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Blu-Ray : Recommended
Ranking:
Sale Price: $30.73 Last Price: $ Buy now! 3rd Party 49.99 In Stock
Release Date: October 31st, 2023 Movie Release Year: 1988

Day of the Panther + Strike of the Panther

Overview -

Blu-ray Review By: Bruce Douglas
Day of the Panther + Strike of the Panther are a duo of cheesy Australian action thrillers from celebrated director Brian Trenchard-Smith. The films follow martial arts expert Jason Blade as he fights crime bosses with his signature blend of kung fu. Umbrella Entertainment and OCN Distribution provide new 4k scans that are sadly paired with minimal special features. For B-movie action fans, these flicks are Recommended

OVERALL:
Recommended
Rating Breakdown
STORY
VIDEO
AUDIO
SPECIAL FEATURES
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
Blu-ray - Limited Edition Slipcover from Vinegar Syndrome
Video Resolution/Codec:
1080p/AVC MPEG-4
Aspect Ratio(s):
1.85:1
Audio Formats:
English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Subtitles/Captions:
N/A
Special Features:
Day of the Panther Trailer (1:35), Strike of the Panther Trailer (1:46)
Release Date:
October 31st, 2023

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

Ranking:

By the mid-80’s Brian Trenchard-Smith had established himself as a reliable director producing exciting action fare with titles like Turkey Shoot, Dead End Drive-In, and Stunt Rock. For Day of the Panther and its sequel, Strike of the Panther, he was a hired gun tasked with taking over a troubled shoot and delivering a new action hero. Stepping into those shoes was martial artist Edward John Stazak. While not an actor by trade, his good looks and abilities made him the perfect fit for the lead. The resulting two films are entertaining B-movies filled with plenty of action, thrills, and killer 80’s fashion.  

Day of the Panther begins with students Linda (Linda Megier, Quigley Down Under) and Jason (Edward John Stazak, Black Neon) approaching the final initiation into the Temple of the Panthers. Linda’s father, William (John Stanton, Darkness Falls) leaves after 20 years with their Hong Kong special branch. Blade and Linda are soon investigating a drug syndicate deal when things get hairy. The trail leads Linda to Perth, where thugs chase her in pig masks before shiny-suited mercenary Baxter murders her. Blade is followed by local cop Colin (Zale Daniel, Jackaroo) and falls in love with William’s niece Gemma (Paris Jefferson, The Counselor). Between dance numbers and working out, Jason tracks down his target: slimy crime boss Damien Zukor (Michael Carman, Hercules Returns). Soon, he pits Baxter against our hero in a fight to the death once Blade’s cover is broken.

Day of the Panther plays like a TV movie in scope and intensity. Stunt work is appreciable with many sequences filled with real danger. Characters are predictable, but the actors seem to handle their roles confidently. Stazak struggles with sustained dialogue exchanges but pulls it off. Fight sequences are performed with a commitment to the material, even when movements appear slowed to accommodate complex motions. Utilizing the tropes of any self-respecting 80’s action film, Day of the Panther will certainly please anyone looking for a mid-tier martial arts thriller. 

The end credits roll, declaring, “Jason Blade will return in Strike of the Panther”. And he does! In the sequel, our story picks up where we left off in Perth. Blade and Gemma are happily working out together, but soon Baxter breaks out of prison, kidnaps Gemma, and sets up shop in a power station. Colin and Jason enlist the help of psychologist Sgt. Lucy Andrews (Rowena Wallace, Puberty Blues) who negotiates with the psychopath. Masked ninjas litter the power station, making easy fodder for Blade, who easily dispatches them. Meanwhile, a bedridden William communicates telepathically with our hero, guiding him through the fights. It’s a very WTF moment for sure!    

Strike of the Panther is a serviceable rescue thriller wisely picking up where we left off with Blade and Baxter. The film smartly capitalizes on the power station setting, which is filled with atmospherics that build much-needed tension. However, we lose the impact of good martial arts choreography, and the film dives into a mundane procedural with Blade along for the ride. Small moments of genius with telepathic abilities and masked ninjas raise the bar considerably, but it never goes anywhere. Both films were TV staples of Australian programming but fell through the cracks as the Ozploitation era fizzled out. Thankfully, these gems are getting the attention they deserve. So, grab a slab from the Bottle-O, ring up your mates, and have a blast watching Jason Blade kick ass!  

Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Day of the Panther / Strike of the Panther arrives on Blu-ray thanks to Umbrella Entertainment and OCN Distribution. Loading the Region Free disc presents the Umbrella Entertainment logo before landing on the Main Menu screen with options for both films. The single disc is housed in a transparent keep case with a two-sided artwork and booklet with new writing by director Brian Trenchard Smith.

Video Review

Ranking:

Day of the Panther + Strike of the Panther leap to Blu-ray from new 4K scans of their 35mm interpositive elements. The two flicks are presented in a 1.85:1 AVC-encoded 1080p HD image. Pleasing heavy grain is met with artifacts, specks, and dirt. Solid black levels provide a refreshing balance to the transfer. Skin tones are even, though, during outdoor scenes, overexposure washes out faces terribly. 80s pastels and primaries are strong, though subdued. Depth and contrast are solid, with adequate detail. It should be said that both films appear with the same quality of HD transfers. 

Both films were initially shot on 16mm and then blown up to 35mm. However, producers wanted the films directed at home video and TV audiences, meaning that a 1.33:1 aspect ratio was the intended look with these presentations. These Blu-ray transfers utilize a widescreen mask, which creates overly tight shots. Don't worry; you’ll barely notice once Jason Blade gets to work!  

Audio Review

Ranking:

The films arrive with a serviceable 2.0 DTS-HD audio mix with no subtitle options Dialogue is fairly clear, though some Aussie vernacular is hard to discern. I wish there were subtitles on this disc! Music tracks are given priority in the mix, allowing them to pop nicely. Effects are clean but they fight for dominance within the track. Occasional hiss is detected, though never pronounced. 

Special Features

Ranking:

There's not much here from Umbrella Entertainment and OCN Distro, but the two American VHS trailers are good nostalgic fun. 

  • Day of the Panther Trailer (HD1:35)
  • Strike of the Panther Trailer (HD 1:46)

Final Thoughts

With the explosion of genre titles from Australia’s heyday seeing a revival on home video, it's relieving for unknowns like Day of the Panther and Strike of the Panther to see the light of day. These B-movie actioners supply loads of cheese, roundhouse kicks, and that signature Brian Trenchard-Smith tension. The Blu-ray from Umbrella Entertainment and OCN Distribution presents them with a satisfying A/V package though light on special features. For action collectors and Ozploitation fans, this double feature disc is Recommended.   

Order Your Copy of Day of the Panther & Strike of the Panther on Blu-ray