I cannot be the best judge for whether 1977’s Dynasty is a good kung fu picture, as I am not a fan of the genre. At least it was in anaglyphic 3D (those red and cyan glasses), so that provided some amusement.
The movie takes place in the Ming Dynasty, where a ruthless emperor with some sort of magical powers is apparently deeply unpopular with the populace. Not exactly sure why he is so hated, as we don’t see people dying from excess taxation or anything like that.
Among the fiercest opponents to this dictator are the fighting monks at one monastery. These monks are as strange as they are tough.
We first see the guy who appears to be their top fighter as he sits under a very large bell while it is struck. Not sure what training that was for—maybe they think they are preparing for combat in a Looney Tunes cartoon. Anywho, the guy emerges completely OK, leaps into the air and headbutts the bell. Take that bell!
Following this, we get a long and weird training sequence. Our hero throws a handful of coins at a tree, embedding them in a row. Apparently, he enjoyed doing that so much that he does it again. Next, his peers throw clay pots at him, which he shatters in mid-air. And here they probably wonder why they can’t have nice things. I’m not sure this sequence was supposed to be funny, but I laughed a lot during it. This is also the part of the film where 3D is best employed.
Overall, the 3D effects worked pretty well on my standard television, though watching a color movie as anaglyphic 3D always strains my eyes. Something I find especially irritating is when something is too close in foreground, especially in the middle of the screen. It is almost like there is a boundary close to the camera where, if crossed, the 3D effect gets inverted. That’s the best I can describe it—it feels like my eyes are forced to cross slightly.
Other than the 3D and that goofy training sequence, a lot of this felt indistinguishable from any film of its kind. People do all kinds of impossible leaps, courtesy of wires that aren’t always concealed adequately. Some warriors even rise onto rooftops, thanks to reversed footage. There’s that wooden “whack” sound whether two objects collide, even when it is a bare first on skin. There’s the very poorly ADR’d dialogue with no attempt to match lip movements. Everybody knows the drill.
Funny, but I highly recommend buying the Kino Lorber bluray of this title, but not for the movie. Instead, there are numerous interesting special features, many of which are in 3D. Those include a brief history of stereoscopic imaging, pages of a comic book, a slide show of a department store that had stereo photos taken after it was remodeled, and an animated music video. There is also a brief documentary in 2D about the bizarre technique used to shoot this picture, a process that stores both images on each frame of film.
So, there you have it: a disc I highly recommend buying, but not for the movie. Of course, you might even enjoy the movie, even if I largely didn’t. But then I can’t be a fair judge of it, as this isn’t a genre I care for.
Dir: Mei-Chun Chang
Starring…aw, that’s sweet, you actually thought I was going to bother listing the names of a bunch of nobodies, didn’t you?
Watched on Kino Lorber blu-ray