The Man From Hong Kong (1975)
By: David Michael Brown on November 20, 2009  | 
Madman (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0. 108 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Brian Trenchard-Smith
Starring: Jimmy Wang Yu, George Lazenby, Hugh Keyes Byrnes, Roger Ward
Screenplay: Brian Trenchard-Smith
Country: Australia
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If anyone came out of the Not Quite Hollywood media juggernaut looking good it was Brian Trenchard-Smith. The documentary was full of some glorious moments from his back catalogue and you also found out he is best mates with Tarantino to boot. A mutant called Alph biting off somebodies toe, a teen age girl looking suspiciously like Nicole Kidman bombing around on a BMX bike, a magical themed prog rock band hanging out with a stunt man and George Lazenby being set on fire. Such were the moments that began the avalanche of DVD releases of the great man's repertoire. Umbrella and Madman, between them, have got it all covered and with the release of The Man From Hong Kong possibly his finest film is at last being released in a fabulous special edition.

It's a cliché but you have to ask yourself why don't they make films like The Man from Hong Kong anymore? From its opening moments fighting atop of Uluru to the final showdown overlooking Sydney Harbour; Brian Trenchard-Smith 70s action film is a wonderfully thrill filled concoction combining garish fashions, tough talking policeman and moustachioed bad guys.

A co-production with the legendary Golden Harvest studios in Hong Kong, the film stars Jimmy Yu as the titular hero. He heads to Sydney from his homeland to hunt down and extradite a drug smuggler. No sooner does he land on Tera Australis than the dead bodies begin to mount up as Yu gets too close for comfort with the head of the drug cartel Jack Wilton, played by George Lazenby. He teams up with the unlikely duo of Roger Ward and Hugh Keyes Byrnes, both Mad Max veterans, and the trio form an uneasy alliance.

The dialogue is glorious; one liners come thick and fast. Whether they were meant to be funny who knows but watching the film now is an immensely fun experience. The Australian cops, not happy with Yu's action packed antics: "This is Australia mate, not 55 Days of Peking" and Ronny Yu's post coital dated one liners still raise an eyebrow: "what did you expect, acupuncture?"

The action is this film is amazing. Shot back in the day when a stuntman risked his life every time he walked on set, there is no way you could make this film now. From the aforementioned battles on Aussie landmarks to setting one of your lead actors on fire, Health and Safety officers would have a coronary. The Ozploitation stuntman of choice and a Brian Trenchard-Smith regular Grant Page works wonders and even has a small part as a sniper who gets kicked off a speeding motorbike by Yu.

Brian Trenchard-Smith, on the strength of The Man from Hong Kong, Dead End Drive In and Turkey Shoot alone, should have been a national treasure. Thankfully he has returned down under to shoot Artic Blast. Let's hope he can bring action and excitement back into the Australian film industry.
The print looks colourful, bright and sharp. A great job has been done remastering for the DVD. From the streets of 70s Sydney to the vibrant oranges of Wilton's apartment, the film looks wonderful. The opening panoramic shots of Uluru in particular are resplendent in all of their scope splendour. There is very little grain or damage to the print, despite the age of the film.
The stereo mix is excellent. Despite not going the extra yard to mix this in 5.1 surround. The film's soundtrack and, in particular, the awesome title track Sky High greatly benefit from the crisp and clear audio.
Extra Features
Madman have put together a fine selection of extras for this double disc set. First Trenchard-Smith provides an informative and entertaining commentary. Anyone who has seen or heard an interview with the director will know that he is never lost for words and he makes for great company while watching the film.

The original Australia and Hong Kong trailers offer an interesting comparison into the way the two countries promote films. The Never Before Seen Behind the Scenes Footage consists of silent on set footage of the team setting up various car crashes, action set pieces and all-round mayhem. The footage is grainy but gives a nice insight into the filmmaking process back in the 70s.

The bulk of the extras are made up of two rare Brian Trenchard-Smith features; Kung Fu Killers (1974, 72 minutes) and Hospitals Don't Burn Down (1978, 24 minutes.)

Kung Fu Killers is an entertaining travelogue following stunt man extraordinaire Grant Page as he heads to Hong Kong to expand his martial arts knowledge. Full of kung fu action as Grant chats to some of the greats of Hong Kong cinema, the stuntman once again shows what a likeable performer he is and even finds time to talk to George Lazenby on the set of his first Hong Kong action film.

Hospitals Don't Burn Down is an exciting short documentary, set in a hospital on the verge of inflagration and showcases Trenchard-Smith's ability to handle actors and incendiary action scenes. The film is actually an industrial education film and as Trenchard-Smith states "This little known documentary film of mine has brought more benefit to its audience than any genre movie I have made before or since."
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
A joy from beginning to end, The Man From Hong Kong combines Shaw Brothers kung fu kicking action with a wise cracking Aussie cop thriller to glorious effect. The stunts will leave you awestruck, the theme tune by Jigsaw is fabulous and they even set George Lazenby a blaze, what more could you want? One of the best Aussie movies ever!

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