Traditionally, “Hawaii Five-0” fans celebrate September, as the month marks not only the return of their favorite show but also the release of the previous season on DVD. This year’s DVD release is extra special, as it includes a very poignant short feature which focuses on actor Dennis Chun’s family connection to the show. The special feature shows Chun’s role as Sgt. Duke Lukela, as well as his father, Kam Fong, and his legacy which endures from the original “Hawaii Five-O.” Most viewers know that Chun’s father, actor Kam Fong, whose real name was Kam Tong Chun, famously portrayed Chin Ho Kelly in the classic version of the show.
Really, it is this short feature that really makes the seventh season DVD such a special collectible. Chun shared archival newspaper articles about Kam Fong’s pre-Five-0 days, and family photos of himself with his father, who passed away in 2002. Chun also generously tells his father’s tragic backstory. Kam Fong not only witnessed the devastation of Pearl Harbor, where he worked in the shipyard, but he also lost his first wife and two of his children during this time period. In 1944, a B-25 crashed into his home killing his family.
After this incident, he left Pearl Harbor and joined the Honolulu Police Department. He was a police officer for 16 years and was inducted into the HPD Hall of Fame in 2013. It is perhaps because of his law enforcement experience and demeanor, which might have given him an edge, and caused him to be chosen to play Chin Ho Kelly by “Hawaii Five-O” creator, Leonard Freeman. Fong himself tells the story, from archival Hawaii PBS footage, about walking into the audition for “Hawaii Five-O” and seeing Freeman, who turned to the director, pointing at Kam Fong, “There’s Chin Ho, standing right there.”
The feature gently transitions from Kam Fong’s story, into showing Chun’s progression as an actor– from small parts in “Hawaii Five-O,” to playing Duke Lukela in the current reboot. Fellow cast members, Alex O’Loughlin and Chi McBride, both share about how they feel about Chun and how they enjoy working with him. O’Loughlin mentions how when he is around Chun, he often thinks about the lineage of the show, and how important it is to so many people.
Al Harrington and Kimo Kahoano, who both acted in the original and the reboot, share their stories of working with Kam Fong. Veteran news reporter Emme Tomimbang is also featured. She reflects not only on Kam Fong’s role in the original version of the show but about how Chun has gained his own identity as Sgt. Duke in the reboot.
Chun also shares how much he enjoys working with the cast and about how his partner, artist Laura Mellow, came to play Nalani, Duke’s wife and joined the family legacy. The best part of the feature is how Chun, in his usual gracious manner, gives thanks to all the fans around the world– who he says “helped make this journey possible for a little family from Hawai‘i.”
The feature by itself is worth the price of the entire DVD set. The images and stories alone are priceless. I’m hoping “The Chun Family Legacy,” along with the silly “Gag Reel,” and a short video about O’Loughlin’s “Watch! Magazine Photo Shoot ” will help kill some of the anxiousness fans seem to have while waiting for the new season. With the season premiere of the eighth season of the action drama two weeks away, this will help fans bide their time until Sept. 29.
The set also includes the 25 complete episodes of season seven, along with deleted and extended scenes, and other features. True fans have seen the episodes several times over, but many should purchase the DVD just to enjoy the special videos and mini-documentaries that are added to the set.
Some of the deleted scenes are just short moments that extend what we saw in the broadcasts, and they left me a little flat. But for the diehard fan, even the extra moments between characters delivering an extra line or two could add to the overall experience. It would have been much better if the deleted/extended scenes were just added into the episode, and not just stuck in a separate menu choice.
Another special feature on the DVD is one that features Hawai‘i actress Teilor Grubbs and her own “Video Diary.” Grubbs, who plays Danno’s (Scott Caan) daughter, Grace Williams, shares her own personal video clips of working on set, as she tells the story about growing up on “Hawaii Five-0.” It’s a glimpse into how Grubbs not only plays Grace but about her life as a young person working in a very grown-up world.
The feature is very well done and not “just for teens.” Grubbs is so real and likable– which is really how she is in real life. Grubbs also comments about how great her television parents– Caan, who she has worked with since the Pilot, and Claire van der Boom, who plays her mother Rachel Edwards are to work with. She also shares how much she likes working with Chosen Jacobs, who plays Lou’s (McBride) son and her boyfriend, Will Grover.
The last winning piece to the DVD set is the feature “Shorelines: Season 7” which includes several behind the scenes clips of stunt and special effect work. My favorite part was when they explained how they brought Jack Lord to the guest star in new “Hawaii Five-0.” They used archival pictures, a live actor, CGI, as well as a talented voice-over artist, to bring Lord virtually back to life.
The feature also shows how their stunt coordinators and special effects artists set up their stunts and their explosions and then use graphics to fill it all in– making everything look amazing. Yet, it still boils down to the work of the cast and crew to really make it all work on screen.
Overall, the DVD is worth your time, and your dollars. Even if you never watch a single minute of the 18 hours of “Hawaii Five-0” collected in this set, the five way-too-short special features are completely worth the entire cost of admission.