Thursday, February 17, 2011

"Martial Monks of Shaolin Temple"(1983)d/Godfrey Ho

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I dunno about you guys, but I'm in the mood for some spinning wheel kicks, kiais, and nunchaku tonight, as we avenge our teacher's death at the hands of an: a)ruthlessly homicidal rogue martial expert out to rule over all the area boxing clubs, b)those Manchu bastards! c)a kung fu scoundrel in a frog buttoned jacket and Farrah Fawcett wig, or d)some crazy combination of a, b, and/or c.I'm not looking for something epic, or even remotely well done in any regard, and I think I know just the source material...
I can still remember stumbling across tonight's little dittie in an out of town Mom and Pop video store,the sunbaked VHS box promising to only set me back a couple of greenbacks, well worth the price for guilty but cheap entertainment in the middle of the week.Years later, I would upgrade to dvd at a corner newsstand late one night outside Port Authority for something like two bucks.On the positive side of the coin, this cheap chopsocky choice stands as one of the better Dragon Lee movies I've sit through to date, the negative being that it still is a Dragon Lee flick, and as such, the bottom of the barrel would be a step up, indeed.If the Shaw Brothers were the Sergio Leone of Kung Fu movies in the seventies and eighties, then Godfrey Ho would almost certainly be the genre's answer to Ed Wood, Jr.In Ho's mostly incompetent hands, bad voice overdubbing becomes laughably worse voices providing the embarrassing, mismatched dub.You'd have to remaster and restore one of his prints just to upgrade it to "washed out and dull looking",and plots are seemingly handled by drop outs with short term memory loss.If you happened to find yourself actually following along with one of his half-baked stories, he'd simply lose you with ineptitude behind the camera, throwing all continuity to the wolves with choppy, guillotine editing and/or badly framed shots.Of course, as you may have already guessed, this makes his body of work highly enjoyable for viewers in the right(severely altered) state of mind.
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This week on Chau Lee's Angels: Farrah goes undercover as a Wu Dong thug in pajamas.
Okay, so the Abbot of Shaolin takes a spirited pummelling at the hands of the head of the Wu Dong clan, he of the monotone delivery and dramatic cape(which, by the way is decorated with two clawing hands that vaguely resemble a pair of tigers, if designed by an eight year old girl.Stylin'.),as portrayed by the venerable Wong Cheng Li(I'm sure his character has a name,I just didn't pick it up amidst the annoying-assed dub voices).Besides mastering "panther fist",a style designed solely for committing evil acts(!),he's got a ruthless band of martial miscreants at his disposal, men not opposed to donning a Farrah wig or impersonating Shaolin's great hero in smoking out the whereabouts of Shaolin's true hero,a man who filters his canteen water and keeps a snake in a box as a pet, who goes by the name of Dragon(Surprise.Dragon Lee.).Wong's henchmen attack Dragon from all angles and at every juncture; on the rocky beach, in wheat fields,even at the restaurant where he's been posing as an orphaned stock boy/waiter/blind mop headed beggar.Meanwhile, Wong's bald headed associate(whose piss-poor monk pose includes indulging in wine and getting bare chested rub down action from a local street urchin) squares off with a chicken-chompin' chooch with obligatory glued on handlebar moustache(to which a greasy chunk of chicken attaches itself, dangling annoyingly through both dialogue and martial action, for roughly five minutes.)and a tin foil sword so colossal he needs servants to carry it for him.During this washed out palooza of wrongdoing, Dragon flexes his skills in disguise(none of which are particularly effective),and sluggish and choppily choreographed physical comedy fights(none of which are all that impressive, or even funny, for that matter).
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Enough is enough, put down the giant tin foil sword and get that chicken out of your fake handlebar moustache already, dammit.
Eventually, Dragon reveals himself as Shaolin's would be detective-cum-avenger,but after being captured by Li's henchmens' logic-defying leg ropes(that shoot inexplicably at Dragon from out of their pants legs) his first attempt at revenge gets him slo mo triple kicked at the legs of Wong, earning him the choice of licking Li's feet or certain death."Lick it. Lick it!" says Wong,as Dragon noisily slurps the bottom of his kung fu shoe.That sucks, dude.With the help of the female vagabond, Dragon escapes Wong's clutches to heal his wounds and pride,and to do some crazy Texas Two-Step looking training around an enormous outdoor plywood yin and yang, recalling training sessions with one of the temple monks.As he lazily ploughs through Wong's netherworld ne'erdowells, he proudly relates that he's a direct descendant of "the great Dragon himself".Not that the story was the portrait of coherence thus far or anything, but where exactly does a guy who died in the seventies fit into a period piece anyway?Cue headache.The payoff is a lengthy battle between Dragon Lee and Wong Cheng Li that incorporates several large slo mo acrobatics and jump kick combos,as well as a Whack-a-mole sequence where Dragon traps Wong in a barrel via trick photography then kicks it into splinters with him inside for the bumpy ride.With Wong still kicking, Dragon breaks out a technique which apparently requires a spear and repeated footage of a stunt double flipping off a trampoline that's just out of frame over and over again, but Wong proves harder to kill than Rasputin with a gun full of blanks and a dull butter knife.When Dragon's sparring partner suddenly drops in on the death duel, he sways the odds in favor of the Shaolin proponent,and finally, he doles death down upon the dastardly bastard, winning the day for the good guys and all the viewers in the audience who aren't sawing logs yet.There might be a couple, you never know.
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Dragon Lee doesn't only imitate Bruce Lee here,he does a pretty mean Rex Ryan, head coach of the New York Jets, as well.
The Korean born Tae Kwon Do proponent/Bruceploitator has made a storied career for himself playing Bruce-esque characters in zero budgeted exploitation fare,often working with Wong Cheng Li,one of the top cinematic leg fighter villains in martial arts movie history, who really should have known better.The two most recently collaborated on Emperor of the Underworld in 1994.Apart from directing a hundred plus forgettable crapsocky flicks(mostly with "Ninja" slapped in the title somewhere,and poor one-time international star with drawing power, Richard Harrison on board), Ho most notably helmed Laboratory of the Devil, an unofficial sequel to notoriously nasty Men Behind the Sun(1988),in 1992.So uh, yeah.This one stinks, but it's sort of an unintentionally hilarious kind of whiff you just might find yourself quoting or bringing up in conversation for laughs days later.On the scale,just one big one for Monks.
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If the continuity-free editing doesn't get your head spinning, the dizzying flips and flying kicks'll do the trick.
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5 comments:

alex said...

Who is girl in red in this movie? Do you know her name?

alex said...

Who is girl in red in this movie? Do you know her name?

beedubelhue said...

Amitoba...Buddha's name be praised, and the girl in red's, too, whatever it may be.


-Wop

beedubelhue said...

I dunno, she look like an 'Edna' to you?



-Wop

alex said...

Edna? Who is Edna? I think that a girl from http://hkmdb.com/db/movies/image_detail.mhtml?id=8928&image_id=174583&display_set=eng can be a same person. But...

http://www.rarekungfumovies.com/titles/title794.html
There is no any information about her.

 
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