The Film Detective has released The Black Dragon’s Revenge, a Blaxploitation Kung Fu cult classic, on Blu-ray. Does it deserve a coveted spot on your collection shelf? Read on to find out!
Before I get underway with the details of the film I feel there is something I need to bring up regarding this release. One of the main issues I have with BD-R releases is their propensity for errors during the mastering process. I sat down in my comfy living room chair only to find this on my TV screen.
The issue here is that there are no options to play the film. I couldn’t figure out how to get the movie to play or get past the title screen. Thankfully I have 4 Blu-ray players including one that is an external drive for my computer from Samsung. This one allowed me to get to the root menu and play the film on my PC. Now obviously every version will not have this issue but I was not impressed with having to go through so much effort, especially considering BD-R’s already can’t play on every Blu-ray device.
Anyway, The Black Dragon’s Revenge is your typical 1970’s low budget Kung Fu movie. It seemed to be hyped up as a “Blaxploitation” film but in reality it was exploiting the death of Bruce Lee. The plot consists of multiple gangs trying to find out what happened to Lee and find a manual about a fighting technique developed by him. There really isn’t much more to the plot. It isn’t a very exciting film and it is pretty amateurish in it’s style and shot composition. Some of the story is nonsensical and not in the funny it’s “so bad that it’s good” way either.
The Black Dragon’s Revenge stars Ron Van Clief who is a martial arts legend in his own right. In fact Bruce Lee actually gave him the moniker Black Dragon. Ron won multiple Karate championships. You can tell in the film that he is skilled and knows what he is doing. He is a decent leading figure of the movie and his fighting scenes are good. It’s just that there is nothing at all memorable about the film or the other characters.
It’s not that the film is bereft of any good ideas. Of course there are chuckle inducing scenes that could only come from an era of huge sideburns and yellow tinted glasses. There is a fun lady villain who throws venomous snakes during fights. Also we have a fun beach fight scene where the bad guy gets his head snapped completely around. There is even a guy called “the Latin Panther” in the film. All of this is just superficial and the film does not execute the ideas in a fun or interesting way and therefore left me unsatisfied.
The picture quality and audio quality is pretty poor in my opinion. It is supposed to be restored from an original 35mm negative but it barely seems above DVD quality to me. The audio has ridiculous amounts of hiss and background pops. I haven’t seen other copies of this movie so this very possibly could be the best version of it. However I just can’t suggest that I was anywhere near satisfied with the picture or sound on this release. The film is only available in English Dub and does include subtitles.
Bruce Lee Dubs – a two minute long compilation of scenes where the name “Bruce Lee” was literally scratched out of the recording because of a fear of right’s violations. The movie itself has the original unaltered audio.
Black Dragon’s Revenge Final Thoughts:
Black Dragon’s Revenge is a rough film, marred by a lazy narrative and cheaply filmed. Was anyone waiting on this film to be released on Blu-ray? Even if you were you might want to wait longer, as this one has a transfer that is barely passable (and possibly stretched) and has really poor audio. The price, the lack of extras and the presentation gets a hard pass from me. You won’t regret missing this one, however if you just have to have this film in a Blu-ray case then you can get it here on Amazon.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process