A word about my rating: the film easily merits four stars (and not five only because it stumbles a bit at the end), but the video is disappointing and the sound occasionally exasperating. The DVD quality deserves three stars -- at best. Since these faults are present in the 25-year-old source, however, and are not the fault of Crash Cinema, I decided they should not detract from the final rating.
This is probably the best Shaw Bros. film, and even now is ranked in the Top Five for many gong fu aficionados. The cliches are all there, but this is the one that created them: revenge motivation, extensive training scenes, the student's epiphany leading to martial arts mastery, and final reckoning. Master Killer ranges from entertaining to riveting, and it should appeal to any open-minded filmgoer (willing to put up with washed-out colors and occasional crackle in the sound).
I've enjoyed other Shaw Bros. movies from the '70s, fare like Chinese Super Ninjas and Kid With the Golden Arm. I've enjoyed those despite their faults, however, and to an extent because of them. Master Killer, on the other hand, features a well-developed story (based on historical figures), credible acting, fast-paced but believable action, and a general level of sophistication that surprised me on my first viewing. I highly recommend it -- not only to gong fu movie devotees, but to any movie fan looking for an enjoyable action film from a time when such movies still featured characters and story.