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Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon (1990)Not one of Sammo's best movies, but I order all the Sammo Hung stuff Eureka is willing to put out. Sammo didn't direct this one and he's paired up with Karl Maka who can't really match his co-star in ability or charisma. Nothing really to write home about in the action scenes either. That said, keep releasing this stuff Eureka!
Still kind of want to see it. And bless Eureka for it's Sammo Hung work!
'PRIME'S GOT YOUR BACK THIS YEAR, BRO!' TWO-FER!Richard W. Munchkin's RING OF FIRE II: BLOOD AND STEEL (1993, Amazon Prime, 94 min.) for the first time.DING! DING DING! WE'VE GOT A WINNER HERE! So it's 9AM on my day off from work. Got nothing to do for a few hours, so I decide to check out Prime Video's ample supply of kung-fu choices. This Don 'The Dragon' Wilson joint appears, and I take a chance on it despite being a sequel to 1991 flick I've never seen. OH MY GOD! Imagine if talented low-budget filmmakers felt like doing an unlicensed videogame adaptation of the beat-'em up videogames "Double Dragon" (bad guys kidnap hero's girlfriend to entice him to enter Los Angeles' brightly-lit 'Underground' beneath L.A. streets) and "Streets of Rage" beat-'em up videogames (themed gangs standing between the good guys and a cage match with a Boss for the ultimate duel). Then give the hero a handful of sidekicks that look/sound like an 80's Saturday morning cartoon version of the dancing kids from "Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo," except these guys can beat ass and look "cool" while dodging endless waves of easily-dispatchable, color-coordinated generic baddies.I swear if I had watched "Ring of Fire II: Blood and Rage" in the evening instead of early morning my neighbors would have complained from all the hooting and hollering I was doing. Maybe I was vulnerable or something, but everything about this is a Junesploitation! smorgasbord of pure awesome. From the fact 'The Dragon' Wilson plays a (shirtless 90% of the movie and looking like Liu Kang from the then-new "Mortal Kombat" videogame) doctor but is given no dialogue or even scenes to show off his profession to the so-early-90's-it-rulz! hip-hop song cuts and dayglow colors, or from the older black homeless veteran (Sy Richardson's Ernest) who brings a satchel of guns/explosives to a fist fight (and uses them all!) to the bad guys looking like (obviously shirtless) metal rock musicians, "Ring of Fire II" screams direct-to-video early 90's goodness. The fight choreography stinks and is secondary to the wacky world the movie exists in, but that just adds to its charm. And this being a PM Entertainment joint, there are no less than three GIGANTIC explosions (including a prison bus that somehow explodes again after already flipping and exploding once before!) that feel epic for what is clearly a small budget production. If The Cannon Group had somehow still be in the action movie business in 1993, they would have been proud to call "Ring of Fire II" their Prodigal Son. 5 JEWERLY THIEVES GUNNED DOWN BY COPS, "LETHAL ENFORCERS"-STYLE (out of 5). I cannot recommend this enough for both Kung-Fu! and 90's Action! days. :-D
This sounds amazing! I saw it on prime but got spooked by it being a sequel to something I haven't seen- you'd think after watching countless cash-in "sequels" that have little to do with the movies they follow I'd worry less about missing continuity at this point lol, but it still always gets me.
Terence H. Winkless's RAGE AND HONOR (1992, Amazon Prime, 89 min.) for the first time.It's a shame Cynthia Rothrock never broke into the action mainstream, but at least her body of work provides ample supply of choice for today and tomorrow's Junesploitation! festivities. Here Cynthia plays an inner city martial arts teacher (good luck making a living!) that teams-up with disgraced L.A.P.D. detective Richard Norton (whose Preston Michaels is practically a co-lead) to save the life of a little kid in Cynthia's class that videotaped a gang leader shooting a man in cold blood, which would also clear Norton's reputation. Brian Thompson plays the final boss, and despite having a personal connection with Cynthia her (and Norton's too because, again, co-lead) final showdown atop a warehouse rooftop is weak sauce. Daisy Duke herself, Catherine Bach, shows up a couple of times as the police captain that seems to exist just to bust Richard Norton's chops. Like "Ring of Fire II," there's no time for sex scenes, nudity or romance because Cynthia and Richard (who actually have great chemistry together) have too many punks and above-ground gang asses to kick to save the day. Gets boring often, but rebounds with decent-for-the-money fight scenes galore. 2.75 LAME JOKES ABOUT NORTON'S AUSTRALIAN ACCENT (out of 5).
Ninja in the Dragon's Den aka The Legend of the Ninja (Long zhi ren zhe) (1982, dir. Corey Yuen)Had a lot of fun with this one! The fights are expertly performed and, more importantly, each fight is different and they're meticulously choreographed. The camerawork is inventive and the theme song is an absolute banger. The story's not necessarily the main draw here, although the the ending is kind of brilliant in its stupidity. Could've done without the comic sidekick character though.Watched it on YouTube.
THE ONE (2001) on NetflixLoved this so much more than I thought I would, (I'm 3/3 on Junesploitation so far!) Twenty years before multiverses became all the rage, Jet Li fights other universe Jet Li (quite convincingly I might add) while being hunted down by Delroy Lindo and Jason Statham. The soundtrack wins though. It's completely self aware, "Let The Bodies Hit The Floor" while he's beating the hell out of people, "Down with the Sickness" when good Jet Li thinks he's going crazy seeing bad Jet Li, and "Blood Brothers" when they duke it out in the finale.
Duel to the Death (1983, dir. Ching Siu-Tung)A simple story about a Chinese kung fu warrior who is going to duel a Japanese samurai. But then....ninjas. Like lots of ninjas come flying into the movie at various points to mess stuff up. Ninjas who can fly, join together like Voltron, throw 1,2, even 100's of ninja stars at a time. There's also a woman who is disguised as a man because she's wearing pants, and only one person sees through it. The main story is very entertaining and then the movie is occasionally heightened by something crazy and unexpected happening. Most of the combat is done using swords. It's available for free on asiancrush.com.
The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter, dir Lau Kar-leung, 1984There are multiple moments in this movie where I actually exclaimed what the fuck knuckle. And one of those moments is when Gordon Liu uses a pile of Bamboo as a grappling gun. 8 Diagram Fighter is awesome. It's delightfully violent and I enjoyed the hell out if it.If Gordon Liu wants to shave his head let him shave his head.
The ~12 minute action sequence at the end is one of my favourite things ever. It's been several years since I watched the movie in it's entirety, but I'll watch just that sequence every once in a while.
Same here, Paul. It's 75 minutes of build-up for 15 minutes of Junesploitation! heaven. Totally worth it. 😇
Dirty Ho (1979)Beautifully choreographed but it feels much more like dancing than fighting... It never feels physical or threatening enough. The exception is the final fight which is excellent but severely let down by headache inducing, repetitive, cartoon sound effects every half a second. The comedy is too broad for my taste. It's no Drunken Master 2, but then what is?
Five Deadly Venoms (1978) dir. Chang Cheh This was a blind pick from the Shaw Brothers Collection on Arrow Player- Kung Fu is easily the genre I know the least, so I was stoked to dive in. Funnily enough, it seems like I managed to find an entry that’s a lot more Agatha Christie-ish mystery than kung-fu display. As a massive Giallo and whodunnit fan, this was right up my alley, though it’s probably not as much of a cinematic stretch as I was aiming for. Still, I had a blast! It’s a great premise- five martial arts students studied anonymously and are only identifiable by the trademark style they practice– with plotting tight enough to support it and keep it engaging the whole way though. I definitely plan to hit up some of the more traditional fighting-focused Shaw entries soon, but I’m definitely intrigued to find more that fits into this mystery subcategory (if there is enough to make it a sub category). See y’all down at some well lit construction scaffolding tomorrow!
LEGEND OF THE EIGHT SAMURAI (1983) An evil empire slays the royal family, except for one young princess who escapes and befriends the titular eight samurai. They then go on a quest for eight magic beads needed to destroy the empire. Samurai movies begat Star Wars, and now Star Wars begat this. It's very, very Star Wars-y. Sonny Chiba is here, bringing his usual tough guy presence. Super-fun movie, and I'd love to see it properly restored on a Blu-ray/4K. Bonus Lloyd Kaufman-sploitation, day 3: BIG GUS WHAT'S THE FUSS? (1973) Two bumbling private eyes investigating a cheating husband run afoul mobsters and whatnot. This was an Israeli/US co-production, allegedly during a short-lived time when Israel hoped to become a big player in the movie biz. It allegedly never got released due to political unrest. Impossibly, BIG GUS feels even more amateur and low-budget than Kaufman's student films. It's what movie fans would call "mumblecore" years later. This one's skippable, even for the most hardcore Troma-heads.
I watched Legend of the Eight Samurai for the sword and sorcery category a couple of years ago, Mac. It definitely is a fun movie, but I cannot say I completely understood the plot. I have it on DVD in a Sonny Chiba set. There is a similar movie in that set called Ninja Wars that thought was a little better than Eight Samurai. It's also a great watch for sword and sorcery day.
The Man from Hong Kong (1975)This movie is awesome! It's been on my radar for a bit after reading about it in an article Patrick wrote on the Rupert Pupkin Speaks site, and once again, he knows what he's doing.The cast is a blast. Jimmy Wang Yu kicks ass and oozes cool as a kung fu-flavored Bond/cop hybrid. George Lazenby chews up the scenery as the slick, very hateable villain. Rosalind Speirs is very charismatic and witty as a sometimes love interest opposite Wang Yu (note: this is a pretty sex positive movie). And freaking Toecutter and the police chief from Mad Max (!!!) are hilarious as the drier Australian proto-equivalent of Taggart and Rosewood from Beverly Hills Cop.The fight scenes in this movie doesn't seem as technically virtuosic as other entries in the genre, but they're solid and really fun to watch. They make great use of props/weapons, and they run the gamut from funny to brutal and gory. The many non-martial arts stunts also really shine (and, according to an AV Club article about the movie, were apparently shot pretty recklessly). Jimmy Wang Yu appears to Spider-Man free climb about ten stories up the side of a building (no wires or nets that I could see). There's a fantastic extended car chase, and some cool aerial shots of Sydney in service of a lot of hang gliding (sorry, kite flying) footage.The movie really just has a great sense of humor and a light, fun tone that give a lot of charm to the interstitial non-action scenes, and keep the pace of the movie flying along. As a cherry on top, the soundtrack to this movie is fantastic (including the cheesy, but very fun "Sky High" theme song, some nice action funk, and one blatant James Bond theme ripoff).After sort of striking out with my choices on the first couple days of Junesploitation, I feel like I struck gold with this first time watch. If anyone is still mulling their Kung Fu options, I wholeheartedly recommend The Man from Hong Kong.
Yay! So glad you liked it!
Revenge of the Shogun Women (1977, dir. Mei-Chun Chang)Not a great kung fu movie, but I watched it in old-school anaglyph 3D from the Kino Lorber disc and it was fun. It's violent and stupid and the 3D gags are pretty great. There's something depressing about watching a 3D movie totally alone.
I do it all the time. 🤔🤨Nobody l know (family or friends) wants to watch a 3D movie whenever l ask them if they want to. Oh well, their loss. 😛
Only the Strong (1993, dir. Sheldon Lettich)Ok it's not Kung-Fu but it's Kung-Fu adjacent featuring the Brazilian martial art of Capoeira. Mark Dacascos teaches some troubled youth Capoeira in order to get them on the right track, Dangerous Minds-style. For me this movie shines because Mark Dacascos is one of the most charismatic humans on the planet, on top of being a talented martial artist and athlete. Also this is a '90s time capsule in a good way. Highly Recommended.
Masked Avengers (1981)Shaw Brothers joint. A group of kung fu-fightin' friends investigate a gang of bloodthirsty killers in freaky masks (and get picked off one by one in the process). These so-called Masked Avengers don't seem to avenge anyone, but they sure love to impale people with their razor sharp tridents and come up with creative ways to use statues as torture devices. The gang leaders are as elusive as they are vicious, but luckily the noble heroes run into a mysterious cook who may hold the key to unraveling the mystery. What follows is an almost non-stop barrage of absurdly elaborate, physics-defying fight scenes that use up outrageous amounts of that bright red fake blood and never fail to entertain.
DREADNAUGHT (1981)D: Yuen Wo-Ping / W: Peace GroupP: Raymond Chow / M: Frankie ChanFraidy-cat Yuen Biao (DRAGONS FOREVER) is just trying to collect unpaid laundry bills, but no one respects him. Meanwhile, the legendary Wong Fei-Hung (Kwan Tak-Hing from THE MAGNIFICENT BUTCHER) is dealing with intense Chinese dragon team rivalry. All the while, the grumbling, murderous White Tiger is lurking, triggered to traumatic flashbacks of the brutal opening scene by the sound of tinkling bells. Bells like the ones Yuen Biao wears around his neck. Wong’s star pupil (Leung Kar-Yan from WARRIORS TWO) tries to help his weaker, clothes-cleaning pal, getting them mixed up with head detective Fan Mei-Sheng (THE YOUNG MASTER) who’s on the hunt for White Tiger. This flick is not that complicated, but it’s all over the place. The goofery is plenty entertaining, with great choreography from Yuen Wo-Ping & others, but the scenes with White Tiger are legitimately menacing. At some point he starts painting his face, nudging things closer to slasher movie territory. Kwan Tak-Hing started playing Wong Fei-Hung in 1949, retiring his portrayal with DREADNAUGHT. On offer from the fabulous Golden Harvest is the “flying sleeve”, a deadly hat, laundry fu, roach murder, a fantastic Chinese dragon duel & a nutty series of final battles. Great stuff.EUREKA! BluRay
WARRIORS TWO (1978)D: Sammo Hung / W: Sze-To OnP: Raymond Chow / M: Frankie Chan“You must combine your strength with the flexibility of the rod. Otherwise the nut will merely slip away.” Slimeball Fung Hak-On (DRAGON LORD) is trying to take over the town, but he’s got to get rid of a couple of righteous men before control is his. Casanova Wong (IN THE CLAWS OF THE C.I.A.) is a bank teller who overhears murderous plans & becomes a target. Leung Kar-Yan (ODD COUPLE) is both doctor & kung fu instructor, taking no shit & making himself a target. His student, Sammo Hung, convinces Leung to teach Casanova Wong. This Golden Harvest picture takes the fighting seriously with bloodshed, visious traps & murder in mind. Sammo helps bring some levity, especially when stooge Dean Shek (SPIRITUAL KUNG FU) is onscreen. Lee Hoi-Sang (THE 36TH CHAMBER OF SHAOLIN) has iron skin, Tiger Yang (BLIND FIST OF BRUCE) is a scarred longhair, Yeung Wai (THE HAND OF DEATH) is deadly with a spear & Cheung Man-Ting (POLICE ANGEL) is dangerous with her swords. The choreography, handled by Sammo, is fantastic.EUREKA! / FORTUNE STAR
MOONLIGHT SWORD AND JADE LION (1977) - Sadly, this is a complete dud. Even after watching the last third of the film a second time, I still do not understand what the story adds up to. A young woman is sent out by her master to find his brother, who seems to have disappeared. She has fights, other characters have fights, and somehow whatever the conflict was gets resolved. The old-school 1970s dubbing really does not shed light on the plot, and the editing is very choppy. Moreover, the fight choreography is not good and very repetitive, which left me feeling bored by the half-way point of the film.
The Kid With the Golden Arm (1979, dir. Cheh Chang)Everything I wanted it to be.
Lady Iron Monkey (1979)Chi-Hwa Chen directed Jackie Chan in some of his earliest successes, like Half a Loaf of Kung Fu and Police Story. For this movie, he enters the fantastic and tells us the legend of Ming Ling Shur (Kam Fung-ling), a girl raised by apes and in the world of Hong Kong martial arts cinema, that means that she also has a fighting style based on the monkey that allows her to oufight nearly anyone.Sadly, she falls for the wrong man, the prince (Chen Sing) that she serves as the guard for. He’s just using her to become emperor, but she wants love, so she gets a makeover — some have called this She’s All That mixed with Wolf Devil Woman and you know, yes as many times as I can say yes — and loses most of her powers. That means that she needs to relearn all of her martial arts abilities in time to battle a killer (Lo Lieh) and prove that the prince was the one behind the scheme to steal the crown.Better titled The Ape Girl, we can consider Ming Ling Shut the Iron Monkey in fighting style and trickster ability. Despite being only a feral girl, she also somehow has a taile, yet the film never explains where she came from. You just accept these things and enjoy things like the opening where she does monkey style kung-fu intercut with a chimpanzee.Luckily, even when our heroine becomes a gorgeous human, she retains her tail and remembers that everyone shunned her when she was more simian in appearance. Her master didn’t want her to become human, as he knew she’d have her heart broken, and there’s a lesson there for all of us.So how does she make the great change? Her master’s wife puts her in a barrel for three days and pours special chemicals on her that make her transform into a woman with a tail. It’s pretty astounding.Not many movies have flying monkey women who can choke men out with their prenhensile tails, so you should take this one and hold it close to your heart.You can watch this on Tubi. The print is battered into oblivion and sometimes, that makes a movie that much better.
King Boxer (1972)Like a lot of folks posting their Junesploitation watches on the Twitter Machine today (sending JB a royalty check), I dug into the Shaw Brothers box set a little for Kung Fu day. King Boxer is solid although somewhat unremarkable movie, at least compared to what would come later, but it's historical significance as a bit of a breakthrough hit in the US shouldn't be downplayed.
Yes, Madame! (1985)It could have used a bit more of Michelle Yeoh and Cynthia Rothrock kicking the shit out of dudes and less "humor," but worth it for the final fight.
Oh! Also enjoyed the cameo by 33 year old Sammo Hung as an "old master."
GOLDEN SWALLOW (1968, dir. Chang Cheh) - This early entry in the Shaw Brothers martial arts output is a sequel of sorts to Come Drink With Me. Although Chang Pei Pei reprises her role from that film, she is largely relegated to a supporting role this time. The charismatic Jimmy Wang Yu and Lo Lieh are the primary characters. Yu is a psychopathic vigilante swordsman hunting down every criminal and bad person he can find. He sure does hack his way through a lot of them. Despite the awkward combination of love triangle melodrama and sword action, Golden Swallow does entertain and has some impressive cinematography. Any one who is a fan of the actors or wuxia films should enjoy it.
Another interesting aspect of Golden Swallow is the spaghetti western influence. There is a sequence of close-ups that would not be out place in a Sergio Leone film. Yu's swordsman might as well be a gunslinger coming into town intent on leaving some bodies behind.
Legend of the Red Dragon (2002, worldwide release) aka The New Legend of Shaolin (1994, original release)I had been wanting to watch a Jet Li jam for a while, it had been too long. The film opens with a tribute to a scene from the wolf and cub movies, which I’ve never seen. I know the scene from hearing the sample at the beginning of GZA’s first album (Wu Tang guy). The bit where the kid has to chose between a weapon and a toy. In this movie, he chooses the weapon. Fast forward, and father and son are a martial arts duo, Jet Li and this fantastic kid actor. Much of the movie is quite comedic. There are many scenes with Jet Li kicking butt, and other scenes with his son and his other kid friends kicking butt. The kids are even more bad ass than the adults. And they all kick butt together at the end. Fun watch. I usually like to watch with subtitles, but it was only available dubbed. On Prime, it seemed like the dub was playing up the comedic aspect of it a little more than the movie was. Worth watching for the bits where the kids are fighting. It very well choreographed, and the gang of kids is awesome. Also, Jet Li is always awesome.
Police Story 3: Supercop (1992, dir. Stanley Tong)Originally released in 1992 this got a wider western release in 1996 following the success of Rumble in the Bronx with an accompanying music video from Warren G, What's Love Got To Do With It, introducing the world to the excellent Michelle Yeoh.
I've been to a music festival for the last couple of days, so I had to play catch-up today.18 Bronze Girls of Shaolin (1983 – Lai-Yeh Chien)For the first half of the movie, I simply was frustrated with the movie. My language dub switched from English, to German, to Taiwanese (I guess), the story was weird and confusing, the characters “funny” and boring at the same time, the action was just okay enough for me to stay with the movie. The second half, maybe the last third, turned this movie around for me. The fun-action appearance of the actual 18 bronze girls of Shaolin, and the final fight against the evil Kung fu boss, are stacked with creativity, drama and good fighting action (and comical sounds), that this movie is worth the watch. Started as a disappointment, delivered in the final. Good work!