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December 18, 2012

Movie Review: Wu Dang (Blu-ray)

Reviewed By: Rob Sibley

Wu Dang is the latest offering from director Patrick Leung. A solid director in his own right. His films usually are either light hearted comedy's such as “Good Times, Bed Times “ or light hearted martial art fantasy epics, “Twin Effects II” comes to mind. If you're catching a theme the word is light hearted and that's one of the best ways to describe Wu Dang, a fun rollicking adventure/martial arts fantasy that's part Indiana Jones, part vintage Tsui Hark with maybe a little Doc Savage thrown in for good measure.

Now before I continue I must say Patrick Leung is a good director, but he cut his teeth working as John Woo's main man for second unit directing. He's collaborated with Woo on two of his best bullet ballet films The Killer & Hard Boiled. So you have Leung to thank almost as much as Mr. Woo for those classics. The years of working with Mr. Woo have obviously paid off. Their most recent collaboration was on John Woo's epic Red Cliff.

Now onto the film at hand, the plot is pretty simple and I like that. Zhao Wen-Zhou  (The Blade) stars as Dr. Tang Yunlong. A man who searches for rare antiquities (sound familiar?).  He goes on a search for seven rare items hidden in the Wu Dang mountains with the hopes of re-uniting them for... well that would be spoiling the plot.

This film isn't a thinker, it's a fun romp. A throw back to the kind of martial arts films you used to watch as a kid. Things never do get too serious, everything is done with a nice sense of humor. It's a pleasure to see a throw back to the golden age of Hong Kong cinema.

Now onto the fights... boy they are fantastic. Expertly choreographed by the prolific Cory Yuen who's been one of the best stunt coordinator's working out of Hong Kong for the last forty or so years. The fights  flow and are very fluid. Really some of the best wire work I've seen in a while. Yuen has a very specific style at times and when he's teamed up with the right director magic happens.

This is a film people are either going to love or hate. It really is going to depend on your mood. If you go into this picture expecting the sweeping drama & romance of  Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon you'll be disappointed. But if you want a light-hearted film with some rollicking adventure and outstanding fights then this is for you.

Now as David Bowie sang “All is well, but I have not been to Oxford Town”. The film isn't perfect... not by a long stretch. The CGI is painfully obvious at times, seems to be a trend with most Hong Kong productions. There are also attempts at romance which well... are cute but don't totally gel. But I can easily excuse these things since the rest of the film was such a damn good time that you don't notice these little flubs and if you do, you forget them pretty quick.

Wu Dang is brought to us from the fine folks over at Well Go USA, a company that's been releasing a lot of high quality Asian action movies over the last few years.

Wu Dang is presented on Blu-ray in it's original  2.35:1 aspect ratio. The 1080P transfer is absolutely stunning. The film was shot on a Red camera so it's no surprise it looks flawless. But the sharpness and detail of this transfer easily makes Wu Dang demo material to impress your kung fu loving buddies. Colors pop, contrast is spot on and the flesh tones and black levels look perfect.

The audio is a 5.1 DTS-HD track. Which truly immerses you into the film, everything we've come to love about DTS is on display for are ears to hear. Also included is a 2.0 track which is fine but seriously go with the 5.1.

Sadly the only negative thing I can say about this release are the extras. Which are slim, we get a total fluff piece (E.P.K. City folks) that runs about 18 minutes. It's your typical promotional video, also included is the films excellent theatrical trailer.

So overall I had a great time with this film and I think you will too. This release from Well Go USA is outstanding on almost all fronts, sure they fall short of the extras which is a shame. But again, this all can be forgiven because the film is such a fun ride!  Highly Recommended

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