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Blu-Ray Review: 88 Films’ Magic Cop (Special Edition) 

Magic Cop

The stylishly bonkers Magic Cop adroitly mixes Chinese Demonology, Buddy Cop, and Fish Out of Water genres with great success.  88 Films has released this cult gem on Blu-Ray for the first time in the US

The Film 

I still remember as a teenager in the 90s reading about A Chinese Ghost StoryMr. Vampire, and how much I desperately wanted to see both.  The combination of martial arts and horror/demonology wasn’t something I was truly aware of until that moment.  I was able to find A Chinese Ghost Story and eventually literally decades later found the Mr. Vampire series of films.  It was the Mr. Vampire series that introduced me to Lam Ching-ying the incredible star of Magic Cop.  The film creates a heady brew of demons, cops, romance, and just about everything else into a manic comedic horror package one wonders if Sam Raimi didn’t try to remake this with Bruce Campbell.

When two hotshot younger cops (Wilson Lam and Michael Miu) drug bust goes strangely awry they know something is wrong.  Their target, a female drug courier at a restaurant, seems to be an unstoppable force.  Things get stranger still as the two young cops are ordered by their Superior Ma (Wu Ma) to allow Uncle Feng (Lam Ching-ying) a small-island Cop, to work with them on the case.  They along with Feng begin to realize there are supernatural forces at play and the only one that isn’t out of his element is Uncle Feng.  

Magic Cop is a great mixture of horror, comedy, and action that one comes to expect from anything starring Lam Ching-ying.  The comedy part can be troubling at times with the younger cops, specifically the one played by Wilson Lam, literally sexually harassing any female that crosses his line of vision.  It’s passed off as comedy though many of the characters abhor his behavior. 

That minor quibble aside, Magic Cop, is a lean and mean genre exercise that gets better as it pushes toward its finale.  In fact, the finale is the best part with the film going outright bonkers with FX work, martial arts, and visual trickery – edited to within an inch of its life.  The result is a film that starts off good and ends on a higher note than it started.  

The Transfer

The film’s transfer is a definite upgrade from previous editions, see below for the special features for that, but anyone looking for perfection will be slightly disappointed.  The film appears to be sourced from the only film elements remaining.  The image is solid with upticks in quality, sharpness, color, and definition in black levels.  The Blu-ray looks more wholly like the film and the detail that they were able to get out of the image is impressive.  There are minor scratches, dirt, and the like throughout but nothing that is detrimental to the overall quality of the Blu-Ray.  If one is forewarned and adjusts expectations accordingly, the work that 88 Films have done here is impressive, especially considering the various other iterations of the film prior to this release. 

The Extras

They include the following:

  • Audio commentary with Hong Kong Film Experts Frank Djeng and Marc Walkow
  • Taiwanese Cut with Alternate Score (SD)
  • Interview with Tung Wei (HD)
  • Image Gallery
  • Trailer

The all-new audio commentary with Hong Kong Film Experts Frank Djeng and Marc Walkow begins with their bonafides including a discussion of their previous commentary track for Seventh Curse.  Some of the details include the time period the film is taking place and why it is culturally important with the remembrance of the dead; a larger discussion of the production companies involved with the film; the box office results of the film; a discussion of the dubbing of the actors in the film; the various locations they used during the production in and around Hong Kong and various islands; the various items, weapons, methodology throughout the film that they use in Magic Cop that are based on demonology in Chinese Culture; a larger discussion about the action scenes and how they differ from the other films in the series; discussion throughout the commentary track about the various actors and their work here and throughout their career – keep your notes app open you’ll want to write some of the films down, and much more.  Djeng and Walkow’s commentary is an entertaining and thoroughly researched track. 

Taiwanese Cut with Alternate Score (93:57) – The Alternate Cut is presented in Standard Definition. The score is definitely best left on this version, as the original score included on the main feature is much better.  Though this is a great example of the work that they had to do to bring the film back to life in restoration.  More importantly it will give any of our younger readers an insight to how we used to watch HK Action films – most of them – if they weren’t released by studios.  There is definitely a “bootleg” look to the SD version of the film.  

Interview with Tung Wei (36:21) – this archival interview with director “Stephen” Tung Wei begins with how he got involved with Magic Cop. Some of the details include his involvement, or lack thereof, during the script development; how they plotted out Magic Cop – out of a budgetary concern setting it in the modern day; the casting of the picture; working with Lam Ching-ying as both Star and Producer; the production schedule and budget – which they went over on both by his account and the various issues that came up during this difficult production that caused the overruns; the challenges he faces, there were many, as a first time director; and much more.  In lieu of a commentary track with Wei, this interview is filled with great information on the production.  In Chinese with English Subtitles.  

Image Gallery (1:57) – the image gallery consists of 23 individual pieces of poster art, production stills, and more.  The score plays throughout the gallery that you can pause but not navigate through.  

Trailer (2:51)

The Final Thought 

Magic Cop is for anyone that loves a little bit of horror in their buddy cop films or a lot of buddy cop in their horror.  88 Films again produces another worthy title for their 88 Asia collection.  Recommended!!!

88 Films’ Blu-Ray edition of Magic Cop is out July 25th

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