88 Films: The Postman Fights Back (1982) - Reviewed

Images courtesy of 88 Films

Many years before making his mark on American horror with 1998’s Bride of Chucky followed by 2003’s Freddy vs. Jason, Hong Kong based writer-producer-director Ronny Yu initially got his start working for Raymond Chow’s Golden Harvest company and with his third feature The Postman Fights Back or Strikes Back the director delivered a period actioner with more than a few tropes and motifs forecasting his eventual ascension into horror. 

With 88 Films in conjunction with Fortune Star, United Kingdom and United States based filmgoers hungry for more Hong Kong actioners sporting early appearances of Chow Yun-Fat as well as Leung Kar-Yan and Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky star Mei Sheng Fan now have a chance to sink their teeth into this early Ronny Yu effort.  While not ostensibly a horror film, fans of the director’s later English language offerings as well as Golden Harvest disciples will have a field day with this mostly taut genre thriller.
Amid China’s gradual foray into modernity, a postman named Ma (Leung Kar-Yan) is paired up inadvertently with three other couriers including but not limited to a thief (Yeun Yat-Choh), pyrotechnics technician (Mei Sheng Fan) and a hustler (Chow Yun-Fat) tasked with delivering secret cargo.  However, they’re attacked by bandits and a mysterious ninja who may know more about the package being delivered than he leads on. 

Mostly though the film is a stylishly shot, blocked and lit action fighter flick with many kick-punch exchanges and plenty of crimson-soaked kills including a grisly massacre sequence filmed in lush widescreen.  Amazingly the film is credited to three cinematographers Cheung You-cho, Danny Lee and Brian Lai and ushers in a loosely guitar-rock oriented soundtrack by Tang Siu-lam.  Basically a buddy ensemble action adventure period piece, the film also sports in a few scenes moments that feel lifted out of zombie horror or in later moments areas that would or would not end up in Freddy vs. Jason.
As always, Fortune Star does an excellent job with fully restoring their back catalog of martial arts titles and United Kingdom based boutique releasing label 88 Films have given fans a beautifully packaged blu-ray set replete with a double-sided poster, limited slipcover and two slightly different cuts of the film including the original Hong Kong cut and the trimmed Export cut.  There’s also a running audio commentary with Ronny Yu and archival interviews with Chow Yun-Fat, Yu and Leung Kar-Yan rounding out the extras and along with the slipcover is reversible art of the original theatrical poster design.

While die hards of the wuxia film are likely to come away underwhelmed or disappointed, fans of Ronny Yu and Chow Yun-Fat are invited to take a peek at their mutual early starting career points.  Fans of the Hong Kong based kick-punch martial arts actioner will get decent entertainment out of it and horror fans will enjoy spotting what got him hired to do not one but two of the most important American horror franchises in the first place.

--Andrew Kotwicki