Sammo Hung’s MARTIAL LAW TV Series Coming To DVD

by Kung Fu Bob O'Brien on May 6, 2015 · 1 comment in Buddhist Blog

It’s been a long time coming. 17 years in fact. But Sammo Hung’s 1998 US TV show MARTIAL LAW, which ran for two seasons, is finally coming to home video. There’s no exact release date yet, but Visual Entertainment, Inc. (VEI), a company known for their DVD releases of popular television series like HELL’S KITCHEN and CAGNEY & LACEY, have announced that they will be releasing it in the latter half of 2015. No news on whether it will be packaged as one big set, split up into box sets for each season, or otherwise. But regardless, this is great news for action, and especially Sammo Hung fans.

MARTIAL LAW was created by Carlton Cruse, whose name will be familiar to fans of such hit series as LOST and BATES MOTEL, to capitalize on the popularity of Hong Kong cinema in the states. It was a time when Jackie Chan’s biggest HK action hits were being “Americanized” with new music, dubs, editing (and sometimes even new titles) and released to good box-office in theaters across North America. Suddenly, thirteen years after his last attempt to break into the Western mainstream with THE PROTECTOR (which was his US starring-role follow-up film after THE BIG BRAWL, aka. BATTLECREEK BRAWL in 1980), Chan was finally achieving his goal, co-starring in the popular action comedy RUSH HOUR alongside comedic actor Chris Tucker. Jet Li, Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh, John Woo, Tsui Hark and many other talents had also made the jump to the Hollywood machine at this point (the 1997 handover of the former British colony of Hong Kong to China had a lot to do with this), but it still came as a surprise to many kung fu movie fans when it was announced that the one and only Sammo Hung had been cast in a new American TV series. Hung, who trained at the same Peking Opera School as Chan, and is considered his “Big Brother”, had started out as a stuntman and bit player, and worked his way up the ranks to become a bona fide star, acclaimed action choreographer, and director. He fought Bruce Lee in ENTER THE DRAGON, and got to display his talents (both in front of, and behind the camera) in such classics as THE MAGNIFICENT BUTCHER, PRODIGAL SON, THE VICTIM, ENCOUNTERS OF THE SPOOKY KIND, and EASTERN CONDORS. And now it seemed that “The Fat Dragon” was ready to also conquer American television!

Despite good word of mouth and favorable reviews, nine episodes in the show runners decided to bring in Arsenio Hall, former talk-show host, and veteran of some of Eddie Murphy’s biggest hits, to co-star with Hung. RUSH HOUR had been released a little more than a week before MARTIAL LAW premiered, and it seemed to offer more than a bit of, shall we say, inspiration. Hmmm… a “fish-out-of-water Chinese police officer/martial arts expert” paired with a “funny US African-American police officer”… that’s not only a winning formula for a film, but would also make a great TV series, right? Apparently Cruse thought so, and Hall became Hung’s on-screen police detective partner.

The show featured guest appearances from celebrities of the era (MTV’s Downtown Julie Brown!), laughs, and great action. Sammo even brought over some of his trusted HK stunt team to help raise the bar of what you could expect to see in a “television action/fight scene”, and his fans were thrilled. In addition, Sammo also got to share the screen with Chuck Norris when there was a MARTIAL LAW crossover with WALKER, TEXAS RANGER.

Though the series only lasted for two seasons, it was well-loved by its fans, and has long been sought after. So knowing that the series will finally be available after all these years is great news. When a specific release date is announced, we’ll be sure to let you know. In the meantime, while you wait, I suggest revisiting PEDICAB DRIVER or WARRIORS TWO.


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