• The Vengeful Beauty (88 Films) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: 88 Films
    Released on: August 13th, 2018.
    Director: Meng Hua Ho
    Cast: Chen Ping, Yueh Hua, Lo Lieh
    Year: 1978
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    The Vengeful Beauty – Movie Review:

    Meng Hua Ho, the genius who gave us Mighty Peking Man, Black Magic and its sequel, The Flying Guillotine (which this film is more or less a follow up to) and the immortal Oily Maniac was the director of this late seventies Shaw Brothers picture.

    The story revolves around Rong (Chen Ping), not yet vengeful but definitely a beauty. She comes home one day to find that her beloved husband, Han Tien-Te (Li Sung-Ling), has been murdered, a victim of the infamous Flying Guillotine gang led by Jin Gong Feng (Lo Lieh), rat bastard that he is. Not really wanting to get in trouble for all of this, he orders the guys in his gang to kill anyone with any knowledge of their crimes, at which point Rong finds her very life in great danger.

    That said, Rong isn’t a woman to be trifled with. She wants revenge and she wants it bad and she’s not going to let a little thing like the fact that she’s pregnant stop her from getting it. That said, given the fact that the gang was in the employ of Emperor Yung Cheng (Wei Hung) this might be trickier than it looks. Thankfully she finds help in the form of ex-boyfriend/martial arts expert Wang Chun (Yueh Hua) and one-time Flying Guillotine gang member Ma Shen (Norman Chu), now out to hopefully set things right. Along the way a lot of people will literally lose their heads and a love triangle will blossom and… complicate things.

    This is a film as entertaining as it is quirky and colorful. Meng Hua Ho keeps the acting moving at a really strong pace, pulling us into the story and making sure that no matter how bizarre Rong’s predicament may become, we’re rooting for her to get the revenge she craves. There’s really very little time for the plot to slowdown at all, even the live triangle aspect (which admittedly is pretty goofy and adds very little to the film aside from some romance that was probably crammed into the story to make it more commercially appealing) can’t keep The Vengeful Beauty from exhibiting nearly non-stop forward momentum. The fights are beautifully choreographed and often times quite bloody, and any time the bad guys pull out the titular flying guillotine the movie is impossible not to love.

    In the middle of all of this is Chen Ping who absolutely makes the most out of being given a starring role in the picture. She moves like lightning, super-fast and just as deadly, and she handles the melodrama inherent in the story as well as she does the action set pieces. Of course, you can never go wrong with having Lo Lieh cast as your bad guy, something that Meng Hua Ho knew only too well given how frequently he did just that. Lieh is fantastic here, a villain in the purest sense of the word and a whole lot of fun to watch. The supporting players are all plenty entertaining here as well, but the movie is at its best when Chen Ping and Lo Lieh are the focus.

    The Vengeful Beauty – Blu-ray Review:

    The AVC encoded 1080p 2.35.1 widescreen transfer on this 25GB Blu-ray disc is pretty solid. Like a lot of the Shaw Brothers Blu-ray releases we’ve seen so far, there might have been some minor DNR applied, resulting in some slight softness and some slightly waxy skin tones, but it’s not a deal breaker. The image is pretty much pristine, showing virtually no print damage at all, while the film’s often time beautiful (and somewhat over the top) color scheme looks great here. Black levels are solid and there are no problems with any compression artifacts even if the film is on a single layered disc. Detail and texture are typically quite good here as well, despite some softness inherent in the source that was used.

    The only audio option on the disc is an LPCM Mono track in Mandarin with subtitles provided in English only. There are a couple of subtitles flubs here and there but otherwise the audio is problem free. The levels are well balanced and aside from some minor sibilance in a few spots, there are no issues. As is typical with Shaw Brothers films of this period the effects can be pretty high in the mix but this is all part of the ‘experience’ with older martial arts films like this one and for most fans, it won’t be a problem at all.

    No commentary this time around but we do get two interviews, this first of which is with Yueh Hua and is conducted by Frédéric Ambroisine, running just shy of sixteen-minutes. Here Hua talks about the early days of his acting career before then going on to become a stock player for the Shaw Brothers. He then shares some stories about shooting different action set pieces and about the film’s director. The second, also conducted by Ambroisine, features Susan Shaw and it runs just under three-minutes. It’s a shame this one is so short as it’s quite interesting. Here Shaw talks about how rough the shoot was before then sharing a story about attending the film’s premiere in Cannes and then getting accused of spying.

    Aside from that, there’s just a static menu on the disc. As far as the packaging goes, however, the first 1,000 copies ordered from 88 Films’ website come with a slipcover. We also get some nice reversible sleeve art featuring the newly created art on one side and the much cooler original poster art on the reverse. Additionally, inside the clear keepcase is an insert booklet featuring an essay from Calum Waddell that does a nice job of talking up the importance of Chen Ping’s performance and Meng Hua Ho’s direction in addition to providing some welcome trivia and background information on the picture.

    The Vengeful Beauty – The Final Word:

    The Vengeful Beauty is a nice blend of action and drama featuring some pretty impressive martial arts set pieces and a star making performance from the fantastic Chen Ping. 88 Films’ Blu-ray debut is solid, offering the film in nice shape and with a few decent extra features as well. Fans of classic Shaw Brothers fight films will find this package hard to resist.

    Click on the images below for full sized The Vengeful Beauty Blu-ray review screen captures!