THE MAN FROM HONG KONG, released in the U.S. in 1975, is no less than one of the most underrated and sadly underseen action films of the 1970s.
Golden Harvest co-financed this Hong Kong/Australian production shot in Sydney and Hong Kong. Writer/director Brian Trenchard-Smith, who had primarily directed documentaries up to that time, brought in ace stuntman Grant Page to perform stunts and play a memorable supporting role as an assassin, while Golden Harvest’s main contribution was leading man Jimmy Wang Yu, then known as Hong Kong’s Steve McQueen. THE MAN FROM HONG KONG is a crackling action flick demonstrating what would happen if a Chinese Dirty Harry traveled Down Under to shake up the bad guys.
Wang Yu is Hong Kong detective Fang Sing Leng, who arrives in Sydney to extradite a drug courier (played by a 22-year-old Sammo Hung!), but stays in town to battle Mr. Big—a particularly nasty kingpin named Jack Wilton and portrayed by former 007 George Lazenby. Lazenby was no stranger to Hong Kong filmmaking, having starred with Angela Mao in Golden Harvest’s STONER, which didn’t play in the U.S.
Trenchard-Smith really pours on the action setpieces, including a kung fu battle atop Ayers Rock, a marvelous chase and fight between Wang Yu and Page in a restaurant, and the climactic fight between Wang Yu and Lazenby that goes so far as to set George on fire! In addition to the wild action sequences, which are remarkably exciting, especially considering the $550,000 price tag, THE MAN FROM HONG KONG raises eyebrows in its love scenes, which pair Wang Yu with Caucasian actresses Rebecca Gilling and Ros Speirs. Rarely did Asian men and white women get it on in films, then or now.
A treacly romantic montage featuring Deena Greene’s silly “A Man Is a Man Is a Man” is the film’s biggest drag, but it’s over fairly quickly and lets Wang Yu get back to the car chases and karate battles. And they are incredible. Barely five minutes pass in this movie without someone getting smacked or something getting cracked up or blown up.
Below is the opening titles of THE MAN FROM HONG KONG, which actually played originally as THE DRAGON FLIES. This title explains the use of Jigsaw’s #3 hit “Sky High” over the credits and the majestic footage of stuntman Page flying a colorful hangglider over Hong Kong skyscrapers.
Incredibly, THE MAN FROM HONG KONG is not available on DVD in North America, but Australia's Madman Films recently released it in an awesome 2-disc special edition fully worthy of this ass-kicking classic.