The East Is Red

The East Is Red (1992)
Tai Seng Video Marketing
Cast: Brigitte Lin Ching-Hsia, Joey Wang, Yu Rong Guang
Extras: Plot Synopsis, Cast Info, Trailer

"The East Is Red" is the third film in a series of movies by director Siu-Tung Ching that started with the 1990 movie "Swordsman", continued with the 1991 sequel "Swordsman II" and concludes with "The East Is Red." It not only continues the saga of the Sun Moon Sect and their power-hungry leader, but it also brings the arch to a conclusion. Tai Seng Video Marketing makes this film available to American Fantasia fans on DVD as on import disc and I decided to take a look at the release.

Starting off exactly where "Swordsman II" ended and using footage from the previous film to lead viewers back into the story, the evil Sun Moon Sect leader "Asia The Invincible" (Brigitte Lin Ching-Hsia) was destroyed in a fight against swordsman Ling Wu Chung and, mortally wounded, fell off a cliff into the sea. But rumors never died that Asia The Invincible never really died. That her ghost is still haunting what is now called the Black Cliff.
One day, government official Koo (Yu Rong Guang) visits the site when he is leading a group of Spanish ships through the area and finds that there is much more to the rumor than myth. He finds that Asia The Invincible is indeed, alive and kicking. Over the years, Asia has put his hunger for power behind himself and Koo manages to convince Asia that it is time to step out of the shadows to unveil the countless Asia-impostors who have started to roam all of China.
Together they travel the country but as soon as they meet the first group of impostors, Asia’s true self breaks through. Despite her promise to Koo not to kill anyone, she turns back into the blood-thristy and power-hungry creature she once was, and soon Koo finds himself on a mission to destroy the beast he has unleashed on the world once again.

Superb Wire-Fu is what you can expect from "The East Is Red." It is an action-filled adventure that is so furious that it is a bit hard to follow at times. But the story and action make well up for that, as we meet characters from the prequels and see Asia The Invincible once again wreak havoc on the screen – superbly portrayed by Brigitte Lin Ching-Hsia once again. Joey Wang plays the part of Asia’s lover-turned-traitor, and seeing the two of them on the screen at the same time is just a celebration of style that every Hong Kong movie fan will appreciate.
Great locales and beautiful photography make up as much of the appeal of the movie, as its cast, superb martial arts and the inventive storyline, which includes Japanese submarines and dim-witted Spanish Conquistadores. There’s never a dull moment as the filmmakers take us through some of the most unexpected moments in the film, captured in mesmerizing images that are full of beauty and poetry.

This import disc features the movie in its original <$PS,widescreen> aspect ratio in a transfer that is not <$16x9,enhanced for 16x9> TV sets. The transfer shows some speckles and grain and the print is certainly not as clean as one could hope for, but overall it is a fairly good presentation that nicely reproduces this rich film. Colors are solid and rich, though the transfer lacks a bit of detail as a result of a fairly low video bitrate. Blacks are solid, giving the image good visual depth and rendering deep shadows. Edge-enhancement is at a minimum but slight compression artifacts are visible.

The audio on the DVD comes as a <$5.1,5.1 channel> audio track in Cantonese and Mandarin, as well as optional Dolby Stereo tracks of the same languages. The audio is good without hiss or background noise, and although the frequency response is a bit limited, the audio sounds natural throughout. The DVD also contains a series of optional subtitles, including English, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese among others.

The DVD contains a cast & crew listing and plot synopsis in English and Chinese, as well as the movie’s trailer as supplements, but other than that, there are no extras to be found.

With "The East Is Red" you will once again get an imaginative martial arts film with an engaging story, great characters and some high-flying wire fu. Everyone who’s seen the prequels to this film should definitely check out this conclusion of the trilogy as well, but also newcomers to the films can easily get into this part of the adventure as the exposition to the story is very well done. Real fans of the genre, of course, should never miss the opportunity to see a colorful film like this on DVD, especially since it features some of Fantasia’s superstars like Brigitte Lin Ching-Hsia, Joey Wang and Yu Rong Guang. Don’t miss this great flick!