DVD/Blu Ray

Beach of the War Gods (15) | Home Ents Review

Dir. Jimmy Wang Yu, Taiwan, 1973, 101 mins, Mandarin with audio options and subtitles

Cast: Jimmy Wang Yu, Lung Fei, Tien Yeh, Hsieh Han

Review by Colin Dibben

This interesting Taiwanese epic mixes King Hu wuxia dynamics with Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai to good effect: the extended, climactic fight scene is powerful enough to bring on ASMR delicious shivers in Mr Vampire.

In the last days of the Ming dynasty, Japanese marauders are raiding villages on the Chinese coast. A wandering swordsman (a completely wooden Wang Yu – what is his huge reputation built on!?) collects a group of highly skilled but down-on-their-luck warriors to defend a town, essentially for honour and patriotism.

Actor-director Jimmy Wang Yu made his name in Shaw Brothers films in 1960s Hong Kong – he cornered the market in one-armed heroes – but moved to Taiwan with breakaway company Golden Harvest, partly because the company said he could direct too. His directorial debut for Golden Harvest, One Armed Boxer, was pretty laughable, but Beach of the War Gods looks and feels like a proper epic.

There’s something visually pleasing about the colours throughout the film – and the last fight, by a windmill, highlights the resonance: a lot of these colours are straight out of a Breughel paintings!

But it’s the penultimate fight that is extraordinary, for its length, its mesmerising soundtrack and the level of choreography that keeps several centres of visual interest in every shot.

There are striking widescreen shots throughout the film, especially the night beach shots with their masked drummers and spooky, booby-trapped dummies. The film looks pretty good for a standard 2K presentation.

In the original trailer, Beach of the War Gods calls itself a “manly” film and that is quite literally true: there isn’t a single woman actor in the whole thing.


Beach of the War Gods is out on Blu-ray on 23 October from Eureka Video.