Director Woo-Ping wastes no time before we’re off to a total meltdown in a tavern when the law ambushes notorious and unhinged criminal White Tiger (Yuen Shun-yee) and his wife who, despite his skills considerable in martial arts, ends up dead after the fight. White Tiger, however, manages to escape… and is understandably more enraged than ever! When White Tiger tries to hide in a nearby town, the rather dubious Master Tam King (Philip Ko), who seems to have a troubled past that somehow forges a bond with the criminal, advises Tiger to “lay a low profile” for a while. some time and the best way to do that is to hide among the local theater troupe. However, it’s not long before the law in the form of the incompetent Marshal Pao (Mei Sheng Fan) and his dimwitted and sleazy assistant arrives to hunt down the Tiger. As if that weren’t cause enough for the ensuing chaos, we’re introduced to Mousy (Yuen Biao) – a lazy, cowardly young man who helps out in his sister’s laundry (a job he hates and which he is not good at) when he was secretly hoping to become a student of martial arts grandmaster Wong Fei-hung (Kwan Tak-hing in his final role as Chinese folk hero Fei- hung)). To achieve this great ambition, Mousy’s best friend, Leung Foon (Bryan Leung), already a student of Master Fei-hung, is supposed to help but Mousy is so clumsy that any attempt to convince Master Fei-hung’s assistant (Sai Gwa-Pau) taking him as a student fails.
Soon however, Mousy is forced to shed his cowardly personality, most notably when he accidentally exposes White Tiger while creating havoc by delivering the theater troupe’s own costumes. Now the criminal is after Mousy, which of course is the cue for some insane stunts and action sequences, including a particularly tumultuous scene set in a narrow alley with Mousy hiding from Tiger in a water-filled barrel. rain. Running out of oxygen, he thinks he made a smart move by scaling an adjacent wall, but – just as Tiger stands in wait below – Mousy’s wet clothes betray him… In another absolutely breathtaking scene, a fight between two gigantic Chinese dragon puppets (manipulated by men), who spit fire at each other, almost bring the market down.
It’s not just manic physical action comedy, far from it, as the plot gets more complex as it continues with various other characters, including a Demon Tailor (Fung Hark-on), a Bounty Hunter (Yuen Chueng -yan) and of course Mousy’s sister (Lily Li) who is in a constant state of despair over her brother’s clumsy incompetence. Fate takes a turn when, by sheer coincidence, Mousy saves a little girl from being scalded by boiling hot water in a canteen and with Fei-hung’s assistant witnessing the incident. Finally Mousy is hired as a student of Master Fei-hung and it couldn’t have happened soon enough because soon after, his best pal Leung Foon is brutally killed during an altercation with the dreaded White Tiger. Vowing revenge, Mousy must put all of his newly acquired skills (plus the ones he already knows from the laundry job) to the test in the film’s spectacular showdown in a theater where he finds himself confronted by his fearsome nemesis. sworn…
DREADNAUGHT is a truly stunning (not to mention visually stunning) film with equally stunning performances led by Yuen Shun-yee as the scarred, psychotic killer White Tiger (who would give Leatherface a run for his money) and – the other end of the spectrum – Mousy who started out as a loser and a coward and evolves into hero status. To Western audiences, director Yuen Woo-ping is known as the action choreographer of THE MATRIX TRILOGY starring Keanu Reeves and Hugo Weaving, as well as the martial arts hit CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON (2000). Here, however, his considerable talents are showcased in this 1981 cult classic.
The new Blu-ray release has been restored to 2K and the first print run (2000 copies) comes in a limited edition O-card box plus a collector’s booklet. The release further features various audio options, all-new audio commentary, an archival interview with actress Lily Li as well as trailers.