Chin Hao (Chen Lee/Myoshin Hayakawa), arrives in America looking for a better life, only to be faced with locals that don’t take kindly to outsiders. Much to their surprise, Chin is not your average drifter as he rips his way through racist bad guys with his unstoppable fighting techniques. After word of his skills spreads, he gets a job at a ranch only to find that the owner, Stanley Spencer, is a cattle smuggling slave trader who brutalizes Mexican farmers and anyone else who dares get in his way. Chin ramps up the violence as he stops at nothing to free the slaves and enact revenge on the sadistic Spencer.
Brilliantly directed by Mario Caiano (Nightmare Castle), Shanghai Joe is a must have for fans of fast paced, bloody, action packed Westerns and Kung Fu films of the 70s. Loaded with practical gore effects and bone breaking fight choreography, Shanghai Joe also features a rogues’ gallery of genre legends such as Klaus Kinski (Jack the Ripper), Gordon Mitchell (Endgame), Robert Hundar (Sabata), Giacomo Rossi Stuart (The Crimes of the Black Cat), Carla Romanelli (Gang War in Milan), Piero Lulli (My Dear Killer), and Katsutoshi Mikuriya!
Cauldron Films presents Shanghai Joe (A.K.A. “Il mio nome è Shangai Joe”, “My Name is Shanghai Joe” and “The Fighting Fists of Shanghai Joe”) on Blu-ray featuring a 2K restoration from the negative, both English and Italian audio options, and brand new extras!
For thoughts on Shanghai Joe, please check out our discussion on The Video Attic:
Shanghai Joe arrives on Blu-Ray thanks to Cauldron Films with a really great 1080p master sourced from a 2K restoration of the original negative. There is a fetching amount of detail present with sumptuous textures on the clothing and within the setting. The level of depth on display only accentuates environments, and close-up shots squeeze out every ounce of detail captured. There are certain elements of grotesque violence which will burn themselves into your mind from their clarity. Black levels are pretty deep with no trace of black crush or compression artifacts. Some very minor color temperature fluctuations impact the overall aesthetic, but it does not prove to be overly distracting.
The dusty western photography captures the journey well with natural grain intact and resolved amiably. The moments that do spike a small bit are thankfully fleeting. There is a small bit of print damage such as intermittent nicks and scratches, but this is far from a significant issue. The contrast is well defined, and the film is saturated with bold, earthy colors. Fans who have been waiting for this one should be pleased by what Cauldron Films has delivered.
Shanghai Joe comes with a DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio mono track in both English and Italian. Both tracks exhibit a small amount of age-related wear and tear such as subtle distortion and harshness in specific cues, but overall things hold up okay. The dialogue comes through mostly clear without being burdened by competing elements. There are some fun action-oriented moments that make an impact without becoming a muddled mess in the ensuing activity. The music holds up without issue in the mix. The environments conjure an atmosphere that produces some excellent ambient details. All of the various sounds in the mix seem appropriately realized so that nothing ever feels askew. The audio is a bit less consistent than the video, but it serves its purpose.
- Audio Commentary: Film historian Mike Hauss provides an informative commentary track in which he discusses how this film confronts the racist attitudes of the American west, the state of the spaghetti western genre of the time, the background of the performers, the career of director Mario Caiano and much more.
- East Meets West: Italian Style – Visual Essay by Film Historian Eric Zaldivar: A 20-minute visual essay which explores the concept of “East meets West” in cinema, the ways in which the concept was interpreted by the Italians, early efforts within the genre, the violence in this feature and much more that gives a broad overview.
- Samurai Spirit – Interview with Master Katsutoshi Mikuriya: A nine-minute interview with the actor in which he discusses his early life, how he came to be in Shanghai Joe, the stunt work, why he did not continue acting and more.
- Theatrical Trailer: There is a three-and-a-half minute trailer provided here.
- Image Gallery: An option to look through some marketing material, behind the scene photos and more.
Shanghai Joe is a very fun East-meets-West adventure which distills things down to its most obvious level and goes from there. This means that the story lacks nuance, but oftentimes the audience for these types of genre exercises are not so concerned about this as long as there is memorable action – and this delivers on that front without fail. There is some great athleticism to accompany some stomach-churning special effects work. Cauldron Films has a Blu-Ray with a great A/V presentation and some nifty special features. If you want more kung fu in your spaghetti westerns, this is the film for you. Recommended
Shanghai Joe is currently available to purchase on Blu-Ray.
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.
Disclaimer: Cauldron Films has supplied a copy of this set free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting around in a theatre all day watching both big budget and independent movies.