Goddamn You! Your kung fu is lacking...

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Fusubs - Brief but Brilliant

I remember my first experience with Fusubs rather well. One of the team - Roger Judd Jr - was a relatively recent trade acquaintance. He's a very trustworthy person, and when I spied a thread on kung fu cinema forum about new custom subtitled projects from a team including Roger, I knew it was going to be good.

I wasn't quite prepared for how good.

Fusubs were formed in February/March 2010 by Samson Price, who came up with the idea of forming a subbing group, Roger, Bob O'Brien, and Gerald P. Crane (his wife joined afterward to help him with the Chinese translation). A trans-Atlantic group, they identified an opportunity to release new versions of old movies. The market is, and continues to be, dominated by re-releases of Shaw Brothers films, but Fusubs championed an approach that saw them release a hugely-impressive total of 21 largely-obscure movies in about 18 months. All were custom-subtitled and meticulously produced.

The first couple of dvds I ordered arrived remarkably quickly from Canada, packaged securely with custom covers. These covers were superb. They included a detailed synopsis of the film, the film's year of production, cast and director, the aspect ratio of the picture, and the specifications of the project. An option for white OR yellow subtitles provided viewers with a neat choice. I myself prefer white subtitles, but sometimes on prints with burnt-in subtitles they become unreadable - so yellow was a most welcome option.

On average, a single title took around 60 to 70 hours to produce. Gerald and Hana translated the raw Chinese dialogue. Samson handled the tech work; subbing, timing and authoring the dvds, and even correcting the colour where possible to enhance the picture. Bob designed the cover, while Roger sourced most of the prints, translated the films only available in dubbed French language, and handled distribution matters. These dvds were far, far superior to most kung fu dvds releases. When I think of some of the rank-bad spelling mistakes, the lack of information, and the general damn-shoddy workmanship that's paraded on the front of some releases - well, the professionalism of Fusubs showed just how pisspoor these other efforts were.

Costs were low for the team, but the energy and effort spent were massive. The members had a great chemistry, which was essential for seeing projects that required a huge investment of free time through to completion. As I settled down to watch that first film, I could sense the care and attention that had gone into restoring and bringing to life these old films. A neat little title screen led into the movie, which was invariably the best print available. The subtitles were clear and well-written, not to mention well-timed. Professionalism.

Why do I keep referring to Fusubs in the past tense? Unfortunately, the group are no more. This is a tragedy for fans of films that exist only in raw language prints. Sadly, the lack of support from genre fans - the very people to benefit from their efforts - led them to call it a day. They retained a core fanbase of about 10 people, but a poor response to some hugely-demanding projects sapped their enthusiasm for the venture.

Nevertheless, depite a failure to achieve greater success, I'm reliably informed that the team have no regrets. Quite right. They did like-minded fans a great service. I have watched films that I hadn't previously been able to understand. That's their legacy. I hadn't even heard of The Eight Dragon Sword before Fusubs. Now, I not only had it, but could actually watch it, understand it, and enjoyed it immensely. It is one of my favourite swordplay films, and that's thanks to Fusubs.

Fusubs released the following titles, all still available from r.judd@videotron.ca:

The Mysterious Knight
The Battle for the Republic Of China
Carry On Wise Guy
The Rats of Hong Kong
Ma Su Chen takes Revenge
The Armless Swordsman
To Kill A Mastermind
I Will Finally Knock You Down, Dad!
The Close Encounter of the Vampire
Adventure in Denmark
The Third Sword
From the Highway
Dragon and Tiger Joint Hands
Heroine Susan
Lion's Heart
The Dragon Tamers
Killers on Wheels
Revenge of the Shaolin Kid
The Patriotic Heroine
The Eight Dragon Sword

Many thanks to Roger Judd Jr for his assistance in the compilation of this post.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Thanks for the kind words. Sadly, real life issues like jobs and family comitments has put FuSubs on hiatus. However, there are still some unfinished projects that I will still work on and get released. And maybe in the future we might be able to do even more.

  3. It would be excellent to see FuSubs release new projects! I'm pleased to hear that you consider the current time to be a 'hiatus' rather than 'the end'. Your releases are very good indeed and more would be most welcome! Thanks for the comments.