I had a sickness in the early aughts, and that sickness was watching bootlegged VHS dubs of mid/late 90s Hong Kong kung fu, mostly of the Jet Li, Sammo Hung, Jackie Chan, Michelle Yeoh, Donnie Yen variety. It was a time when these movies were relatively rare and hard-to-find—sometimes lousy quality, often sold under several different names, often poorly subtitled. These are not the best movies, nor the worst. They’re just the ones I could get my hands on at the time.
These are reviews culled from the shrouded-in-mystery corners of the noshadowkick.com website (No-Shadow Kick! It’s a kung-fu move! C’MON!). When I was writing these reviews, I followed only two rules: 1. I would try like hell to not actually describe the plot at all, and 2. I refused to look up somebody’s name if I couldn’t remember it. A decade later, I’ve decided to collect the reviews here, simply in hopes that someone might find them and read them. Lord knows I’m not going to. Massive cut and paste commence!
Yeah, it’s one of the silliest movies Jet Li has made (well, I mean, no musical numbers like Kids from Shaolin or crossdressing like Fong Sai Yuk, but silly for it’s comic book-noir aspirations) Black Mask: One of the few Hong Kong movies you’re likely to run across that actually has a decent score/soundtrack. So naturally, the American release hacked it all out and replaced it with the worst THE WORST mid-tempo mid-quality stock-music-sounding hip-hop they could get their hands on. It’s not only bad because it isn’t particularly good, but it is such a poor choice in terms of maintaining momentum during the action scenes. Fucking Americans! Always fucking up shit! Anyway
This movie has a hospital scene not to be confused with the floating babies scene from Heroic Trio, and a hold-your-breath-while-you-fight-the-bad-guy-in-a-poison-gas-filled-room scene not to be confused with Bodyguard From Beijing. The bad guy, played to perfection by the late Joey Ramone, is a nasty little sonofabitch. I’m surprised they didn’t stick in a scene of him eating a baby or something, just to make sure you REALLY knew he was a baddie… The bad gal in Black Mask, well, she’s just hot. The love interest – if you could say that any Jet Li movie has a real love interest and not some sort of Female Good Pal – is just the cutest goddamned girl I’ve seen in a movie since i saw Amelie. The actress who plays Tracy is either a very good actress, or she’s a Librarian Assistant Looking for a Hubby in real life, and they just pulled her in off the street. The special effects actually ain’t so bad, including and possibly pre-dating some Matrix-like “bullet-time” sort of stuff. The fighting, undercranked as ever, features some of the attitude I love so much from Fist of Legend: the fully-composed Jet Li, striking lighting-fast and precisely, then waiting stone-still for the next attack. Well, and he has a nice haircut and trenchcoat, so that helps too. Black Mask is stereotypical superhero stuff done well. If you like to be regaled by tales of pacifist, rumoured-to-be-homosexual librarians triumphing over evil, you’ll simply adore this film.
BEST LINE “Are you gay?” – “Don’t get on my nerve.”
NO-SHADOW KICK? There was lots of bouncing around in the sewer.
SOUNDTRACK: Really decent surfy shit. HK cinema has a long rich tradition of using electric guitar in the cheesiest ways possible. This stuff here is aight.
WORTH OWNING? Like I said, the HK version has much better music, but I have yet to see a print as clean as the American release. The HK version is decidedly green-tinted.
IF IT WAS A MAD MAGAZINE SATIRE: Bleecchh Mask
IF IT WAS REMADE AS A PORN FLICK: Black Ass
SEE ALSO: GREEN HORNET, BODYGUARD FROM BEIJING, UNIVERSAL SOLDIER. Well, don’t actually see Universal Soldier, just sorta, you know, refer to it.
BODYGUARD FROM BEIJING (1994)
First of all, I think every homo and hetrosexual man, woman, and child can agree that Jet Li looks damned fine in a suit. He is really at his overly-composed best in this BodyGuard rip-off. Now, I’ve never seen the Costner/ Houston megahit, and I never ever will, so I won’t compare. But somehow I’m going to take a wild stab here and guess that I like this movie better anyhow.
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT:
* Fat Po is a good guy. Not only does this actor always play essentially the same character, but the character is almost always named “Fat Po”. He’s funny, likeable, talented, and fat. He’s the Chinese Al Roker, except he’s funny, likeable, and talented. And Chinese.
* The damsel whose body needs guarding is very pretty.
* The young nephew, a trouble-making, mischievous ne’er-do-well is shot in the foot, thus a valuable lesson is learned.
* In the opening sequence where 10-20 guys are shot bloody and a fancy sedan is blown up, it is later revealed to be a “training exercise”. When the instructor plays back the videotape of the “training exercise” to the class, it is strikingly similar to the opening sequence of “Bodyguard from Beijing” starring Jet Li.
NO-SHADOW KICK? no, but plenty of similar moves.
SUBTITLES: readable, but poor translation on my dub (“Now she became the only witness of this murdering case.”)
SOUNDTRACK: of all the below-average kung fu movie music I’ve heard, this is really some of the worst.
FIGHTING: Cool. Exaggerated wire work. Tight. Lots of gunplay throughout the film, but naturally, an absurdly implausible plot twist leaves the main characters gunless to fight mano-y-mano in the final confrontation.
GOOD COP TURNS OUT TO BE BAD COP? Maybe?
BEST MOVE: Blocking the firing pin of the gun pointed at you, nice jump through a broken window.
BEST LINE: “Brother, I swear that, from now on, I won’t let anyone shoot you.”
WORTH OWNING?: oh, yes.
SEE ALSO: HITMAN, HARD-BOILED
BUTTERFLY AND SWORD (1993)
Here’s a wuxia film with completely insane violent-without-being-gory fighting scenes and the most ludicriously fast-paced editing I can remember seeing in a long time. Like, you see a hand then someone’s back then a foot goes by then a closeup on someone’s eye then the camera’s 20 yards away and everyone’s dead. It’s a bit much, but it’s pretty entertaining. There’s full-body explosions, beheadings, a face-removal, and for some reason I never quite got, a soccer ball. Then of course there’s the lovely looking “Human Arrow” trick, where Tony Leung passes his entire body through his enemy’s chest. A simple bit of editing – and it looks damned good, even if you watch it in slow-mo. Dudes fly around with spinning helicopter sword blades and the freaky Eunuch guy has a big Freddie Kreuger-esque blade hand. I could try and explain the plot but I don’t think I will. Let’s just say there were a few love triangles, a faked death, a fake eunuch, and good guys that were so ruthless and violent they really didn’t seem to be much better than the bad guys.
The beginning “scene-setting” voiceover wasn’t translated on my dub, and the end of the movie is a very abrupt cut. There’s apparently an uncut version, and I’d love to know what it is, though I suspect Michelle Yeoh jumps off of a cliff in slow motion and Donnie Yen jumps after her and they twirl around in slow motion looking at each other for awhile while the theme music returns yet again and various strips of clothing majestically blow around. Um, I mean, that’s just a guess.
NO-SHADOW KICK? essentially, yes, but it was called the “Lightning Kick”..
CHUBBY LITTLE BOY NAMED “FATTY”? Yes. Beware of the “Gang of Fatty”.
BEST TRANSLATION: “You’re too bad to peep me bathing.”
BEST LINE: “What’s the smell? Did you fart?”
SUBTITLES: poor on my VHS dub. Sentences run off both sides of the screen
WORTH OWNING? It depends how nice a DVD you can find.
SEE ALSO: SWORDSMAN, DEADFUL MELODY
CITY HUNTER (1993) VS. RUSH HOUR 2 (2001)
One might ask why I’m writing a head-to-head comparison of two movies that only share that loveable Jackie Chan as a common thread. They are from two different parts of his career. They are intended for two very different audiences. Well, I’m not quite sure myself, other than the fact that I watched them both in the same week. We’ll see how this turns out. One never knows, does one…
CRAZY JACKIE CHAN SHIT: City Hunter wins hands down, a bit of an obvious statement, I know. To be fair, Rush Hour 2 has some really good hand-to-hand scenes, and they’re (surprisingly) coherently shot. But no crazy-ass flying across a ballroom on a fake dolphin or using-a-babe-as-a-weapon-type moves.
MUSICAL NUMBERS: Tough tough call here. Rush Hour 2 has a damned funny Michael Jackson karaoke number by Chris “I was great in Friday…what happened?” Tucker, but City Hunter has the psychotic squealing and dancing of that Asian Kid ‘n’Play duo, replete with fake machine guns, flying, and alot of shrieking Japanese pop. I mean, it’s a pretty amazing production.
POLITICALLY INCORRECT MOMENTS: Jackie threatening to kick Chris’ ass back to Africa, or Jackie gazing at a woman’s breasts, only to have them magically turn into hamburgers? City Hunter’s homo terrorist, or Chris Tucker mocking China and everything Chinese? By the way, I think Bill Maher is a complete jackass.
MUSIC: Aside from the great 80’s pop musical number, City Hunter boasts one of those nightmarish soundtracks where every pratfall is accompianied by a Warner Brothers-style musical cue, except it sounds like it was made on an SK-1. Rush Hour 2 surprised me with a decent Lalo Schifrin score, the movie gloriously free of foot-dragging gangster-rap or brain-squeezing techno over the fight scenes. But, I mean, you just knew they were going to sing “War” again.
OVERALL LARFS: City Hunter is based off of a Japanese comic (they call ’em “mangos” over thar, cause they’re a bit peculiar) I’ve never read. It’s a hilarious movie if you enjoy straight up slapstick and top-notch physical comedy. The english dub may provide an entirely seperate level of entertainment. Rush Hour 2 is Rush Hour except Jackie and Chris switched dialogue.
END CREDIT OUTTAKES: City Hunter – not as good as the movie. Rush Hour 2 – better than the movie.
CONCLUSION: I’m going to go with City Hunter here, folks. I know, it’s the old Jackie’s-no-good-now-that-he’s-gone-Hollywood crybaby sob story. And City Hunter is fucking funny and fucking strange. Plus, while Rush Hour 2 has two very beautiful actresses in it, City Hunter has four. Furthermore, City Hunter’s prerequisite American Tough Badass Guy with a Ponytail has a big package, know what I mean?
CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON (2000)
Ang Lee done good here. Definitely a film by a man who loves kung fu movies. It is a veritable tour of the genre. You get your mountain-top fight, your restaurant brawl, your echoey, drippy cave fight, your horseback across the desert chase, your bamboo forest fight, your courtyard fight, your training room fight. Oh, and there’s a plot, too. Something about a sword and a foxy lady. Chow Yun Fat is quite good. For a little while, you forgive him for Replacement Killers. Michelle Yeoh plays a similar character to the one she played in Wing Chun, but a little older & with a few more regrets. The dude that plays Lo looks like a Puerto Rican headbanger I knew in high school. Zhang Ziyi is purty. The only complaint I have for this flick is the whole bamboo scene. Yes, it was pretty. Yes, I appreciate the work that went into it. No, it just wasn’t particularly exciting. This movie is based on a five volume Chinese novel by Wang Du Lu. No, I’ve never read it, I’m just letting you know how much useless trivia I have at my fingertips. This is by far the most useless review I’ve written to date. It was just sort of a good excuse to go hunt around the web to find some neat-o pictures. Often I find my life troubling, and sometimes just a tiny bit sad. It’s not easy playing with action figures when they are still in their original packaging.
# OF TIMES I LAUGHED: twice, but there were only two jokes in it
NO-SHADOW KICK? no, but enough both-legs-at-once kicking to satisfy.
BEST MOVE: the toe-grab-to-prevent-the-flying-away move
MONKS? several fine ones. not ONE praises Buddha.
SUBTITLES: readable. finally!
SOUNDTRACK: props to Yo-Yo. Very effective.
WORTH OWNING? in letterbox, please. That means DVD, as the corporations are forcing you to the new format if you’re not already there. Fucking whore shit bastards.
EXTRA DVD FEATURES: I swear, if i hear the phrase “Sense and Sensibility, but with fighting” one more time, I’m gonna go apeshit on somebody somewhere.
BEST LINE: “Father gets first dip.”
IF I WROTE FOR MAD MAGAZINE: Crotching Torah, Hidden Dreidel
SEE ALSO: WING CHUN
DEADFUL MELODY (1994)
LUK YI KAM MOH (translated as either Six-Fingered Strings Demon or The Evil Six-Fingered Lyre, but either is cooler sounding that Deadful Melody), is a decent flick. I just discovered that I dubbed it like, two years ago and never watched it. Silly bootleggy me. Anyway, what makes this a good movie? Well, it has characters with names like “Fire”, “Master Ghost”, Hard-Hearted Witch”, “Master Six-Fingers” and the nefarious “Stink Bean Cube” and that’s OK in my book. It also features a beheading and an arm removal in the first ten minutes of the film, with full-body explosions aplenty later on. The dialogue could use a little polishing (or at least the translation), as illustrated in the following script excerpts:
“Cut the crap, let’s go.”
“Cut the crap, just look at me.”
“Cut the crap, it’s nonsense of just talking.”
“Cut the crap, take the lyre and leave.”
“Cut the crap, let’s finish the tea and leave.”
and of course
“Old man, cut the crap.”
NO-SHADOW KICK? no.
MONKS? Musta been.
YOUNG BOY’S PENIS? Yes, American audiences beware.
BEST LINE: “What are you scaring? I’ll show you my dick. Come on.”
WORTH OWNING? yeah
SEE ALSO: SWORDSMAN, BUTTERFLY AND SWORD
DRUNKEN MASTER III (1994)
Because I’m too lazy to form paragraphs:
GOOD: The fighting was pretty damned tight.
BAD: The plot was pretty damned worthless.
GOOD: The weird old bus with the smokestack on the hood
BAD: an abacus makes a retarded skateboard
GOOD: The sets were nice, and the film was shot well.
BAD: The music was absolutely horrible. It was as if they yanked it out of an animated teddy bear adventure and slapped it over some fighting.
GOOD: Drunken training on the roof tiles.
BAD: Fighting off the homo on the roof of the bus.
GOOD: The general’s Halloween mask.
BAD: Everything else about the Halloween scene.
GOOD: Fei Hong’s father is a badass.
BAD: Fei Hong is not.
GOOD: the queen-to-be is a babe.
BAD: The gweilo sect leader looks like some sort of freak background character from the New Leave It To Beaver show.
BEST LINE “Don’t you feel it’s cool?”
MONKS? Evil Sect members, which is close enough.
NO-SHADOW KICK? No, but some damned fine staff fighting.
BEST MOVE: There’s a nice run/flip up around an archway. Very Cosby-I-Spy sort of cool
WORTH OWNING? Worth renting.
SEE ALSO: Well, without getting into the whole dramatic behind-the-scenes story of HK cinema, I’d say DRUNKEN MASTER II.
EASTERN CONDORS (1987)
The East has a long and proud tradition of lifting action movie plots from the West (Bodyguard, Die Hard… yeah, hello? Kurosawa? Ever heard of Star Wars? Yeah. How bout The Magnificent Seven, there, big guy?) As innovative as their industry is in regards to cinematography and, of course, martial arts and action effects, they have long dawdled behind the gweilos on the lame-ass stories that string the fight scenes together. Our lame-ass stories blow theirs AWAY.
If I were writing a Variety-style blurb for Eastern Condors, it would be “Rambo meets Apocalypse Now meets the Dirty Dozen meets CBS’s Martial Law!” Well, I’m not writing a Variety-style blurb on Eastern Condors, but let’s just say that it’s Rambo meets Apocalypse Now meets the Dirty Dozen meets CBS’s Martial Law. There’s POW liberating in Vietnam, bamboo water cages, russian roulette with prisoners, a rag-tag unit of ex-con misfits pressed into service where pardons are their reward, hot babe freedom fighters, side characters that die before you find out their names, and CBS’s Martial Law’s Sammo Hung’s fat belly.
Now, with that out of the way, let me say that this movie kicks good ass. I realize this may sound a little callous, but boy, people die in so many cool ways in this movie, I can’t even describe them all. I’m talkin’ really shocking “WHOA!” sorts of deaths. I’m talkin’ “HOLY SHIT DID YOU SEE THAT?!?” sorts of deaths. I’m talkin’ Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre, can you dig? While the fighting is indeed good (lots of shooting, good amount of hand-to-hand), the true standout is the acrobatics provided by Yuen Biao and Sammo. Most viewers looked on skeptically after Biao decided mid-career to try his hand at the kung fu genre. Best known for his sucessful run on the long-running television series Happy Days, Joannie Loves Chachi, and Charles in Charge, his work here in this late-80’s post-namechange gem cannot be overlooked. Sammo holds his own with some excellent heroic non-wire flying around, Billy Lau kicks alot as he is wont to do, and Yuen Wo Ping, well, he just smokes and dies.
NO-SHADOW KICK? no.
SOUNDTRACK: very strange.
PLOT CONVIENIENTLY PLACES TWO UNARMED ADVERSARIES IN A LARGE MULTI-LEVEL ROOM FILLED WITH PROPS THAT CAN BE USED FOR FIGHTING ULTIMATE MANO-Y-MANO SHOWDOWN? Yep, right there in the middle of the Vietnam jungle. Amazing.
ASS-KICKING GIGGLING BAD GUY WITH GIRLISH ATTRIBUTES? yes. Shawn totally called it early on. I was all like “No way, dude!” but he was like “Yeah, totally!”
MONKS? does a three-wheeled motorcycle with balloons tied to it count?
BEST LINE: what the stuttering guy says right before he dies.
WORTH OWNING? yes
SEE ALSO: RAMBO, APOCALYPSE NOW, DIRTY DOZEN, MARTIAL LAW. Ha-ha. Get it? See what I did there?
HERO (2002 or 2004, depending on who you ask)
Hero is quite simply a beautiful movie. It’s just pretty and very nice to look at. Starting a review like that might make you think I’m going to follow up with some sort of “but there’s no substance blah blah” sort of statement, but I’m not. It’s really a good all-around movie. The cinemetography is tight, the digital work is gorgeous, the story is clever and Rashamon-esque, the cast is superb. Jet Li (his name is Nameless! Tough!!!), Maggie Cheung (reminding the audience once again that she is actually a very good actress), Donnie Yen (former New Kid on the Block should’ve been in the movie more), Tony Leung (the poor bastard dies like 8 times or something),and Zhang Ziyi (she is very pretty). It’s a quiet, meditative film… seriously, like maybe 80% of it is in slow motion – not recommended for someone looking for crazy-ass undercranked flying sword fight scenes. The sets are epic, the landscapes are surreal (at least to a guy from Massachusetts, I guess), and the pace is slow and steady. Lots of calligraphy references. This movie succeeds in not being about swordplay- it’s about swordsmanship. It’s really fucking good.
NO-SHADOW KICK? no, but plenty of similar moves.
SUBTITLES: I’ve got a dub of a VCD – amazing quality given the format. Very readable.
SOUNDTRACK: Quality. I said QUALITY.
FIGHTING: When I say slowed down, I mean SLOWED DOWN. Like, person A attacks person B with a sword, and there is enough time for several facial reactions and decisions to take place. And like, the dudes fight IN THEIR MINDS.
BEST MOVE: There are alot of just really well choreographed graceful moves. Maybe my favorite is a simple shot of Sky (Donnie Yen) throwing his sword at Nameless and Nameless does a fast simple deflect and knocks it back to him. It sounds boring but in reality, it absolutely rules.
WORTH OWNING?: oh, yes. I read somewhere that Mirimax cut their version down, but I don’t know how much.
SEE ALSO: Ashes Of Time
HEROES AMONG HEROES
I fucking like this movie. I’d call it average Woo Ping (ie better than most stuff out there). I’ll say that the undercranked action scenes are a little too… well, undercranked. The guy that plays Wong Fei Hong is quite competent as a martial artist, though not particularly a standout as an actor. Donnie Yen as Beggar So does well, whether he’s biting a girl’s hand or throwing fried duck carcasses at homeless people. As with many a learn-a-new-fighting-style-to-defeat-the-baddie film, Beggar So learns the secrets of the drunken style in about three minutes. Drunken Boxing must truly be the Pop-Tart of the Kung Fu world. So the action is okay, but here’s the kicker: the plot’s not so bad either. Holy shit.
The different character’s motivations go a layer or two deeper than your average Kung Fu flick. The bad guys in this movie are almost secondary to the main plot conflict, which is between two good guys. The classic wise mentor/brash young student plot device is present here, but set up a little differently. Yen plays a sort of freelance hero, and though well-intentioned, he manages to interfere with Wong Fei Hong’s plans. Mixed in with this plot is an American-educated woman fighting for women’s rights, a rather well-done bit on opium addiction, a widower who’se being stalked by his bucktoothed sister-in-law, the Fire Lotus Gang, and a rare portrayal of an official who isn’t a dickhead. Throw in the big fat dude with the mohawk and a badass Korean guy with a badass pilgrim hat and you’ve got yourself one badass-confusing movie.
Shawn’s not as into this movie as I am. I heartily recommend it. Well, maybe not “heartily”. Not that I don’t like it, because I think you can tell that I do, I guess it’s just that I can’t think of too many things I do “heartily”, so I’m not sure why I pulled out that word. “Gregariously”, maybe. Or perhaps “robustly”. Or perhaps I should do a few more rough drafts before I post these reviews. Ah, no one reads em anyway.
MONKS?: No. No monks.
NO-SHADOW KICK? Yes. One good ol’ fashioned one, plus a backwards one. Damn!
BEST MOVE: Wong Fei Hong lighting his own hand on fire. Fucking nut.
BIG PLOT TWIST NO ONE SAW COMING: When the extremely unattractive sister-in-law loses her buckteeth, it turns out THAT SHE’S ACTUALLY EXTREMELY ATTRACTIVE.
WORTH OWNING? Yeah. What the hell does Shawn know?
SEE ALSO: ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA series, IRON MONKEY, TRAINSPOTTING
HIGH RISK (1995)
High Risk is the movie that taught me that kung fu was a measurable quantity, ie “Less than 20% of his kung fu is left”. Jet Li shines in this one, flying across the screen in only slightly under-cranked action sequences that really rock. Referred to throughout the film as either “Kit”, “Bold”, “Corny Man”, or “Hubby” (and on the videobox as “Guts”), Li plays an ex-bomb squad leader, his tumultuous past (and ultimately the much-needed plot point for revenge) is expertly pooped out in the first five minutes of the film, Hong Kong style. I have an undying love for the HK interpretation of the American screenwriter’s impulsive need for character backstory. It’s generally told in a matter-of-fact tone, knowing damned well the audience it’s playing to cares about as much about the character’s history as it cares about a love story. They are mostly brief nods to convention, but then quickly dive into the action. It’s fucking superb. Am I drifting?
Billy Chow/The General Dude From Fist of Legend rocks in this movie. He sports big sunglasses, bigger awesome headbanger hair, and he pees like a firehose. Jacky Cheung is both hilarious and talented. His comeback at the end really does make you root for him. Chingmy Yau is a cutie. The main bad guy, The Doctor, is sort of a doofus. Fortunately, at the end of the movie, he loses and Kit Lee wins. Oh! Did I give something away?
High Risk is a great mix of ludicrous stunts (both an economy-sized hatchback and a helicopter make an appearance in the penthouse level of a luxury hotel), insanely fast-paced action sequences, and strange detours into comedy and non-reality (a yellow Bruce Lee jumpsuit & handfuls of snakes magically appear, and bits of newspaper flutter cinematically in the air for the last 30 minutes of the film). It has many insider HK jokes at Jackie Chan’s expense, apparently, though I am mostly unaware of them, and mostly don’t care, either. It’s a fucking good movie.
BEST LINE: “Do you want your dad to suck your ass?”
UNNECCESSARY: The little boy’s peepee.
NO-SHADOW KICK? Something very close.
WORTH OWNING? Yes.
SEE ALSO: SPEED, DIE HARD, then SPEED again. Then MY FATHER IS A HERO and BODYGUARD FROM BEIJING
MISTER CANTON AND LADY ROSE aka MIRACLES (1989)
Everything I had read online regarding this movie previous to watching it had led me to believe I was in for a sort of lame attempt of Jackie Chan trying to remake a Frank Capra film. Ignoring that fact, because it’s unimportant, helps one to realize that it’s a totally decent flick. There’s enough fighting and wacky shenanigans to put it right along the shitload of other Jackie Chan movies that have fighting and wacky shenanigans. Lucky Stars springs to mind. Once again bringing together his team of goofy sidemen, Chan delivers a worthy watch. I have no idea why this movie didn’t receive wider video release during the great crappy Jackie Chan reissue flood that followed Rumble in the Bronx. It’s too bad, because it beats hell out of his older, stupider, bigger-haired stuff. This movie also features Anita Mui, looking beautiful and being rather pushy, that guy with the weird eyes and the moustache, the guy that plays Jackie’s uncle in almost every movie, a kick-ass Billy Lau (general guy from Fist of Legend), and an extremely pivotal cameo by Yuen Biao. (If you missed him the first time, you missed the whole plot of the movie, trust me!) Needless to say, I prefer the original title.
STUPID UNBELIEVABLE PLOT? yeah, but whatever.
NO-SHADOW KICK? no.
PLOT CONVENIENTLY PLACES ADVERSARIES IN LARGE MULTI-LEVEL WAREHOUSE FULL OF RANDOM ROPES, LADDERS, AND THINGS TO THROW AT EACH OTHER? Why, yes.
MIDGETS? Well, that guy that plays Jackie’s uncle in every movie is pretty short.
WORTH OWNING? Shawn has it.
SEE ALSO: Millionaire’s Express, Drunken Master 2
SWORD STAINED WITH ROYAL BLOOD (1993)
A fine – if not utterly incomprehensible – fantasy outing for the ever-honorable Yuen Biao. There’s enough wire in this movie to rig a pirate ship. There are hilarious moments (like when the silly master guy rolls himself up into a ball and bounces around the room. No Phish comments, please. Thanks.). There are sad moments (the ol’ lover homicide/suicide pact). There are fucked-up moments (the old guy jabbing his own eyes out, the dudes that surf through the forest boob-deep in the ground Bugs Bunny-style, and the old woman who intentionally smashes her skull open on a stone stairway. Ew.). The relationships and the alliances between the characters in this movie somewhat elude me, and will probably continue to do so. All you need to know is that there’s a Golden Snake Man and he has a Golden Snake Sword and it shoots laser bolts ‘n’ shit out of it. Then there’s the Sword Stained with Royal Blood, which is barely in the movie, but it also shoots laser bolts ‘n’ shit, and it also makes water explode.
In this movie, you’ll find Snowy Frogs, The Five Poison Sect, Purple Jade Powder, The Cyclone Strike, and Bruce Dickinson’s favorite, The Soul Calling Stance. There’s also an un-poisonable constable and an undercover princess and a creepy dude with too much makeup on.
They all fight.
Good guy wins.
NO-SHADOW KICK? Christ, probably?
MONKS?: I’m sure they were in there somewhere. Plenty of eunuchs.
SUBTITLES: Surprisingly good (World Video DVD)
BEST MOVE: I’ve got to go with the Cyclone Strike on this one.
BEST LINE: “I can’t defeat you, but I can bite you.”
WORTH OWNING?: Hell, sure.
SEE ALSO: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Swordsman II
TOKYO RAIDERS (2000)
Now here’s a stylish film. By that, of course, I mean that the direction is heavy-handed enough that there is rarely a moment of movie-watching where you don’t notice it. This is not always a bad thing. (note: NYPD Blue=bad) Tokyo Raiders is as slick as poop in oil. That’s slick. Everyone in this movie is sexy except the Pontiac convertible. I don’t know anything about film (but alot about movies), so I’m not going to say this movie is in any way groundbreaking, but I will say I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
Me and Reynolds saw the Blockbuster formatted-to-fit-your-screen dub, so I’m sure we missed some good stuff, but as always, a poor dub provides an entirely seperate avenue of viewing entertainment. Where do they find these people? Is there a booth at a mall somewhere? Don’t movie distributors realize there are professionals that do voiceovers? Why, I think they’re even called voiceover artists. I agree with Shawny here that they could at least get Asians with Asian accents instead of Buffy California and Chet American. Ah, hell.
Tokyo Raiders. A very fast and loose movie. A very confusing movie. A very confusingly shot movie. I’m still a little woozy. The fight scenes- or what I caught of them- were pretty good for essentially non-martial artists (nice try, Keanu. “You know kung fu” my butt.) The fighting was not quite as stylized-to-the-point-of-incomprehensible-obscurity as, say, Ashes of Time, but it’s probably a sure runner-up.
Here’s a thing: Only in a kung fu movie would it seem plainly obvious that a character who is playing an interior decorator also happens to be an excellelnt martial artist. It isn’t questioned. Definitely tied to those preconceptions that all Asian guys are ass-kickers (and all Asian women are beautiful). If an American movie had a badass interior decorator character, the audience would nod knowingly and say to themselves “Oh, he’s probably an undercover cop.”
Ah, shit. You think you’re going up. In fact, you’re going down.
EXPLOSIONS? one big fake one.
NO-SHADOW KICK? A number of similar both-legs-at-once moves, but mostly while being held up by a pole.
BEST LINE: “They shouldn’t have done that to me. Lucky I brought my comb.”
SOUNDTRACK: Bad Latin pop, written by an American and performed by a Chinese guy.
OWN IT? I’m keeping my eyes open for the non-dubber, even though I realize I could really be screwing myself.
SEE ALSO: Hard Boiled, Charlie’s Angels, My Father is a Hero, and a wonderful English-to-Chinese-to-English translation of this review:
TOKYO INTRUDER (2000) (a wonderful English-to-Chinese-to-English translation of the above review)
Now this fashionable film. By that, certainly, I mean, this direction is the moment which the enough despotic very unusual movie watches you does not pay attention its place. This always is not the misdemeanor (the note: NYPD Blue=bad) the Tokyo intruder is equally slickly looks like poop in the oil. That is slick. Everybody in this movie is the sex appeal except the Pontiac convertible. Anything don’t I know about the film (but alot about movie), so I did not say this movie is under any situation groundbreaking, but I will say I quite never will look any thing elephant.
I and Reynolds see the giant bomb formatting to to suit your screen dubbing, so I affirm we as always, bad dubbing entire provides the observation entertainment misses some kind of good materials, but one seperate main road. Do they discover this people in where? Is has the booth to the shopping center somewhere? The movie sells on commission the business has not realized there is the expert which makes voiceovers? Why, do I think they even are called the voiceover artist. I agree Shawny here, they can at least obtain the Asian and the Asian voice replace the Buffy California and the Chet American. Ampere hour, hell.
Tokyo intruder. One is extremely fast and the loose movie. One extremely confusing movie. Extremely confusingly fire movie. I were still one woozy. The fight scene or what I do seize them are very good for on the basic unmilitary artist (the good attempt, Keanu. ” you know kung fu ” my butt. Fights has not been equal as the style cannot understand the dim elephant time ash to this, but this probably is one affirms runner-up.
This matter: Only movie it simply seems in kung the fu obviously, and plays one interior decoration character accidentally is the excellelnt military artist. It are not asked. Definite by the hitch to these expectations, possesses the Asian lineage person is the donkey ??? (and possesses Asian lineage woman is beautiful). If one American movie has one badass interior decoration character, the audience familiar nod and to themselves said ” Oh, he probably are the undercover police. ”
ampere hour, shit. You think you rise. In the matter border, you get down.
detonations? One big fakes one.
NO-SHADOW kick? The certain quantity similar two legs to once move, but
mainly when is prevented by pole.
Best line: ” they should not do that to me. Lucky I brought my comb. ”
movie ??: The bad Latin popular music, writes by the American with carries
out by one Chinese.
By has it? I maintain my eye opening are non-dubber.
Sees also: Difficultly boils, the Charlie angel, my father is the hero