The Bride from Hell/Heroes Two - Blu-ray Review

Michael Scott

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The Bride From Hell/Heroes Two


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Movie: :4stars:
Video: :3.5stars:
Audio: :3.5stars:
Extras: :2.5stars:
Final Score: :3.5stars:




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Movie

Shout Factory has been on a mission to release a ton of the old classic Kung-Fu movies with regards to Jackie Chan and Sonny Chiba as of late, but one of their biggest (and latest) undertakings has been to release massive 11-12 disc sets of the classic 1960s and 1970s Shaw Brothers classic films. Highly coveted and incredibly hard to get all of them outside of expensive imports, we get a lovely set of 12 films in this second box set (sadly we weren’t able to review the 1st boxset, but I can fully attest that it was just as great as this one as I bought it personally) that covers a six year period for the Celestial Pictures produced films. Once more Shout Factory gives us some strange bedfellows in this 2 pack. The first being the ghost story The Bride from Hell and the second being the high octane Kung-Fu flick Heroes Two (which is the 3rd film in this box set that was released previously by Well Go USA)

The Bride from Hell: :4stars:
I applaud Shout Factory for keeping up with some of the more oddball Shaw Brothers films in this set. Once again we get a film that goes off the beaten path by delving straight into a Chinese Ghost story. The tale revolves around a young woman who was brutally assaulted and then murdered 20 years ago. The crime was eventually forgotten about, but when a woman arises from the grave one night and appears to the townsfolk, chaos is bound to ensue.

Two fellas walking by a lake meet a lovely young lady staring mournfully into the lake and attempt to talk her down from what seems to be a suicide. The two young men seek refuge in a local cottage after believing the young woman is a ghost of said woman who was murdered 20 years. The owner of the cottage, one Anu (Margaret Hsing-Hui), accepts the two men into her home and gives them lodging for the night. In typical Chinese comedic fashion, the two men decide to peep in on their female counterpart and see her in the nude. Like any sensible man, instead of apologizing and not doing it again, the decide to propose marriage as a way to rectify the wrong (totally logical I might add).

Here is where the mystical hijinks and shenanigans begin, with our ghost from a tortured past coming in to make life hell for everyone. Honestly, I was not sure what to expect when I went in for this review. I had never even heard of it before (which is shocking, as I’ve seen most Shaw Brothers films at least once over my life of Kung-fu addiction) and was only mildly intrigued by the trailer. I was expecting a much tamer horror movie than what we got, as we hadn’t gotten into the gore fests that late 1980s Shaw Brothers horror films would engage in. Instead of something tame and Wuxia related, we got a full blown Chinese spook fest, complete with horrible demises, beautiful ghosts, and a sense of the supernatural that is not very common in Chinese cinema.

The film feels like it splices Taoist magic and supernatural rituals, the hopping Vampire style cinematography of Mr. Vampire, and pure fantasy elements as well. At it’s heart and soul the film is still a ghost story, but it has so many different angles and tweaks going on to the story that kept me fully interested, despite some of the more sluggish bits of the narrative. Margaret Hsing Hui does a fantastic job as Anu, but sadly most of the other performances weren’t that stand out. Doesn’t mean any of them were bad, just that I didn’t find them al that amazing compared to the lovely Margaret.

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Heroes Two: :4stars:
Finally we break out of the 1971-1972 release period and get something a bit later. 1974’s Heroes Two (originally titled Bloody Fists) brings back famed SB director Cheh Chang once more as he weaves that now popular tale of swashbuckling heroes fighting back against a powerful enemy motif. The story is about as simple as could be, but that’s not where the fun comes from. It’s pure comic book cartoon Kung-fu fighting on steroids. The Manchu’s have burned the Shaolin temples to the ground, and only Hung escapes. Hung manages to kill more than a few of the Manchu villains along the way, and ends up off head honcho Zhu Mu, who just wants to have a true BATTLE that is worthy of his skills.

Meanwhile, legendary hero Fong Sai Yuk (a character Jet Li would take up the mantle for years later) is training off in the countryside, doing good deeds and saving as many people as he can from the villains. The Manchu realize that he’s a bit more than they can handle, so they fool poor Fong into thinking Hung is one of the Manchu who burned down the Shaolin temples, and pits the two fighters against each other. Fong ends up capturing Hung and handing him over to the Manchu, only to realize his mistake and how badly he’s been fooled. Digging a tunnel to get Hung out, he barely manages to free the wrongfully imprisoned monk, and the two devise a way to take down Zhu Mu’s once and for all.

Yeah, it’s not hard to see that this is basically the thinnest plot you can get. However, Cheh Chang is going on all 4 cylinders here, giving us a high octane action film that has some absolutely incredible choreography, and a fast paced action set list that keeps you going the entire time. Sure, it’s not going to win any awards or be as famous as the Bruce Lee phenomenon that had started, but this was a turning point of the Shaw Brothers as they adopted a more fluid form of action film making and using several big name actors that would go on to star in many more Kung-fu films over the decades.




Rating:

Not Rated by the MPAA




Video: :3.5stars:
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The Bride from Hell: :3.5stars:
The Bride from Hell is another film that looks just a tad rougher than I’d like. The film opens up with that typical hazy green and blue filter that is indicative of older Hong Kong horror movies, but I noticed right off the bat just HOW hazy things look. There’s an almost gauzy filter thrown over the top of everything, giving the image a very soft look with meager detail levels. Blacks suffer a lot and get very milky and hazy, and except for some nice close ups where we get to see some really nice stitching on clothes, or embroidery colors, the entire film just feels “muted” in every visual way.

Heroes Two: :3.5stars:
Heroes Two falls back on the typical bronze and slightly yellow orange tinges of the Wuxia film look that was so prominent back then, with some mixed results on the resolution front. The entire production has a nice layer of grain over it, and there’s nothing washed or DNR’d over, but I noticed that the clarity and detail levels changed dramatically from shot to shot. Certain shots would look blurry and washed out with lower resolution, while others would suddenly make you sit up and say “wow, that looks GREAT”, only to switch back and forth a dozen more times. It really feels like some of the camera negatives use for some of different angles had problems, while others not so much. When it looks good, the film REALLY looks good, with great colors and fantastic resolution. But when they get bad, things get blurry and fuzzy real quick with dulled primaries and loss of clarity. There are a lot more good scenes than bad scenes thought and while I wanted to give it a higher rating, the fuzzy/blurry shots were enough to drag my rating down.








Audio: :3.5stars:
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The Bride from Hell: :4stars:
The Bride from Hell falls back into the “4/5 rating” category that most of the previous films have had. It does everything well enough without being amazing, and even the flaws are not that bad. There’s the typical dialog distortion near the end of words, but it’s fairly minimal. Even the sound effects and the score are more pronounced and cleaner than expected. Once again, a track that does everything well for the time period, but is still a Mono track at the end of the day.

Heroes Two: :3.5stars:
Heroes Two offers the same 2.0 Mono Mandarin and English dubs that the Well Go USA release has, and both are equally good. The English dubbing is utterly ATROCIOUS (which, to be fair, was part of the charm about watching these 70s films on TV back in my childhood days) but the Mandarin tracks suffer from the typical problems of the day. Some harsh dialog, some rasp on the score, and an over abundance of obvious ADR and echoy voices in some of the fights. Decent mix, but some obvious flaws.











Extras: :2.5stars:
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The Bride from Hell
NEW Audio Commentary By James Mudge, Hong Kong Film Critic At easternKicks
• A More Traditional Terror: Hong Kong Film Historian Tony Rayns Talks Shaw Brothers Horror Films
• Original Theatrical Trailer
• Celestial Trailer

Heroes Two
NEW Audio Commentary By David West, Critic And Author Of Chasing Dragons: An Introduction To The Martial Arts Film
• Original Theatrical Trailer
• German Trailer
• Celestial Trailer














Final Score: :3.5stars:


Out of the two, I have a hard time saying which one I like better. Heroes Two is the obvious choice for action Kung-Fu junkies, but The Bride from Hell is a nice ghost story diversion that I didn’t expect to like as much as I did. Either choice will serve you well though, but I am sorry to see the slightly weaker video scores on both films. Fun watch.

(as this is a single release from the massive boxset, our "buy now" links will go directly to the boxset and not an individual release)


Technical Specifications:

Starring: Margaret Hsing Hui, Fan Yang, Fench Chang, Kuan Tai Chen, Sheng Fu, Hark-On Fung, Mu Chu
Directed by: Hsu-Chiang Chou /Cheh Chang
Written by: Tien-Yung Hsu / Cheh Chang, Kuang Ni
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC (both)
Audio: Mandarin: DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono (Heroes Two)
Subtitles: English
Studio: Shout Factory
Rated: NR
Runtime: 79 minutes / 93 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: August 15th, 2023
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Recommendation: Fun Watch

 
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