Martial Club (1981)

In which an opening credits lion dance against a blazing white backdrop sets the rules of this challenge!  Martial Club, courtesy of 88 Films, has arrived!

Directed by Lau Kar Leung and featuring Gordon Liu as Wong Fei Hung (again), Martial Club is a film which seems to be forgotten by many who appreciate the team of Lau and Liu.  It’s a stone cold classic of the genre, my friends.  Just look at the amazing choreography in the final act as Liu and Johnny Wang (in the rare part of a hero) go at it in an alley which seems to be getting smaller the longer the fight goes on.  It’s a scene - full of splits on the wall and a bunch of bruised knuckles - which is hard to forget, if only for the amount of times you scream OUCH at the screen.

"will leave you wincing in imagined pain and clapping as important lessons are learned"

But this isn’t a movie about killing your opponent.  Martial Club has rules and they deal with honor and integrity, not endlessly pounding the face of the enemy.  Perhaps its the school vs school set-up, but there’s definitely a sense of change present here as the typical Shaw Brothers studio sets get transformed into streets and alleys as rival clubs prepare to fight without ruining friendships.

While typically bloodless as Lau was a firm believer in defeating the enemy without killing him, Martial Club is still a dynamic assault of fight choreography from Lau himself.  The lighthearted film constructs its pieces early as a crowd-pleasing lion dance turns into a dance-off challenge when a fun rivalry between two martial arts schools finds themselves at odds with a third when King Chu Lee challenges Wang Yinlin.  Suddenly, things turn not-so friendly rather quickly.Martial Club (1981)

But who is pulling the strings here?  It seems someone wants to dominate all the other schools . . .

When a northerner (Johnny Wang) arrives, the mood changes and the fancy footwork begins, even The Brave Archer’s Kara Wei joins in on the fun, trying to figure out just who is responsible for hurting her brother so viciously.  Lau, acting as director and as choreographer here, focuses his techniques on stance and has a lot of fun blending the seriousness of fight with the comedy of the moment, using available props and plenty of slick moves along the way.

Co-starring Hsiao Ho, Wilson Tong, Chu Te Hu, and Ku Feng, Martial Club is a vibrant release from 88 Films.  It’s fun and funny and, when the humor dies down, its expert choreography will leave you wincing in imagined pain and clapping as important lessons are learned, pawns are revealed, and misunderstandings cleared up.

5/5 Fists


Martial Club (1981)

Blu-ray Details

Home Video Distributor: 88 Films
Available on Blu-ray
- July 19, 2022
Screen Formats: 2.35:1
: English
Cantonese: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono; English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

A gloriously typical entry from Shaw Brothers, Martial Club starring Kara Wei (THE BRAVE ARCHER 2 and MAD MONKEY KUNG FU) and Gordon Liu (THE 36TH CHAMBER OF SHAOLIN) and directed by Lau Kar-Leung (LEGENDARY WEAPONS OF CHINA), affords us a fast-paced, cleverly choreographed piece of martial arts fun combining many elements that lovers of this kind of cinema will be more than appreciative of. Rival fight schools, an old master and beautifully designed set pieces tumble together in a colorfully kinaesthetic unceasing parade of flying fists and action set pieces.


Presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, Martial Club is beautifully presented on 1080p from 88 Films.  Interiors are strong.  Colors pop throughout, but it is the blood effects - burning bright in the transfer - which seal the deal on this one.  It’s full of great atmosphere thanks to the quick-footed script and looks visually eye-popping due to the 1080- upgrade.  Black levels are strong throughout, bringing out nice details in both the loud and quiet moments of this epic adventure.  The tracking shots are glorious to behold in 1080p. Blacks are solid and shadows maintain their lines.  Even the costumes are noted stitch by stitch.


Fans of the genre get uncompressed Mandarin and English original mono tracks, plus Cantonese mono for the film.


88 Films doesn’t disappoint with this release.  Fans get a Gloss O-Ring slipcase with brand-new artwork from R.P. "Kung Fu Bob" O'Brien, a 24 Page Booklet Notes - "From Martial Club to Instructors of Death" by Barry Forshaw, plus a Double-sided foldout Poster along with a glorious serving of supplemental items.


  • See Special Features for the breakdown.

Special Features:

  • HD Transfer from the Original Negative in 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • 1.0 DTS-HD MA Mono Cantonese Audio with Newly Translated English Subtitles
  • 1.0 DTS-HD MA Mono English Audio (Synced Best possible From Instructors of Death Print)
  • Commentary with Asian cinema expert Frank Djeng and Actor / Martial Artist Michael Worth
  • Supplemental Audio commentary with Asian cinema expert Frank Djeng
  • Instructors of Death - Grindhouse Presentation
  • Kung Fu and Dancing - An Interview with Actor Robert Mak
  • Born to Be Bad - An Interview with Actor Johnny Wang
  • Disciples of Shaolin - An Interview with Stuntmen Hung Sun-Nam and Tony Tam
  • The Right-Hand Man - An Interview with Producer Lawrence Wong
  • ‘Instructors of Death’ Trailer
  • Hong Kong Trailer
  • Reversible sleeve
  • featuring original Hong Kong poster artwork

Blu-ray Rating

  Movie 5/5 stars
  Video  5/5 stars
  Audio 4/5 stars
  Extras 5/5 stars

Composite Blu-ray Grade

5/5 stars

 Film Details

Martial Club (1981)

MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content throughout, graphic nudity, language and some drug use.
110 mins
: Chia-Liang Liu
Kuang Ni
Chia-Hui Liu; Kara Wai; Te-Lo Mai
: Action | Drama

Memorable Movie Quote:
Theatrical Distributor:
World Northal
Official Site:
Release Date:
December 1982 (United States
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
July 19, 2022
Synopsis: Wong Fei-Hong and his once-rival, now friend, find themselves and their martial arts schools pitted against a rival school which uses a Kung Fu expert from the North to do their dirty work.


Martial Club (1981)