Strike of the Panther (Blu-ray) (1988)
More…-Day of the Panther
|Year Of Production||1988|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||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|
Strike of the Panther was made back to back in Perth with Day of the Panther using the same director Brian Trenchard-Smith (BMX Bandits (1983)), same writer and pretty much the same cast. Indeed, Strike of the Panther (with a running time of 90 minutes) commences with a twelve minute recap of Day of the Panther as well as, in various places, reusing scenes from that film in a different context.
Day of the Panther concluded with corrupt businessman and drug importer Damien Zukor (Michael Carman) and his murderous enforcer Baxter (Jim Richards) defeated and in gaol. Jason Blade (Edward John Stazak) and his mentor William Anderson (John Stanton), both members of the secretive martial arts / zen Temple of the Panther, are hired by the W.A. Police to train a new specialist squad of officers in martial arts. Jason also performs special tasks for the police, such as rescuing the drug addicted daughter of a judge from a brothel with the help of bumbling policemen turned supporter Sergeant Flinders (Zale Daniel). Jason’s main problem is that he does not want to commit to a relationship with William’s niece Gemma (Paris Jefferson) but Baxter escapes from gaol and snatches Gemma, setting up a battle to the death in an abandoned power station rigged with enough explosives to destroy half of Perth.
Strike of the Panther is not a particularly good film. It rehashes not only scenes but themes from Day of the Panther but by now the charm and interest were getting thin. The major new cast member is SWAT team psychologist and action woman Lucy Andrews (Rowena Wallace; she had just been in the soap Sons and Daughters and who would later cover a trifecta of soaps, appearing in both Home and Away and Neighbours). John Stanton and Paris Jefferson (who also gets one of her “Flashdance” routines reedited for this film) return while Edward John Stazak continues to impress with his presence, his fighting skills and his bronzed torso. The first hour of Strike of the Panther is not, apart from a couple of fights, particularly memorable but the film steps up a notch or three in the last 30 minutes when Jason enters the abandoned power station and fights his way through a myriad of hockey mask wearing ninja goons to get to Baxter and save Gemma. This part of the film is a variant of the Bruce Lee Game of Death (1978) scenario where Jason has to fight his way through various groups of ninjas who use different weapons, including swords, a baseball bat, throwing knives and even a blow torch, at one time utilising nunchakus (a section cut from the original UK release). 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 and the stunt team earn their money. Stazak looks great with his shirt off, and once his pants too!
Outside of the excellent climax, however, Strike of the Panther is rather pedestrian with especially the scenes of relationship issues between Jason and Gemma showing the acting limitations of both Stazak and Paris Jefferson although some woeful dialogue doesn’t help. But when the excellent action starts, all can be forgiven; almost!
Strike 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 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 Perth are rather soft as are other exteriors and some interiors. 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 plus reel change markers every 20 minutes or so (including 12:20 and 31:50) 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 more varied than in the first film but still dates the film.
There are no lip synchronisation issues.
|Surround Channel Use|
Strike of the Panther shares a single Blu-ray disc with Day 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 Strike of the Panther plus Day of the Panther is the only version currently available.
Umbrella should be commended for releasing on Blu-ray films such as Strike of the Panther, a forgotten Ozploitation martial arts film that is rather pedestrian until the action packed final reel. Those who enjoy old fashioned fights staged without quick cutting or a leading man with personality and without (often) a shirt should give Strike 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 Day 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|