The latest Martial Arts Double Feature release from Shout! Factory includes Hapkido and Lady Whirlwind. Both are Golden Harvest productions staring Mao Ying, and both are directed by Huang Feng and were released in 1972.
Mao Ying was a contract player with Golden Harvest in the ’70s. The two films featured here are her main starring roles– and both were released one year before she played Bruce Lee’s sister in the genre-defining Enter the Dragon. Ying went on to play supporting parts throughout the ’70s and ’80s before retiring early in 1992 to raise a family.
The two films Shout! Factory has here are great examples of the golden age of Hong Kong Kung Fu cinema.
Hapkido finds Ying starring alongside Carter Huang and Sammo Hung as students recently exiled from a Hapkido school in Japan-occupied Korea. With the blessing of the Hapkido grand master, the three set out to establish a Hapkido school on mainland China. However, they run into problems when the Japanese-run Bushido school in the town they settle in tries to strong arm them out of teaching Hapkido — which, famously, was a martial art developed and used by Korean rebels during Japanese occupation.
The fights come fast and furious and are expertly choreographed. Hapkido delivers all the promises of the Kung Fu genre– a straightforward revenge plot, and lots of fighting and violence.
Hapkido also sports the only legitimate special features on the disc, which are interviews with Mao Ying, Carter Huang, Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao. However, the interviews look like they were done by amateurs and offer very little in terms of interesting or insightful information. Occasionally Ying or Hung will mention working with Bruce Lee, or training with Jackie Chan, or offer tidbits about what it was like working behind the scenes, however, these moments are too fleeting and the interviewers too inept to make these extras worthwhile.
Hapkido is considerably more polished that the disc’s second feature, Lady Whirlwind, which seems less written than it’s predecessor. This doesn’t take too much away from the film, even though it is much more senseless that Hapkido, Lady Whirlwind still delivers some excellent and ample fight scenes. Ying plays a women who’s vowed revenge on Ling Shih-hua (Chang Yi), for abandoning her sister years ago and causing her to commit suicide. However Shin-hua begs her to allow him to take revenge on a local gang who attempted to kill him three years before, before she takes her revenge.
Despite somewhat disappointing special features, the latest Martial Arts Double Feature from Shout! Factory is still a strong offering on the merits of the two films alone. Both Hapkido and Lady Whirlwind are fast-paced, entertaining classics of the genre, sure to satiate any martial arts enthusiast’s appetite.