AKA: Shanghai Express
Year of release: 1986
Director: Sammo Hung
Action director: Sammo Hung
Producer: Leonard Ho
Writers: Barry Wong, Alfred Cheung, Wong Wang Kai
Cinematography: Arthur Wong
Editor: Peter Cheung
Music: Anders Nelsson
Stars: Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Kenny Bee, Eric Tsang, Olivia Cheng, Rosamund Kwan, Emily Chu, Yasuaki Kurata, Hwang Jang-Lee, Yukari Oshima, Richard Norton, Cynthia Rothrock, Shek Kin, Jimmy Wang Yu
Rated IIA for mild violence
This Lunar New Year release is a bit of combination of a "Eastern Western" and the big all-star, multi-plotted event movies such as Cannonball Run and My Lucky Stars. The film revolves around the inaugural running of a new high-class train called the Shanghai Express, but events occurring around the train and the towns it passes through brings in new characters into the mix. The main one involves Sammo Hung as a hustler who tries to save his hometown by intentionally wrecking the train so that the rich patrons will spend their money in the town.
There are several other sub-plots as well, such as one with Richard Ng trying to get away from his wife so he can carry on his affair, Shek Kin reprising his role as the Wong family's nemesis (fighting Wong Kei-Yin, played by Jimmy Wang Yu, and his son Wong Fei-Hung), Yukari Oshima and several other Japanese villains attempting to steal secret documents out of China, and a group of bandits (including Richard Norton and Cynthia Rothrock) who want to rob the train. And that's this movie's main problem -- with so many characters and plots in the mix, almost none of them get resolved in any way, much less successfully. Still, the movie runs at a fast enough pace and throws so much at you in the way of comedy and action (in particular, some of Yuen Biao's stunt work is brilliant) that you'll won't really notice the script's weaknesses too much.
Picture format: widescreen
Sound format: Dolby 5.1
Languages: Cantonese, Mandarin
Subtitles: Chinese, English, Japanese, Korean, Malaysian, Indian, Thai
Extras: trailers, cast/crew bios
Notes: The picture is very nice on this disc, but like many HK DVDs, the sound mix needs a bit of work. The fight scenes don't have enough "punch" to them -- the impacts of fists and feet sound a bit muffled. Otherwise, this is a decent disc with the usual small "talent files" and collection of trailers. It's nothing worth rushing out and buying, but should make a decent rental.
Manufacturer: Dragon Dynasty
Picture format: anamorphic widescreen
Sound format: Dolby 5.1, Dolby mono, DTS 6.1
Languages: Cantonese, English
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Extras: deleted scenes, trailers, interviews, commentary by Bey Logan
Notes: This is far and away the superior version of the movie. Unlike previous bare-bones releases by the Weinsteins (under the Dimension and Miramax labels), this DVD not only features the full version of the movie, but a solid number of extras as well. The extras offer up a great deal of information and are well worth watching for HK film vets and newbies alike. This new version also corrects the "mushy" Dolby remix used in the Universe DVD.