Day of the Panther (Blu-ray) (1988)
More…-Strike of the Panther
|Year Of Production||1988|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Brian Trenchard-Smith|
Edward John Stazak
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English DTS HD Master Audio 2.0 mono|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
In Hong Kong William Anderson (John Stanton) oversees the initiation of his daughter Linda (Linda Megier) and Jason Blade (Edward John Stazak) into the secretive martial arts / zen Temple of the Panther. All three are undercover operatives of the Hong Kong Special Branch although William then retires to Perth, W.A. Later in the course of their duties Jason and Linda stumble on a drug deal being done between the Triads and an Australian buyer. They are discovered and escape but later Linda follows the trail of the drugs to Perth. Before Jason can join her she is killed by Baxter (Jim Richards), the enforcer for corrupt businessman and drug importer Damien Zukor (Michael Carman).
Jason arrives in Perth intent on avenging Linda. There he looks up his old mentor, and Linda’s father, William and meets William’s niece Gemma (Paris Jefferson). Jason, using his cover as a Triad enforcer, successfully infiltrates Zukor’s gang but quickly gains the enmity of Baxter. It does not help that Jason is being followed, and hindered, at every turn by bumbling policemen Sergeant Flinders (Zale Daniel) and Constable Lambert (Matthew Quartermaine). Can Jason find enough evidence to bring down Zukor and Baxter before his cover is exposed?
Day of the Panther was made back to back with Strike of the Panther, both filmed in Perth and directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith, who had made BMX Bandits (1983) and Frog Dreaming (1985). Day of the Panther is cheaply made and is not remotely a B picture, more like a C or D, but it is impossible to dislike become of the wry humour (the villain’s boat is named “Fringe Benefits”) and some excellent martial arts sequences in which the stunt team really works overtime being chucked around by the good guys. And girls: the sequence involving the chase and death of Linda, where she is attacked by three men, two in skull masks, one in a pig mask, (why masks? Who knows? And the masks never reappear) takes about 15 minutes of continuous fights and stunts. I was also prepared to think very little of star Edward John Stazak because his complete filmography consisted of these two “Panther” films and one more a few years later, but I was very surprised. His acting is not the worst on show in this film, he has presence and a cheeky smile and he can certainly fight multiple adversaries although his one on one with Jim Richards is a highlight. These are old fashioned fights staged without quick cutting allowing the skills of the fighters to be displayed, much like the classic Hong Kong martial arts films of the period. Stazak also looks great with his shirt off, something the film gives him every opportunity to do.
Outside the very regular fights, however, Day of the Panther does have missteps, such as the bumbling, slapstick antics of the police, which are just silly. Perhaps a bigger misstep is the character of Gemma. I know a film needs a love interest for the hero, a sex scene or two and a damsel in distress, but having her in leotards do a “Flashdance” courting dance for Jason on three separate occasions is not only painful to watch but slows the action to a stop.
Plot? Who needs a plot? Day of the Panther has a voiceover narration from John Stanton to outline the background (as well as lead us into the next film) but everything is really an excuse to get into the martial arts sequences and chases. And with humour (love those masks), a pleasant leading man and regular martial arts sequences, Day of the Panther is far more fun and entertaining than it had any right to be.
Day of the Panther is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code. Umbrella advises that for this Blu-ray release the original 35 mm interpositive elements were scanned in 4K.
This HD print is by no means artefact free but I guess what we have reflects the available elements of this forgotten film. The Eastman colours are natural, especially in the exterior scenes. Establishing shots of Hong Kong and Perth are rather soft as are other exteriors and some interiors, such as the opening scenes in the temple. However, close up detail is good, showing Stazak’s bronzed torso to good effect although elsewhere skin tones can be variable. Brightness and contrast can also vary and there are a number of small marks, a vertical scratch, a hair and reel change markers every 20 minutes or so (including 20:06 and 39:04) but nothing too serious. Blacks and shadow detail is acceptable.
No subtitles are provided.
The audio is English DTS-HD MA 2.0 mono. The IMDb does not say but I suspect the original release audio was mono.
Dialogue is clear. The effects mostly consist of the impacts of fists, feet and other weapons, including sticks. The electronic score, composed and performed by Garry Hardman and Brian Beamish, was rather obvious and dates the film; an electronic beat during the action, oriental sounding flute when Stazak does his martial arts exercises.
There are no lip synchronisation issues.
|Surround Channel Use|
Day of the Panther shares a single Blu-ray disc with Strike of the Panther and a trailer for that film.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This Blu-ray release from Umbrella of Day of the Panther plus Strike of the Panther is the only version currently available.
Umbrella should be commended for releasing on Blu-ray films such as Day of the Panther, a forgotten Ozploitation martial arts film that is far more fun and entertaining than I expected. Those who enjoy old fashioned fights staged without quick cutting and a leading man with personality and without (often) a shirt should give Day of the Panther a try.
The video is not artefact free but is acceptable, the audio the original mono and is lossless. The Blu-ray includes the companion piece Strike of the Panther and trailers for both films.
|DVD||Sony BDP-S580, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||NAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||Studio Acoustics 5.1|