The Moon Warriors

The Moon Warriors (1993)
Tai Seng Video Marketing
Cast: Andy Lau, Maggie Cheung, Anita Mui
Extras: Commentary Track, Alternate Ending, Trailers, Filmographies

Certain Hong Kong films are just lining up famous names with seemingly no end, guaranteeing a fascinating experience. "The Moon Warriors" is certainly one of these films. Directed by none other than Sammo Hung, with the action scenes choreographed by the incomparable Ching Siu-Tung, written by Andy Law and Mabel Cheung, the films features superstars such as Andy Lau, Anita Mui, Maggie Cheung, Kenny Bee and Yi Chang. Of course, when this DVD showed up on my desk, I knew it was time for some high-flying, all-out action, and quickly I decided to give this disc a spin.

The movie features as story betrayal and love. Fei (Andy Lau) is a simple fisherman who comes to the rescue of a man he doesn’t know. As it turns out, it is the legitimate king, fugitive from his villainous brother who has taken the throne. Fei offers the king not only his help but also a safe shelter to set up his strategies with his advisor and bodyguard Hsien (Maggie Cheung). One day the king sends Fei to fetch his daughter (Anita Mui) and as the two travel together, romance blossoms between this simple fisherman and the royal daughter. But all the while the king’s brother is determined to find and kill the only mean who could threaten his Empire – his brother, still at large.

"The Moon Warriors" ranks easily as one of the most amazing period action films ever to come out of Hong Kong. You haven’t seen the entire gamut that Hong Kong martial arts movies can run until you have seen this movie’s climax – including a real-life killer whale! Mesmerizingly choreographed, the fights and stunts in this film are staggering to say the very least and combined with the wonderful cinematography, you have a film here that in many aspects is making an indelible mark. The line-up of talent that this film offers certainly pays off big time here also, as the characters are beautifully portrayed and rich, creating a dense story with emotional depth and actors who are in actuality physically capable of performing the acts you see on the screen – very much unlike modern Hollywood wanna-be-martial-arts-clone-fare.

Tai Seng is bringing to life "The Moon Warriors" on this Special Edition DVD with a <$PS,widescreen> transfer in the movie’s original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Sadly it is not <$16x9,enhanced for 16x9> TV sets, but nonetheless, the presentation is absolutely pleasing. A few speckles are visible and certain shots reveal quite a bit of grain, but for the most part, Tai Seng has prepared a surprisingly good-looking transfer here that is free of distractions and annoying defects and offers very good definition and detail. Edge-enhancement is at a minimum and the compression has been handled very nicely. Making sure image detail remains intact at all times, including the subtle layers of fog that is used very frequently for atmospheric effect in the film. Nonetheless, it is hard not to wonder how breathtaking this movie would look in a fully cleaned-up and remastered <$16x9,anamorphic> transfer…

On the audio side, Tai Seng goes out all the way, supplying a <$5.1,5.1 channel> <$DD,Dolby Digital> remix of the original Cantonese audio track of the movie, as well as a <$DTS,DTS> track. A 5.1 Dolby Digital track in English is also included, as well as optional subtitles in English. The audio tracks are very good, though certain technical limitations of the original elements are evident in the shape of a somewhat limited frequency response and dynamic range – especially noticeable in the dialogues. Surround usage is good, expanding the sound field to complement the furious action.

Once again, Tai Seng has also added a <$commentary,commentary track> to the release featuring Hong Kong film expert Ric Meyers and Tai Seng’s own Frank Djeng. As usual, the <$commentary,commentary track> is filled with valuable insight and information. Very well researched and drawing from a lot of their own experience, of course, the commentary is full of little tidbits you won’t easily come by otherwise, and I am glad that Meyers and Djeng <$commentary,commentary track>s have become a standard feature on Tai Seng’s domestic releases. They are just such a valuable and enjoyable addition for every fan of Hong Kong Cinema.

The DVD also includes an alternate ending for the movie as well as biographies and filmographies of the principal cast and crew members. The release is rounded out by a selection of trailers from other Tai Seng movies.

At 87-minutes, "The Moon Warriors" packs a lot of punch into the running time without ever leaving the human and humorous aspect out of sight. It is exotic, dynamic and extremely well-balanced throughout. In a word, it is a must-see DVD for every fantasy and wire-fu fan! Highly recommended!