Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Blu-ray Review: WARRIORS TWO

by Anthony King
Sammo Hung and one of the greatest kung fu films of all time.

Early in Sammo Hung's career he worked with the Shaw Brothers as an assistant director on Come Drink With Me (1966), as well as doing stunts and appearing in bit parts in 1968 in the films The Jade Raksha, Death Valley, and Bells of Death. While still working with the Shaw Brothers periodically, Sammo signed a contract with Golden Harvest in 1971 where he would work on films as assistant director, action director, and actor; titles like Lady Whirlwind (1972), Hapkido (1972), and Enter the Dragon (1973). It wasn't until 1977 that Sammo would get his first chance to sit in the director's chair and run his own film. The Iron-Fisted Monkey proved to be just the calling card Sammo needed to show his talent, and make him a well-rounded, multi-hyphenated filmmaker. He followed Monkey with his Bruceploitation action-comedy Enter the Fat Dragon (1978), and then the same year Sammo would make one of the greatest kung fu movies of all time.
Warriors Two (1978) is a simple revenge tale of a bank cashier named Wah (Casanova Wang) whose mother is murdered. He is beaten and left for dead by a gang secretly led by Mo (Feng Hak-On). Cashier Wah is then rescued by Fatty Cheun (Sammo) and taken to Master Tsang's (Leung Kar-yan) to rehab. While there, Wah begs to be trained in the style of Wing Chun, an ancient style of kung fu. After learning the philosophy of Wing Chun and that revenge isn't why one should learn Wing Chun, Cashier Wah, Fatty Cheun, and Master Tsang must use their skills to defeat Mo and his henchmen (including Yeun Biao and Tiger Yang Cheong-Woo).

While the action is certainly remarkable in Warriors Two, the film opens with a short voiceover monologue about the history of Wing Chun. Knowing next to nothing about kung fu (other than the fact I like the punching and kicking), I assumed this monologue was just part of the fictional narrative of the film. It wasn't until I watched the excellent archival documentary included in this release called The Way of the Warrior: The Making of Warriors Two that I discovered the film mixes in the true story of Wing Chun, and how it was passed down from generation to generation. Wing Chun was developed by a woman named Yim Wing Chun as a way to mix soft, straight-forward movements with powerful punches. Wing Chun is less circular in its motion. A perfect way to explain it is the old adage “the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.” So instead of a lot of powerful limb movements, Wing Chun uses minimal motion while still packing a hard hit. Because Wing Chun was so simple and not flashy, many East Asian action films didn't use the style because they didn't think it was interesting enough to be filmed. Sammo thought otherwise and hired choreographer Guy Lai, a master in Wing Chun, to train the cast of Warriors Two in the philosophy and style. Thus, Warriors Two was the first film to feature the kung fu style of Wing Chun. Before a script was even written, and long before filming began, Sammo asked Golden Harvest to set a production schedule for the cast where they would work every day together for two months straight learning the philosophy and mechanics of Wing Chun. Only then, when the actors and filmmakers were comfortable, did they start to develop a story based around this ancient style. All in all it took over a year to make Warriors Two, with single scenes taking multiple days to be filmed.
This all comes through in the final product. This is Sammo taking what he learned from the Shaw Brothers and applying his own style of action and comedy. While movies like Dirty Ho (1979) and Kid With the Golden Arm (1979) are spectacular with extraordinarily choreographed fight sequences, Warriors Two leans all into Wing Chun, simplifying those same action sequences, almost exposing why certain punches or kicks are so devastating. Like a typical Shaw Brothers movie, Warriors Two has colors that pop and eye catching sets that leave the viewer breathless in the wake of their beauty. Sammo's trademark comedy is on full display, but unlike his later work with Jackie Chan, we see more of what the man is capable of in terms of hand and footwork. While it's always cool to see people fall multiple stories from buildings, it's equally cool to see just how talented Sammo really is. Along with Cassanova Wang and Leung Kar-yan, it's remarkable seeing what the human body is capable of as we watch these three masters beat the living shit out of evil, corrupt men.
Arrow Video's package for Warriors Two is another stunning addition any collector will want to add to their shelves. The film comes in two different cuts (the Hong Kong theatrical release and the shorter Export Cut), each with its own commentary. The commentaries are entertaining and, in the case of Frank Djeng's, packed to the gills with history and information. Aside from the film, though, the real highlight is the 45-minute making-of documentary. After watching the film, learning what I did from the documentary made me love the movie even more. The interviews with the main actors and Guy Lai are candid, inspiring, funny, and you walk away even more stunned than after watching the film alone. Just in time for Junesploitation, Warriors Two will fit in several spots: Kung Fu, Revenge, Sammo Hung, and of course any free days. Don't skip out on this one as it's a film guaranteed to keep you coming back time and time again.

Bonus features

Two choices of English dubbed audio for the HK Theatrical Cut: the original export dub mono and the newer 5.1 dub created for international DVD presentations
Commentary on the the HK Theatrical Cut by martial arts cinema expert Frank Djeng and actor Bobby Samuels
Commentary on the Export Cut by action cinema experts Mike Leeder & Arne Venema
Archival documentary The Way of the Warrior: The Making of Warriors Two, featuring interviews with stars Sammo Hung, Leung Ka-Yan, Feng Hak-An, Casanova Wang, and Wing Chung master Guy Lai
Archival interview with Bryan Leung Ka-Yan
Original theatrical trailers
Double-sided fold-out poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Joe Kim
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Joe Kim
Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing by Jonathan Clements and original press materials

Blu-ray release date: June 6, 2023
95 minutes / 1978
2.35:1 (1080p)
PCM Mono (Cantonese & English)
Subtitles: English (SDH)
Region: A


  1. Nice! I love me some Sammo so I imported the Eureka two-pack (with The Prodigal Son) a ways back, but I'm happy to see Arrow start to bring some of this over to the U.S. also, like their Millionaires' Express release.

  2. FASCINATING article. This movie was on my radar but i had no idea of the history and dedication around incorporating Wing Chung. Thanks Anthony...if this wasnt an instant buy based on your review (narrator: "it was")...then it became an instant buy once you referenced the documentary special feature.