THE MAN FROM HONG KONG (1975)

PrintE-mail Written by Kieran Fisher

When looking back at the history of genre cinema in all its multi-regional incarnations, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything as entertaining as the boom period of Ozploitation, which saw countless action, horror and exploitation fare rise from the land down under during the ‘70s and ‘80s. Some, like Mad Max (1979), were international hits which changed the landscape of cinema; others like Razorback have gone on to become certified cult classics. That said, there is one director who’s synonymous with some of Australia’s finest cult output, and that’s Brian Trenchard-Smith. With features like Stunt Rock (1980), Turkey Shoot (1982), BMX Bandits (1983) and Dead End Drive-In (1986), he helped put the country’s cinema on the map, but 1975’s The Man from Hong Kong is arguably the pinnacle of his artistic achievement.

The Man from Hong Kong stars former 007 George Lazenby, an actor you could say is stuck in an unfortunate position between Sean Connery and Roger Moore when it comes to actors who have portrayed the iconic character. He may not be remembered as one of the best to ever to play our favourite spy, but that shouldn’t negate from the fact that he’s a very good actor with some rare gems in his filmography.  It also stars Jimmy Wang Yu, who rose to prominence in China during the 1960s with his roles in Shaw Brothers Studio films like One-Armed Swordsman (1967) and The Chinese Boxer (1970). With a cast that bad ass, it can’t go wrong – and it doesn’t. The Man from Hong Kong is a masterpiece of B-grade action cinema.

The story follows Hong Kong police inspector Fang Sing (Wang), who travels to Australia to extradite a fugitive. However, when the criminal is assassinated before he can be brought to trial, the main suspect is the seemingly untouchable crime lord Jack Wilton (Lazenby). Well, let’s just say that doesn’t sit too well with Fang Sing, so he decides to go up against the kingpin and chaos ensues.

The Man from Hong Kong is an action aficionado dream. In addition to being the first martial arts movie to come out of Australia, which makes it a must see for any serious fan of the genre, it contains everything you could want from a film of this ilk. The fight scenes are expertly choreographed, showcasing the sublime skills of its main star who is undoubtedly one of the best performers to ever emerge from China. On top of that, we are treated to some of the most gung-ho car chases ever filmed. The thrill of The Man from Hong Kong lies in its stunts, which are as realistic as can be. Australian exploitation films were known for their risk taking – and sometimes life threatening – set-pieces and this typifies those elements tenfold.

With a brilliant making-of documentary, a sublime audio commentary from Smith and other excellent features, this Umbrella Entertainment release of The Man from Hong Kong gives this classic the treatment it deserves.  If you’re a fan of action cinema, then this should be top of your wish list.  It will not let you down.

THE MAN FROM HONG KONG (1975) / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: BRIAN TRENCHARD-SMITH, YU WANG / SCREENPLAY: BRIAN TRENCHARD-SMITH / STARRING: YU WANG, GEORGE LAZENBY, HUGH KEAYS-BYRNE, ROGER WARD / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

 


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