More Kung Fu Than You Can Shake a Stick At: Arrow Video's The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter

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8 Diagram Pole Fighter

Adding to the Shaw Scope box set that Arrow Video released earlier this year, 1984’s The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter, previously left out of the collection, now gets its rightful spotlight with this deluxe standalone release.

The film is known for its outstanding spear fight sequences as well as the real-life tragedy of star Alexander Fu, who suffered a fatal car accident before the filming was completed. Honoring his memory, the script was only partially rewritten, and Fu's character does not appear in the final climatic showdown as originally planned.

Based on the Generals of the Yang Family (Yeung family in Cantonese) legends, the real star of the film is the amazing, almost ballet-like fight scenes involving spears or poles. The story revolves around one of the generals, traumatized by the horrors of war. Shaken by deaths of his men, he submits himself to a Buddhist monastery, but gets turned away from becoming a monk due to his excitable temperament. The returning general then sets all his focus on fight training, and because knives and swords were not allowed on monastery grounds, he took to mastering the spear, eventually developing the unique eight diagram pole fighting technique.

With the monk’s teachings, the general learns to overcome his temper and puts his past behind him, only to have his peace of mind torn from him when a rival group, the Khitans, capture his younger sister. Now he must break his Buddhist vows to save her and exact his revenge.

Over the top high-flying martial arts and weapon-wielding action abound in this film (as well as a decent amount of blood for you gore fans). Made during the later years of the Shaw filmmaking dynasty, this film is often referred to as director Lau Kar-leung’s ultimate masterpiece for his storytelling style, as well as the non-stop, drag out, violent climax of the film.

Arrow packed this Special Edition Release full of content:

Brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative by Arrow Films

High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray™ presentation

Original lossless Cantonese, Mandarin and English mono audio

Optional English subtitles, plus hard-of-hearing subtitles for the English dub

Brand new commentary by Jonathan Clements, author of A Brief History of China

Newly filmed appreciation by film critic and historian Tony Rayns

Interviews with stars Gordon Liu, Lily Li and Yeung Ching-ching, filmed by Frédéric Ambroisine in 2004

A Tribute to Fu Sheng, a short film commemorating the late actor that played before early screenings of The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter, presented via a German-dubbed telecine (the best available copy) with English subtitles

Alternate opening credits, as The Invincible Pole Fighters

Theatrical trailer

Image gallery

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Marc Aspinall

First Pressing Only: Illustrated collectors' booklet featuring new writing on the film by Terrence J. Brady

4.0 / 5.0