If you take THE BLACK DRAGON’S REVENGE for what it is then you can find entertainment and enjoyment in it. As I look back at older films I have a fond appreciation for the cinematic history. This isn’t the best in any one particular category, (ie. acting, kung fu, directing) but it definitely has all the parts to which historically capture a time in cinema when kung fu, blaxploitation and campy cult like films left their stamp on the 70’s.
Martial arts legend Ron Van Clief stars as an investigator trying to solve the mystery of the almighty Bruce Lee’s death and everyone is in search of the lost finger fighting manual. However to no ease rival gangs get in his way, but he’s ready for any kind of bone-crushing mayhem. From the heyday of 1970s Blaxploitation and kung fu flicks, this action-thriller demonstrates the same crude dialog and cut-rate film techniques usually found in those genres, but where it helps even be recognized still today is by having a legitimate bad ass like van Clief in the lead role.
Another great part that rings true even more today in the continuance of Women’s rights is looking back at this time where they cast a female role who kicks major ass in the streets with a stick. She can definitely hold her own! And one of the villain’s hand weapon that punches out your eyeballs was a new one for me!
This film obviously isn’t for everyone, but the target niche will definitely want this in their collection. Hats off to what The Film Detective are doing over there with their label.
The video is a 1080p restoration from the original 35mm negatives. While this transfer may have many issues it seems more apparent with how the film was made and cared for over the years. I have faith in that this is probably as good as this film was ever going to get in the transfer department due to many reasons and economics also playing a part. Still I found enjoyment in the campy raw like transfer with the upgraded HD.
The audio is a mere Dolby Digital track that leaves an insane amount to be desired. It actually leaves me with more questions and curiosities, but given the history of this film it perhaps is as good as it can get once factoring in economics due to recreating the wheel with more channels being probably too far a stretch for this film.
SUPPLEMENTS & PACKAGING
Original Theatrical Trailer:
Bruce Lee Dubs: A humorous compilation where mentions of “Lee” were scratched out of the original negative for fear of rights violations.
1 Blu-ray disc
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
English Dolby Digital
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Looking at the release as a whole, the film detective’s release of THE BLACK DRAGON’S REVENGE accomplishes what it sets out to. Bringing rare films from the otherwise forgotten past and giving them HD transfers. The VQ and AQ aren’t the greatest, but given what there was to work with and also the feel that should be left in tact from such a 70’s blaxploitation film. That said I highly recommend checking this flick out or their others as they are a true asset to film preservation in bringing films to Blu-ray that likely would never make the trip.