“After one of its lead actors (cherub-faced action icon Alexander Fu Sheng) unexpectedly died midway through production, master director Lau Kar-leung (The 36th Chamber of Shaolin) retooled his latest martial arts epic, The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter, as the ultimate action spectacular in tribute to the fallen star.
Loosely based upon the legendary Yang dynasty chronicled in Chinese folklore, the film starts as the family patriarch and all but two of his sons are brutally wiped out in a bloody battle. One surviving son (Fu Sheng) returns to his mother and two sisters, deeply traumatized; the other (Gordon Liu) escapes and joins a nearby monastery while in hiding. Once he learns his sister (Kara Hui) has been captured by their enemies, however, the warrior-turned-monk realizes he must renounce his peaceful ideals in order to mount a rescue mission and avenge his family.
Made during the legendary Shaw Brothers studio’s twilight years as a filmmaking powerhouse, The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter is often regarded as director Lau’s masterpiece, as elegiac and suffused with anguish as it is thrillingly violent (not least in its bone-crunching, teeth-smashing climax).
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
• Brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative by Arrow Films
• High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation
• Original lossless Cantonese, Mandarin and English mono audio
• Optional English subtitles, plus hard-of-hearing subtitles for the English dub
• Brand new commentary by Jonathan Clements, author of A Brief History of China
• Newly filmed appreciation by film critic and historian Tony Rayns
• Interviews with stars Gordon Liu, Lily Li and Yeung Ching-ching, filmed by Frédéric Ambroisine in 2004
• A Tribute to Fu Sheng, a short film commemorating the late actor that played before early screenings of The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter, presented via a German-dubbed telecine (the best available copy) with English subtitles
• Alternate opening credits, as The Invincible Pole Fighters
• Theatrical trailer
• Image gallery
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Marc Aspinall