Posts Tagged ‘Kung-Fu’

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Ninja Bugeicho Momochi Sandayu (1980 Toei Company, Dir. Norifumi Suzuki)

You know, sometimes you can’t help but think that you’re watching porn even when you aren’t. That’s how I choose to start this review, because it’s the impression that at the forefront of my mind. It’s the music mostly, and the modern outfits. I mean it’s a movie that takes place in the 15th century and includes ninjas in clothes that look strikingly like modern camo. The music is so absurd that it hurts the movie, which is pretty absurd on its own. The music is early 80s rock-ish sort of J-Pop, and it make you fee like you’re watching a porn. I’m hardly in a position to bitch about rock music in a classic setting. I normally like that sort of thing. It worked in Ladyhawk and it worked in Legend so some degree. It can work, but it doesn’t work here. That’s hardly the movie’s only problem, I seem to remember lots of other problems, but the music always sticks in my head and I’m getting the intro written before we evens start the movie proper because I’m going to review this one in a way I haven’t reviewed in a while. Yeah, this movie is so screwy I’ve got to break down the plot and explain certain scenes in detail. We haven’t done this in a while, so put on your favorite Technicolor gi and let’s get ready to rumble!

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The Fearless Hyena (1979/ Goodyear Movie Company/ Dir. Jackie Chan)

Really? All the movies I’ve reviewed and this is the first Jackie Chan movie? Huh, that’s odd. This is as good a place as any to start with Chan. As far as I’m able to tell, this is Chan’s first directorial effort, even though Kenneth Tsang helped out. The thing is, this is a really cheap movie. Really cheap. You know how Shaw Brothers movies tend to look like a poor man’s version of old Hollywood movies? No? Do we need a Shaw Brothers primer? Okay, note to self, review a Shaw Brothers classic sometime. Let me break it down quickly. A lot of the Shaw’s movies were studio bound in a way that soap operas would find embarrassing. I’ve seen Shaw films that have almost no exterior shots, despite the fact that much of the movie ostensibly takes place outside. One Armed Swordsman comes to mind. The Shaws did build a backlot, and used it to great effect, but many movies still have a great deal of indoor studio shooting. The reason I bring this up is that things like Fearless Hyena didn’t have as much money as a Shaw production. That’s my point. They’re not even as expensive as a poor man’s knock-off. However, along with more exterior shoots (the forest is CHEAP!) there is also a bit more soul here. Chan and company are working their butts off to produce a new kind of kung fu movie. It worked too, this movie even supplanted Chan’s break-out film Drunken Master as the highest grossing movie in Hong Kong.

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Seven Swords (2005 Mandarin Films & Eng Wah Dir. Tsui Hark)

This is a movie that should have been awesome, but fell short of that lofty goal. The reasons it should have been awesome are easy to see just from the people involved. Tsui Hark reinvigorated the Wuxia genre in the 90s, Donnie Yen is one of the biggest stars in HK cinema, the other actors are hardly unknowns, and it’s based on one of those books that I’m told is a favorite in Chinese culture. Of course, that’s maybe where things start to go wrong. The movie bears little resemblance to the book in question. Much of the story telling is put on the shoulders of characters that weren’t written to hold such weight, and the action is underwhelming. However, all that said, there are things to like in this movie as we’ll see. This isn’t a movie without merit, and some might look beyond the weaknesses and really fall in love with this thing.

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For a long time, I’ve had the idea that Kung-Fu movies, Westerns and Samurai movies were all essentially the same thing just for different cultures. Each dated back to the beginning of filmmaking, each looked back to a Golden Age that might never have really existed, and each fell out of favor for a long time only to see a resurgence in recent years. As a result, I decided to cast a wide net and get one great from each of the areas that these movies exist in. Since this is the last day, we’re going to have three from each genre.

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I’d just like to point out there was no way for me not to get that look on his face, the screen freezes there for the entire time the title is up.


Black Belt Jones (1974 Warner Bros Dir. Robert Clouse)

Somehow this movie landed on spot #38 in something called The 50 Worst Movies Ever Made. We know how I feel about Worst Movie Ever lists though, right? The documentary must be pretty stupid, because this movie does not belong on a list of “Worst Movies Evar” at all. In fact, this is actually a really great movie. Who ever put it on the worst ever list for that movie was an idiot. I intend to tell you that this is actually a great movie, a hilarious movie, and I’m not convinced that the comedy is all completely unintentional. This is not “So bad it’s good”, but rather “This is just good.” Let’s dive on in and I’ll show you.

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Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain (1983 Golden Harvest Dir. Tsui Hark)
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SPL/Kill Zone (2005, ABBA Movie Company, Dir. Wilson Yip)


I don’t have anything funny to say about this shot.

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