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THE THIRD (AND HOPEFULLY NOT FINAL) WONG FEI-HUNG KUNG FU MOVIE REVIEW


Execproducer
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Posted (edited)

Still waiting for four reviews so I'm starting with a bonus.

The Korean Connection ( Lee Doo-yong, 1974)

Habdong Films.

 

The Korean Connection starts off like a Spaghetti Western/film noir hybrid. Three killers ( henceforth referred to as The Three Amigos) enter a restaurant in search of Tiger, a former gang member and adopted son of Boss Wang Hae-rim. Tiger isn't around and a waiter tells The Three Amigos that Tiger usually hangs out at a different establishment. It seems the once formidable Tiger has become a drunk who spends his time begging for or stealing drinks. The locals now refer to him as Paper Tiger.  Before the Amigos can be on their way, a local tough and his boys decide that their turf has been disrespected and challenge the strangers. The Amigos, a bald, studded wrist-band wearing hatchet fighter, a leather-clad knife expert and the suited up leader with a fancy sword cane, quickly wreck the entire restaurant.    

 
The Amigos eventually catch up to him at Chung Ho's tavern where they find a drunken Tiger about to lick the shoes of Chung Ho in order to settle his debt. Seeing the Amigos, Tiger takes off like Usain Bolt and soon finds himself hiding out in the room of a prostitute/spy. She tells Tiger that her cousin, Kim Sung, has been seeking out Tiger to help recover stolen money and  government documents. In a flashback we see what has led to Tiger's current condition. Tiger wanted to marry Hyang Souk but her brother, Hae-bin Kim,  refused to allow it. They fight it out by a river with Tiger winning. The brother relents but on the condition that Tiger gives up the gangster life. This news doesn't go over well with Boss Wang who beats the snot out of Tiger. Despite the beating, Tiger begs for his freedom. Boss Wang tells him he can go after just one more job. That job involves the money and documents and leads to the death of Hyang Souks's brother, her rejection of Tiger, and his downward spiral.
 
We also learn that The Three Amigos were sent after Tiger by Yamamoto, Boss Wang's other adopted son and the killer of Hyang Souk's brother.* When Tiger learns Hyang Souk is Yamamoto's captive he decides to help Kim Sung.
 
The Korean Connection is a solid martial arts film if you can live with some major issues. The dubbing is awful even by chop socky standards. Drunk Tiger sounds like he has brain damage and sober Tiger sounds simply bored. The Foley work is horrible with sound effects not matching strikes and sometimes dropping out completely so that you get several seconds of silent fighting. There is also unintentional comedy. During Tiger's fight with Hae-bin Kim they both tumble into the river. As the camera pans to the opposite bank you can still hear strikes being landed until the two finally pop up from underwater. There is also a bit where bald Amigo rushes inside a small tent thinking Tiger is inside. Whoosh! Crack!! Boom!!! Fighting sound effects and the tent flapping wildly until bald Amigo stumbles out of the tent and Flair Flops to the ground. The only thing missing is a scene with a whirlwind of dust with flailing arms and you have a Popeye cartoon.
 
On the plus side the fighting is generally pretty good. No battles of technique here; it's Asian street fighting, Korean style. That means about 90% head kicks. This allows the Amigos to stand out because they are mostly using fists and weapons. There is solid hand-held camera work with effective use of Dutch angles. We get a face turn from one of the Amigos who puts duty to country over money.   Yong-cheol Han, with his Bobby Goldsboro hair-cut and Burt Reynolds 'stache, makes a pretty effective lead as Tiger.** He certainly has the fighting chops. He made several films around this time and then seems to disappear. The film also boasts several familiar faces including Yeong-mun Kwon ( Project A, My Young Auntie) as Kim Sung. Thunderleg himself, Jang-lee Hwang has a role as Yamamoto's henchman though sadly, he doesn't get to show much of his skills. Mang Hoi (Heart of the Dragon, Pedicab Driver), who just five years later would also be working as an action director, has a bit part as a beggar child.  
 
Worth a watch if you like good fights. And bonus! you can pretty easily MST3K this thing while you're at it.
 
*With the dubbing, the politics are kinda muddy but as the film is set in the 1930's, there is a lot going on with the Japanese occupying Korea and most of the resistance to that coming from the North. Though Yamamoto is a gangster and not a military leader or government official, he still hits all of the notes with the hostile takeover of the gang, killing of Korean freedom fighters, the likely rape of Hyang Souk and just generally being sadistic and bat-shit crazy.
 
** If you can picture Tiger's hairstyle without watching the trailer or searching 'Bobby Goldsboro' then congratulations for living so long. 
 
Edited by Execproducer
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Normally I'd try to post daily but with so little to work with that ain't gonna happen. So everyone should feel free to fill the space with your random kung-fu movie talk, Jackie Chan top ten lists, etc.

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So.... that horrible 10 Best Jackie Chan films list....

Here's what it should've looked like:

  1. Drunken Master II
  2. Wheels on Meals
  3. Police Story
  4. Project A
  5. Drunken Master
  6. Rumble In the Bronx
  7. The Fearless Hyena
  8. Snake in the Eagle's Shadow
  9. Operation Condor
  10. Who Am I?
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I tend to want to separate the period kung fu films and the more action oriented into two lists and my viewing of his films from the last two decades is extremely spotty. I feel like there are maybe 3 or 4 that might make the cut if I ever get around to watching them. Having said that:

  1. The Young Master
  2. Drunken Master II
  3. Police Story
  4. Armour of God II: Operation Condor
  5. Police Story II
  6. Crime Story
  7. Snake in the Eagles Shadow
  8. Wheels on Meals
  9. Miracles
  10. Who Am I?        

Honorable mentions to Police Story III & IV, Twin Dragons and Mr. Nice Guy.          

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Spoiler

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Film: Mortal Kombat
Picked by: RIPPA

"It is topical and I am gambling on someone picking the new one (or at least doing it as a bonus review)

So much nostalgia... so many.... attempts.... at fighting

Plus I want to insert MOR...TAL.... KOM....BAT~! (insert techno beat here) in every thread"

 

Mortal Kombat (1995)
New Line Cinema/ Threshold Entertainment
Directed by:  Paul W.S. Anderson
Cast: Christopher Lambert, Robin Shou, Linden Ashby, Talisa Soto
 
Reviewed by: odessasteps
 

Disclaimer: i was never a Mortal Kombat player in the 90s, so i have no nostalgia for the original game. 

 

The film is a wonderful mish-mash of genre tropes, from 70s Kung Fu films to campy superhero movies and a vunch of others.

 

Do i really need to explain the plot? A mystical martial arts tournament, in the style of Bruce Lee’s Game of Death. This is a year before UFC too. Various archetypes are chosen as POV characters: johnny Cage, the white guy slumming as an action film star, Sonya Blade, the icy blonde Special Forces officer and Liu Kang, the former Monk out to avenge his brothers death from the tournament organizer and number one bad guy, Shang Tsung. 

 

Then throw in the comic book underlings Sub Zero and Scorpion, the beautiful Princess who of course falls for the hero and the monster henchmen, straight out of a Ray Harryhausen film. 

 

The film got decent reviews at the time but has since undergone a critical reevaluation and is viewed as one of the best video game film adaptations. Its good cheesy fun, good action with only the occasional dubious Mid 90s CGI and likeable characters played mostly by unknowns at the time. Well, except for the wonderfully hammy Christopher Lambert, who talents mesh well here. And the internet tells me Frank Welker did VO work, including the voice of the Emporer. 

 

Still a fun, quick watch as long as you dont try and overthink it. 

 

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Posted (edited)

I will always be a mark for Shang Tsung's black leather longcoat.  Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa looked 100% pimp.

One day I will totally geek out and buy a replica of that coat so that kids can laugh at me as I walk down the street.

This producers of this brilliantly mindless movie had the good taste to hire legit martial arts assbeaters like Chris Casamassa, François Petit, Keith mother fucking Cooke, and Hakim "The Machine" Alston to make the main cast look like a mllion bucks.  Johnny Cage (Linden Ashby) vs. Scorpion (Casamassa) and Liu Kang (Robin Shou) vs. Reptile (Cooke) are still two of my favorite movie fights.

Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa did such a great job as Shang Tsung that the creators of MK retconned the in-game character to be much younger and recently created a downloadable skin of Tagawa as Shung for an anniversary edition of MK.

We probably have this movie and The Karate Kid to thank / blame for the 90's explosion of karate dojos and the creation of the WMAC Masters television show.

I am still sad that Ho Sung Pak from DRUNKEN MASTER 2~!!! was not given the role of Liu Kang (he portrayed both Liu Kang and Shang Tsung in the first game), but Robin Shou put in perfectly fine work.

Edited by J.T.
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Spoiler

Fist of Fury (1972) - IMDb

 

 
 
Film: Fist of Fury
Picked by: Raziel

" So, I'm gonna go with Fist of Fury (1972, Wei).  As much love as I have for Enter the Dragon, this one is more Lee in a showcase for the whole movie, and is a bit more of a template for Kung Fu flicks going forward.  Not as good as Big Boss, but we already did that one. "

 

Fist of Fury ( Jing wu men ) - 1972
Golden Harvest Company
Written & Directed by:  Wei Lo
Cast: Bruce Lee (Chen Zhen), Nora Miao (Yuan Le-erh), James Tien (Fan Chun-hsia), Maria Yi (Yen), Robert Baker (Petrov)
Reviewed by: J.T.

 

After spending nearly a decade banging his head up against a wall trying to make it in Hollywood, Bruce Lee returned to Hong Kong to increase his star power.  The first film he made, The Big Boss (1972), broke box office records and transformed Lee into an international star.  Fist of Fury is far more polished and slickly executed than The Big Boss as it benefitted from a much larger budget and Lee's creative control over the fight scenes.  The aesthetic that martial arts fans have come to identify with Bruce starts taking shape in this particular film.

Like most of the Kung Fu movies from the 1960's and 1970's, Fist of Fury is a period piece.   It is set in 1910's Shanghai and begins with the mysterious events surrounding the poisoning death of Huo Yuanjia, a real-life historical martial arts master who was especially revered in China for his nationalism and unrivaled fighting prowess.  Lee stars as Chen Zhen, a fictional student of Huo’s who returns for his funeral and seeks vengeance for his death at the hands of the Japanese masters of a competing martial arts school.  Lee goes full ham during the funeral scene when Huo is laid to rest, hurling himself onto Huo's coffin in comically Baptist fashion as it is being lowered into the ground and swearing revenge until he is knocked unconscious with a shovel.

The rest of the movie is pretty formulaic, but Lee manages to show some flashes of comedic genius, donning ridiculous disguises (most memorable being a goofy telephone repairman whose mannerisms were strikingly similar to Jerry Lewis, one of Lee's favorite actors) in order to discover the truth about his master's assassination and taking violent revenge on those responsible..

I have to admit that Fist of Fury is pretty low on my own personal scale of Bruce Lee movies.  The blatant racism is borderline offensive and the villains are cardboard cutouts are almost unworthy of Chen Zen's righteous anger.  Robert Baker's Petrov provides the template for Bob Wall's Oharra from Enter The Dragon and provides some menace and competition, but we all know that Petrov's brute strength is doomed to be outclassed by the speed and precision of Chen Zen.  The fights in Fist of Fury are brutal and worthy of your viewership, but there is a bit too much of the fantastical thrown in for my liking.  I much prefer the hyperkinetic realism of Enter The Dragon, but I realize that EtD stands on the shoulders of The Big Boss and Fist of Fury.

Not too many people like to get into the mechanics of Lee's dramatic acting skills, but he really does deliver in Fist of Fury.  The movie is carried by Chen Zen's unbridled rage and the pursuit of his master's killers feels authentic.  Lee never lets you forget that Chen Zen is on a crusade for justice and if the perpetrators in his path just happen to be Japanese, all the sweeter.  The violence being heaped on Chen Zen's enemies feels like it comes from a very personal place, unlike the hilarious beatings doled upon the generic, faceless thugs from The Big Boss or Way of The Dragon.

Fist of Fury definitely belongs in the mythological hierarchy of classic martial arts films.  It is the movie where Lee entered in as a rising star and left as a true legend.

 

 

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Huo Yuanjia, much like Wong Fei-hung or Davey Crockett or at this point Ip Man, has been so built up with mythology that the real-life man is hard to pin down. His poisoning is more likely down to the medicinal practices of his day rather than an assassination of an unbeatable fighter and his most famous fights probably never happened. In a world where low-level MMA fighters post videos of themselves destroying Kung Fu Masters in seconds, there is something very pro wrestling about his whole story.

Makes for great films though! Of the various films and television series that deal directly with Huo Yuanjia, my favorite is probably Yuen Woo-ping's Legend of a Fighter, with Leung Kar-yan (aka "Beardy") and Yasuaki Kurata. Thanks to the success of Fist of Fury, the fictional role of Chen Zhen that Bruce Lee originated has been added onto many of these productions as if he were a historical figure.

Aside from becoming a part of the Huo Yuanjia story line, the Chen Zhen character has had his own films and TV series, including remakes of Fist of Fury and continuations of that story. Of those, it's hard to go wrong with Fist of Legend with Jet Li as Chen Zhen and Yasuaki Kurata in a similar role as the one he played in Legend of a Fighter. Many of the TV series can be found with English subs so track down as much as you can.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)
Spoiler

Screen-Shot-2018-10-18-at-3.58.06-PM.png

 

 
Film: The Night Comes for Us
Picked by:J.T.

If anyone hasn't chosen it, my pick is The Night Comes For Us, one of the few movies where Iko Uwais is playing a villain.  I figure Raziel will appreciate it the most. "

 

The Night Comes for Us (2018)
Infinite Framework Studios/Screenplay Infinite Films /XYZ Films
Written & Directed by:  Timo Tjahjanto
Cast: Joe Taslim, Iko Uwais, Julie Estelle, Sunny Pang
Reviewed by: Execproducer

The Night Comes for Us follows in the tradition of other films where a 'bad' character goes on the run to protect a child. Films like Gloria ( Cassavetes, 80), Léon: The Professional (Besson, 94) and Road to Perdition ( Mendes, 02). These films also share thematic connections to others like Little Miss Marker (Hall, 34) and Shane (Stevens, 53).  The Indonesian film The Night Comes for Us separates itself from the pack by adding a shit-ton of gore! Like, a lot.
 
Joe Taslim ( Mortal Kombat, The Raid: Redemption) is Ito, a world weary Triad assassin and squad member of an elite group called The Six Seas. Confronted with the lone survivor of a village that he and a group of Triad killers just wiped out, a young girl named Reina (Asha Kenyeri Bermudez) , Ito makes the spur of the moment decision to save her in hope of ultimately redeeming himself. This does not sit well with his Triad bosses and fellow Six Seas member Chien Wu ( Sunny Pang), not just because Ito killed all of his comrades to save the girl. The girl still lives, you see. No, she isn't the daughter of anyone important. No, she doesn't have the codes to some  secret Triad whatever buried in her memory. It's just, well, when the Triad says a whole village gets wiped out then  EVERY FUCKIN' BODY DIES!!!!!!
 
A wounded Ito takes Reina to his hometown where he is patched up by his ex-girlfriend Shinta ( Salvita Decorte) and reunites with members of his former gang Fatih ( Abimana Aryasatya) and White Boy Bobby ( Zach Lee). Meanwhile another old gang member, Arian ( Iko Uwais, the hero of the Raid films) is recruited by Chien Wu to take out Ito and kill the girl. Arian has been running a Triad club in Macau. A little conflicted about going against his friends, he is nevertheless deeply ambitious and covets Ito's spot.
 
Fatih arranges passports for Ito and Reina. Ito leaves Reina in Fatih's care and goes off to collect money he left behind from another former gang member, the psychopathic Yohan ( Revaldo). Yohan works out of a butcher shop and knows the Triad is after Ito. Naturally, all hell breaks loose. Here is where things get kicked up several notches. Now this being an Indonesian martial arts film I expect a certain level of brutality but this made me think of the old days of kick-boxing where you had to throw a minimum number of kicks each round or be docked points. Otherwise it would be nothing but two dudes punching each other in the face. Here we get the bare minimum of elbow and knee strikes but it is mostly choppity chop chop slice slice. I don't mean Karate chops either.  "Well," I reasoned, "it is a butcher shop, after all. Probably the next set piece will settle into something with a bit more emphasis on the hand-to-hand.".
 
Nope!
 
After the horror show at the butcher shop is interrupted by Triad killers with firearms that lay waste to everyone still alive except for an escaping Ito, the action moves to Fatih's place where a horde of knife and hatchet wielding goons sent by Yohan attempt to separate everyone from all of their body parts. Somehow Fatih, his cousin Wisnu ( Dimas Anggara) and White Boy Bobby manage to survive this onslaught and protect Reina but then the real trouble shows up in the form of lesbian super assassins, Elena ( Hannah Al Rashid) and Alma ( Dian Sastrowardoyo). Think Naked Killer only they keep their clothes on. So as not to give everything away, Fatih, with a little assistance from the still conflicted Arian, manages to escape with Reina to his building's parking garage where even more carnage will ensue.  Honestly, if I weren't doing the review for this, when we hit the point where even little Reina gets all stabby I might have stopped watching. Director Timo Tjahjanto is probably more known for his horror films and it really shows. I mean I love me some horror but I wasn't in that mindset when I began the film.
 
But then she walked into my life and all was good again. The Operator (Julie Estelle, Hammer Girl from The Raid 2) shows up like the Baddest Badass of Badassville and coolly takes out the remaining Triads in the garage and then disappears. My favorite things in life are puppies breath, long walks in the rain and cinematic female warriors. Later on, before joining forces, she'll square off with Ito , WHUP DAT ASS and deliver a modified RKO through a toilet tank to put him to sleep for a minute. She's a Bad Mama Jama.
 
Anyway, with the killers closing in, Ito decides to take the fight to them where he'll have the eventual showdown with Arian. All things considered, it's a pretty good one.
 
Joe Taslim is pretty good as the lead but his character is underwritten. Honestly almost every other character is more interesting. Except little Reina. You might even forget she is the motivation for all of the killing except she'll pop up around the corner in the middle of all the carnage and a Triad will be like "Oh yeah, gotta kill her!". Her and Ito don't do much bonding as he tends to pass her off to someone else to care for her and when they are together, half the time he is unconscious. Iko Uwais manages to add some depth to his villain. And it's maybe a little early to put Julie Estelle up there with the likes of Cheng Pei Pei, Angela Mao, Pam Grier, or Michelle Yeoh but if the proposed Night of the Operator film gets made, she'll be on her way.
 
A bit too much choppity chop chop slice slice for my taste but I can see this as Chang Cheh's wet dream put on film.
 
 
 
Edited by Execproducer
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I'm swear, I'm going to watch and review my movie tomorrow, I've just been slammed with work and a flooded kitchen and spent my free time in Mass Effect.  

 

The Night Comes for Us is one of the most brutally violent movies I've ever seen and I loved every minute of it.  One of my favorite trademarks of the Silat crew's movies is the steady running the gauntlet that the protagonist has to run, and that they don't act like they have gas tanks for days, that toward the end it's just pure adrenaline and will to survive than anything else (hence why the later fights just get more brutal, technique starts going out the window and desperation sets in.)  Also, at this point you can sell me on a movie with having any combination of Uwais, Taslim, Ruhian, and Estelle and I'll watch it at least once, weither it's a piece of crap or not.  

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7 hours ago, Raziel said:

I'm swear, I'm going to watch and review my movie tomorrow, I've just been slammed with work and a flooded kitchen and spent my free time in Mass Effect.  

That would be great because as it stands right now there is just one review left to post before I give @J.T. the floor. I will stretch it out a bit if you and any of the other three still want to get your reviews to me.

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I enjoyed The Night Come For Us for what it was and my feelings about the movie mirror yours, Exec.   I did not expect Iko Uwais to play such a convincing heavy.  Dude was a babyfaced assassin.  Mind blown.

Julie Estelle is adorable and lethal in this movie, maybe just as deadly as the Operator as he was as Hammer Girl in Raid 2.  I kinda hated that they relegated her to damsel in distress in Headshot.

I have to admit.  I thought Hannah Al-Rashid's character was pretty hot even though she was a lesbian.  I was happy to hear that she's hetero in real life, but was subsequently crushed by the revelations that she did not care for being blonde in the movie and got married sometime after filming this movie.

Edited by J.T.
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  • 4 weeks later...
On 8/20/2021 at 5:30 PM, J.T. said:

If no one has submitted their stuff yet and if no one objects, I will begin posting my bonus reviews.

I have one more to post. Probably do it tomorrow and then you have the floor.

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