Magnificent Bodyguards (1978)

Reviewed by Ken Hashibe
June 20, 2014

 

MOVIE INFO
CAST
Jackie Chan • James Tien • Bruce Leung • Lee Man-Tai
Aka
The Red Dragon • Master of Death
DIRECTOR
Lo Wei
CHOREOGRAPHER(S)
Luk Chuen • Jackie Chan
YEAR RELEASED
1978
MOVIE SOURCE
Version reviewed was in widescreen format. Mandarin language with English subtitles.
Purchase & Info
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PlOT
Ting Chung (Jackie Chan) and Chang (Bruce Leung) are called upon to transport a woman’s sick brother to a doctor, but the fastest way there is through the treacherous Stormy Mountains. With the help of Tsang (James Tien), they venture out to complete their mission through the mountains in which no man has conquered alive.
thoughts on the movie

This early Chan/Lo Wei film is entertaining but not without faults. There are many absurd moments throughout and the twist at the end is nonsensical, but to give the movie credit, the story moves along quite nicely and the characters are fun to watch, even if they may be a little exaggerated. An underrated film that is more ambitious than it is successful, but remains entertaining nonetheless.

was it funny?
The exaggerated characters may cause few to laugh, especially James Tien’s Tsang. You could make a drinking game for every time he says “I’ll skin you alive” or whenever he actually skins someone alive. I haven’t seen the English dub but I would assume there are some amusing lines in there too.
How was the Action?

This was the first Hong Kong movie filmed in 3D and since the filmmakers wanted to show off this gimmick as much as possible, the action consequently suffers as the characters, rather than attacking their opponents, are more focused on attacking the camera. If you can ignore this noticeable fault, the action is actually quite impressive.

Standout performance(s)

Since this is a Jackie Chan movie, Jackie does have his time to shine. I enjoyed his charismatic performance, but Bruce Leung gets a lot of screen time in the fight scenes, showing off his impressive kicking skills. His character is very enjoyable as well.

Watch or Pass
6 Reasons Why You Should WATCH or PASS On This Movie
1. WATCH because this is the first Hong Kong movie filmed in 3D.
2. PASS because this is the first Hong Kong movie filmed in 3D.
3. WATCH for Bruce Leung’s kicking showcase.
4. WATCH if you’re a fan of old school Jackie Chan movies.
5. PASS if you don’t like abrupt endings.
6. WATCH if you like-
FINAL NOTES

This movie actually has a great soundtrack despite its use of music from Star Wars.

For those interested, there is a Japanese Blu-ray that contains the 3D version of the movie in its original language but is not “English-friendly” and currently costs more than $150. You also must have a 3D compatible device to watch it on. There are other releases on VHS and laserdisc but are extremely rare and the 3D probably isn’t very good. Being able to watch this movie in widescreen is good enough for me.

RATING