‘An American Werewolf in London’ on 4K Among Titles Due in March From Arrow and MVD

The horror classic An American Werewolf in London, the kung fu classic Come Drink With Me and the Japanese film noir To Sleep So as to Dream are being released on disc from Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group in March.

Director John Landis (The Blues Brothers, Trading Places) combines macabre horror with dark humor in An American Werewolf in London (1981), newly restored and due on 4K Ultra HD with Dolby Vision March 15. In the film, American tourists David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) are savaged by an unidentified vicious animal whilst hiking on the Yorkshire Moors. David awakes in a London hospital to find his friend dead and his life in disarray. Retiring to the home of a beautiful nurse (Jenny Agutter, Walkabout) to recuperate, he soon experiences disturbing changes to his mind and body, undergoing a full-moon transformation that will unleash terror on the streets of the capital. The film features Rick Baker’s ground-breaking, Oscar-winning special makeup effects.

Extras include audio commentary by Beware the Moon filmmaker Paul Davis; audio commentary by actors Naughton and Dunne; “Mark of the Beast: The Legacy of the Universal Werewolf,” a feature-length documentary by filmmaker Daniel Griffith, featuring interviews with Landis, Naughton, Joe Dante and more; “An American Filmmaker in London,” an interview with Landis in which he reflects on British cinema and his time working in Britain; “I Think He’s a Jew: The Werewolf’s Secret,” a video essay by filmmaker Jon Spira (Elstree 1976) about how Landis’ film explores Jewish identity; “The Werewolf’s Call,” in which Corin Hardy, director of The Hallow and The Nun, chats with writer Simon Ward about their formative experiences with the film; “Wares of the Wolf,” a featurette in which SFX artist Dan Martin and Tim Lawes of Prop Store look at some of the original costumes and special effects artifacts from the film; “Beware the Moon,” Paul Davis’ feature-length exploration of Landis’ film which boasts extensive cast and crew interviews; “An American Werewolf in Bob’s Basement” and “Causing a Disturbance: Piccadilly Revisited,” two 2008 featurettes filmed by Paul Davis; “Making An American Werewolf in London,” a short archival featurette on the film’s production; “An Interview with John Landis,” a lengthy archival interview with the director about the film; make-up Artist Rick Baker on An American Werewolf in London; “I Walked with a Werewolf,” an archival interview with Rick Baker about Universal horror and its legacy of Wolfman films; “Casting of the Hand,” archival footage from Rick Baker’s workshop showing the casting of Naughton’s hand; outtakes; a storyboards featurette; the original trailer and teaser plus TV and radio spots; an image gallery; a reversible sleeve featuring original poster art and artwork by Graham Humphreys; a double-sided fold-out poster; six double-sided, postcard-sized lobby card reproductions; and a limited edition 60-page, perfect-bound book featuring new writing by Craig Ian Mann and Simon Ward, archival articles and original reviews.

Years before the Shaw Brothers’ kung fu films made them the biggest film studio in Hong Kong, local audiences flocked to their wuxia pian films — mythic tales of swordfighting (and often gravity-defying) heroes fighting for honor. In his final film for the studio, Come Drink With Me (1966), due on Blu-ray March 22, director King Hu (A Touch of Zen) broke fresh new ground in martial arts storytelling, and catapulted lead actress Cheng Pei-pei to stardom. In the film, when the Governor’s son is taken hostage by bandits, a mysterious swordsman named Golden Swallow (Cheng) is hot on their trail to ensure the son’s release. What the bandits don’t realize, however, is that Golden Swallow is actually a woman, and that the hostage is her brother. Determined to set him free, no matter how many goons she has to fight her way through in doing so, she is aided in her quest by a drunken beggar (Yueh Hua), who may have a closer connection to the bandits’ leader than he initially lets on. Decades before Ang Lee brought the wuxia genre to international attention with the Oscar-winning Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (in which Cheng played the villainous Jade Fox), King Hu set the original template in what is still considered one of Shaw Brothers’ greatest and most influential action masterpieces.

The Japanese To Sleep So as to Dream (1986) follows two private detectives who hunt for an actress trapped within the reel of a silent ninja film. The dreamlike debut of Kaizo Hayashi (Circus Boys, Zipang), an homage to the movie worlds of the 1910s and 1950s, is due on Blu-ray March 22. In the film, when private eye Uotsuka (Shiro Sano, Violent Cop, Shin Godzilla) and his sidekick Kobayashi are approached by an aged former actress, Madame Cherryblossom, to go in search of her kidnapped daughter Bellflower, their investigation leads them to the studios of the mysterious M. Pathe company. Here Uotsuka has a strange vision in which he comes face to face with the beautiful star of a 1915 chanbara film that appears to have no ending. From then on, things begin to get a little strange. To Sleep So as to Dream makes its home video debut outside of Japan in a brand new restoration supervised by the director himself. Drifting between illusion and allusion, it is chockfull of references to Japan’s rich cinematic heritage and features cameos from a host of veteran talent and baroque sets created by Takeo Kimura, the Nikkatsu art designer remembered for his flamboyant work with Seijun Suzuki in the 1960s.

Extras include new audio commentary by Japanese film experts Tom Mes and Jasper Sharp; audio commentary with director Kaizo Hayashi and lead actor Shiro Sano recorded in 2000; “How Many Eggs?, Actor Shiro Sano Talks,” a new interview with the film’s lead actor; “Talking Silents: Benshi Midori Sawato Talks,” a new interview on early Japanese film culture and the art of the benshi silent film commentator; “Midori Sawato Performs ‘The Eternal Mystery,’” an exclusive benshi performance to the film within the film; the “The Restoration of To Sleep So as to Dream” featurette; “Fragments from Japan’s Lost Silent Heyday,” a selection of scenes from silent jidai-geki films from the Kyoto Toy Museum archives; the original theatrical trailer and English-language restored re-release trailers; an image gallery; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by David Downton; and for the first pressing only, an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Aaron Gerow.

Classic Kung Fu Films ‘Monkey Kung Fu’ and ‘Shaolin Mantis’ Due on Blu-ray March 22 From 88 Films USA and MVD

The classic kung fu films Monkey Kung Fu (1979) and Shaolin Mantis (1978) will be released on Blu-ray March 22 from the 88 Films USA label in partnership with MVD Entertainment Group.

A cult classic from the Shaw Brothers Studio, Monkey Kung Fu (aka Stroke of Death) is directed by Mar Lo (Shaolin Thief) and stars Siu-Tung Ching (The Shaolin Boxer). In the film, when a prisoner is given half of a wooden keepsake by a one eyed-master about to be executed, he breaks out of prison to go in search of the other half to discover its purpose. However, on his quest he is pursued by a gang leader who will also stop at nothing find out its secrets.

Included in the package are a limited edition slipcase with new artwork from R.P. “Kung Fu Bob” O’Brien; a double-sided A3 foldout poster; extensive booklet notes; audio commentary by Kenneth Brorsson and Phil Gillon of the Podcast On Fire Network; “Stunting Around,” an interview with choreographer Tony Leung Siu-hung; and the original trailer. 

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Also from the Shaw Brothers studio, Shaolin Mantis is from the golden age of Hong Kong martial arts cinema. In the film, when scholar Wei Fung (David Chiang) is hired by the emperor to infiltrate a clan of rebellious Ming loyalists, his mission goes adrift when he falls in love the clan leader’s granddaughter and his plans are discovered. The film is directed by Lau Kar Leung (The Spiritual Boxer, The 36th Chamber of Shaolin).

Included in the package are a limited edition slipcase with new artwork from R.P. “Kung Fu Bob” O’Brien; a double-sided A3 foldout poster; four collectible art cards; audio commentary with Asian cinema experts Mike Leeder and Arne Venema; audio commentary with Asian cinema expert Frank Djeng; “Complicated Families,” David West on Shaolin Mantis; an interview with actor John Cheung; the Deadly Mantis trailer; and an original Hong Kong trailer.

First Season of Reimagined ‘Kung Fu’ Due on Disc Nov. 2

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release Kung Fu: The Complete First Season on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Nov. 2.

A reimagining of the same-named 1970s series, “Kung Fu” airs on the CW network and stars Olivia Liang as Nicky Shen, a young Chinese-American woman who drops out of college and journeys to an isolated monastery in China. When she returns to San Francisco, she finds her hometown is overrun with crime and corruption and her parents are at the mercy of a powerful Triad. Nicky vows to protect her community by bringing these criminals to justice while searching for the assassin who killed her Shaolin mentor.

The show also stars Kheng Hua Tan, Eddie Liu, Shannon Dang, Jon Prasida, Gavin Stenhouse, Vanessa Kai, Tony Chung, Tzi Ma and Yvonne Chapman.

The Blu-ray and DVD editions will include all 13 episodes from the first season, deleted scenes and a “Bond of Honor” featurette.

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Criterion Releasing Bruce Lee ‘Greatest Hits’ Boxed Set    

The Criterion Collection July 14 will release a seven-disc Blu-ray boxed set containing five of kung-fu action star Bruce Lee’s greatest films.

Bruce Lee: His Greatest Hits brings together five films that define the Lee legend: furiously exciting fist-fliers propelled by his innovative choreography, unique martial-arts philosophy and whirlwind fighting style. Though Lee completed only a handful of films while at the peak of his stardom before his untimely death in 1973 at age 32, he left behind a monumental legacy as both a consummate entertainer and a supremely disciplined artist who made Hong Kong action cinema a sensation the world over.

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Game of Death

The set will include 4K digital restorations of The Big Boss, Fist of Fury, Game of Death and The Way of the Dragon, with uncompressed original monaural soundtracks. The set will also include two versions of Enter the Dragon digitally restored in 2K: the 99-minute 1973 theatrical version with uncompressed original monaural soundtrack, and the 102-minute special edition version.

The Blu-rays will include audio soundtracks for the films, including original English-dubbed tracks and a 5.1 surround soundtrack for the special-edition version of Enter the Dragon.

The set will include six audio commentaries. The Big Boss comes with a voiceover by Bruce Lee expert Brandon Bentley; producer Paul Heller provides one for the extended cut of Enter the Dragon; and Hong Kong-film expert Mike Leeder offers his thoughts on The Big Boss, Fist of Fury, Game of Death and The Way of the Dragon.

Game of Death will include “Game of Death Redux,” a new presentation of Lee’s original Game of Death footage produced by Alan Canvan, and a high-definition presentation of the 1981 sequel Game of Death II.

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Other extras include:

  • New interviews on all five films with Lee biographer Matthew Polly;
  • A new interview with producer Andre Morgan about Golden Harvest, the company behind Hong Kong’s top martial-arts stars, including Lee;
  • A new program about English-language dubbing with voice performers Michael Kaye (the English-speaking voice of Lee’s Chen Zhen in Fist of Fury) and Vaughan Savidge;
  • A new interview with author Grady Hendrix about the “Bruceploitation” subgenre that followed Lee’s death, and a selection of Bruceploitation trailers;
  • Blood and Steel, a 2004 documentary about the making of Enter the Dragon;
  • Multiple programs and documentaries about Lee’s life and philosophies, including Bruce Lee: The Man and the Legend (1973) and Bruce Lee: In His Own Words (1998);
  • Interviews with Linda Lee Cadwell, Lee’s widow, and many of Lee’s collaborators and admirers, including actors Jon T. Benn, Riki Hashimoto, Nora Miao, Robert Wall, Yuen Wah and Simon Yam, and directors Clarence Fok, Sammo Hung and Wong Jing;
  • Promotional materials;
  • New English subtitle translations and subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing;
  • An essay by critic Jeff Chang.

Bela Lugosi Classic ‘The Human Monster’ Among Titles on VCI October 2019 Disc Slate From MVD

The classic 1975 documentary Brother Can You Spare a Dime?, the Kung Fu film The Leg Fighters and the Bela Lugosi classic The Human Monster are on the eclectic October disc slate from VCI Entertainment and MVD Entertainment Group.

Brother Can You Spare A Dime?, available now on Blu-ray Disc, is writer-director Philippe Mora’s chronicle of the Great Depression, in both its bleak lows and its artistic highs. Featuring the grim reality that many Americans faced during the era, largely in the form of newsreel clips, the film also depicts how Hollywood dealt with this period of widespread poverty and unemployment. Much of the movie footage showcases glamour and extravagance, providing lively moments of escapism that contrast starkly with day-to-day life during the 1930s. The film features clips with Hollywood stars including John Wayne, Judy Garland, Bing Crosby, Cary Grant, Joan Crawford, Jimmy Stewart, James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, Clarke Gable, Charlie Chaplin, Katharine Hepburn and Fred Astaire. It was a 1976 Golden Globe Award nominee for Best Documentary Film.

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Also available now is The Leg Fighters on Blu-ray plus DVD combo pack. The Kung Fu film follows Phoenix, a rebellious young student in martial arts. When her father brings in a new Kung Fu instructor, she has to shape up quickly as a deadly master approaches looking for him to avenge his brother’s death. With action scenes from Sun Jung-Chi Sun and Kang Peng, the fights set new standards in kicking choreography under the knowledgeable action eye of Tso Nam Lee (The Hot, the Cool and the Vicious). The disc includes audio commentary by filmmaker, actor and Kung Fu film fan Michael Worth, who also visits with director Lee Tso Nam in the extras. The box includes an original illustration commissioned from popular genre artist Ian McEwan.

The 1939 classic The Human Monster: Collector’s Edition is due Oct. 29 on Blu-ray. Bela Lugosi gives one of his finest portraits of evil in this adaptation of Edgar Wallace’s terror-thriller-mystery The Dark Eyes of London. A series of drownings have Scotland Yard baffled. One common denominator; the dead men were heavily insured through a particular brokerage firm and all the policies were paid off. Larry Hold, a Scotland Yard detective, and a visiting American cop from Chicago get on the trail and, with the help of the daughter of one of the dead men, discover a horrifying cause to the so-called accidents/suicides. Behind it all is a human monster, a doctor who is using a home for blind men as a front for his nightmarish activities. His main tool is a gargoyle-like brute who eventually becomes the madman’s downfall. Filmed in England, The Human Monster features Lugosi as a fiend more diabolical than any criminal the encountered by Scotland Yard. Extras include a commentary track by noted film historian, author and Lugosi expert Gary Don Rhodes; a commentary track by film historian David del Valle and author, screenwriter and “monster kid” Phoef Sutton; liner notes written by film historian Patrick McCabe; the archival video “Intimate Interview with Bela Lugosi”; a poster and photo gallery; and the original U.S. re-issue theatrical trailer.

Chinese Fantasy ‘Kung Fu Monster’ to Bow on Blu-ray Oct. 8 From Well Go

The Chinese fantasy actioner Kung Fu Monster will come out on Blu-ray Disc Oct. 8 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

In this epic fantasy in the waning years of the Ming Dynasty, the Bruneian Empire wants to offer a rare creature to the nation as a gift and has tasked Ocean, a member of the Imperial Secret Police, to capture and tame the beast. Upon discovering the beast’s gentle and kind nature, Ocean works in secret to release the beast back to the wild, keeping it from being turned into a killing machine.

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The film stars Louis Koo (Kill Zone 2, The White Storm), Cheney Chen and Bea Hayden Kuo and is directed by Andrew Lau Wai-Keung.

Doc ‘I Am the White Tiger’ Available on DVD and Digital From Random Media

The martial arts documentary I Am the White Tiger is available now on DVD, on demand and digital from Random Media.

Directed by Lei Chiu, the film follows stuntman, action director and martial artist Mark Houghton, who tells his story of breaking into the Hong Kong film industry, his struggle with injuries and depression, and the promise he made his teacher, the legendary filmmaker Lau Kar Leung. Born and raised in the United Kingdom, Houghton learned martial arts after seeing the films of Bruce Lee. He befriended a young Chinese man named Willie Wong, who told him that if he wanted to learn kung fu, he’d need to go to Asia. As a teenager, Houghton left the United Kingdom and went to Malaysia to learn kung fu from a sifu named Ho Kam Wei. He returned to the United Kingdom and opened a Kung Fu school of his own. He traveled to Hong Kong and met his idol, legendary director Lau Kar Leung. Impressed by his knowledge of Hung Gar kung fu, Lau offered Houghton a supporting role in an upcoming film. Houghton closed his school in the United Kingdom and made the permanent move to Hong Kong to start his career in film. The life of a foreign stuntman in Hong Kong took a toll on Houghton’s body. Not able to do what he once could, he left the industry and battled his demons. However, a promise he made to Lau Kar Leung gave him the purpose and vision to build a new and better future.

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Filmed in Hong Kong, I Am the White Tiger has collected multiple awards including Best Action Film at the Iron Dragon TV Action Fest 2018 and Best Editing (Feature Documentary) at Nice International Film Festival 2018.