Blistering Kung Fu

Rising action star Marko Zaror (John Wick: Chapter 4 and Machete Kills) exudes a rippling masculinity often found missing today in his new martial arts actioner Fist of the Condor. Writer and director Ernesto Díaz Espinoza’s Spanish-language production is made directly for martial arts lovers, highlighting the genre’s sheer athleticism mostly through Marko Zaror’s exploits.

An old-school melding of brutal fights with a little philosophy behind it, the lean kung fu flick has just enough story to keep viewers interested between the fine set pieces. The backstory goes a deadly fighting style was developed in South America by the Incas fighting off Spanish conquistadors. Passed down over the centuries by a secret manual containing its techniques, only one copy exists. Twin brothers clash over the journal and only one will prove worthy.

Rising action star Marko Zaror exudes a rippling masculinity often found missing today in his new martial arts actioner Fist of the Condor

The twins train at the same martial arts school in a series of training montages, high in the mountains by an elderly woman known only as the Condor Woman (Gina Aguad). Frustrated with his progress, one of the brothers kills her and steals the book. Years later the “good” brother is hounded by his twin, hunted by the twin’s deadly pupil Kalari. The twin gimmick has been seen before in martial arts and it’s mostly used as a framework for the narrative.

Marko Zaror plays both brothers, one with a shaved head and the other with flowing locks like Fabio. He’s not a great actor yet but his screen presence and rippling physique are reminiscent of a young Van Damme. The kung fu action delivers, culminating in a fantastic battle of high-flying kicks and cheesy dialogue. There’s nothing we really haven’t seen before from Shaw Brothers and other luminaries in the genre

There are some unusual twists on the familiar formula, including a woman playing the wise sensei role usually reserved for elderly Asian men. Fist of the Condor has a few small problems like most b-movies. The cast isn’t going to win any Oscars and the thin premise has a few troubling inconsistencies. But the thriller’s striking martial arts direction and fight creativity are why the kung fu flick succeeds, a pure genre effort made for fans.

An original martial arts film made for the Hi-Yah! movie channel, Fist of the Condor’s Marko Zaror is a future action star with his rugged appeal and leading-man good looks.

Video

The 2.00:1 presentation on Well Go USA’s BD is superb, offering staggeringly crisp and razor-sharp 1080p video derived from high-quality digital cameras mastered at 2K resolution. More importantly, Fist of the Condor has some of the most stunning location photography I’ve seen before in a martial arts flick. Shot primarily in the mountains and on beaches in presumably South America, the cinematography is often breathtaking with a digital purity and cleanliness.

The main feature runs a tick over eighty minutes on a BD-25, encoded in adequate AVC with no noticeable issues. Brightly lit exteriors and clean interiors showcase the awesome depth and hot contrast. About the only softness are a couple CGI shots but the digital intermediate’s color grading hasn’t been overly tinkered with, I imagine it’s fairly close in temperature to the raw digital video capture.

Fist of the Condor often dazzles with its scenic beach locales and stark HD clarity. Definitely a good buy on Blu-ray if you’re chasing vivid picture quality.

Audio

Sizzling action audio is heard in the primary 5.1 DTS-HD MA Spanish soundtrack. Dialogue is whistle clean with nice dynamics bolstering effective sound design and mixing. The surround track spreads the soundstage beyond its front channels, including the fairly generic score. The action envelops the listener with pinpoint precision and power. Fights are especially lively.

No English dub is included. I suspect if Fist of the Condor had a bigger budget it would have received an English dub to reach a wider audience.

Optional English subtitles play in white for the Spanish language film. Secondary 2.0 Dolby Digital in Spanish audio is offered.

Extras

Well Go USA puts out the Hi-Yah! original movie on Blu-ray largely bereft of special features. The package indicates the disc is coded for Region A. Bonus trailers from Well Go play before the main menu.

Fist of the Condor Trailer (02:06 in HD)

Behind The Scenes Featurette (01:35 in HD) – A superfluous bonus with a small glimpse at how a few shots were made in the film.

Code of the Assassins Trailer (01:31 in HD)

Legend of Gatotcaka Trailer (01:38 in HD)

The Grandmaster of Kung Fu Trailer (01:17 in HD)

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided by the label for review. This has not materially affected DoBlu’s editorial process. For information on how we handle all review material, please visit DoBlu’s about us page.

First of the Condor
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
4

Movie

A blistering ode to classic kung fu flicks in the mold of Van Damme from rising action star Marko Zaror, a name you should remember

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 40 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots ripped directly from the Blu-ray:

 


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