• Master, The – The Complete Series

    Released by: Kino Lorber Studio Classics
    Released on: February 20th, 2018.
    Director: Michael Sloan, Robert Clouse, Gordon Hessler, Sidney Hayers
    Cast: Lee Van Cleef, Timothy Van Patten, Sho Kosugi, Demi Moore, George Lazenby, David McCallum, Stuart Whitman, Clu Gulager, William Smith, Doug McClure
    Year: 1984
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movies:

    Created by Michael Sloan, The Master aired on CBS for one whole season lasting thirteen episodes. While it may not have lasted long, the series managed to make an impression on enough of us at the time that Kino has now brought the entire run to Blu-ray!

    For those unfamiliar with the series, it was, like a lot of eighties action shows, pretty formulaic stuff. But don’t let that dissuade you, because if you’re into ninjas, Lee Van Cleef, Sho kosugi, Timothy Van Patter, sweet custom vans, hamsters, awesome guest stars or copious amounts of ass kicking then it’s a pretty safe bet that The Master will cure what ails you.

    Max: This premiere episode sets everything up. When it starts, a van-driving, hamster-loving tough guy named Max Keller (Timothy Van Patten) rolls on into a small town only to have to save a pretty hitchhiker named Holly Trumball (Demi Moore) from the town’s nasty Sheriff. He drives her back to the air field owned by her dad (Claude Akins). Later that night, while hanging out in a bar, Max sees an older man walk in asking for help finding his daughter. The same Sheriff causes him some trouble, causing the old man to kick the shit out of everyone and everything in the saloon. Max helps him escape, learns that his name is John Peter McAllister (Lee Van Cleef) and finds out that he is in fact a ninja. With nowhere else to go, Max brings him back to the Trumball’s, who give him a place to rest, all while Peter’s arch-nemesis and former student from Japan, Okasa (Sho Kosugi), closes in on them, only for Peter to kick his ass, but not before Max saves the Trumball’s from a greedy land developer named Mr. Christensen (Clu Gulager) who wants to turn the air strip into a mall!

    Out-Of-Time-Step: Now officially a team, Max and Peter wind up in another town where they wind up in trouble when a mobster assumes that they’re working as bodyguards for a nightclub owner he’s trying to shake down. Eventually, Peter and Max kick the bad guy’s ass, and the asses of his cronies too.

    State Of The Union: Max hits it off with a cute biker girl named Carrie (Crystal Bernard) who works at a local cannery. When she and her fellow co-workers start to organize and want to form a union, the cannery owner muscles in on them to put a stop to it - bad idea, because Max and Peter are going to have to kick his ass.

    Hostages: A Federal Agent suspects that Peter is actually helping out a dastardly terrorist, which is bad. But he figures if he saves the people that said terrorist is holding hostage that he’ll be able to clear his name and move on which his life. But first, he’ll have to kick the terrorist’s ass. David McCallum and George Goddamn Lazenby guest star in this stand out episode.

    High Rollers: Max has always had a way with the ladies, he’s left a trailer of broken-hearted hotties across the country. One of these former flames gets into hot water when her daughter is taken hostage, forcing her to cooperate with some bad dudes who want to pull off a big job in Las Vegas. Max and Peter wind up chasing the bad guys to what was once a set used for western movies and inevitably kick all of their asses.

    Fat Tuesday: it’s Mardi Gras time in New Orleans when Peter and Max cruise into town in their awesome van. Things get tricky when an undercover reporter uses Peter’s daughter’s name Teri McAllister name as a cover for one of her sources used in a story. Why does this matter? The story is meant to uncover the truth behind an otherwise respectable citizen who is aiding and abetting terrorists. Max and Peter get mixed up in all of this and eventually have to kick the asses of the terrorists.

    Juggernaut: Max and Peter get involved with a mother and daughter team and help to organize the local farmers against a sinister business man bent on taking their land. Of course, Max and Peter see this as an opportunity for love, but Peter gets further than Max does. Ladies Love Lee Van Cleef. Before it’s all over, Peter’s past as a pilot in WWII will come in handy and the bad guys will all get their asses kicked. The great Stuart Whitman guest stars.

    The Good, The Bad And The Priceless: Peter’s quest to find his daughter once again comes into play when a female F.B.I. agent named Gina (Janine Turner) poses as Teri in hopes of getting the edge on a sinister criminal the bureau has been after. How to Peter and Max play into all of this? Without going into spoiler territory, they have to steal the Crown Jewels of England… and then kick some ass.

    Kunoichi: Okasa has not been resting on his laurels all this time, no way. He’s been teaching a female student in the deadly art of the ninja and with her training complete, he uses her to frame Peter for the murder of a mutual acquaintance from their collective past – a D.C. power broker! Peter has to clear his name and, in doing so, kick a lot of asses.

    The Java Tiger: Peter and Max decide to give it a rest and leave searching for Peter’s daughter alone for a while. Instead, they head to Hawaii to visit an old friend of Peter’s who works as a private detective and could use some help trying to find a tiger made of gold. He’s not the only one looking for it though, there are bad guys afoot, and those bad guys will soon find that their asses are going to get kicked.

    Failure To Communicate: Max hasn’t seen his father Patrick (Doug McClure) in years but when he gets conned into cooperating in a kidnapping plan he has no choice but to help him out. Meanwhile, Peter keeps busy helping out two lovely ladies (Ashley Ferrare and Rebecca Holden) who need his protection. Eventually, the two worlds collide and asses get kicked.

    Rogues: Max's old high school pal now works as a cop. When they reconnect, he finds out that he’s in trouble with some of the other guys on the force… dirty cops! Meanwhile, the woman who runs the local gym gets on Peter’s bad side, at least initially, by teasing him to get into better shape. He doesn’t kick her ass, but those dirty cops… that’s a different story.

    A Place To Call Home: in the final episode, Max and Peter get involved in stopping yet more greedy land developers from taking over an orphanage, at which point Max becomes a role model to a teenaged boy and, eventually with some help from Peter, kicks the bad guys’ asses for the last time.

    So yeah, fine, maybe it’s a little tough to buy Lee Van Cleef as a ninja and, fair enough, it’s obvious that a stunt double (who is a fair bit thinner than Lee) is used in pretty much all of the action scenes but none of that matters. This show is a blast. Van Cleef and Van Patten have genuinely good chemistry here and it’s fun to watch their relationship develop over the course of the show. And Sho Kosugi? Who better than he to play a chainmail wearing evil ninja hot on their tale! Kosugi, a legitimately talented martial artist, also did the fight and stunt choreography in the series so you know that the action scenes deliver. If the show feels a bit like The Incredible Hulk or maybe even The Littlest Hobo in that it has our leads arrive in a new town to make new friends and defeat new enemies every episode, so be it.


    The thirteen episodes that make up the entity of The Master are spread across three 50GB discs that present the content in AVC encoded 1080p high definition properly framed at 1.33.1. There’s some mild print damage here and there but nothing too serious. Detail is pretty solid, if never completely mind-blowing, while color reproduction looks great. We get nice black levels, solid texture and nice-looking skin tones. No obvious compression artifacts to speak of, and the image is free of noise reduction and edge enhancement issues.

    English language DTS-HD 2.0 Mono tracks are provided for each episode. There are no alternate language or subtitles of any kind provided. The audio quality is fine. Dialogue is clear, the levels are balanced and there are no problems with any hiss or distortion to note.

    Outside of menus and episode selection, there are no extra features on the disc (though this release does come with reversible cover art) outside of a few trailers or other Kino properties.

    The Final Word:

    The Master might not be deep, but it is a lot of fun. The action scenes hold up really well, the thirteen episodes deliver plenty of fun storytelling and the cast are a blast to watch. Kino’s Blu-ray release of the complete series is definitely light in the extra features department but it looks and sounds quite good. If you’re a fan of the series or the eighties ninja pop culture explosion, don’t miss out on this set.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 4 Comments
    1. Newt Cox's Avatar
      Newt Cox -
      I am gonna end up getting this. When I was in 5th grade this show was the talk of the playground each week after it aired.
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      I remember righting a story in Grade 5 that was an episode of the Master that I wanted to see. Loved it
    1. Ian Jane's Avatar
      Ian Jane -
      I would like to read that story.
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      It is pretty long gone by this point haha