BLU-RAY REVIEW: No Retreat, No Surrender (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)

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Kino Lorber Studio Classics released the 1985 cult classic No Retreat, No Surrender on DVD and Blu-Ray, which marked the first time this martial arts film has hit the United States in terms of the digital age after the film was released on DVD in Europe and Australia.

The film itself has a pretty good restoration factor and here is the kicker. There is not just one version of the film. There are actually two versions and Kino Lorber has brought both versions exclusively for fans who may have seen the 1986 New World Pictures edit to get a chance to see the key differences in the extended 95-minute international cut.

What are those differences one may ask?

  • The international cut has longer dialogue and scenes which include the following:
    • Longer dialogue between Tom Stillwell and the syndicate in the opening of the film.
    • Tom laying up in the hospital bed after Ivan breaks his leg in the film’s opening fight scene.
    • Scott going after R.J. in a small chase scene. This scene starts out with Scott getting berated by his father for being lazy.
    • Jason getting yelled at by Tom after a near scuffle with bully Scott in the scene where Jason protects R.J. at the burger joint.
    • Jason’s solo training sequences are extended.
    • During the final fight between Ivan and Jason, Jason’s recollection of training with Sensei Lee is juxtaposed with the fight itself.
  • Sensei Lee’s voice actor is different.
  • The score, from Frank Harris, is comprised of stock footage from classic Hong Kong films as well as an original theme song, “Hold on to the Vision” performed by Kevin Chalfant and Joe Satriani.
  • The New World 85-minute cut has the dialogue cut down and excised Jason’s training during the final fight. However, there is one key difference:
    • A scene after Jason is humiliated at Ian Reilly’s dojo shows Jason getting a big surprise when he meets Kelly, Ian’s sister and Jason’s love interest. The two go on a date and walk around Seattle and even go on the Space Needle. This scene is not included in the international cut.

What are the special features on this edition of the film, aside from having the two cuts of the film, a special feature of its own right?

There’s Stand on Your Own: An Interview with Kurt McKinney. Kino Lorber has interviewed the film’s lead actor, Kurt McKinney. It’s a twelve minute interview that begins with McKinney talking about his humble beginnings in Kentucky, where he became a black belt in taekwondo and amateur kickboxer. He talks about his journey to Hollywood to pursue acting and on the five-month anniversary of his arrival, he scored his first lead role (thisfilm!). He talked about making the film and how he became close to screenwriter Keith W. Strandberg and co-star Jean-Claude Van Damme. Kurt finally reveals the true story of exactly why he would turn down to star in No Retreat, No Surrender II.

If you watch the U.S. New World cut, then it’s a must to listen to the audio commentary by the film’s screenwriter Keith W. Strandberg. Keith begins with a small introduction about how he met Seasonal Films founder Ng See-Yuen, writing an original 220-page script called Ring of Truth, which eventually became this very film, working with a talented cast and how he is proud of this film and what he had hoped to achieve in making the film. He talked about how Jean-Cluade Van Damme was on the set, especially after an incident involving co-star Peter Cunningham; working with Kurt McKinney and Kim Tae-Jeong, who plays Sensei Lee; and brought up some interesting factoids about the film.

And to top it all off, you can see Strandberg in the film! Using the psuedonym “Keith Strange”, Strandberg plays one of the bar thugs who bully Tom until Jason comes to the rescue.

So in the end, is it worth getting the U.S. Blu-Ray of No Retreat, No Surrender? You darn right it is worth it! Aside from seeing two versions of the film, the interview with Kurt McKinney, and commentary by Keith Strandberg, there are some classic trailers, including the original international trailer to this film.

WFG RATING: A

Order your copy of this Blu-Ray on Amazon by clicking the link below:

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