ARROW BLU RAY RELEASE: Knockabout (1979)

Once he established himself as the premier action choreographer in Hong Kong, Sammo Hung directed the Iron-Fisted Monk for Golden Harvest and followed it up with a movie that would give Yuen Baio his first starring role.

Yuen Biao is Yipao while Bryan Leung is Taipao. Things are looking up as they cheat everyone around them with con games, but that’s until they meet Jia Wu Dao (legendary Shaw Brothers fight choreographer Lau Kar-Wing) who decimates them in a two on one fight. They ask him to train them so that they can become great fighters, but Yipao soon discovers that his new mentor is a murderer. When he tries to kill the young man to keep his secret, Taipao takes the fatal strike in his place.

Yipao escapes and wonders how he will ever avenge his brother when he meets a large beggar played by Hung. Will the new monkey style kung fu he’s learned be enough to stop Jia Wu Dao’s snake style?

I kind of love this tagline when this was released in the U.S. as The Jade Warriors: “His name is Samo Hung, Bruce Lee’s fattest contender in Enter the Dragon. Juan Biao is Jackie Chan’s toughest Kung Fu opponent ever. Together Samo Hung and Juan Biao will go up against the odds… And then the evens.” Were they trying to sell Yuen Baio as Latino? Or did they figure no one could pronounce his name?

And no, your ears do not deceive you. This has the theme from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly in it.

The Arrow Video blu ray release of Knockabout has 2K restorations from the original elements by Fortune Star of both the original HK Theatrical Cut and the shorter Export Cut. Commentary on the HK Theatrical Cut is by martial arts cinema experts Frank Djeng and Michael Worth, while the commentary on the Export Cut by action cinema experts Mike Leeder and Arne Venema. It also includes interviews with Hung, Bryan “Beardy” Leung Kar-Yan and Grandmaster Chan Sau Chang (aka The Monkey King), a master of Monkey Style kung fu. There’s also a deleted “Red Room” scene, featuring stars Yuen Biao and Sammo Hung in a teaser promo for the film’s Japanese release and the original theatrical trailer. It comes in a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Ilan Sheady and with an illustrated collectors’ booklet featuring new writing by Simon Abrams and original press materials. You can get it from MVD.

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