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THE 2nd ANNUAL WONG FEI-HUNG KUNG FU MOVIE REVIEW

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Film: The Black Dragon's Revenge
Picked by: odessasteps
 
No reason given.
 

THE BLACK DRAGON'S REVENGE

AKA The Black Dragon Revenges the Death of Bruce Lee

Yangtze Productions,  (1975)

 

Directed by: Chun-Ku Lu ( Holy Flame of the Martial World, Angel Terminators II)

 
 
Reviewed by: Curt McGirt

 

They can't all be good, and I probably got the Golden Turkey out of the bunch. Still, this was fun. Ronnie Van Clief stars here as a martial artist from America who goes to Hong Kong with his white buddy to try and solve the mystery of Bruce Lee's death. Except they can't actually say "Bruce Lee", and there's a scratching sound every time they say the "Lee" part of his full name, which happens quite often. That... pretty much says it all. The voiceover actor (not plural, singular) on this sounds like he's pretty well baked and the dubbing is the stuff that parodies for generations are made of. After Clief and Co. come to China they run afoul of both a murderous syndicate who apparently were behind Lee's death -- or maybe not? -- and a kung-fu school who are also in search of the truth. Things bog down from here on, despite fights every couple minutes which are honestly pretty lame, until the last 20 where we get a killer solo demonstration from the skilled and intense Mr. Van Clief and then the big final fight with the baddies. There's a chick who spits darts and throws snakes and a bunch of guys with weapons; funny thing is that previously the big bad showed a bunch of weapons off and a bit later one of his guys asked why they didn't have guns (which is what I was asking myself the whole time) and he basically said "Do you want to wake up all of Hong Kong? Be quiet silly!" Which is a ridiculous thing for the leader of a Tong or whatever to say. And, of course, one guy at the end shows up with a gun and gets summarily dismissed with a dart. You might fall asleep during this, no dart necessary.

 

 

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I thought I had sent the preview, oops

basically, wanted to pick a film that had a real martial artist as the lead.

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No, Curt.  You'd have gotten the Golden Turkey if someone had picked Nine Demons.  That may be the dumbest Kung Fu movies I have ever seen.

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Posted (edited)
Film: They Call Me Bruce?
Picked by: RIPPA
 

"Assuming no one picked it yet - I will go with They Call Me Bruce?

It is supposedly on Amazon Prime but I haven't double checked that yet"

 

They Call Me Bruce?

Gold Pine Productions  (1982)

 

Directed by: Elliott Hong

 
 
Reviewed by: odessasteps
 

How old is this movie? I remember seeing it as a young teen when there was so few video stores, we had to drive 20 minutes to the rental place. 

 

Johnny Yune, a Korean actor/comedian, stars as Jun, a Korean cook who has come to America to try and meet the woman his now-deceased grandfather fell in love with when he was in the merchant marines. He is nicknamed Bruce by his Mob boss employer “because they all look alike.” Yes, that is about the level of humor on display here.

 

To cut to the chase, Bruce and a limo driver drive across the country delivering his special flour (which is secretly cocaine) to various other Mob leaders in Vegas, Chicago, etc on the way to  New York. Hi-jinx ensue as you would imagine. 

 

The film is very early 80s, full of ethnic humor, pretty much insulting every race and ethnicity. It’s so dumb that it’s hard to be overly offended. You just have to shake your head. 

 

The best thing about watching it now is looking for obscure 70s actors or future stars early n the careers. Margaux Hemingway was making her third movie at the time, as the muscle of a rival Mafia don. Farther down in the credits, you can see Marsha Warfield as an inmate and Bill Kirchenbauer as a Polish hit man. And there’s comedian Tom Dressen as a mobster and Dick Durock (Swamp Thing himself) as a bodyguard. 

 

Sadly, Yune, who also co-wrote and produced the movie  ,  just passed away in March at the age of 83.  I would say a better film to enjoy him in would be Cannonball Run.

 

 

Edited by Execproducer

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In no way related but I'm going to spread this thin gruel out as much as possible. 🙂

 

 

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I think my reasoning was that it was easily available.

I think Mark getting it might have been the perfect person.

And because I suck - you will have my review by lunch

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I haven't watched They Call Me Bruce or They Still Call Me Bruce in ages. They used to pop on USA all the time in the 80s

James

 

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I remember catching They Call Me Bruce on either HBO or Showtime as a teen. Two things I remember are the way people said "Bruce" and a joke about having enough coke for a condo...in MIAMI!

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35 minutes ago, driver said:

I remember catching They Call Me Bruce on either HBO or Showtime as a teen. Two things I remember are the way people said "Bruce" and a joke about having enough coke for a condo...in MIAMI!

It's definitely a film of it's time 🙂

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That's an understatement. About the same time I saw this, Jekyll and Hyde Together Again, Young Doctors In Love and National Lampoon's Class Reunion were also airing. Pretty sure those fall into that same category as well.

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Those all fall into the category of "first era of new movies we rented from the video store." 

Although slightly older, I'd prob include Airplane and Love at First Bite and Yellowbeard in that list. 

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We got our first VCR around Xmas '85. One of the first things my sister went out and rented was Moving Violations.

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I think we had one by 83, since one of the first tapes I bought was Wrath of Khan. 

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We'll be back to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow. In the meantime, something to tide us over.

 

 

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On 5/23/2020 at 2:00 PM, odessasteps said:

Those all fall into the category of "first era of new movies we rented from the video store."

That also coincides with "the death throes of the drive-in as the go-to theater experience". So many 80's films that were a horrible drive-in watch. My dad and I saw Firefox there and the dog-fight finale was so badly lit that it was virtually unwatchable on a drive-in screen. Conan the Barbarian was another one with those issues. Speaking of drive-ins.....
 

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Conan looked bad on video AND TV for years.

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Posted (edited)
UNCLE JOHN'S DRIVE-IN DOUBLE FEATURE BONUS REVIEWS
 

FIRECRACKER (1981)          

MV5BYjJkMjYxZmQtY2RlYi00MzVhLThjOWYtOTIx                                                                                                           

 

Force: Five (1981) 

MV5BZTg4MTc5N2MtZDlmZi00YmZjLTk2ODQtMTg3       

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Two films from 1981. One, a Filipino made B movie, produced and distributed by Roger Corman's New World Pictures, directed by Cirio H. Santiago, featuring the ubiquitous Vic Diaz and starring Jillian Kesner, a model given phony martial arts credentials to promote the film and former child star Darby Hinton. The other, A martial arts action film directed and co-written by Robert Clouse, produced by Fred Weintraub, with Pat Johnson acting as stunt coordinator, all three involved in the all-time classic Enter the Dragon. Also made by the same company responsible for a few early Chuck Norris films and starring a cast full of martial artists, including two world champions. 
 
One rules the world and the other sucks as hard as a bad film can.
 
Firecracker, needless to say, rules the world. The late Ms. Kesner stars as Susanne,  a martial arts instructor who has come to the Philippines to find her missing sister, a reporter on the case of local drug dealers. The drug boss ( Ken Metcalfe) also runs a nightclub that features death matches. She meets bar owner Pete ( Pete Cooper) and Pete's employee Rey ( Rey Malonzo), acquaintances of her sister. The three bond after handing out a bar full of ass-kickings. After she decides to infiltrate the literal fight club and get close to Ken's main man Chuck (Darby Hinton), Rey and Pete suggest she uses learning Arnis, Filipino stick-fighting, as a cover for being in town. Chuck is torn between his job, which is being the go-between on drug deals and killing fools at The Arena nightclub, and the case of the hots he has for Susanne and comes under suspicion by Ken's drug connect, Grip (Vic Diaz). While trailing Chuck she runs afoul of the police who try to convince her not to become involved. But this little firecracker isn't stopping for anyone and when she finally learns the fate of her sister and who is responsible she meets out some rough justice at The Arena.
 
So I guess we should talk about the action. The fight scenes are not great in the conventional sense but highly entertaining. Ms. Kesner was clearly not the real deal that she was presented as but her commitment to the action was highly admirable especially given the filmmaker's penchant for having her do so in her underwear. When the film was finished New World commissioned another director to up the flesh count including a topless fight scene that borrowed heavily from the earlier Santiago directed Blaxploitation film TNT Jackson.  In fact, Firecracker is practically a re-make. Anyway, her commitment was real. And if her moves aren't technically proficient, I'll be damned if she doesn't look good making them. In the so- bad- it- is- good department, please do not make a drinking game out of how many times she flips her hair out of her eyes in the middle of a fight. You will end up with alcohol poisoning. It is also fun to count how many times she is moved out of the shot so that a bewigged stuntman can enter for the acrobatic stuff.   There is a fair bit of gore that stems from stabbings, impalings, eye-gougings and such. There is one unintentionally hilarious scene where a drug convoy is ambushed. Ping, ping, ping go the bullets yet somehow the targeted vehicle doesn't show a single mark. Corman was tight-fisted with that money!
 
I love this film. I loved it the first time I saw it after hearing the awed reviews of other 14 year olds and I still love it in my dotage. It is the product of people putting forth their best effort, even when their best barely rises to adequate. I'll take that over laziness any day.
 
And speaking of laziness...
 
Force: Five. Not much to say about it. Basically an Enter the Dragon rip-off with a dose of Kill or Be Killed thrown into the mix. Stars World Karate Champion Joe Lewis as Jim Martin, a karate mercenary who leads a special team of other karate mercenaries. He is employed to infiltrate the island compound of Rev. Rhee (Grand Master Bong Soo-han, Hapkido practitioner extraordinaire). The Bad Rev. runs a Christian cult that separates heirs from their future fortunes then separates them from their lives. Since one of those future heirs (Amanda Wyss) has a father with important political connections and the Rev. is wary of scrutiny by the U.S. government, the team gains access as the entourage of a  U.S. Senator who is allowed to pay a friendly visit.  Things go exactly how you expect them to go.
 
Now, if you have a martial arts film that features Joe Lewis, Benny "The Jet" Urquidez, Richard Norton, Sonny Barnes, and Bong Soo Han, you might think you have something pretty special. Someone should have told that to Pat Johnson. His fight choreography handcuffs his actors to a bewildering degree. His style was more suited to tv fare like Fall Guy or The A-Team. In fact much of this film reminds me of a real mediocre A-Team episode. Music cues repeated over and over, stopping in the middle of action to crack wise for two minutes. and yes, simplistic fight choreography.   Considering what Urquidez and Norton would go onto it sure as fuck wasn't their fault.
Johnson may have worked a small miracle with Ralph Macchio in The Karate Kid series but all he has for female lead and non-martial artist Pam Huntington (who would go onto They Call Me Bruce after this) is bullshit Hollywood judo and karate chops. Hell, he even has WORLD KARATE CHAMPION JOE LEWIS doing bullshit judo. Don't misunderstand, I'm not calling judo bullshit (even though it is largely ineffective without a gi); I'm talking about arm wringer flippy-do's that you might see on Get Smart or The Avengers tv series. No wonder Lewis looks so bored. He was also responsible for the choreography of the one Jackie Chan film that Jackie Chan fans rarely talk about, The Big Brawl (AKA Battle Creek Brawl)
 
Bong Soo Han may be one of the least intimidating cinema villains ever.  Great kicks but yeah I'm not buying him as the evil cult leader. As Enter the Dragon rip-offs goes, this probably ranks behind the 1974 tv movie Men of the Dragon that starred Jared Martin and a pre-Quincy Robert Ito.
 
So two bad movies. But Firecracker is gloriously bad and Force: Five is just a waste of time 
 
Edited by Execproducer
More Pat Johnson ranting.
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A Fistful of Yen was definitely a better Enter the Dragon than Force: Five.

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, Execproducer said:

Now, if you have a martial arts film that features Joe Lewis, Benny "The Jet" Urquidez, Richard Norton, Sonny Barnes, and Bong Soo Han, you might think you have something pretty special.

 

This sounds like the type of movie I'd have found in the late 90s / early 2000s, drew in a group of friends to watch it with on the strength of the cast, and then had them remind me of it for the next year.

"It's got the Jet, Norton and a *Korean guy*!"

I'm sad to say I haven't seen any of the movies so far in this year's contest.

* Korean guy means you're either going to get some kicks or some joint locks/throws, either of which tend to look really good juxtaposed with the usual HK-style choreography we'd all be expecting*

Edited by Setsuna
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Posted (edited)
Film: Heroes of the East AKA Shaolin Challenges Ninja
Picked by: Setsuna
 
"Shaolin Challenges Ninja was one of my favourite Shaw Brothers films from the time. The style vs. style fights added a nice twist to the usual choreography and, especially at the time I first watched it, I was so hyped to see Japanese martial arts featured prominently in a Hong Kong movie. It's been awhile since I've last seen it, so my memory may be off, but I remember it being not nearly as nationalistic as you'd expect, and the Japanese characters outside of Yasuaki Kurata being treated with a healthy dose of respect. I've only seen Kurata featured prominently in a few films, this being the first, and have been a big fan of his ever since then. So yeah, great choreography from LKL, a badass villain in Kurata and most importantly - crab style."
 
Heroes of the East (1978)
Shaw Brothers
Directed by: Lau Kar-leung
Cast: Gordon Liu, Yuka Mizuno, Yasuaki Kurata.
 
 
 
Reviewed by: AxB
 

It was really distracting because the version was dubbed and all the voice actors had really 1970s BBC RP accents. It was really distracting because they all sounded like Eric Idle or Steven Toast or something. I ended up putting the subtitles on and muting it. The movie is like 100 minutes long, but I'd say more than 50% of those 100 minutes is actual fight scenes. The basic set-up is that the lead character is Chinese but he's having an arranged marriage to his Dad's Japanese business partner's Daughter. Brief shenanigans with the comic relief servant and it's established that she's really good at various Japanese Martial Arts, while her husband is really good at many forms of Kung Fu. And they argue about which is better, then fight about which is better. And because this movie was made in Hong Kong and not Japan, obviously he wins. And she leaves him and goes back to Japan.

So he sends a letter challenging her to come back to Hong Kong if she feels her skills have improved. Her Martial Arts teacher reads it, takes it to his master and he, and all of his star proteges (who all have different fighting styles) all decide that a challenge to her is a challenge to them. So they all go to Hong Kong to take turns to go style vs style against him.

That's the first half of the run time. Everything else is combat. There's a little bit in there about the ethics of sneaky attacks and hidden traps and things (the movie has that classic "If you do it, you're a dirty coward, but if I do it I'm just being clever/ Well you started it, I'm just giving it back" philosophy), and little bit about cultural misunderstanding, but it's basically all fights from there on in. And some of them are excellent fights.

There were some moments that Vader wouldn't have liked, where one fighter has their back to their opponent but is somehow blocking their attacks with perfect timing and placement even though they can't see them coming. I mean, it makes sense in terms of traditional martial arts being all about perfect form and that every sequence of attack follows a set and established pattern, so if you block A you know the next two things coming are B and C, but if the whole point is that he's fighting someone from a different country with a style he's never seen before, how would he know the progression? Also I'm not a fan of fights where one guy gets all the way through his opponent's defence and just waves his blade in their face when he could just as easily, or in fact more easily, stab them in the nostril. But that's a problem with the whole genre rather than this movie. Whenever a young kid tries to sword fight you, you have to teach them that in a sword fight, you don't try to hit your opponent's weapon. You try to hit your opponent, and they use their weapon to block (if they're any good). Because they see sword fights in movies and it's all blades clashing, and in bad fight choreography guys do swing just to swing.

I'm being facetious. The fights in this movie, in the context of it being from 1978, are really good. When it was new, people were probably blown away by it. But a whole lot of water has gone under the bridge in the last 42 years.

 

 

Edited by Execproducer
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I could watch Gordon Liu beat the shit out of people with the three sectioned staff all day.

I had a mild smirk on my face at the first mention of Japanese Crab Style until the fight started and then I was like HOLY SHIT~!

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3 hours ago, Execproducer said:

Also I'm not a fan of fights where one guy gets all the way through his opponent's defence and just waves his blade in their face when he could just as easily, or in fact more easily, stab them in the nostril. But that's a problem with the whole genre rather than this movie.

I agree with what you're saying here but I'm going to come to bat for this movie in particular. Outside of the dirty ninjutsu practitioner, these were meant to be respectful challenges with some heated emotion. That leads to another problem with the entire action movie genre though, every time you have these training/testing fights or respectful duels, there are always a number of kill shots that the protagonists evade or block. I guess the reasoned argument is that they are both skilled fighters and know just when to hold back enough to allow their opponent a chance to move, but how many times have we seen someone look like they're trying to kill their teacher/student/family member/random stranger they met on a hill and decided to 'test'?

So I ask this, has there ever been a movie, HK or otherwise, where someone is surprisingly killed in one of these scenarios?

Also, typing this had me wondering what this movie would have looked like directed by Chang Cheh instead of LKL.

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49 minutes ago, Setsuna said:

I agree with what you're saying here but I'm going to come to bat for this movie in particular. Outside of the dirty ninjutsu practitioner, these were meant to be respectful challenges with some heated emotion. That leads to another problem with the entire action movie genre though, every time you have these training/testing fights or respectful duels, there are always a number of kill shots that the protagonists evade or block. I guess the reasoned argument is that they are both skilled fighters and know just when to hold back enough to allow their opponent a chance to move, but how many times have we seen someone look like they're trying to kill their teacher/student/family member/random stranger they met on a hill and decided to 'test'?

So I ask this, has there ever been a movie, HK or otherwise, where someone is surprisingly killed in one of these scenarios?

Raiders?

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Posted (edited)

In Chang Cheh's Invincible Shaolin/Unbeatable Dragon, which feature all of the Venoms, the North and South Shaolin fighters are pitted in fights against each other. In the first set, the Northern fighters are clearly better but aren't trying to kill the others (who get killed in secret later). In the second set, the Southern fighters are out for blood but the Northern ones again aren't trying to kill them but do so accidentally (sort of). In the last set of fights, which take place after the obligatory training sequences, the Northern fighters still aren't actively trying to kill the others but almost everyone ends up dead in the end anyway.

I don't know if any of the deaths count as surprises but since none of the Shaolin people are supposed to be the villains it may count.

Edited by lostinube
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14 hours ago, J.T. said:

I could watch Gordon Liu beat the shit out of people with the three sectioned staff all day.

I had a mild smirk on my face at the first mention of Japanese Crab Style until the fight started and then I was like HOLY SHIT~!

Gran Naniwa would have been proud!

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