Shuttlecock’s Finest Moment

Dragon Lord contains three sensational sequences. The opening, in which rival towns clash over a ceremonial (and violent) rugby-like sport. A centerpiece involving a shuttlecock game, and then the finale, in which Jackie Chan’s playful character Dragon fights off an artifact-thieving, one-eyed villain. In design, each one is perfection.

The script, partly from Chan himself, doesn’t know what to do with those scenes though. Dragon Lord stumbles in trying to make this story cohesive, playing out like a number of disconnected comedy skits, forgetting to tie them together. Comedy helps, and even in the early ‘80s, Chan’s timing allows the laughs to work, even if they never form into anything whole.

Dragon Lord works better in today’s home media environment

Like his character, Chan didn’t yet have the maturity to adhere his ideas to a competent, consistent flow. Disjointed scenes block themselves in, wholly separated from the core (and simple) good versus evil scenario. An unofficial, loose sequel to Chan’s Young Master, the role suits his talents as a charming screen presence, including a flirtatious relationship. Sadly, the latter never amounts to anything other than bit pieces, stranded behind the occasional glimpses into the villain’s storyline.

Sloppy construction aside, Dragon Lord works better in today’s home media environment, where the opening battle and mesmerizing shuttlecock scene can exist on their own. Credit too for the last brawl, with Chan staying in character during a life-or-death duel, his moves serious but sloppy, even desperate, facing his own lack of training dedication while defending his friend. In that too, Dragon Lord works, Chan pairing with Mars as his closest ally, pulling off a comedy routine with appropriate dramatic weight that feels earned.


There’s a sense Dragon Lord suffered slight filtering during the mastering process. An occasional waxy face, a muddy wide shot, and messier grain all draw suspicion. In overall terms though, Shout’s presentation is a passable winner, crisp, clean, and detailed at its best, but then waxy, oily, and digital at its worst. The print avoids any harsh damage, cleared of scratches and dirt almost entirely.

Well defined color draws out the costumes, including a wide array of blues, greens, and yellows. Scenery provides lush landscapes, flushed with primaries and earth tones galore.

Black levels suffer and fade through the years, well off from pure black. Contrast does the heavy lifting instead, remaining bright to preserve the depth.


In DTS-HD, there’s Cantonese mono, an alternate Cantonese mono track, and an English dub. A dud 5.1 dubbed mix (compressed Dolby Digital) is best skipped. Neither of the Cantonese tracks sound great, with blown out, puffy dialog. The score screeches unpleasantly, equally harsh and overly loud at any normal volume. If there’s a positive, the lack of defects – static and/or popping – help a bit.


Shout includes an extended cut in original Cantonese, followed by interviews in triplicate – Louis Sit, Mars, and Whang In-Sik. Author David West provides a commentary track. Then, trailers and stills.

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 Lord
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While filled with show-stopping stunts, Dragon Lord literally does stop to show them off, pushing any story elements into the background.

User Review
4 (1 vote)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 34 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray:

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