Martial arts superstar Jimmy Wang Yu’s epic historical adventure, celebrates its 50th anniversary. Its is presented as part of the Eureka Classics range in its worldwide debut on Blu-ray from a brand new 2K restoration.
Available TODAY, 23rd October 2023, the first print run of 2000 copies feature a Limited-Edition O-card Slipcase and Collector’s Booklet. Order your copy now from Eureka Video or Amazon!
Written and directed by Jimmy Wang Yu, he stars as the wandering swordsman, “Xiao Feng”. Wang Yu was the first superstar of Chinese cinema, with hits such as the “One Armed Swordsman”, “One Armed Boxer“, “The Chinese Boxer” and “Master of the Flying Guillotine”. In later years he appeared in Sammo Hung’s “Millionaires Express” and Donnie Yen’s “Dragon/Wu Xia”.
Several actors who appeared in Wang Yu’s “One Armed Boxer”, feature in this film too. Taiwanese movie star Lung Fei stars as “Shinobu Hashimoto”, a bandit and expert with the Japanese katana.
Tien Yeh, who has appeared in over one hundred Taiwanese movies, plays “Killer Leng Ping”, a mercenary and knife-throwing expert. Hsueh Han plays “Iron Bull Chao”, a xenophobic blacksmith. Kwan Hung is the “Twin Spears Master” and Chang Yi-Kuai plays the “Iron Shields Fighter”.
In the waning days of the Ming dynasty, Japanese marauders raid villages on the Chinese coast.
A wandering swordsman single-handedly dispatches a group of the foreign thugs, and agrees to help defend the town.
BEACH OF THE WAR GODS Original Hong Kong Trailer (Subtitled)
He assembles a core team of highly skilled warriors, including mercenary knife thrower Leng Ping and hot-headed swordsman Iron Bull Chao.
Together, they train the townsfolk to stand up to the foreign pirates, using strategy and skill.
When the army launches an all-out assault on the town, a ferocious battle rages, leading to final conflict on the Beach of the War Gods.
Jimmy Wang Yu takes the lead as a stoic swordsman. Not unlike Clint Eastwood in one of his early cowboy movies, the stranger is introduced entering the put upon town, and promptly takes out a half dozen or so bad guys with his incredible fighting skills.
BEACH OF THE WAR GODS “The Wandering Swordsman” Clip
The choreography throughout often explores the intricacies of two handed combat. For instance using a weapon in each hand, or a sword and shield.
Just before the hour mark of the film you may be forgiven for feeling short-changed in the amount and length of the preceding fight scenes. However, it’s all about setting up the quite literally epic finale. The decisive battle features hundreds of extras and lasts for pretty much the last third of the movie.
Beginning in tense fashion, the Japanese bandits have to negotiate several devious traps hidden on the beach.
As they reach the gates of the town, the Chinese residents must use their cunning to try and even out the odds. Inevitably of course, it comes down to the melee of mano y mano combat.
As the main action takes place in the background, dozens of extras also have their own choreographed little battles going on. It adds to the feeling that this is a genuine full on battle, rather than having the background actors just dancing around waving swords.
BEACH OF THE WAR GODS “We will all face death one day” Movie Clip
Occasionally breaking up the chaos of the one-on-one fighting, there are sequences showing how each side uses tactical formations in battle.
There are frequent, widely-shot, long takes where everyone from the background actors to the main cast is fighting at an incredibly frenetic pace, and they don’t let up for a second.
The final fight between star Wang Yu and Lung Fei is a thrilling sword duel with both using a sword in each hand, making the choreography just that little bit more interesting than the traditional movie sword duel.
The framing of scenes, tracking shots and music score evoke memories of films from directors such as Akira Kurosawa, King Hu, Chang Cheh, Sergio Leone, and even Sam Peckinpah, during the finale. There are several direct influences with obvious comparisons to classics such as “Yojimbo” and “Seven Samurai“.
The print has been restored beautifully with bright, bold colours complimenting the excellent cinematography.
Frank Djeng delivers an excellent audio commentary. He doesn’t just talk about the actors and their careers, but also explains cultural aspects of the story and even the technicalities used in the filmmaking process.
BEACH OF THE WAR GODS Special Edition Blu-ray Unboxing
Tony Rayns takes a scholarly look at Wang Yu’s career and how this film came to be made, as well as the historical elements of the plot.
Arne Venema and Mike Leeder present an entertaining feature on Wang Yu’s colourful life, personality and career, appropriately enough from a beach!
Incredibly, considering the star power of Wang Yu at the time and one of the most epic finales of any film from the era, “Beach of the War Gods” was something of a flop upon its release in 1973.
Thankfully with the excellent restoration job that has been carried out on this work and other titles these past few years, it needn’t be consigned to obscurity.
With all the hallmarks of a classic from the period, “Beach of the War Gods” deserves to be seen by a new audience of film connoisseurs in this glorious high definition release.
- Wang Yu joined Golden Harvest having left Shaw Brothers to gain greater creative control and financial rewards for his film projects. The movie was made in Taiwan to overcome his contractual obligations to Shaws, who sued him for breach of contract.
- The final battle is one of the longest uninterrupted screen fights ever committed to film.