Dynasty (QIAN DAO WAN LI ZHU) hits Blu-ray this week thanks to Kino Lorber and the 3D Film Archive who’ve been working tirelessly to restore and release these forgotten 3D films allowing viewers to see them as they were intended. This however is their first release to be compatible with non 3D TVs, so the disc comes with a Red/Blue anaglyph version as well as the polarized 3D version for this release. The film was originally released in 1977 and was the first Hong Kong/Taiwan production to be both a 3-D feature and also utilizing Quadrophonic or Sensurround a 8 track stereophonic sound system, which was originally conceived for Universal’s 1974 disasterpiece Earthquake. The big innovation here was the addition of extra bass for low frequency sounds. I originally caught Dynasty at Exhumed Films’ 2017 iteration of Ex-Fest, where a battered pinkish 3D print blew the audience away with its over the top violence, that was only amplified by its third dimension antics.
Directed by Mei-Chang, who also helmed Young Dragons and the pinnacle of 3D Kung-fu, and future Kino release, the completely bonkers Revenge of the Shogun Women. Dynasty is a down and dirty, low budget helping of Hong Kong Chopsocky, that after starting off with a convoluted setup quickly finds its footing as a brutal tale of vengeance. This could also be because this version feels somewhat truncated — we even see stills of scenes not present in the feature. The film is the story of Sao Chin Tan (Tao-Liang Tan) a young warrior who is trained by monks and has seven days to defeat the mighty Eunuch Chao — the man who killed his master and his parents, after Chao has been robbed of his kung fu for skills thanks to a surgical blow to the head. Expect plenty of 3D gags while Sao fights his way to the top involving plenty of beheadings, a guy getting both hands chopped off and who continues to fight, and Eunuch Chao punching a hole through a man’s chest.
While the quality of the first half of the film is a bit rough — obviously a scan of a well worn and spliced release print, about half way through the quality appears to sharpen up, due to possibly a better available source. Grain and 3D aren’t a great mix (that’s why if you’ve seen that T2 disc it’s been DNR’ed to death) and the first half at times gets a bit soft in spots probably due to the generations from the negative the first half is from the second. But you really can’t complain too much given if this film wouldn’t have been released otherwise, and it’s a great example of Silver Age regional 3D cinema from Asia. Dynasty is a fun, hyper violent kung-fu spectacle that definitely benefits from its use of the third dimension. The 3D gags make great use of the 3D space both the subtle spatial ones and not so subtle “comin at ya” moments. There’s just a different feel to films that were shot in 3D that of course feel more organic in how they inhabit the space as opposed to our current crop of post converts, which most films are these days.
Like all 3D Archive releases, every bit of that 50gig Blu-ray is packed with extras. You get Dynasty in both Red/Blue anaglyph version as well as the polarized 3D version, one pair of 3D glasses (More can be purchased online) and: The House of Terror — Restored 1953 3-D Comic Book, Two Stereo Slide Presentations from 10-Time Emmy Award Winning Writer Eric Drysdale: Sold on Stereo, Commercial 3D in the 1950s, Inside a Mid-century Department Store and 3-D Music Video from The Simple Carnival by Jeff Boller Go Away I Like You Too Much. To be honest, as a 3D geek I would love to know more about either the restoration, or the 3D process they are using to convert a polarized 3D film to an anaglyph one, since I fall into the categories of film and tech nerd who loves hearing about how these things work.
Like all 3D Archive releases Dynasty is yet another loaded entry that one hell of a blast. The bonus here being those without 3D setups can now enjoy these releases. Which given the fact that the 3D trend has run it course and most manufacturers aren’t making new 3D capable devices, it makes sense and would give them the ability to broaden their reach. I really dug Dynasty and for those that enjoy this film I can’t suggest their future release Revenge of the Shogun Women enough, the film drops any pretense of respectability of Dynasty and just revels in its exploitative nature. Its story of a village of women who after being raped by a group of roaming marauders, became kung-fu fighting Shaolin monks and must choose between bloody revenge and their peaceful teachings when the marauders show back up a over a decade later.
But until then definitely check out Dynasty!