• Dynasty (Kino Lorber) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Kino Lorber
    Released on: April 13th, 2021.
    Director: Mei-Chun Chang
    Cast: Tao-Liang Tan, Ying Bai, Kang Chin, David Wei Tang, Wen-Tai Li, Chiang Han, Chang Ma
    Year: 1977
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    Dynasty – Movie Review:

    Mei-Chun Chang’s 1977 film is light on plot but high on ass kicking and fun, which makes it a pretty entertaining watch for anyone with an interest in old school, period martial arts movies.

    As to the story? Well, way back in the Ming Dynasty the evil Eunuch Chao sets into motion a plan to get rid of Prince Chu and usurp the Prince’s position of power for himself. He and a few others, mostly assassin types, learn that Chu is hiding out in a remote monastery but when Chao and his cronies arrive, they’re fooled by the monks looking after Chu into believing that the place is empty! Chao, however, remains determined and makes his way in where he engages in mortal combat with a barrage of monks, laying waste to them with ease, taking out the prince and emerging victorious.

    From here, Chao makes his moves towards taking power only to then come up against a new opponent - Tan Hsiao-chien, whose father was killed by the evil Eunuch some time ago. If Tan doesn’t kill Chao in a week’s time, the eunuch will gain immortality. Fighting on Chao’s side are Tsao Tsang-Wen and Kwei, but what they don’t take into account is a travelling kung-fu master named Lang Si-yu who initially plays both sides of the conflict, Yojimbo style, only to then chose to work with Tan to try and put a stop to Chao before it’s too late.

    Meant to be seen in 3-D since its initial theatrical release, (interestingly enough, the late, great exploitation film pioneer Michael Findlay is credited with supervising the Super Touch 3-D work on the film), Dynasty has no shortage of stuff flying at the camera during its running time. In addition to plenty of flying fists and kicks, some nice weapons work pulls you into the action, with swords and spears and, during the finale, some sort of flying cross-shaped thing made out of what looks like some kind of weaved wood. It’s pretty wild and definitely unique, adding an element of unpredictability to what is, in a lot of ways, a fairly by-the-numbers kung-fu movie.

    It’s a bit tough to actually evaluate the acting when the characters are all dubbed in the typically goofy way that vintage kung-fu movies were dubbed back in the seventies, so we’ll skip over that aspect of the movie, but the fight scenes are nicely lensed and very competently choreographed. The actors move well and hit fast and hard, ensuring the when the action hits – which is quite frequent – it does so with some pretty decent impact.

    The movie features plenty of colorful costumes and nice sets as well as some decent location work. Mei-Chun Chang paces the picture quite well and it never feels slow or dull. The plot can be more than a little convoluted at times and there are definitely odd minor sub plots and character quirks that feel more than a little shoehorned into the main story for reasons that we’ll probably never really understand but overall, this is a pretty entertaining way to kill an hour-and-a-half with some wild characters and stylish violence.

    Dynasty – Blu-ray Review:

    Dynasty arrives on Region A Blu-ray from Kino Lorber on a dual-layered BD50 Disc with the MVC version taking up 24GBs of space (in both 2-D and 3-D versions) and the AVC version given 16.6GBS, both versions properly framed in the film’s original aspect ratio. Some notes on the presentation:

    “This special edition is the first 3-D Film Archive release in Compatible 3-D, so you can view it on any system. The package has both BD3D polarized AND anaglyphic (red/cyan) 3-D versions, and contains one pair of anaglyphic 3-D glasses with information on how to acquire additional glasses.”

    This means that those without a 3-D HDTV can still enjoy the film in 3-D using the included anaglyphic glasses. Without a 3-D compatible TV we can’t really comment on how the MVC version works but the anaglyphic presentation works pretty well. Swords pop out of the screen, characters get knocked towards you, and there’s good depth of field with the placement of characters, props, buildings, foliage and other bits and pieces of whatever happens to be in the frame.

    The quality of the picture itself, however, is less than perfect. Taken from a new scan of the best 35mm print available, expect a fair bit of print damage and some noticeable color fading throughout the film. Black levels often lean more towards dark to medium grey and the picture is often quite soft looking. Still, if this is the best we can get at the moment, so be it. Better to have the film preserved in less than perfect shape than not at all and those who appreciate seeing presentations that replicate the experience of watching a well-used theatrical print (it does have its charm sometimes) will have no problem at all with how this all looks.

    Regardless of which 3-D option you go for the, the disc provides 24-bit DTS-HD 5.1 (remixed from the film’s original quadrophonic sound mix – which was a big part of its advertising campaign) and 2.0 Mono tracks in English with optional English subtitles. Audio quality is alright. Not amazing, but alright. The dubbing is just as goofy as you’d expect it to be and it would have been nice to have a Chinese language option provided but it is what it is. There’s a bit of hiss in a few spots and moments where the dubbed dialogue sounds a bit muffled but once again we’re at the mercy of the elements available. All in all, it sounds fine when you take that into account.

    There are a few interesting, albeit fairly brief, extras included on the disc, the first of which is the ten-minute Super Touch 3-D Lens System which is an interesting look into the use of 3-D technology in film with some expert commentary from Mike Ballew of the 3-D Film Archive. The two-minute The House Of Terror 3-D Comic Book is a neat digital reproduction of a horror comic from St. Johns Publishing that originally saw print in 1953 (and which features some art by the legendary Matt Baker).

    Go Away I Like You too Much is an amusing three-minute short that was made as a music video for The Simple Carnival by Jeff Boller and which is also presented in 3-D, while the eight-minute Sold On Stereo is basically a lengthy commercial from the fifties that shows how 3-D cameras are used. Wrter Eric Drysdale provides commentary over top. Last but not least, Inside A Mid-century Department Store is a fun five-minute that used vintage 3-D technology to show off a department store of the era, again with commentary from Drysdale.

    Menus and chapter selection are also provided.

    Dynasty - The Final Word:

    Dynasty is a seriously fun and entertaining old school period martial arts film. It doesn’t up there with the best that the genre has to offer but the 3-D aspect of it, which works quite nicely on this release, but the characters are fun and fight scenes are pretty great. Kino’s presentation is probably as good as it’s going to get unless better elements turn up, and there are some good supplements included on the disc as well. Recommended!

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

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Killer Meteor's Avatar
      Killer Meteor -
      Just a little tip. You have the actor's names back to front. It should be TAN Tao-liang (family name first) etc.