8 Diagram Pole Fighter, The (BLU-RAY)

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After one of its lead actors (cherub-faced action icon Alexander Fu Sheng) unexpectedly died midway through production, fight-choreographer-turned-master-director Lau Kar-leung (The 36th Chamber of Shaolin) retooled his latest film, The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter, as the ultimate action spectacular in tribute to his young star. Loosely based upon the legendary Yang dynasty chronicled in Chinese folklore, the film starts as a family patriarch and all but two of his sons are brutally wiped out in a bloody battle with a rival family. One surviving son (Fu Sheng) returns to his mother and two sisters, driven mad with grief; the other (Gordon Liu) escapes and joins a nearby monastery while in hiding. Once he learns his sister (Kara Hui) has been captured by their enemies, however, the warrior-turned-monk realizes he must renounce his peaceful ideals in order to mount a rescue mission and avenge his family. One of Shaw Brothers' final all-star martial arts epics before they ceased filmmaking altogether, The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter is often regarded as Lau's masterpiece, as elegiac and suffused with anguish as it is thrillingly violent (not least in its bone-crunching, teeth-smashing climax).

Bonus Materials

  • Brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative by Arrow Films
  • High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation
  • Original lossless Cantonese, Mandarin and English mono audio
  • Optional English subtitles, plus hard-of-hearing subtitles for the English dub
  • Brand new commentary by Jonathan Clements, author of A Brief History of China
  • Newly filmed appreciation by film critic and historian Tony Rayns
  • Interviews with stars Gordon Liu, Lily Li and Yeung Ching-ching, filmed by Frédéric Ambroisine in 2004
  • A Tribute to Fu Sheng, a short film commemorating the late actor that played before early screenings of The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter, presented via a German-dubbed telecine (the best available copy) with English subtitles
  • Alternate opening credits, as The Invincible Pole Fighters
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Image gallery
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Marc Aspinall
  • FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collectors' booklet featuring new writing on the film by Terrence J. Brady