Magnificent Butcher (1979)
Director - Yuen Woo Ping
DVD Released by : 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment/Fortune Star
Player reviewed with : Malata 520
Receiver reviewed with : Sony 925
Cantonese and English Soundtracks
English and Chinese Subtitles
Enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs
New and Original Trailers
Sammo Hung Exclusive Music Video
Movie Photo Gallery
Original Promotional Materials
Sammo Hung and Woo Ping Photo Gallery and Biography
Running Time : 108 mins.
Region 1

Magnificent Butcher is a classic movie on so many levels. First you have Sammo Hung who is incredible as Butcher Wing, student of the legendary Wong Fei Hung. Wong Fei Hung is played by Kwan Tak-hing, who had played the role in serials for twenty years. If the name Wong Fei Hung is familiar, it's because the legendary hero is featured in movies like ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA, IRON MONKEY, and Drunken Master.

Sammo is the student who is always goofing off and getting in trouble. His problems begin when he beats up a thief only to find out the stolen object was nothing more than a chess piece. The man then goes on to tell his master, Master Ko, that he was beat up by a student of Wong Fei Hung and that he was told that his master is weak. This leads to Ko getting extremely upset resulting in him paying a visit to Wong Fei Hung. Master Ko disturbs Wong Fei Hung while he is practicing calligraphy. No matter how much Ko tries, Wong Fei Hung doesn't miss a stroke. Ko eventually says why he is there and Sammo is punished. Sammo is now under scrutiny by Ko, who is just waiting for a reason to ruin Wong Fei Hung and his school.

Ko's reason to destroy Wong Fei Hung and his school presents himself when Sammo is framed for a murder he didn't commit. It is up to Sammo to defend himself and his school against Master Ko.

Magnificent Butcher features Sammo at his best and Yuen Woo Ping also directs some top notch action sequences. This movie is recommended to those new to the genre as well as the seasoned veterans.

When Fox announced that it was releasing a line of Hong Kong films on DVD it seemed to have come out of nowhere. Listed as "Hong Kong Legends", it was assumed that these DVD's might just be ports of the UK Kong Kong Legends DVD's. This isn't the case at all. I am very happy to say that Fox has done with a handful of releases what companies such as Miramax, Buena Vista, Dimension, and Artisan couldn't do in 6 years. While these Fox DVD's can't be helped but compared to the Region 2 HKL titles, each will have their place. While there is some very slight room for improvement, Fox has done a wonderful job on the Magnificent Butcher DVD. For those who Region 1 DVD's are your only option, this is the version you have been waiting for.

The image quality is very good. The film has been restored and looks great. The colors are vibrant and there is good detail. If there were any concerns that the image would be distorted like the UK HKL version, you can put those fears to rest. The transfer is very well done and there isn't any distortion. For comparison screens shots, just go here. Night scenes are handled fairly well and overall the black levels are good. The image is 16x9 enhanced so if you have a widescreen TV you are in luck! The menus are flagged properly and also look good. This is probably the best this movie has looked on home video.

The sound is a 5.1 remix and suffers from what most remixes do. While taking advantage of a 5.1 sound setup, occasionally sounds sometimes seem out of place. Also, the surround speakers aren't used all that often. I can't tell if sound effects were changed or not but some seemed louder than necessary. The music was mixed well and all original. The remix is serviceable and is better than the remixes of many of the early Mega Star DVD's.

The subtitles are easy to read and are free of misspellings and grammatical errors. It appears that these are similar to what is said on the English dub. They are timed well with the dialogue and are easy to read. You will notice some British terms used, such as "pissed" instead of "drunk". The only minor complaint that some writing and signs are not translated. One example would be the sign for Wong Fei Hung's school. Overall, very well done.

There are a fair amount of extras on this DVD. Probably not what most people were expecting but for the price of the DVD and the quality of the movie itself, I can't complain. The trailers are always fun to have and they are included here. I think my favorite extra is the Sammo Hung music video. It is a compilation of his greatest scenes. I know many people were expecting the Bey Logan commentary found on the HKL DVD. FOX isn't HKL so the extras won't be the same.

Fox's MAGNIFICENT BUTCHER is definitely worth picking up if you don't have it. It would also be a worthwhile upgrade from the Mega Star version. At the price, you can't go wrong. I never purchased the HKL version of this movie because of the picture distortion. The HKL version is great to have though for the extra features. Unless you really want the different extra features, I would recommend the Fox DVD.

Magnificent Butcher is a classic "old school" kung fu movie with a bit of comedy mixed in. It's a must have for fans of Sammo Hung.

Fox has done a very good job with this movie. Finally, people in Region one have something to look forward to.

Reviewed 12/15/2003