Dragon Inn (1967) (Blu-ray Review)

Dragon Inn (1967) (Blu-ray Review)
Directed By: King Hu
Starring: Chun Shih, Feng Hsu, Lingfeng Shangguan
Rated: UR/Region A/2:35/1080p/Number of Discs 1
Available from The Criterion Collection

After having the emperor’s minister of defense executed, a power-grabbing eunuch sends assassins to trail the victim’s children to a remote point on the northern Chinese border. But that bloodthirsty mission is confounded by a mysterious group of fighters who arrive on the scene, intent on delivering justice and defending the innocent.

Criterion brings the very easy on the eyes Dragon Inn to Blu-ray with a very stellar looking transfer. Also, the movie is pretty darn good as well so that’s always a plus. This story of the Dragon Gate Inn has been remade not once but twice after this, but for today let’s just stick with the original that The Criterion Collection gave us. The story goes like this, Tsao, the emperor’s first eunuch, has successfully bested General Yu, his political opponent. The general was beheaded and his remaining children have been exiled from China. As the children are being escorted to the western border of the Chinese empire, Tsao plots to have the children killed. So we have lots of foolery and shady stuff going on. This means we have to have someone try to stop this from happening. The help comes in the form of a group of four and that’s when the fun begins.

The movie is as solid as they come. We have great visuals and we have great action on top of all of that. The characters are done right with you liking who you need to get behind and hating the bad guy, so in a lot of ways it’s simples storytelling and old-school storytelling but it gets the job done and that is all that matters here with this one. If you want something that will look good and give you all the stuff you’ve come to love from Asian action cinema of yesterday, this is a movie that will be for you. I love seeing stuff like this get released and I love seeing it coming from The Criterion Collection.

Extras

– New 4K digital restoration, supervised by cinematographer Hua Hui-ying, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
– New interview with actor Shangkuan Ling-fung
– Interview from 2016 with actor Shih Chun
– New scene analysis by author and New York Asian Film Festival cofounder Grady Hendrix
– Newsreel footage of the film’s 1967 premiere in Taipei, Taiwan
– Trailer
– New English subtitle translation
– PLUS: An essay by critic Andrew Chan

QUALITY OF TRANSFER: 98%