• Day Of The Panther/Strike Of The Panther (Umbrella Entertainment) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Umbrella Entertainment
    Released on: June 5th, 2019.
    Director: Brian Trenchard-Smith
    Cast: John Stanton, Rowena Wallace, Michael Carman, Edward John Stazak
    Year: 1988
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    Day Of The Panther/Strike Of The Panther – Movie Review:

    In 1988, Brian Trenchard-Smith made two low budget martial arts pictures in Hong Kong and his native Australia starring Edward John Stazak as a tough guy named Jason Blade. The results? Day Of The Panther and Strike Of The Panther, two rollicking action pictures making their debut on Blu-ray for the first time thanks to this new double-feature release from Umbrella Entertainmnt.

    Day Of The Panther:

    In the first film, we learn of the existence of The Panthers, an elite group of martial artists that must undergo rigorous training – the best of the best, so to speak. From this group emerge Jason Blade (Edward John Stazak) and Linda Anderson (Linda Megier), trained by Linda’s father, William (John Stanton), in the deadly ways of the first. Now officially Panther’s, they’re awarded spots with the Hong Kong Police Department’s special branch where they work as undercover operatives.

    Linda is tasked with taking down a criminal narcotics operation run by Damien Zukor (Michael Carman), who makes quite a nice living for himself selling contraband to Australian users. Unfortunately, she’s soon killed by Zukor’s sinister right-hand man, Baxter (Jim Richards). When word gets back to Blade about what happened, he goes deep undercover to make his way into Zukor’s gang and take them down from the inside.

    Strike Of The Panther:

    Picking up where the first film left off, when this second picture (which was renamed Fists Of Blood for its U.S. home video release on VHS through Celebrity Video), Blade is still working for the HKPD, pulling off daring rescues and taking out bad guys left, right and center. His latest missions us to head into the bowels of an underground brothel to save Julia Summers (Fiona Gauntlett), the foxy daughter of wealthy business mogul David Summers.

    After that job is done, he and some members of an elite task force join together to capture Jim Baxter (James Richards again) but things quickly head south when Baxter, recently escaped from prison, kidnaps Blade's girlfriend, Gemma Anderson (Paris Jefferson), a fellow task force member. Blade, of course, goes after him and tracks he and Gemma to an abandoned power station that he’s wired with massive amounts of deadly explosives – but standing between Blade and revenge is… an army of ninjas! Oh, and it seems like Blade and communicate psychically with Anderson, who provides some narration in the opening scene that not only brings new viewers up to speed on Blade’s story but also manages to fill a whole lot of time and pad this sequel out to feature length!

    These movies are not deep, nor are they really all that original but they are a whole lot of fun. Ridiculously fun, as a matter of fact. If you’ve got a soft spot for the type of action movies that Cannon Films were cranking out around the same time, then these will be right up your alley – they just happen to come with a bit of Australian flavor to help make them stand out. Trenchard-Smith proved he could do action films well with The Man From Hong Kong and that proves true with these picture as well. Despite the obvious padding in the sequel, a good excuse to reuse some of the footage short for the original picture, they films are both paced well and pretty nicely shot.

    As to the action? It’s well choreographed and pretty exciting stuff. The stuntmen in these films earned their respective paychecks and Stazak, who appears to have only done one other film after these pictures were completed (1991’s Black Neon), makes for a perfectly solid B-grade action star. He’s got the right look, he’s got the right moves and while his acting isn’t going to ever bring home any awards, he handles the material given him without any problems. James Richards, who played the Executioner character in No Escape (aka Escape From Absolom), is a lot of fun as the heavy.

    Day Of The Panther/Strike Of The Panther – Blu-ray Review:

    Umbrella Entertainment brings Day Of The Panther and Strike Of The Panther to Blu-ray using an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfers on a 50GB disc with each feature framed at 1.85.1 widescreen and taken from new 4k restorations of the 35mm interpositives (these were shot on 16mm and then blown up to 35mm). Despite the presence of some minor print damage here and there, the transfers look very good. You can expect the images to look pretty grainy given their origins, and they do, but there’s a lot of visible detail and texture here that can often times look quite impressive. Colors are very nicely reproduced and we get nice, deep black levels as well. Skin tones appear lifelike and natural and the transfers both look filmic from start to finish – meaning there’s no problems with any noise reduction or edge enhancement. The strong bit rate keeps the disc free from noticeable compression issues as well.

    Both films get English language DTS-HD 2.0 mixes. The tracks are clean, clear and properly balanced and there are no problems with any hiss or distortion. Dialogue sounds good, sound effects have some decent punch behind them and the score is pretty strong as well. Optional subtitles are provided in English only.

    Extras are limited to a trailer for each feature. Aside from that we get menus and chapter selection.

    Day Of The Panther/Strike Of The Panther – The Final Word:

    Umbrella Entertainment’s double feature Blu-ray release of Day Of The Panther/Strike Of The Panther is light on extras to be sure, but it does present two seriously entertaining B-level action pictures in very nice shape. There’s enough entertainment value to be had from the two features that this is an easy recommendation for fans of low rent action and martial arts movies or Ozploitation in general.

    Click on the images below for full sized Day Of The Panther/Strike Of The Panther Blu-ray screen caps!