Punch Out

Dragon Fist’s is better than most early Jackie Chan efforts, introducing significant plot swerves that derail the revenge formula. An elderly mastered is still dead by opening scene’s conclusion, and Chan sets off to kill the man responsible. Thankfully, after a plodding middle act, Dragon Fist finds its way to coherently complicate this baseline story.

… routine locations and merely okay finale lessen Dragon Fist’s overall effect

Revenge isn’t simple, and most dialog scenes wrestle with morality. Speaking to Chan, the mother in his care makes clear, “We’re here for justice, not revenge,” instilling values typically absent in such a feature. As she grows ill, Chan becomes ensnared in a rival school’s own determined evil, being used in exchange for rare medicine. That back-and-forth smartly reduces the direct line between hero and villain, Chan swaying back and forth between sticking to a man’s dying wish or setting things right.

The manipulation happens slowly, even with subtlety, albeit with some striking, well choreographed fights. On Jackie Chan’s scale, nothing stands out as distinctive, the creativity belonging to the character’s mercy – Chan doesn’t want to kill, and holds back on his strikes. Camera work and editing make this clear even during flashy outbursts.

All of this plot development doesn’t make Dragons Fist a success; it’s an often dull, sluggishly told feature that simmers down somewhere in the center of Jackie Chan’s middling ‘70s era output. While the revenge fable plays differently than some, it’s still a derivative, just glossed up by a medical concern. The fights have moments, but the routine locations and merely okay finale lessen Dragon Fist’s overall effect.


Dragon Fist’s opening credits hold some of the worst imagery to grace this format. At times, it looks as if the film barely exists due to weird off-color spots and rotting grain. It’s better once these pass, if still wildly imperfect. Restoration keeps the film stock clean, free of debris, dirt, or scratches. That’s impressive. Flicker does become a bother near the midway point, black levels turning to an off-color orange, rapidly back-and-forth. Banding can intrude too.

Sadly, the mastering work still applies far too much digital processing, muddying wide shots into blobs of indiscernible color. In close, this isn’t as rough if still noticeable. Forget basic texture – that’s gone, even behind what grain still exists and it isn’t much.

Color reproduction, grading on a curve, is Dragon Fist’s best asset, although even this sours from age. Primaries look faded, flat, and dry. Overblown contrast doesn’t help, further washing out the limited remaining color. Black levels come and go as they please, sometimes firm, other times non-existent.


Seven (!) audio tracks are on offer. Four of them come uncompressed in DTS-HD – Cantonese (default), Mandarin, English, and Japanese theatrical Cantonese. The next trio offer compressed 5.1, Cantonese, Mandarin, and English on offer. Skip those. Their lackluster soundstages and exaggerations merely distract from the action.

None of these sport any impressive qualities. Dialog blows out, and the “borrowed” score never exhibits stable qualities. Treble wobbles and wanes. Age is a constant burden.


Journalist David West pens a 21-minute video essay on Jackie Chan’s early career highlights. Critic James Mudge handles a commentary track.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Dragon Fist
  • Video
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  • Extras


A few twists on the revenge formula aside, Dragon Fist is routine and dull outside of the fights.

User Review
1 (1 vote)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 33 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray:

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