The Skyhawk

In DVD/Blu-ray by Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Rating: 5/5.
Bottom line: A film with many flaws but the presence of Kwan-Tak Hing AND Sammo Hung, makes this prime kung fu action.

Cast: Kwan Tak-Hing, Carter Wong, Sammo Hung, Hwang In-Shik.
Certificate: 15.
Director: Jeong Chang-Hwa.
Language: Original Mandarin mono, with Cantonese and English audio options, plus optional English Subtitles.
Run time: 86 minutes.
Format: Special edition blu-ray.
RRP: £22.99.

It’s taken a long time, but The Skyhawk is finally available to buy in the UK. And what a delight Eureka’s latest blu-ray release is. The 2K restoration is clean and clear—with brand new English subtitles and slipcase featuring all-new art by Darren Wheeling, available with the first 2,000 print run.

Master Wong takes a new student (Carter Wong) under his wing after the young man is soundly beaten by a mercenary(Hwang In-Shik) skilled in hapkido. Meanwhile, Master Wong’s friend is being threatened by a local crime boss who wants to use his factory for opium-related shenanigans and has hired the renegade hapkido-master as his enforcer.

Kwan Tak-Hing returns to his iconic role as Master Wong Fei-Hung in this 1974 kung fu classic from director Jeong Chang-Hwa (King Boxer). Along for the fun are the iconic Sammo Hung and Carter Wong. The result is all sorts of fun. 

The action is fast, relentless, and acted out with the sort of laid-back charm that only ‘70s martial artists seem capable of. Kwan Tak-Hing oozes style as the titular Wong Fei-Hung (AKA Wong Skyhawk)—a character that he first played in 1949 and reprised over 70 times. But it’s Sammo, who is not even in his prime yet, who steals every scene.

When The Skyhawk was released, it looked like it would be Kwan Tak-Hing’s swan song. The actor was in then his 70s and, when paired with younger rising stars like Sammo, the film plays out, at times, more like a homage to the master than a well-paced fight-movie. But don’t let the pacing bother you. Ignore the slamming car doors sound effects. And take no notice of the constant switch from location shots to studio sets. The Skyhawk has its faults, but this is still prime kung fu action, with some of the greatest exponents doing their effortless best.

Extras include:

  • Limited Edition O-Card slipcase (first 2,000 copies only). 
  • 1080p HD presentation of the original Hong Kong theatrical cut. 
  • Brand new feature length audio commentary by Asian film expert Frank Djeng (NY Asian Film Festival). 
  • Brand new feature length audio commentary by action cinema experts Mike Leeder & Arne Venema. 
  • Trailer. 
  • Reversible sleeve design. 
  • Limited Edition collector’s booklet featuring new writing by James Oliver (first 2,000 copies).