VENOM MOB/CHANG CHEH DOUBLE FEATURE!CRIPPLED AVENGERS (1978, 100 min.) on Amazon Prime for the first time. Because WIL-A-SPLOITATION!I didn't see coming the twist that the characters who at first appear to be the victims of foul play (and pretty-graphic-for-'78 bloody dismemberment) become the bullies that inflict similar pain on our righteous heroes. You can even label "Crippled Avengers" as "quasi-kung fu steampunk" since several characters sport artificial limbs to compensate for their missing arms/legs. Kudos to the filmmakers for not making the bad guys dummies who don't try to take advantage of their opponents' weaknesses. Yes, they eventually fail to beat (most of) our heroes, but not before they throw every mirror reflection and loud noise at them to get an upper hand. Too bad at the very end the "Crippled Avengers" don't show any emotion or care for their fallen comrades, choosing instead to walk into the (fake background) sunset the moment their revenge is achieved. That's cold! :-(THE KID WITH THE GOLDEN ARM (1979, 81 min.) on Amazon Prime for the first time. Because TRAVIS-LARSEN-SPLOITATION!Remember when T. Larsen recommended this back in 2016 and it became a sensation among F heads? It's a fun road adventure, particularly the ultra-thin premise that famine victims need to be sent a ton of gold for their survival. No, famine victims need food and water, you jerks! :-P Anywho, the titular character (Lo Mang) is the baddest (and youngest) of four leaders of the Chi San gang, each with unique strengths and weaknesses. And to paraphrase "Scooby-Doo," these thieves would have gotten away with the treasure if it wasn't for that meddling special agent Hai Tao (Kuo Chui) and his almost-undefeatable drunk fighting technique. Except for Pan Pin-Chang clearly not being in the same league as her co-stars in believably selling her sword fighting technique (at least she looks prettier than all of them), the fun the actors are having playing their over-the-top cartoony roles is contagious.Both flicks are my first samplings of the Venom Mob and director Chang Cheh's work. They feel more like filmed recordings of a traveling troupe of performers putting on a show than martial arts pictures. They share the same tolerable-but-not-insignificant flaws: repeating/recycled building sets (a Shaw Bros. staple), too many "outdoor" indoor sets, performers with similar outfits/hairdos/body types making it harder to distinguish one from the other, etc. Unlike Liu Chia-liang pictures like "36 Chambers of Shaolin," in which a punch or kick can be felt by viewers through the TV screen, the fighting choreography in "Crippled Avengers" and "Kid With the Golden Arm" seems to be more for show than to actually convey a physical confrontation between enemies trying to murder one another.Nitpicks aside ("Kid" has a peculiar bad dub in which the dialogue is tolerable, but the English voices are so completely wrong for the body types of the on-screen performers... it's fascinating in its utter shittiness), these are two very entertaining and fun martial arts movies. I want to check more Chang Cheh pictures, if only to see these performers switch roles and have fun playing off one another. "Five Deadly Venoms," "Five Elements Ninjas," "9 to 5"... what's not to love? :-P Recommended.
The theatricality of the fighting is not accidental. The roots of martial arts films are in Peking opera, and that style carried over to the early filmmakers in the genre. I have had similar moments of frustration watching that fighting style. Sometimes I just try to enjoy it like a dance number in a musical.I watched several of the Venom Mob movies while they were on Netflix. Masked Avengers was my favorite. The finale was fantastic.
Now that you mention the musical aspect. I think that was my way in to enjoying it then trying to get my head around being a modern martial arts movie.
A ton of Venom Mob pictures are streaming on Amazon Prime right now, and they're all quality transfers in proper widescreen AR. We've come a long way, baby. :-)
IRON MONKEY (1993. dir. Yuen Woo Ping) At a time of corruption and great misery in China, the Iron Monkey comes out at night stealing the wealth of the governor to give it to the poor who are streaming into the town. As the thefts become more daring, first the governor and then a royal minister take desperate measures to capture Iron Monkey. A young Wong Fei-Hung, who was a real-life martial artist, and his father wander into the town and get drawn into the hunt. The fight choreography is superb, with actors jumping, flying, spinning, and crashing all over the place. The fights are enhanced by some brilliant editing, which has a logical flow (not always the case with these films) but also brings a lot of the energy to the scenes. The pole fight at the conclusion is amazing. The effort that went into creating that particular sequence must have been significant. This was a re-watch for me, and the film is even better than I remember it being.MAD MONKEY KUNG FU (1979, dir. Chia-Liang Liu) Kung fu comedy! I was not completely ready for this one. Liu probably wanted to mix up the kung fu formula, and he certainly succeeded in thwarting my expectations. Scenes can shift from serious to comical or the reverse. Sometimes that was not to my liking. A martial arts master, played by the director, teaches his Monkey Fist style to an orphaned young man, called Little Monkey, who actually has a tendency to act like a monkey. Little Monkey has a desire to take down the local gang extorting protection money from the businesses of his town. His mission will not be as easy as he assumes it will be. There are some twists that are best not spoiled. The stylized fighting of the old-school kung fu movies has an even more exaggerated quality in Mad Monkey Kung Fu. The film opens with a theatrical production in progress, and that theatricality continues in the fight scenes. There are lots of acrobatic touches and moments when the actors look like they are dancing rather than fighting. The monkey antics also heavily come into play in the fight scenes. Though not at the same standard of Liu’s 36th Chamber of Shaolin (what is?) or Executioners from Shaolin, I unreservedly recommend it.
Both films were watched with the Mandarin dialogue and English subtitles. I did check the English dub for Mad Monkey Kung Fu and found it tolerable.
I checked out Iron Monkey this year for the first time before Junesploitation. It's a really fun movie and I can't put over that pole fight at the end anymore.
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Iron Monkey easily goes in my top five martial arts movies of all time. It's Donnie Yen, Yu Rong-Guang and Yuen Woo-Ping all bringing their very best. I love it so much
Crippled Avengers (1978 - dir Chang Cheh)It has taken a few years but I think I am finally starting to get Kung Fu. I had to watch this in the morning because I was working the late shift. I cannot think of a more pleasant Saturday morning than having coffee, breakfast and watching a Venom Mob movie. There was something about the colours and fun that just clicked with me. And holy crap that choreography. At one stage during the training sequence I realized the movie was now just showing off, but in the best possible way. Those fight sequences were just the greatest.
It's like a wacky "Dynasty Warriors" Koei videogame, but with "crippled" fighters and not outdoors.
The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (Shao Lin san shi liu fang) (1978, dir. Chia-Liang Liu)I didn't even know I wanted an action movie where the training montage lasts for most of the running time, but this was great! Loved the methodical way the story progressed and the time it took to build the main character's prowess little by little.
Another film with memorable training montages is The Shaolin Temple from 1982, which was Jet Li's first film. Even in his teens Li was an exceptional martial artist. The film is also notable for being a production from mainland China.
House of Traps (1982)I felt that the yappin’/trappin’ ratio was a bit off. Still, the final action scene was very entertaining. I essentially know nothing about kung-fu so it is always great to have an excuse to watch a few.
Crippled Avengers (1978, dir. Chang Cheh)Something tells me this is going to be the big hit of the day.What else can I say? This movie is crazy fun. The protagonists who've been crippled in some way but master Kung Fu anyway are all awesome underdogs with so much personality. I love these guys! The movie is so light and breezy. Even though some serious stuff is going down, it doesn't feel like the stakes are crazy high. That's not a bad thing it just feels like everyone is having fun.
Yakuza Apocalypse (2015, dir. Takashi Miike, First Time Viewing) This is really a kitchen sink movie. It's a horror comedy crime vampire kung-fu movie. It's not really quite as awesome as that sounds. Some of it works, some of it doesn't, but hey at least I'll never forget a guy in a giant furry frog-suit doing kung-fu!
Excuse my ignorance, what's a kitchen sink movie? I'm not familiar with the term
A movie that contains everything but the kitchen sink. Miike throws in so many different styles and tones into this, some of which work and some don’t.
Inspired by the Enter the Dragon episode of the podcast:Enter the Fat Dragon (1978)Found a DVD of this on Amazon. The picture quality isn't great, but I guess that just adds to the Junesploitation charm of it. Sammo Hung of course isn't really what one would usually call fat (there's a remake with Donnie Yen coming this year where it looks like the might be using prosthetics) but he does look like he's enjoying himself immensely every time there's a fight scene. Maybe it's just the character he's playing here who has the child-like dream of being Bruce Lee, but he just frequently has this charming grin on his face when he's about to start kicking ass. I know he's got a pretty big filmography and I should probably make an effort to watch more of it.Hero (2002)Mark Ahn listed this as one of his 5 favorite martial arts movies, and I had never seen it up until now. It probably goes without saying at this point that it's an amazingly beautiful movie told in an incredibly effective manner (somewhere between Rashomon and Clue).
Hero is so beautifully shot it almost hurts to watch. Zhang's use of color is stunning. It's absolutely my favorite martial arts movie of all time. I'm glad you got see and enjoy it!
Glad you loved Hero. It's a beautiful movie, not just to look at.
Return to the 36th Chamber (1981) Dir: Lau Kar-LeungThere is just not enough hours in the day for all the movies. Consequently, to my shame, this is a first time watch for me. I friggin loved this movie! It's one of the best movies I've seen this month. Gordon Liu is amazing as always, and Lau Kar-Leung stages some impressive fight scenes. If you haven't seen this one I highly recommend it!
Wing Chung (1994) Dir. Woo-Ping YuenI remember getting this randomly on VHS in 1994/95-ish and having my mind blown by Michelle Yeoh. I believe it was the first film I saw her in and upon revisiting it's still just as good as I remember. So much fun, amazing wire stunts and fantastic choreography. This movie moves quick and each action piece is better than the previous. It remains my favorite film of hers.
You are correct. I had Wang Chung on the brain ;)
i believe the title is Wing Chun (no G)which is also the name of the martial art practices by Bruce Lee
Correction on the title Kunider pointed out I made a mistake in the title. The film is called "Wing Chun".
today i'm having a Bruce Lee Special, with the help of Shout Factory and the Bruce Lee Legacy Collection, featuring The Big Boss, Fist of Fury, Way of the Dragon and Game of Death. plus extras. i won't be checking out the extras, which are plentyful in this set.i only ever saw Enter The Dragon, which was fine, if a bit underwhelming. so this is all new to me today.SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!!!!!THE BIG BOSS:we start with a bang with 2 fights within the first 15 minutes. we don't see Bruce in action just yet, but it's coming. and when he come in, he's quick and efficient. though it takes a solid 45 minutes before he throws his first punch, and then it takes a long while before we see him in action again, until the end fight actually. it takes a while because he promised his mother to not fight. all in all, it's everything i expected from a chinese martial art film, with extra gore. the last third is extra dark, with everyone of his friends being murdered (off screen), including a kid, and Bruce going on a revenge rampage.FIST OF FURY (a.k.a. THE CHINESE CONNECTION):while The big Boss started with a happy-go-lucky Bruce, to end with a murdery Bruce, this one start with a sad Bruce to quickly become an angry Bruce. he came for his master's funeral, but quickly learns that he was assassinated. Bruce immediatly start rampaging through the bad guys. as usual, it's book-ended with Scenes of Bruce against everybody, and not much in between. but what's in the middle is very interesting. we have an assassination plot, Bruce investigating, sometimes in disguise (like Fletch), and taking out the bad guys one by one. some beats are the exact same as the previous movie, but that's why we watch these things, for the familiarity of it.THE WAY OF THE DRAGON: and we're back with goofy Bruce. he makes goofy faces, some boing boing noises when he bump somebody on the head. stuff likethat. the action takes a while to start, a big 30 minutes before the first punch is thrown. when it gets going though, it's pretty good. so far, all 3 movies start with Bruce arriving somewhere to meet friends of family. this time he's in a different country and, near the beginning of the movie, out of nowhere, a pretty italian lady proposition him. she even bring him to her room and get naked. it was weird, pretty, but weird. beyond that, it's the standard stuff, oppressed friends, bad guys making trouble, bad guys getting punched. it's fine, but not my favorite. very few death in this one, which is different then the other two movies where the bodycount is in the double digits. and we get Chuck Norris.all 3 movies are fairly different in tone, but with the same basics. somebody's having trouble and Bruce punch the bad guy. i might watch Game Of Death later (though i hear i should not make it a priority), but right now, i have to go somewhere. damn social life.
Game of Death is terrible on multiple levels but the last 20 minutes are some of the best things Bruce ever did. It's worth it to suffer through the movie once just for the third act.
I'll bump it up on the list. Probably will end up watching it later tonight, when i'm done with my friends
The Man With the Iron Fists (2012)I seem to remember the trailer to this looking awesome. My experience with it was not as awesome. I didn't really care for it.
You remember correctly. Great trailer, not so great movie
The Accidental Spy (2001)This was more action than Kung Fu for my tastes, but still some great fight scenes and it was the only thing I could catch on cable at my girlfriend’s house before work. Plus, Jackie Chan is charming and generally makes everything more watchable.
Kung Fu Killer (2014)Donnie Yen is so friggin’ boss. Here he’s Hahou Mo, a former martial arts instructor for the police now serving time in prison after accidentally killing an opponent. After several martial arts masters are mysteriously murdered, he makes a deal with the police to help investigate the killings in exchange for his freedom. While that sounds like a setup for a mystery, it’s not. The killer is revealed very early on, the fun is in watching him get tracked down and, of course, in the spectacular fight sequences throughout, which were choreographed by Yen (incidentally, hibachijustice was right when he said on Twitter that the final showdown is an all-timer. There are some really standout action scenes here). Yen has such a singular presence, there always seems to be something going on behind his eyes and he’s so interesting to watch. He’s really good here, both when he’s thoughtfully investigating the murders and when he’s thoroughly wrecking dudes. Get you a man who can do both.
I'm so glad you liked it! I agree totally with everything you said about Donnie Yen. There's nobody like him in martial arts movies, and the fact that he's in his 50's and still doing some of his best work is amazing
Yeah, Kung Fu Killer us awesome and Donnie Yen is the best. I actually bought the blu-ray recently, i'll watch it soon
NINJA DEATH (1987) Talk about in media res -- this movie begins with about ten minutes of swordsmen fighting ninjas, with no dialogue or context of any kind. By day, our protagonist Tiger is a bouncer at an incredibly sleazy brothel, but by night he is a martial arts vigilante, ridding his village of invading ninjas. It’s plotless nonsense, but our hero Tiger makes for an appropriately ripped and sweaty action hero. NINJA DEATH II (1987) More plotless sex and violence as Tiger continues fighting the ninjas. This one introduces romance for our hero, as well as revelations about his past. The big fight from the beginning of the first movie is edited into the middle of this one, which has me wondering just how these movies were made and released to viewers. NINJA DEATH III (1987) Tiger keeps on fightin’ those ninjas. The big battle at the end is pretty impressive, bringing back characters from all three movies. Fans like to talk about the ‘80s ninja movie craze, but the “craze” always seemed to me to be a small number of films. This trilogy is right in the middle of that storm, though, and it should satisfy anyone who wants to see ninjas doing ninja stuff.
Kung Fu Cannibals aka RAW FORCE (1982)Like others have said before, this is a little light on the Kung Fu, but what I want to know is, who is the Raw Force? The kickboxers? The ships crew? Perhaps the recipe they use on Warriors Island? Somebody must know!Honestly I had a hard time keeping track of who to root for during the second act sexcapades, and much less any characters name. But it does feature the always gr..... scratch that, the always "game" Cameron Mitchell, who likely signed on when he saw it took place on a Booze Cruise. Anyway, this movies one notch below the entries in the Malibu Express universe, and doesn't quite have the rocking feel of a Miami Connection. I give it two and a half out of five coke bumps.
Shaolin Soccer (2001, dir. Chow)My brother and I used to watch this all the time on The Movie Network when we were kids. I probably haven't seen it since 2006 or so, but since it's all just big, comedic set pieces, it's pretty hard to forget. I can't say it revealed anything new to me now that I'm older -- it was still just a funny, ridiculous underdog story that acts as a live-action cartoon. It's the sort of movie I would have written when I were 10 years old. It's stupid and obvious, but sometimes clever and always earnest. A good time.
The Flying Guillotine (1975)The emperor has a new invention, The flying guillotine, a devastating weapon in the hands of his assassins. He uses them to sow fear and kill all that opposes him. One of his trained assassin, Ma Teng played by Chen Kuan-Tai, grows disillusioned with the emperor’s reign of fear and terror. His dissatisfaction culminates one night, and runs off and becomes a farmer.But off course he can’t hide for ever. And the emperor send out his assassins to kill him and his new family.I thought there would be a lot more fights, but there are only a few, compared to other Kung Fu movie I have seen. But the ones there are really well choreographed. I especially love the fight where the cross-cut between a fight between to guards and Ma Teng and song sung by his love interest Yu Ping. It’s something the movie also uses doing a fight scene crosscutting between it and Yu Ping giving birth. It works quite well. It even has some great shots which utilizes the Kuleshov effect as Ma Teng thinks back on his training. I think this must be the movie with the most decapitations I have ever seen.The movie uses wide angle lens in several shoots, mostly in wide shots, but I can’t figure out why.
Crippled Avengers (1978)Already had this one lined up to watch today but when it seemed to be the movie of the day for everyone I got even more motivated. These 70s and 80s Kung Fu movies really fit the junesJunesploit mold more so than a lot of other martial arts films, like samurai movies. The premise is just so damn cheesy and I can't even imagine the drug circle where someone came up with the idea to squash a Kung Fu master's head to make him....er special (is that the accepted term?). Had fun watching it but I definitely lean more towards the serious martial arts films like Hero. Glad I finally checked it out. Planning to watch Duel to the Death later this evening after work.
The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978)I love kung fu movies, but for whatever reason I haven't seen enough of them. Today I decided to give what I think is a classic in the genre a shot, so I went with 36th Chamber. It's a lot of fun. I never thought close to an hour long training montage would work, but it did. And I could've used a few more fights, but the fights we did get were great.
Mr Nice Guy (1997) I think this is Jackie at his most Jackie. He doesn't want no trouble. He really just does not want to be involved in the whole situation and is constantly just defending himself from people who want to ruin his day. I think he only has possession of the video tape the bad guys want for about 5 minutes? It's kind of frustrating too because if you take Chef Jackie out of the equation there is no conflict, the gangs get the tape and then just continue being bad guys... There's not a lot of stakes here until the end. The bad guys basically speak by shouting at each other, and there's also a really hilarious bit of exposition about why Jackie is a chef and not a police officer, because the kitchen is a safe place. I was disappointed there was no "No More Mr Nice Guy" joke. Definitely not my favorite Jackie movie but it has some awesome stunts with a dump truck that are very impressive. It's still a lot of fun.
GAME OF DEATH:i feel... dirty. like i took a dump on Lee's grave. actually, a dump would be less an affront to his memory than this. this is disgraceful. everybody implicated in the production of this should be ashamed. why does it even exist (rhetorical question, i know why). and now, i own it. and it's forever burned onto thousands of dvds and blu-rays, and in the cloud. they did the same thing with The Pink Panther and Inspector Clouseau, but somehow it looked like Citizen Kane compared to this.i'm sorry, i had to get it out. at least, now i'm done.
The worst part is that in the footage that actually has Bruce at the end you can get hints of what he wanted the movie to be. Unfortunately it was turned into the abomination that we got. If you're interested, there's a pretty good documentary called Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey that details Bruce's original vision for Game of Death. It also includes several minutes of footage that had been previously thought lost, 23 minutes in total. It really makes the existing Game of Death seem even more tragic and exploitative.
I read about the documentary, i'll check it out
The Kid with the Golden Arm (1979)This is like the Mad Max: Fury Road of Kung fu movies. Really simple plot about transporting a cart of gold, followed by 84 minutes of almost nonstop insane fights. This is currently tied with Sorcerer for favorite find of the month.
Wolf Guy (1975)I’d heard of this title years ago and just recently started seeing it pop up among Arrow Video titles, so I figured it was time to give it a spin. Dear lord, this movie is bananas. It’s much less literal than I was expecting, but then suddenly it takes a turn into way more ridiculous than I was expecting territory. Sonny Chiba is cool and rugged as always as the titular character (who is more Wolverine than werewolf) and he’s tracking a woman who is a tigress (also not an actual weretiger, but instead a metaphorical spirit tiger killer, what am I watching?). The soundtrack is rad as hell, the fights are solid, and there’s more weirdness than you would expect from a 70s Japanese street fighter movie.
Contour aka The Agent (2006) Dir: Eric JacobusMan as much as I was looking forward to this day, life got in the way. I was still able to watch this gem though. I can't sing the praises of Eric Jacobus and his action team The Stunt People enough. They are truly DIY/Indie action masters.This is the first movie they put together, all independently funded and it shows in the editing and sound quality. Nevertheless all of the things that make Jacobus productions so great are still present, from the witty comedy to the blistering fights and stunts. Some of the humor has not dated well, but if you can get into the DIY spirit this is a great time. If you haven't discovered Eric Jacobus yet please check his stuff out. I'd start with his short films Rope-a-Dope 1 & 2 and Blindsided. If you decide to watch this be aware the streaming version on Amazon has about 10 minutes cut out of it, which makes for some weird scene transitions. Even with the cuts though I hope you all check it out.
Human Lanterns (1982)Shaw Brothers Giallo film. If that sounds like your cup of tea, have a sip.
Duel to the Death (1983)After watching several Shaw Brother's films and then seeing this, you get a vastly different tone. The plot is still convoluted as all hell and ridiculousness insues, but it just comes off grittier. The camera angles are different, there aren't but just a couple bad sideburn wigs, the fights come off as more brutal, especially the last. Shaw Brother's movies to me are fun, but venture a bit far into cartoon. Cartoon can be fun, but sometimes I want more serious martial arts. Even the fights in this one came off less staged.
Shaolin Intruders (1983, dir. Chia Tang)I wasn’t sure I would get to squeeze a movie in today, but it would have bummed me out to miss kung fu day. Picked this one mostly at random and had a good enough time with it; the story isn’t especially involving and the movie leans more heavily into fantasy in its fight scenes, but the choreography is amazing and the set pieces are excellent. Happy to have seen it.
Supercop aka Police Story 3 (1992):Every movie not starring Michelle Yeoh needs to star Michelle Yeoh.