Hong Kong Cinema

Dragon Fist

  • Made: 1978
  • Format: DVD (Region 2)
  • Release Date: 22/10/01
  • Company: Eastern Heroes
  • Length: 92 mins
  • Picture: Widescreen - 16x9
  • Language: English
  • Extras: Interview, Trailers, Picture Gallery
  • Classification: 18

Director: Lo Wei

Cast: Jackie Chan, Nora Miao, James Tien Junm, Yen Shi-Kwan, Hsu Hsia, Gam Ying Yat, Ouyang Shafei, Wong Kwong Yue, Chui Siu Hung, Ko Keung, Peng Kong, Tse Kin Man, Pang Yin Cheung, Wong Yiu Huen, Eagle Han Ying, Chui Fat, Chui Yuen




Jackie and James Tien get down to business

This is a pre-Golden Harvest offering by the mercurial Jackie Chan, directed by the ex-Bruce Lee director - Lo Wei. This is arguably Jackie's most serious role and it is my first DVD that I've got from the new 12 Disc Jackie Chan Collection. I've always had this one on VHS but this is one of the few 'pre-Drunken Master' films with Jackie that I will upgrade to DVD. Firstly, my VHS says on the back 90 mins approx for the running time. When I watched my movie it was 72 mins long - that seems to me a VERY 'approx 90 mins'??? The cutting of 18 odd mins was quite obvious in the VHS version and I shall mention this more later.

This film, was made in 1978 whilst Jackie was still working with Lo Wei before being contracted out to Seasonal Films. It was shelved as Lo Wei had pretty lost all his confidence in Jackie to make any money at the box office, and then (believe it or not!!) released once Jackie had become famous. It took $1,004,000 HK in 1979 and did not do as well as the other Lo Wei films released properly after Snake in the Eagle's Shadow and Drunken Master (i.e. Spiritual Kung Fu and Half a Loaf of Kung Fu). This is because Lo Wei was trying to turn Jackie into Bruce in this movie, similarly to New Fist of Fury. There is absolutely no comedy in this baby, pure hard ass fighting with old skool acting. I actually really like this film though, I think the directing is not that bad from Lo, and Jackie was allowed more input in the choreography of this film. What is probably most refreshing is that this film is about revenge, but the good guy actually doesn't get his revenge at the end - one of the few times I can remember?


Jackie's master is killed by a rival kung fu master. Jackie travels with mother and sister to get revenge. Find bad guy, bad guy has cut his leg off. Mother gets ill, Jackie works for really bad guys to get medicine for mother. Boy gets killed, Jackie blamed. Jackie changes side in final battle, mother dies. Bad Guy double crossed by even badder guy, Jackie kills the baddest guys and the 'not too bad' people are saved. Hoorah!

That is all I'm prepared to write on the plot, watch the film, you'll understand...


This film is cropped widescreen, which is disappointing. I think the reason it is this size is so they can avoid the subtitles which are burnt onto the film. I'm going to do a comparison between proper widescreen and the cropped version on Spiritual Kung Fu to show you what you are missing. The great thing is that the softness has improved dramatically. Watching the VHS makes you think you need glasses, the picture is so soft and faded, but a good bit of re-mastering later and it looks pretty high quality. The cut scenes include a boy being killed (not harshly though) which is now back in the DVD and the plot makes a lot more sense. Plus it seems some fights were cut as well, so they are gladly welcomed back.

Overall the fighting is fluid and technical, but not sensational, I really like the fight the James Tien which was really hard to see on the VHS. The end fight is the crowning glory of this film when Jackie takes on a Double Tonfa expert with a crutch!! (essentially a staff). Maybe a touch long but the skill is pretty jaw dropping - (see right). Another nice touch is that this is an early outing for Yen Shi-Kwan, a the one legged Kung Fu master, his most famous role coming 12 years later as Iron Robe Yim in Once Upon a Time in China.


Jackie as an angry 'Bruce-esque' character

Double Tonfa vs Cripple's Crutch

One of the many cut scenes gratefully restored




The disc is tidy, if not exceptional and it has interviews, trailers, etc with 5.1 Dolby as well. Ironically the Jackie Chan interview, which is mediocre, has Jackie telling us how all his movies are comedic action and not violent (erm apart from Dragon Fist, oops and Crime Story, oops and New Fist of Fury)! Probably a low blow there, but it's the same interview on all the discs.


I'm really happy with the quality, and restored cut scenes, a bit disappointed with the cropped widescreen and the lack of a subtitled version. This film's Kung Fu is not far behind Snake in the Eagle's Shadow, but it lacks in supporting cast, Jackie's comedy, a decent set and of course, some Yuen Woo Ping magic sprinkled on top.