APES ON FILM: The Baby Bear of Kung Fu Flicks—WARRIORS TWO

Posted on: Jul 18th, 2023 By:

Lucas Hardwick
Contributing Writer


Welcome to Apes on Film! This column exists to scratch your retro-film-in-high-definition itch. We’ll be reviewing new releases of vintage cinema and television on disc of all genres, finding gems and letting you know the skinny on what to avoid. Here at Apes on Film, our aim is to uncover the best in retro film. As we dig for artifacts, we’ll do our best not to bury our reputation. What will we find out here? Our destiny.



4 out of 5 Bananas
Starring: Sammo Hung, Ka-Yan Leung, Casanova Wong, Hark-On Fung
Director: Sammo Hung
Rated: Not Rated
Studio: Arrow Video
Region: A
BRD Release Date: June 6, 2023
Audio Formats: Cantonese: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono, Mandarin: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono, English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono, English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Video Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Run Time: 95 minutes


When you think of kung fu movies, the first things that come to mind probably aren’t 1) a hand-based martial art invented by a nun or 2) Sammo Hung. Those two slots are likely devoted to the stylings of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. But Sammo Hung’s 1978 film WARRIORS TWO is one of the ass-kickingest kung fu flicks of the genre’s heyday, and it’s the movie that places the director as an equal alongside the legends of martial arts filmmakers.

WARRIORS TWO is the simple story of the usual gang of baddies looking to overthrow the town leaving it up to a few scrappy citizens with hearts of gold to uphold the pillars of justice and exact their brand of brutal diplomacy. In the film, a banker, Cashier Wah (Casanova Wong) overhears that gang boss Mo (Hark-On Fung) is planning to kill the town mayor and take over the village. Wah accidentally reveals to one of Mo’s goons that he knows about the boss’s plans for a coup and the gang murders Wah’s mother. Conveniently, the town doctor Mr. Tsan (Ka-Yan Leung) quietly resides as a master of Wing Chun kung fu. Tsan’s lead student Fat Chun (Sammo Hung) eventually persuades the master to teach the unique martial art stylings to Wah, and Wah and Chun team up to vanquish Mo and his designs of usurpation.

Kung fu films are a lot like Kaiju films—most of us are here for the monsters—and in the case of martial arts, the heightened premise of effervescent action. Thankfully the narrative in WARRIORS TWO is so simple and fundamentally relatable that there’s not much plot to get in the way of the kung fu. This can be a slippery slope leaving the human elements of films that star ass-kicking and giant lizards up to mediocrity (see also, any number of GAMERA films guilty of this crime), but director Hung cajoles meaningful performances from his cast who deliver characters we truly care about. Hung’s Fat Chun is comic relief but never corny or over-the-top, and Casanova Wong as Cashier Wah transforms from a timid banker to an assured Wing Chun expert. Ka-Yan Leung as Mr. Tsan is the perfect foil for his eager students, portraying the legendary master as cranky and reluctant, creating a definitive dynamic amongst the cast that cheers on the task at hand.

The problem with kung fu movies is that the action can often drown out the story, and we, as the demanding audience, like to have our cake and eat it too. Many films are also guilty of the opposite problem of leaning on too much pesky talking and plot mechanics and not enough of the flying fists we demanded in the first place. WARRIORS TWO scratches the action itch with long, thrilling, satisfying kung fu sequences, yet never gives up on its characters or story. In an appropriate Zen way, it strikes quite an enjoyable balance.

Director Hung required his actors to study Wing Chun for two months before even developing the story. Once his cast was ready, Hung and his crew began preparing a script to fit the action. Script in hand, WARRIORS TWO took over a year to make, and has grown to be one of Hung’s unequivocal works.

As Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan filled theaters all over the world and thrilled audiences with their martial arts stylings, Sammo Hung wanted to establish himself with his own unique approach to martial arts cinema. His use of the Wing Chun style stands out as a close-quartered hand-to-hand combat form that predicates itself upon the simple notion of the closest distance between two objects being a straight line. So, while the opponents in the film flail about with the typical kung fu fighting, Hung’s heroes are more precise in the face of their attackers. Frankly, not being a martial arts expert myself, I’m not sure I could tell you the difference, but Hung’s premise and unrelenting action sure makes for solid entertainment.

Arrow Video presents WARRIORS TWO in high-definition on Blu-ray disc, with 2K restorations of both the original Hong Kong and shorter international versions of the film. This release includes commentary on the Hong Kong version by martial arts expert Frank Djeng and actor Bobby Samuels. The international version features commentary by action cinema experts Mike Leeder and Arne Venema. The disc also includes the archival documentary “The Way of the Warrior: The Making of Warriors Two” and an interview with actor Ka-Yan “Bryan” Leung who plays Mr. Tsan in the film. Other features in this release include trailers, a poster with art by Joe Kim, reversible sleeve art, and an illustrated collectors booklet with new writing by Jonathan Clements.

In the midst of a fount of recent 60s and 70s Shaw Brothers releases from various home video companies, Arrow Video’s release of Golden Harvest’s and Sammo Hung’s WARRIORS TWO arrives as an efficient action flick with no pressure thrills, that is everything the casual and expert kung fu viewer could ask for. Highly recommended.



When he’s not working as a Sasquatch stand-in for sleazy European films, Lucas Hardwick spends time writing film essays and reviews for We Belong Dead and Screem magazines. Lucas also enjoys writing horror shorts and has earned Quarterfinalist status in the Killer Shorts and HorrOrigins screenwriting contests. You can find Lucas’ shorts on Coverfly. Look for Lucas on Twitter, Facebook, and Letterboxd, and for all of Lucas’s content, be sure to check out his Linktree.

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