Burn It All Down

It’s easy to dismiss Magnificent Warriors as rebellious nationalist drivel, depicting the underpowered, rock-throwing Chinese conquering the mortar/gun equipped Imperialist Japanese. Heroes slam kicks into their enemy’s chests with such force, the Japanese blast through solid walls.

That’s all of Hong Kong action cinema though, whether a crime procedural about a grizzled detective sourcing drug money or a war film like Magnificent Warriors. What makes a hero in these films is their capacity to fight and win for their cause, and in this case, that’s standing in defiance against an entire country.

Magnificent Warriors doesn’t skimp on humor

Magnificent Warriors doesn’t skimp on humor amid the decidedly real historical context. The action flair follows the western approach, producing a constant flurry of fights and explosions, always with a slight wink toward the absurdity. Here though it’s not guns and muscle saving the population, but martial arts and scrappy resistance. Rather than being driven by military ethos, Magnificent Warriors features heroes determined to repel the Japanese because they believe it’s right to do so for their country.

This leads to a near unstoppable slate of action, ludicrous in volume, and choosing to lightly develop main characters into basic archetypes to make room. Barely passing the 90-minute mark total, Magnificent Warriors spends at least an hour of that in combat, and Michelle Yeoh is an undeniable screen superstar in this mix.

Staging finds ways to keep the visual onslaught variable too, from composing a convincing aerial dogfight to nighttime raids and intelligent tactics involving entire towns battering the Japanese ego. This isn’t subtle, even outright propagandist, yet too outlandish to view seriously. The only fault is the obnoxiously patriotic score, fine on its own, yet played so frequently and repetitiously, the luster is lost before the first act is out.

That can’t lessen the choreography’s splendor though, showing countless routines that match up against any classic martial arts epic. Using the underdog philosophy, the numbers game establishes consistently impossible odds, and usually, weapons against bare fists. It’s sensational to watch, the stuntwork reckless in the best way.


Adequate if stunted, 88 Films’ presentation shows definite concerns. Grain does remain but digital filtering reduces texture. Faces thus appear waxy and any complication like smoke or dust only makes this worse. It’s so unnecessary and makes this a greater disappointment no matter the result.

Inconsistent color reproduction keeps most hues flat or faded. Reds do stick out though, while other pieces of the palette lack dynamics. Rather than 1987, Magnificent Warriors looks more akin to something from 1967 in saturation terms.

Middling black levels allow noise/artifacts to slip into view, albeit nominally. Contrast doesn’t look its fullest either, slightly dry with a few bright spots.


Original Cantonese mono and an English dub make the cut in PCM. Sticking with the Cantonese, while the top end sounds pinched, there’s a surprising bass response as the score brings drum beats. Even dialog can catch the subwoofer, arguably too much so resulting in a puffy, blown out sound. It’s imprecise, but tolerable. Truly awful explosions and sound effects carry a hollowness that’s hard on the ears.


Frank Djeng takes a seat in the recording booth and delivers a fine commentary track. An older interview with Michelle Yeoh is in addition to another interview featuring stunt coordinator Tung Wai. Trailers and stills follow.

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Magnificent Warriors
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Fast moving, patriotic action scenes keep the spunky Magnificent Warriors wildly entertaining.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 36 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray: