Jimmy Wang Yu (director)
101 min (length)
23 October 2023 (released)
05 November 2023
This action-packed, historical (and very macho) historical adventure celebrates its 50th anniversary and what better way to celebrate than with a 2K Blu-ray release. Director Wang Yu, who can be credited with having kick-started the 70s martial arts craze, stars as a wandering swordsman who, together with a motley crew of other skilled warriors, is adamant to defend a small Chinese town from invading Japanese marauders.
Set during the Ming dynasty in the 16th century, Japanese invaders under the fearsome Hashimoto (Fei Lung), a notorious and skilled swordsman, unleash mayhem and terror among towns and villages along the Chinese coast. When the townspeople are unable to meet the demands of paying the invaders the requested sum of money (and we are talking lots of money), the Japanese messenger threatens to burn the place to the ground. Luckily, a wandering swordsman by the name of Hsia Feng (Wang Yu), who happens to pass through town, witnesses what’s going on and decides to stay on in order to help the poor townsfolk. However, he also realises that he alone can’t take on the enemy though luckily, help is at hand thanks to Iron Bull Chao (Hsieh Han), a hot-headed local swordsman. A little later, they are joined by mercenary knife thrower Leng Ping (Tien Yeh) once he decides that on this occasion, I will help without the usual fee for his services.
Together, the three warriors train the local townspeople (we never see any women and children anywhere) in the high art of warfare and rest assured, Hsia Feng has many tricks up his sleeve when it comes to getting ready for the invaders: from planting special traps along the beach which consist of deep holes spiked with sharp bamboo sticks to explosives - every little detail has been worked out!
When the Japanese invaders land on the beach, ready for battle and whipped into a frenzy courtesy of drummers sporting Kabuki-like demon masks, all hell breaks loose and the stage is set for a relentless battle that demands not only physical strength and quick thinking but the local townspeople, led by our three fearless warriors, always need to be one step ahead if they want to stay alive – no easy task seeing how the Japanese apply their own tactics and are not to be messed with.
The film, loosely based on true events, culminates in a relentless battle scene which lasts almost half an hour, and with Hsia Feng and Hashimoto fighting a bloody duel which involves… a windmill! Just like in ‘Highlander’ there can be only one – or can it?
The 2K restored version is glorious to look at and BEACH OF THE WAR GODS delivers fast-paced macho action and incredible stunt work if you’re into that kind of thing. Don’t expect any intellectual depth here – the focus really is on the action, with mainly a Taiwanese cast (hence the absence of familiar names from the world of Hong Kong martial arts). The English subtitles are full of Gung-ho slang and it’s highly doubtful that the original Mandarin dialogue uses expressions like ‘bollocks’, ‘Japs’ or ‘fucking pigs’!
The first print-run (2000 copies only) will be presented in a Limited Edition O-card slipcase with Collector’s booklet. Bonus material includes audio commentary, interviews and trailers.