Monday 9 October 2017

On Blu-ray - John Snadden welcomes THE ANDERSON TAPES (Sidney Lumet, USA, 1971) & KILLER CONSTABLE (Kuei Chi-Hung, Hong Kong, 1980)

Two recent Blu-ray arrivals which both show that the Brits are now regularly releasing some of the best BR Special Editions.

The KILLER CONSTABLE dual format disc I consider to be one of the best BR releases of this year.

I've always liked Sidney Lumet's NY heist pic, THE ANDERSON TAPES: the idea of an ex-con knocking over an apartment block inhabited by rich families always appealed to me...especially if Sean Connery was in charge. Apart from the film's early 1970s "hi-tech" equipment, THE ANDERSON TAPES has aged well and is still an exciting, well-made crime movie. Interestingly, director Lumet cast a very young Christopher Walken as a budding prescient. .

Killer Constable
The Shaw Bros movie KILLER CONSTABLE (1980) from the 88 Asia DVD Company is probably the best this Hong Kong swordplay pic will look, apart from seeing it in a cinema on the big screen. The film was produced in the twilight years of the famous Hong Kong based Shaw Brothers film studio. It stars Chen Kuan-Tai (THE BOXER FROM SHANTUNG) and is directed by veteran film-maker Kuei Chi-Hung who was best known for his often lurid and violent horror and crime movies (THE DELINQUENT, KILLER SNAKES). He definitely wasn't known for his wuxia films...which is a pity because KILLER CONSTABLE ranks up there with the best martial-arts pics ever made.

The film is a visceral and at times surreal mix of blood, mud, mist and flame. It's relentlessly grim with a central character whose unbending righteousness eventually destroys himself and all those around him. I won't give too much detail here except to say that Officer Leng Tian Ying (Chen Kuan-Tai) is summoned by the Empress Dowager and ordered to find the criminals responsible for robbing the Royal Treasury of a fortune in gold. Leng Tian is given 10 days to track down and bring back to the Empress the robbers' heads.

As a Special Edition, this is a pretty good disc. A highlight is an audio commentary by Chinese film expert, Bey Logan, who is no stranger to these additional tracks. But even by Logan's high standards his work on KILLER CONSTABLE is exemplary.

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