Trailer compilations are usually genre-hopping affairs that include multiple types of film. Single-genre trailer comps are a rarer breed but they can be as rewarding as the discs that have a broader bill of fare. For example, consider Severin’s new martial arts film trailer collection, Kung Fu Trailers Of Fury: despite being limited to one kind of movie, it shows off just how many different sub-styles of entertainment can exist under a single genre banner.
The basic structure of the trailers used for Kung Fu Trailers Of Fury is the same: fights, more fights and still more fights are all compressed into a roughly three-minute running time designed to give the viewer high-kicking, gut-punching martial arts overload. There are a few name-brand attractions popping up here, namely Bruce Lee in The Way Of The Dragon and Jackie Chan in a few spots (including Snake In The Eagle’s Shadow), but the disc mainly focuses on the countless independent productions that were being knocked out by the dozen outside the walls of the Shaw Brothers and Golden Harvest studios.
As the punches and kicks fly across the screen, you’ll notice a number of different styles that fall under the martial arts genre. For example, there are comedic kung-fu movies, like the aforementioned Snake In The Eagle’s Shadow, a fun quickie entitled Golden Dragon Silver Snake that features a twitchy-faced Chan clone and Story Of Drunken Master, a semi-sequel to the Chan classic that features a female pupil filling Jackie’s shoes.
There are also training-centric martial arts films, a subgenre that often revolves around the Shaolin school of kung-fu: for example, there is Secret Of The Shaolin Poles, which features amazing choreography by the great Lau Kar Leung, and The Blazing Temple, a Joseph Kuo-helmed epic represented by a spot that trumpets its epic scale and cost. True to its word, the latter spot features some jaw-dropping moments with several people on screen at the same time, all deploying elaborate kung-fu moves.
However, the most entertaining subgenre on display here is the “Brucesploitation” film, a subgenre devoted to the Bruce Lee clones that popped up after Lee’s untimely death. These films are notable for how they shameless ape Lee’s celluloid hits: Bruce Le’s Greatest Revenge looks like a ripoff of Fist Of Fury, right down to having the title actor duke it out with a Bob Wall clone, and the spots for Return Of Bruce and Bruce’s Deadly Fingers all have the nerve to use cues or rerecordings of cues from the Enter The Dragon soundtrack! That said, the best Brucesploitation spot here is Enter The Fat Dragon, an affectionate send-up starring and directed by Lee acolyte Sammo Hung.
And there’s more to Kung Fu Trailers Of Fury that just noticing the different subgenres at play. For instance, it’s fun to notice all the different soundtracks and popular music that get swiped for use in these trailers: you’ll be hearing music from Isaac Hayes, The Alan Parsons Project and the soundtracks for Death Wish and Slaughter’s Big Rip-Off. Even the Snake In The Eagle’s Shadow trailer uses Space’s Eurodisco classic, “Magic Fly.”
You’ll also get a new appreciation for what a hard worker Shaw Brothers player Lo Lieh was, as he appears in what feels like half the indie films here. Better yet, there are oddball bits of fun that randomly pop up in different trailers: highlights include a bizarre conversation about urine in Daggers 8, a montage of people doing hyena-style laughs in Deathblow and the appearance of a villain called the “yin-yang shemale” in Kung Fu Versus Yoga.
In other words, don’t let the single-genre focus of Kung Fu Trailers Of Fury throw you. There’s plenty of different types of fun to be had here, with colorful surprises around every corner.
Blu-Ray Notes: Severin has done a fine job with this release. The transfers were all taken from original celluloid trailers: visual quality varies depending on the roughness of the source element but most of them look colorful and sharp. Audio is either English or Chinese depending on the spot, all presented in a nice-sounding LPCM presentation. In a nice touch, the Chinese language spots have been given some new subtitles, including some captions for the Chinese language title cards.
There are also a trio of extras. The first is a commentary track featuring genre aficionados Ric Meyers, Michael Worth, Greg Schiller and Rick Stelow. This track moves as fast as the trailers, with Meyers leading the charge as they provide info on actors and filmmakers and trade quips about favorite films and other trivia that will interest genre fans.
The next extra is a 30 minute featurette with Meyers and film historian Frank Djeng that offers a potted history of the kung fu film. It’s a fast-moving piece that covers all the key filmmakers and actors, with a special focus on Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan and lots of colorful anecdotes throughout. The final extra is a segment about the Cube, the U.K.-based theater that uncovered the trailers used for this disc. They reveal the tale behind the discover of these trailers as well as some fun tales about how they were used for a couple of colorful screening nights at the theater (hint: hip-hop and cheap booze were involved).