Millionaires' Express


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All aboard for the all-star action-packed adventure of a lifetime as martial arts maestro Sammo Hung (Heart of Dragon) brings East and West crashing spectacularly together in Millionaires’ Express!

Sammo himself plays Ching Fong-tin, a former outlaw with a wild scheme to make amends with the citizens of his struggling hometown of Hon Sui: explosively derail a brand new luxury express train en route from Shanghai so that its super-rich passengers will have no choice but to spend money in the town. He’s not the only one with eyes on the passengers’ deep pockets, however; a gang of ruthless bank-robbing bandits are on the way, looking for a priceless map being guarded by a trio of Japanese samurai. Bullets and fists will fill the air in equal measure, but will Hon Sui Town be left standing?

Working at the height of his powers alongside regular collaborator Yuen Biao, Sammo makes room for a dizzying line-up of guest appearances from many of the top talents in Hong Kong action cinema, from Shaw Brothers trailblazers like Jimmy Wang Yu (One-Armed Boxer) to fresh-faced newcomers like Cynthia Rothrock.

Picture 8/10

Arrow Video presents Sammo Hung’s Millionaires’ Express (aka, Shanghai Express) on Blu-ray in a two-disc limited edition release. The release includes the Hong Kong theatrical cut, the extended export cut, the English language version, and the hybrid cut, with the last one incorporating all of the material unique to each version for the longest possible cut (Eureka created it in 2021). The previous two versions are available exclusively through this limited edition on the second disc. All four versions are presented in the aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and have been sourced from a new 2K restoration performed by Fortune Star from the “best available materials.” Despite this set replicating the region B Eureka release, it has still been locked to region A and would not play on my region B player.

The overall presentation for all four versions is on par with most other Fortune Star restorations. Grain appears to have been left intact and not “denoised” away as a handful of restorations have done (Running Out of Time seemed to feature a bit). It looks clean and natural often, though a handful of low-lit sequences can come off a bit noisier, if not excessively so. This leads to excellent detail and texture, which is most notable in costumes and desert settings.

The colors look fine, if nothing special, leaning a little cooler. Reds are bright enough, and skin tones look accurate. Black levels are also pretty strong, and the darker sequences have decent shadow and depth. The encoding is also excellent across all four presentations, with smoke being cleanly rendered when it makes an appearance. The restoration work also looks extensive, and I don’t recall any severe damage ever popping up. I was also happy to see no disorienting shifts in picture quality when scenes unique to each version pop up; it looks like they had access to the original negative for most of the film, the interpositive at worst.

Again, excellent presentations across the board.

(Screen captures have been taken from the Hybrid Cut.)

Audio 6/10

Monaural Cantonese and English soundtracks are provided where appropriate, all in lossless single-channel PCM. The Hong Kong version, Extended version, and Hybrid Cut all present Cantonese soundtracks. In contrast, the Extended and English Export versions offer English soundtracks, the Extended version being a hybrid English/Cantonese soundtrack. The notes suggest the English soundtrack for the Export version has been assembled from a couple of sources.

The audio isn’t too bad, and most noise and damage have been removed. However, all soundtracks can sound incredibly flat and tinny, with noticeable distortion in the music. It almost sounds like some excessive filtering has been applied at times, though it could simply come down to the condition of the source materials. Despite that, the film’s score does show decent range and fidelity from time to time.

Extras 8/10

Arrow’s limited edition appears to replicate Eureka’s limited edition, which, as mentioned previously, includes four versions of the film: the Hong Kong theatrical version, the Extended Export version, the English version (with English language opening and closing credits), and the Hybrid Cut. Interestingly, the first three versions have sequences not found in the others while also cutting material that does appear across multiple versions. The Hybrid Cut was assembled by Eureka in 2021 and included all of the unique material found across the other three cuts, creating the most comprehensive version possible.

I’m not familiar enough with the film to give a breakdown of the tweaks made between the versions outside of the English version (the shortest one) and the Hong Kong version cutting material to tighten the pacing. The included commentaries also point out some of the differences, like how the Export version, though longer, cuts out sequences that present any of the prostitutes in the story in a positive light. Of the three, I probably prefer the Hong Kong cut, as it has the best pacing. The Hybrid Cut feels too long, though it may be of the most interest to fans since it contains all of the available material. The Hybrid Cut and the English version are found on the second disc and are exclusive to this limited edition. Future pressings will only include the Hong Kong theatrical and Export versions.

No other special features are found on the second disc. Also worth noting, the English version offers no pop-up menu, I assume because there are no settings available for the film outside of the default ones. The Hybrid Cut does feature a pop-up that allows you to turn the subtitles on or off.

The first disc includes two audio commentaries: Frank Djeng and Michael Worth for the Hong Kong theatrical version and Michael Leeder and Arne Venema for the Extended Export version. Leeder’s and Venema’s is okay and probably works best when they’re looking at how the film mashes genres (kung-fu and western) effortlessly or how director Sammo Hung sets up gags and fight sequences, including the impressive finale. Unfortunately, most of the track is the two simply discussing the cast as they appear. To their credit, the two don’t merely regurgitate IMDB details and explain how the actor in question's onscreen personas and previous work play into this film, helping set up some of the cameos that pop up. There are even interesting segues, like one early on where they somehow land on talking about Anthony Wong and his first directorial effort that didn’t pan out so well. But this also leads to some awkward moments, like some obsession with “political correctness” (basically along the lines of “if you’re offended by [such-and-such], then don’t watch [name-of-film-here]") and then a moment where Leeder seems to obsess a bit over Rosamund Kwan. I think that last bit is supposed to be “cute,” but it doesn’t land that way.

Djeng’s and Worth’s is the better commentary, even if it falls into a few of the usual traps that Djeng’s commentaries feature. The one that can be both interesting and frustrating at the same time is how Djeng, packed with so much knowledge, will talk about topics that come up due to something onscreen only to segue to another related topic to give some context or background and then cut himself off to talk about something else that comes up onscreen again, causing whiplash on the part of the listener in the process. It’s not as bad this time, though, and Worth being there helps keep things on track. It’s this track where we get a little into the multiple versions and why they exist (not too in-depth, mind you, and the lack of a feature around the many cuts would have been beneficial). They also offer some backstory around the production, including why Jackie Chan isn’t in it (even though he was to appear), and contextualize incidents and some of the humor in the film. They also do an excellent job breaking down some stunt work, with Djeng particularly enamored by an early stunt he calls a “fucking incredible stunt.” Minor issues aside, I did end up liking this one, Djeng’s knowledge going a long way.

The disc then features a lot of material around co-star Cynthia Rothrock, including a select-scene commentary featuring her and Djeng, a 16-minute 2021 interview featuring her, a 14-minute one she recorded for her website, and then an archival 2007 interview recorded for DVD and running 24 minutes.

Though all worth going through, they cover many of the same topics. The 2021 and 2007 interviews delve more into her background and what led to her becoming a Hong Kong action star. All four feature her talking about shooting Millionaires’ Express and working with Sammo Hung, whom, as she reminds us frequently, doesn’t pull back punches. She also shares what it was like working in Hong Kong compared to Hollywood and even gets into what she’s doing now. For the select-scene commentary (which runs 17 minutes and plays over the finale), she does get into more specifics on the fights in the film, with Djeng asking her about the choreography and such, which does help separate this feature from the other ones. The 2007 interview also features photos from her early competition days.

The disc then includes more archival interviews, including two with Sammo Hung (one from 2005 and the other from 2007), one with Yuen Biao, and another with Yukari Oshima. The Biao and Oshima interviews (running 24 minutes and 30 minutes, respectively) feature the actors talking briefly about their background before getting into the film, sharing details about the production, and working with the other performers. Hung talks about his love of westerns and working with performers like Biao and Rothrock in his interviews. There’s also some discussion around the stunt work and how he obtained a vintage locomotive in Thailand. Nothing all that surprising or revealing, but there are some interesting stories about the production and the stunt work.

The disc then closes with the alternate English credits for the opening and closing of the film (which appear in the English-language version with the title Shanghai Express) and then a trailer gallery featuring the Hong Kong and Export trailers, as well as the Tai Seng Video trailer.

The limited edition also comes with a booklet featuring a couple of essays. The first, written by David West, covers director/start Sammo Hung's career leading up to Millionaires' Express, while the second, by Jonathan Clements, focuses solely on the film with an opening that humorously points out how it's unclear where (and when) the film takes place.

They're a fun, if not particularly inspiring set of features in the end, but I have no doubt they'll more than please fans of the film,


Another solid restoration and presentation from Arrow and Fortune Star with a fun set of features that should keep fans busy.


Directed by: Sammo Hung
Year: 1986
Time: 109 | 102 | 97 | 92 min.
Series: Arrow Video
Licensor: Fortune Star
Release Date: February 28 2023
MSRP: $39.95
2 Discs | BD-50
2.35:1 ratio
English 1.0 PCM Mono
Cantonese 1.0 PCM Mono
Subtitles: English
Regions A/B
 Double-sided fold-out poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sam Gilbey   Illustrated collectors' booklet featuring new writing on the film by Jonathan Clements and David West   Commentary on the Theatrical Cut by Frank Djeng   Commentary on the Extended Cut by Mike Leeder & Arne Venema   Select scene commentary by star Cynthia Rothrock, moderated by Frank Djeng   New interview with Cynthia Rothrock   Archival interview with Cynthia Rothrock   A New Frontier and Express Delivery, two archive interviews with Sammo Hung   Way Out West, an archive interview with Yuen Biao   On the Cutting Edge, an archive interview with star Yukari Oshima   Alternate English opening and closing credits   Trailer gallery