“Warriors Two” and “The Prodigal Son” – Two Films by Sammo Hung, make their debuts in the UK on Blu-ray from brand new 2K restorations as part of the Eureka Classics range from today, 24th January, 2022. Available in a Limited Edition 2-Disc set (of 3000 copies only!)
Order your action-packed, kung-fu, double-trouble bill NOW, from Eureka Video or Amazon!
Of course, the main man behind these two classics is the legendary Sammo Hung. In a career spanning six decades, he has worked with some of the best in the business, from Bruce Lee to Jackie Chan. His work as a performer, choreographer, and director helped to reshape and evolve modern screen fighting action as we know it.
Warriors Two (1978)
Sammo writes, directs and co-stars as “Fei Chun”. The rest of the cast features some of the best-known stars form Hong Kong’s golden era of kung fu movies, including “Beardy” Bryan Leung Kar Yan as “Leung Jan”, Casanova Wong as “Cashier Hua”, Dean Shek as “Master Yao”, Fung Hak-on as “Mo”, Hoi Sang Lee as “Iron Fist”, and a guest appearance from Lau Kar-wing as “Town Chief’s Bodyguard”.
The Prodigal Son (1981)
Sammo once again directs and co-stars as “Wong Wah-bo”. He is joined by his Peking Opera “brother” Yuen Biao as “Leung Jan”. A fellow regular collaborator with Sammo, Lam Ching-ying stars as “Leung Yee-tai”. Martial arts actor, film director, producer, action director, and composer Frankie Chan appears as “Ngai Fei”.
Cashier Hua accidentally overhears local businessman Mo, and his henchmen plotting to take over the town by killing the mayor. Hua makes the mistake of warning Mo’s treacherous ally Master Yao.
The cashier is ambushed by Mo’s men and barely escapes with his life. Leung Jan, a doctor and master of Wing Chun, is grudgingly persuaded by his student Fei Chun, to teach his fighting skills to Cashier Hua. Eventually Mo discovers Hua’s whereabouts and plans an attack.
Hua, Fei Chun, and Leung Jan’s niece split up to use specific Wing Chun styles against Mo’s leading fighters. Trouble mounts when it’s discovered that Fei mixed up the fighter’s names and each of Jan’s students have to improvise if they are to defeat their deadly opponents.
Leung Jan is the spoiled son of a wealthy family living in Foshan in the mid-19th century. He is a martial artist trained by two instructors in his father’s employ.
He has fought over three-hundred times in Foshan and won every fight, but unbeknownst to him, his father has arranged for his servant to bribe Jan’s opponents to lose to him in order to protect him.
As a result, Jan believes that he is a world-class fighter, but in truth he hasn’t even mastered the basics of kung fu and any real fighter could easily defeat him. Everyone knows this but him, giving him the nickname “The Prodigal Son” behind his back, because of the money he is costing his parents who pay to keep him from getting injured.
Following a duel with Leung Yee-tai, a travelling opera performer, Jan’s fighting inadequacy is painfully exposed.
The sad and humiliated Jan joins the opera troupe in the hope of learning genuine fighting skills.
Lord Ngai Fei, the son of a Manchu duke, plots against Leung Yee-tai and Leung Jan is lucky to escape with his life.
Yee-tai takes Jan to the home of his martial friend Wong Wah-bo. With Wah-bo’s help, Jan finally convinces Yee-tai to teach him Wing Chun.
Jan trains under both Yee-tai and Wah-bo, becoming proficient in both Wing Chun kung fu and freestyle fighting. However, the shadow of Ngai Fei hangs over them leading to a deadly confrontation.
Sammo Hung Uses Great Depth of Knowledge to Create Stunning Screen-Fights
Having made a stunning directorial debut with “Iron Fisted Monk”, Sammo Hung really started to hit his stride with “Warriors Two”.
Taking the art of Wing Chun, Sammo used his incredible depth of knowledge as an opera performer, and action director to elevate the close-quarters combat skills into intricate and entertaining screen-fights.
Casanova Wong Shows Exemplary Taekwondo Kicking Skills
Having one of cinema’s legendary super-kickers, Casanova Wong as your leading man, might seem an odd choice to highlight the art of Wing Chun.
Casanova’s first few action scenes certainly highlight his exemplary taekwondo kicking skills. But as his character grows in skill, so does the intricacy of the fight choreography in his scenes.
Lau Kar Wing Brings a More Traditional Feel to the Screen Combat
Lau Kar Wing guest stars bringing a more traditional feel to the screen combat. An extended fight sees him pitting his sword skills against Hoi Sang Lee’s iron shirt qigong. Being directed by Sammo, there are still a few acrobatic moves, although Kar Wing is quite obviously doubled for these.
Bryan Leung (aka “Beardy”) Learned his Martial Arts Skills whilst on Film Sets!
Inevitably there is a fight in a teahouse, in which we get our first proper glimpse of the signature blocks and strikes of Wing Chun. Bryan Leung is as convincing as ever as a master of Wing Chun, and it is astonishing to think he only ever learned his martial arts skills on film sets!
There are many interesting training sequences, sometimes played for laughs, but often featuring authentic blocking and countering techniques, or “chin na” seizes and traps.
A Blindfold Duel Highlights just how Supremely Skilled the Performers are
As Hua’s upper-body skills begin to match his lower body, he faces a “Shaolin Wooden Men“-style test in a hall of wooden Wing Chun dummies. A blindfold duel with Sammo highlights just how supremely skilled the performers are when executing the complex choreography.
The epic finale features operatics, acrobatics, Praying Mantis kung fu, Wing Chun and weapons performed at a blistering pace, and is a deserved fan-favourite.
In “The Prodigal Son”, Yuen Biao Shows an Expanded Versatility
Casting his “Little Brother” Yuen Biao in the lead of “The Prodigal Son” allowed Sammo to be even more versatile with his choreography.
Having Yuen Biao and Lam Ching Ying as your leads almost by default demands that the action feature Peking Opera skills. It is not out of place in the plot of this film as, historically, there were martial artists who travelled the country with opera troupes.
Lam Ching Ying vs. Frankie Chan
Lam Ching Ying has perhaps one of his finest onscreen battles with villain Frankie Chan. The traditional techniques are fast, fluid, and filmed and edited with such clarity that they can all still be appreciated by the viewer.
Showcasing Peking Opera Acrobatics with a Fiery Twist
The attack on the opera school, perhaps not surprisingly, allows Sammo to showcase some traditional Peking opera acrobatics and flag dance skills with a fiery twist!
Despite His Burly Frame, No One Quite Moves and Sells it Like Sammo Hung Can!
Sammo himself gets in on the action, mostly played for laughs, as he trains our hero. It is another shining example, that, despite his burly frame, no one else quite sells it and moves like Sammo!
“The Prodigal Son” Finale is One of the All-Time Great Fight Scenes of Kung Fu Cinema
The finale of “The Prodigal Son” is one of the all time great fight scenes of kung fu cinema. As an action director, by this stage in his career Sammo had moved squarely into making his fights fluid, yet looking like every blow was full contact.
Incredibly the performers still manage to keep the traditional kung fu look of all the postures and techniques, which can sometimes be lost when trying to up the rhythm of a screen fight.
Both of these Sammo Hung Movies are Action-Packed Masterclasses of Martial-Arts Mayhem!
In both films, ever the master of his craft, Sammo manages to seamlessly blend the art of Wing Chun with the fluid, operatic fighting style that was the hallmark of his early works.
When you read people’s lists of “Best Ever Kung Fu Movies”, you can almost guarantee that either “Warriors Two” and “The Prodigal Son” will be near or at the top.
The high definition restoration, as with other recent Blu–ray releases, is exemplary. It is of particular benefit when viewing scenes set in dimly lit locations or filmed at night, which were pretty poor to watch on previous standard definition versions.
The extras include audio commentaries from Asian film expert Frank Djeng, and martial artist Robert “Bobby” Samuels, as well as action cinema experts Mike Leeder & Arne Venema (who do a Golden Harvest intro that The Minions would be envious of!).
Audio options include the original audio for each film and the often hilarious English dubs. There are also archival featurettes and interviews for each movie.
When Eureka released the excellent “Three Films with Sammo Hung” Blu-ray, you can bet your bottom dollar that tons of fans were chomping at the bit for the release of “Warriors Two” and “The Prodigal Son”.
They are both examples of some of the best traditional kung-fu fighting films to emerge from Hong Kong, and of Sammo Hung’s prolific career. “The Prodigal Son” in particular is a virtual masterclass in how to film and edit traditional kung fu style fights
To have both films released in one package means this is another absolute winner from Eureka. The great thing for the fans is, it’s only January and there is already more to come in 2022, so stay tuned…!
- Leung Jan (born Leung Tak-wing; 1826–1901) was a Dit Da and Wing Chun practitioner from Heshan, Guangdong. He was known in Foshan as “Mr Jan of Foshan” and “King of Wing Chun Kuen”.
- An expert in taekwondo, Casanova Wong was well known for his spin kicks and was nicknamed “The Human Tornado” in the ROKA (Republic of Korea Army).
- If you look carefully at some of the stunt performers in “Warriors Two”, you can spot Yuen Biao, who would go on to play the lead in “The Prodigal Son”.
- “The Prodigal Son” tells the tale of the young Leung Jan, effectively making it a prequel to “Warriors Two”, which features the older Leung Jan as a Wing Chun master.
- In order to prepare for “Warriors Two”, Sammo Hung had the main cast train with a Wing Chun master so that their moves would look more authentic.
- The finale of “The Prodigal Son” involved Yuen Biao fighting himself at times, as he doubled for some of Frankie Chan’s more acrobatic kicks!
- In “The Prodigal Son”, the depth and framing of the shots were a radical change from the two-dimensional approach to filming that had been used in Hong Kong up to this point.
- “The Prodigal Son” was nominated for two Hong Kong Film Awards and won the award for Best Action Choreography.