery of many previously overlooked gems. There were a few bumps in the road along the way though, such as the decision to initially scan all of the released titles in PAL (for higher resolution) which led to some sticky conversion issues on a lot of the NTSC releases. Also some of the films were issued in altered versions, but more on that later. In 2021, Arrow Video decided to one-up all of its predecessors with a massive ShawScope Volume 1 Blu-ray set featuring the definitive scans to date of twelve significant titles along with a tidal wave of extras that'll keep Shaw fans busy for months.

First up is one of the most famous films in the Shaw Brothers library, King Boxer, better known on the U.S. martial arts movie circuit as King BoxerFive Fingers of Death (a title used on several bootleg video releases over the years as well). Famous King Boxeras both a starring vehicle for action star Lo Lieh and the film that paved the way for distributor Warner Bros. to creating a megahit out of Enter the Dragon, the film is a fairly straightforward adventure with a promising martial arts student going from one master to another where he becomes the protector of a school under siege, which in turn leads to him learning a technique called the Iron Fist, dealing with fatal losses, finding love, and embarking on a tournament with deadly stakes. The difference here of course is the Shaw production value with lots of vivid colors, stylized lighting, and fierce combat scenes shot in wide scope to allow full appreciation of the physical skill on display. As with the majority of the studio's other films, the soundtrack is also an amusing patchwork of library sources including, of all things, a love theme yanked from Camille 2000 and a very familiar musical sting heard in Kill Bill, Vol. 1.

The first legit U.S. release of this film was a DVD from The Weinstein Company's Dragon Dynasty line, featuring the Mandarin and English tracks, taken from Celestial's PAL master without any time adjustment (so it runs short and at a higher pitch at 101m36s). The main reason to hang on to that one is an exclusive commentary by David Chute, Elvis Mitchell, and Quentin Tarantino, which covers the film's impact within the kung fu movie craze and the major players involved. That disc also includes interviews with director Chung Chang-wha (or Chang-hwa Jeong) (5m12s), action director Lau Kar Wing (19m25s), and David Chute and Andy Klein (6m52s). The Arrow disc sports a greatly improved new 2K restoration (made from a 4K scan of the negative) that runs at the correct speed and looks gorgeous throughout; the Mandarin and English audio options are provided in DTS-HD 1.0 mono with optional newly English translated or English SDH (for the dub) subtitles, a configuration present on all of the other titles as well. Here you get a new audio commentary by David Desser (co-editor of The Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema and The Cinema of Hong Kong), who presents a thorough history of the film, its timing in the Shaw Brothers canon, the cast, and the techniques seen in the film. A new video appreciation by film critic and historian Tony Rayns (42m56s), sketches out the history of Shaw Brothers from the 1920s and traces it to the heyday of the martial arts era, including the return of Bruce Lee to Hong Kong and the ascension of Golden Harvest. One major score in this set is a batch of interviews conducted by Frédéric Ambroisine from 2003 to 2007, and here that includes ones with Chung Chang-wha (39m54s) and star Wang Ping (25m51s) including a ton of history about the studio. Also included is an interview with Cho Young-jung (33m24s), author of Chung Chang-wha: Man of Action, who provides an extensive overview of the director's career. Originally commissioned by Celestial back in 2003 and seen on some of its martial arts releases is Cinema Hong Kong: Kung Fu (49m36s), the first in a three-part documentary on Shaw Brothers’ place within the martial arts genre with interviews by the likes of Jackie Chan, Jet Li, John Woo, Sammo Hung, Gordon Liu, Lau Kar-leung, Cheng Pei-pei, and David Chiang. Also included are the American American Warner Bros. main titles as Five Fingers of Death, two Hong Kong trailers, two German trailers, a U.S. trailer, a TV spot, and radio spot, plus a digital reissue trailer created by Celestial. (To avoid repetition, all of The Boxer from Shantungthe other films in this set feature their digital reissue trailers as well The Boxer from Shantungeven if it isn't listed on the specs.) Finally the disc winds up with a gallery of 54 images.

Disc two is dedicated to another 1972 release, The Boxer From Shantung, essentially a martial arts variation on an old James Cagney gangster movie. Here we follow provincial Ma (Chen Kuan-tai) on the path from blue collar work in Shanghai alongside his best friend through the ranks of the local mob, where his diplomatic and fighting abilities increase his influence. Despite his intentions to stay true to his roots, he finds the allure of his new lifestyle a huge temptation that could put him in mortal jeopardy. An epic in its original form running well over two hours, this one has been very heavily edited over the year (the U.S. version from World Northal called The Killer from Shantung being among the worst offenders) including a compromised initial DVD release from Celestial that ran at PAL speed and featured several cuts for time that knocked the running time down to a paltry 124m7s. That disc did include one extra, "The Three Styles of Hong Fist" (7m7s), essentially narration over text about the various fighting styles. An uncut but mediocre-looking German Blu-ray followed, which featured no English-friendly options anyway and ran at 25fps.

The Boxer from ShantungThe Arrow Video edition is the first really accurate presentation of the film on home The Boxer from Shantungvideo and looks gorgeous thanks to a 4K scan of the original negative, with the usual Mandarin and English audio options. The Ambroisine-supplied extras here include a career-spanning 2007 interview with Kuan-tai (22m43s) joined by Vincent Sze, a great interview with assistant director John Woo (8m2s) from 2004 about his memories of working with Chang Cheh and the influence it had on his own films, an interview with star David Chiang (31m49s) from 2003 about his showbiz lineage, time as a child actor, and rise to leading man status, and perhaps best of all, a really warm and endearing "Double Masters" conversation between stars Kuan-tai and Ku Feng (13m46s) filmed at a 2007 Shaw Brothers reunion. Also included are the alternate partial original Hong Kong credits (as with most SB films, the negatives had textless title sequences and had to be digitally recreated for the new masters) and the English credits, the Hong Kong and German theatrical trailers, and an insanely zoomed-in U.S. TV spot (as Killer Five Shaolin Mastersfrom Shantung), Five Shaolin Mastersplus a gallery of 37 images.

Of course, back in the VHS days there was a built-in audience for any movie with the word "Shaolin" in the title -- and you get a double dose of that here on disc three starting with Five Shaolin Masters. Previously available as a no-frills edition in the U.S. from Dragon Dynasty, it's been given a far more luxurious setting here. Like Boxer, this one was directed by the very busy Chang Cheh, one of the most significant directors from the Shaw Brothers stable; you'll see his name pop up a lot elsewhere in this set, too. After their temple is destroyed, five Shaolin practitioners (David Chiang, Ti Lung, Chi Kuan-Chun, Alexander Fu Sheng, and Meng Fei) realize they have a traitor in their midst and come up with a plan to strike back at the Qing invaders responsible. As their obstacles increase and with their colleagues gone, they must rally at their own destroyed training ground for one last stand.

Sharing space on the disc is a prequel made two years later, Shaolin Temple, which shows how our main characters came to the temple, sometimes undergoing arduous tests and tFive Shaolin Mastersraining techniques before being allowed to come inside. Along the Five Shaolin Mastersway you get another traitor, a much broader cast of characters, and some epic fights including more Qing clashes. At least the equal of its predecessor, this one's been harder to see in the U.S. since its theatrical release from World Northal (as Death Chamber) and is quite the welcome addition here.

Both films are taken from preexisting HD masters from Celestial but look just fine here, running at the correct film speed and with the usual recreated opening titles. Also included for posterity is a standard def version of Shaolin Temple with the title sequences pulled from an original print, is how theatergoers would have seen it. Rayns presents a new video appreciation of Chang Cheh (36m46s), which is definitely recommended viewing early on in the set if you want to really have a further appreciation for the context of his work from early titles like this through his more famous masterpieces. Star Kong Do (22m55s) is covered in a 2003 Sharolin TempleAmbroisine interview about his own Sharolin Templetime in the HK film industry, which dovetails nicely with the more familiar 2003 "Elegant Trails" featurettes produced by Celestial spotlighting interviews with David Chiang (8m4s) and Ti Lung (9m30s) about their careers. Also on the disc are the U.S. titles for Five Shaolin Masters (as Five Masters of Death), alternate Hong Kong and two U.S. opening credits sequences for Shaolin Temple (one as Death Chamber), the U.S. Five Masters of Death trailer, German trailers for both films, and the Hong Kong Shaolin Temple trailer, and image galleries for both films (28 for Shaolin Temple, 70 for Five Shaolin Masters).

Definitely the odd man out (or is that odd ape out?) in this set crashes in on disc four with The Mighty Peking Man, the Shaw Brothers contribution to King Kongsploitation that hit from 1976 to 1977 (like A*P*E and Yeti, Giant of the 20th Century) in the wake of Dino De Laurentiis' mega-budget version of King Kong. This one first amazed drive-in viewers The Mighty Peking Manunder the name Goliathon throughout the late '70s The Mighty Peking Manbefore disappearing to the wilderness of late night TV until Quentin Tarantino's Rolling Thunder Pictures salvaged this oddity from oblivion to greet a stunned public in 1999. Legend has it that a remote jungle area in India is the stomping ground for a huge, ape-like creature known as the Mighty Peking Man, freed from his ancient earthly confines by a Himalayan quake. An expedition controlled by the greedy Norman Chu (We Are Going to Eat You) recruits the aid of young adventurer Johnnie Fang (a young, shaggy-haired Danny Lee), who is recovering from the heartbreak of discovering his girl in bed with his best friend. Out in the wilderness he encounters a beautiful blonde woman (Russian actress Evelyne Kraft), who swings Tarzan-like from vines and somehow barely conceals her body with a sticky piece of fabric. In fact she became a soulmate to the Mighty Peking Man after her parents died in a plane crash when she was a child; she then introduces our hero to the giant ape, who is a bit uncomfortable when he spies his little blonde woman making the beast with two backs with Lee. Pretty soon it's back to Kong territory as the ape is packed up for the big city, where he doesn't take very well to all the big buildings and loud noises.

A thoroughly loony movie, The Mighty Peking Man piles on the entertainment value thanks to its charming model work and wacko plot tangents, such as a kitschy romantic montage (complete with pop music) that should leave the most stone-faced viewer cracking a huge smile. Somehow Roger Ebert, not exactly a model of critical consistency, gave this a thumbs up and proclaimed it "Genius!" (according to the U.S. DVD cover box) while trashing Lucio Fulci's The Beyond, so take that as you will. Rolling Thunder's deal with Miramax meant The Mighty Peking Manthat Disney ended up debuting this one on DVD (along with titles like Switchblade Sisters), and since The Mighty Peking Manthen we've had a few other incarnations like a German Blu-ray and U.K dual-format edition from 88 Films featuring a commentary by, uh, Bey Logan, plus liner notes by Calum Waddell. The Arrow edition (from the same HD master, which is fine) expands things considerably, starting with a new commentary by Travis Crawford who parses out the ways you can approach the film in its different languages, the India location shooting versus the portions on the Shaw Brothers lot, the release history around the world, the other Kong imitators, and more. A new interview with suit designer Keizo Murase (19m23s) filmed by Daisuke Sato and Yoshikazu Ishii is a real kick for Toho monster fans as he talks about leaving the studio and setting up his own company, which led to this immortal gig. Then you get Ambroisine interviews with director Ho Meng-hua (24m4s) and star Ku Feng (7m18s), a huge batch of fantastic silent Super 8 footage from the production (28m30s) provided by Murase, an SD presentation of the "unrestored" theatrical version in English that appears to be a port of the Rolling Thunder master, the U.S. Goliathon Challenge of the Masterstheatrical credits (complete with prologue), some very weird alternate Goliathon TV credits, a batch of trailers Challenge of the Masters(Hong Kong, U.S., German, Dutch, U.S. TV spot, and Rolling Thunder reissue), and a 91-image gallery.

On we go to disc five with more from director Liu Chia-Liang (who went on to The 36th Chamber of Shaolin and Drunken Master II) and another double feature, 1976's Challenge of the Masters and the following year's Executioners from Shaolin. This one is the set's first appearance for studio legend Gordon Liu, very young here and cast in a sort of biopic inspired by real martial arts pioneer Wong Fei-hung. This one focuses on his youth in a heavily fictionalized story in which he goes off to find a trainer after being refused by his dad, which pits him a rivalry with another school that leads to a big annual tournament and a lot of intense training scenes. An energetic and efficient programmer, this one is a nice sampling of the talents of everyone involved Challenge of the Masterswith some kinetic editing during the action scenes and a welcome focus on the philosophy aspects Executioners of Shaolinas well.

Executioners from Shaolin is also based on a true story, more or less, in this case Hung hsi Kuan, in this case chronicling his lengthy feud with the practitioners of Pai Mei after he orders the destruction of a revered martial arts temple. Liu pops up a bit here as well but isn't the protagonist, in this case played by Kuan Tai Chen (The Flying Guillotine) and featuring a crazy plot turn involving drag and a Chinese opera troupe. Again the action scenes are handled with aplomb and some of the sets are pretty darn impressive, so dig in.

Challenge gets a new 2K scan here from the negative (plus it gets a Cantonese track in addition to the usual Mandarin and English) and looks a tad stronger, but the existing HD master on Executioners is perfectly good as well. Here Rayns provides a new video salute to Lau Executioners of ShaolinKar-leung (28m36s) mixing bio facts and insights about his key films (not just the heaviest hitters), Executioners of Shaolinwhile the Ambroisine goodies continue with a 2002 interview with Gordon Liu (20m24s) and a 2007 one with star Chen Kuan-tai (17m30s), both worth checking out. Also on the disc are textless opening credits for Challenge of the Masters, alternate English credits for Executioners from Shaolin, four Hong Kong theatrical trailers for Challenge, the Hong Kong and two U.S. theatrical trailers for Executioners (as The Executioners of Death), and image galleries for both films (30 for Challenge, 23 for Executioners).

Disc six is devoted entirely to a real gem from Shaw Brothers roster, Chang Cheh's Chinatown Kid, which has a particularly weird release history. Here Alexander Fu Sheng takes the lead as Tan Tung, a street fighter in Hong Kong who decides to relocate to San Francisco's Chinatown to get away from the mob. Chinatown KidUnfortunately things turn out to be just as rough in the West, where he finds his conscience torn between his upstanding best friend Chinatown Kid(Sun Chien) and the lure of material goods (especially a really nice watch) offered by turning to a life of crime. With its funktastic score and stronger emphasis on gunplay than the other films in the set, this one is a welcome change of pace with a strong central performance and a fun mixture of on-location San Francisco footage and the usual Shaw Brothers soundstages.

For some reason when this film was prepared for the Mandarin-language market, it wound up getting severely reworked into a 90-minute recut (versus the 114-minute original) that isn't simply a matter of dropping scenes. It's radically different right from the start with a different performance of the theme song, several scenes recut or dropped, extensive shortening of fight scenes, and most notably, a completely different, moralistic "happier" ending that doesn't work as well. An English dub of the longer cut did pop up on U.S. VHS back in the day, but otherwise we've been stuck with the Chinatown Kid90-minute one since Celestial did its own restoration in 2003. Luckily the Arrow disc fixes that by offering Chinatown Kidboth versions, with the 115-minute one finally in full scope with a fresh 2K scan. It's cited as being "from original film elements," and though it isn't as pristine as the 90-minute one (you'll see some minor film damage and some flickering here and there), it's great to finally have that version back in circulation again looking the best it ever has. The long cut also has an audio commentary by Terrence J. Brady, author of Alexander Fu Sheng: Biography of the Chinatown Kid, and he obviously knows his stuff with a fantastic track loaded with info about the making of the film and its star's remarkable career (cut off far too young by his premature death at the age of 28) as well as the differences between the two cuts. The 114-minute cut comes with Cantonese and English audio options, while the 90-minute one is obviously Mandarin (with the usual respective English subtitle options). Co-star Susan Shaw also offers a new select scene video commentary (23m43s) recalling her time at Shaw Brothers and her experiences on the film, followed by another vintage Elegant Trails, this time focusing on Alexander Fu Sheng (7m21s). Also included are The Five Venomsthe Hong Kong and German trailers, the really wonderful The Five VenomsU.S. one, a U.S. TV spot, and a U.K. VHS promo, plus a 61-image gallery.

With disc seven we reach one of the most legendary components of the Shaw Brothers martial arts legacy, the Venoms (or Venom Mob) films, which are loosely connected by their shared stable of actors and include such films outside this set as House of Traps and Magnificent Ruffians. However, the one that really started it all was 1978's The Five Venoms, a Chang Cheh epic better known to U.S. grindhouse audiences as Five Deadly Venoms. A wild, stylish kung fu feast, it starts off with an eye-popping montage of the masked venoms at work with fighting techniques each based on a poisonous animal: Centipede, Snake, Scorpion, Lizard, and Toad. One of them has gone murderously rogue, so it's up to Yang (Chiang Sheng) to The Five Venomsfigure out which mystery fighter is responsible. That story is mostly an excuse for a dreamlike concoction of colorful fights, costumes, and elements of murder mystery and horror woven into a tapestry Crippled Avengersthat's captured the imaginations of countless young viewers.

Also on the same disc is the absolutely wild Crippled Avengers, which has circulated under the title Return of the 5 Deadly Venoms even though there's no narrative connection. Chen Kuan Tai (Shaolin Executioner) and marital arts stalwart Lo Meng (also in the astonishing Super Ninjas and the original Venoms) head the cast as two members of a four team squad of martial arts masters. Sound familiar? Well, not quite; all of the men bear some kind of physical handicap which they have managed to parlay into a unique fighting skill they can use to get back at the man who wounded them. It's a pretty ingenious concept for a story that plays out even better than you'd think, with an eye-popping range of feats and practical gadgetry on display.

The Five Venoms has to hold the record for the most widely bootlegged Shaw Brothers film out there, at least until Celestial gave it an official DVD Crippled Avengersrelease followed by U.S. DVD and Blu-ray editions from Dragon Dynasty featuring a commentary by Bey Logan. As for Crippled Avengers, it's been booted as well fairly often but didn't Crippled Avengersfare so well when Celestial issued a DVD running 99 minutes, a full seven minutes shorter than the original running time (even with the whole PAL thing factored in, that's a lot of time cuts). Fortunately both films have been given brand new 2K restorations from the original negatives here and are fully uncut, running at the proper speed and featuring crisper detail than ever before. As usual you get Mandarin and the beloved English dubs for both, plus Cantonese for The Five Venoms-- which also gets a solid new audio commentary from critic Simon Abrams, covering the backgrounds of the entire Venom Mob, the making of the film, the fighting styles, and a lot more. An Ambroisine interview with star Lo Meng (19m12s) from 2003 is a fun addition as well covering his time with the gang, while the 2003 Celestial featurette Chang Cheh: The Master (17m32s) offers an overview of his essential Shaw Brothers films and life story. Also included are the Hong Kong trailers for both films, plus the U.S. trailer and TV spot for The Five Venoms and image Heroes of the Eastgalleries Heroes of the Eastfor both films (27 each).

Finally on disc we get the last of our double features starting with 1978's Heroes of the East, previously available on DVD from Dragon Dynasty and another vehicle for Gordon Liu. The narrative hook here is a very different one (it almost sounds like a sitcom) in which he plays Ho Tao, whose recent marriage to Japanese Yuka Mizuno turns into a major culture clash when the conversation turns to which country is better at martial arts. A few misspoken words later following a judo versus kung fu session in the backyard, and it's time for a spectacular display of the best both countries have to offer with our hero facing off against Japan's finest fighters. If there's such a thing as a martial arts hangout movie, this would be it; you can pretty much show this to anyone and they can just sit back and enjoy the competitive spectacle (and comedy) without worrying about the carnage level. The Dragon Dynasty disc featured a commentary by Bey Logan, a video tribute to director Lau Kar-leung (36m8s) by Logan, a Hero of Shaolin interview with Liu (22m13s), a Heroes of the Eastcute Shaolin Heroes of the Eastvs. Ninja (26m10s) look at Chinese and Japanese weapons forms, and the Hong Kong trailer. The Arrow disc features the Mandarin, Cantonese, and English tracks, a well-researched new audio commentary by A Brief History of the Martial Arts author Jonathan Clements, and a co-feature from the following year, Dirty Ho, reuniting the director and star again.

The earlier Celestial disc of Dirty Ho (a title that, ahem, has a different connotation now) was another PAL job running 97m39s at the wrong pitch, so it's nice to have it here presented correctly from a great new 2K restoration from the original negative, with the usual Cantonese, Mandarin, and English options. Interestingly the old DVD's Elegant Trails dedicated to Liu (6m20s) is absent here, so hopefully that means it'll pop up on volume two. Here Liu plays Wang Tsun Hsin, a Manchurian who's lurking in disguise as a jewelry dealer to find out which of the Dirty Hoscheming potential heirs out there is plotting to do him in. He ends up teaming with the crafty jewel thief Dirty HoDirty Ho Jen (Yue Wong), a master fighter whose skills might prove handy for the prince -- which leads to a spectacular array of action artistry. A mixture of elegance, comedy, and often awe-inspiring martial arts, this is a real gem of a film to wrap up the set and one that deserves to be better known. Also on this disc are a Rayns appreciation of both films (30m20s), a 2003 Ambroisine interview with Heroes of the East star Yasuaki Kurata (25m24s), the alternate international opening credits for Heroes as Shaolin Challenges Ninja, alternate Dirty Ho English credits as Dirty Avengers, the Hong Kong trailers for both films, and the U.S. TV spot and VHS promo for Heroes, plus image galleries for both films (37 for Heroes, 39 for Dirty Ho).

But wait! This is actually a ten-disc set since you also get two audio CDs featuring a ton of music from the De Wolfe library, with 50 tracks in total featured in Shaolin Temple, The Mighty Peking Man (yes, you get that funky disco instrumental), Chinatown Kid, The Five Venoms, Crippled Avengers, Dirty Hoand Dirty Ho. For the record, it only overlaps a little bit with the 2008 Kung Fu Super Sounds collection of Dirty HoDe Wolfe tracks, mainly from Dirty Ho. The box (featuring new art by Sam Gilbey, Matthew Griffin, Chris Malbon, Jacob Phillips, Ilan Sheady, Tony Stella, Darren Wheeling and Jolyon Yates) also comes with a 60-page book with new essays by David Desser, Terrence J. Brady and James Flower, plus cast and crew listings and notes on each film by Abrams.

Reviewed on December 15, 2021