The Hand of Death is a hugely entertaining martial arts movie with a cast that makes it essential for fans of the genre or John Woo.
Plot: A survivor of an attack on a rebel group opposing the Manchu invasion of China creates the Goose Fist fighting technique and tries for revenge on a traitor.
Review: This is one of John Woo’s earlier movies and has a pretty incredible cast including Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao and Tao-liang Tan. It’s a martial arts classic which shows some of Woo’s trademark visual flare during the climactic fight scenes.
There is some slo-mo, close-ups of the eyes and and familiar themes of brotherhood. The version I’ve seen is dubbed which is always quite distracting but it didn’t prevent me from loving the movie.
It’s funny, I mentioned an Asian Expendables last week and this is pretty much it, with a great cast who are all essentially at the beginnings of their careers. John Woo even stars in the movie in a supporting role and he looks so young.
The martial arts are incredible as you’d expect, even despite the odd punch/kick clearly not hitting anyone; the sound effects are hilariously awesome too.
I found myself involved with the story and it moved along at a (literally) breakneck pace. I liked Sammo Hung’s character who is essentially the henchman of the main villain but a man of honour; when our hero is captured and tortured, Hung is disgusted by it.
It’s a shame they didn’t expand on that and give him a redemption story as that would have added something to it.
The final fight scenes are exciting and nicely shot with Jackie Chan proving why he would become one of the biggest stars of all time.
The music, oh God the music! That theme tune goes through your head for DAYS after watching it but that’s what a good theme is supposed to do. It’s very 70’s sounding now though but still pretty awesome.
Overall, The Hand of Death is a hugely entertaining martial arts movie with a cast that makes it essential for fans of the genre or John Woo.