Wednesday, June 5, 2013

"Dynamo" (1978) d/ Hwa I Hung

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Yeah, set aside that Game of Death(1979) tracksuit in the one sheet  for a moment (besides, he wears two different JKD tracksuits in this one), as such Brucesploitative imagery might sour you on an otherwise entertaining Ho Tsung Tao(Bruce Li) movie; Ho being the most  recognizable of all the Lee imitators and the one with the largest body of work, having appeared in thirty-eight movies dating back to the Taiwanese production, Death Duel(1972). Despite being peppered with a supporting cast of the usual overmatched suspects (i.e. Ku Feng, Chiang Tao), this one gets by with passable fight choreography provided by Yuen Cheung-Yan, but eyes familiar to the more dynamic stunt work of Jacky Chan, Sammo Hung, or Liu Chia Liang might find these brawls as primitive as a pair of cave bearskin knickers. Still, the odd rapport between Ho and Ku is laugh-worthy enough, and let's not forget about those "Bruce Lee and I"(1976) inserts.

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"The bottle ends before these Bruce Lee rip-offs ever will...", gurgles Teacher Chow (Ku Feng).
A movie producer named Miss Mary arrives in Hong Kong for Bruce Lee's funeral ("They wouldn't sink so low as to include actual Bruce Lee funeral footage here, would they?", he asked knowingly) and manages to catch cab driver Lee Ting Yee (Bruce Li) putting the hurt on some common street trash, offering him ten grand a month as salary to be the next big action star on the silver screen. She hires a heavy boozer named Chow (Ku Feng) as Lee's Sifu, and he informs his student, "Feel free to attack me any time, because I'll do the same." A strange request, to be sure, but Lee obliges, and suddenly attacks his elder at every juncture. Lee also often dreams of the real Bruce (or Danny Lee doing a pretty bad Bruce Lee imitation from another movie, if you've got eyes), and before long he finds himself in similar shoes to the late kung fu actor.

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"Sometime when we touch, honesty too much."
The cabbie turned actor's sudden popularity draws the ire of rival movie producer named Mr. George who sends random gangs of toughs to every country that Lee is filming in, leading to a headache-inducing number of  attacks in what's supposed to be America (it isn't even), Hong Kong, Japan, and Korea, sating the viewer's need to see a bellhop fight, and even James Bond-style ski slope brawls, but Lee reigns triumphant over all comers, forcing George and his cronies to up the ante by kidnapping Lee's girlfriend and forcing him to throw a fight in an upcoming martial arts tournament if he ever wants to see her alive. Natually, Chow helps rescue her in the nick of time, and Lee wins his match in the end, but he gives up the glamorous movie lifestyle for good, having had enough of it, and returns to happier times as a cab driver.

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"I'm not Bruce Lee either!", boasts Li Hsiu-Hsien, in a scene from a different movie altogether.
The plot of tonight's review mirrors lead actor Ho Tsung Tao's rise to fame, much like his later effort, The Chinese Stuntman/ Counter Attack (1981).You might notice Steve Sander, also an extra in Enter the Dragon(1973),  in one of the fight scenes, in his trademark funky stocking cap, can you dig it, baby? Director Hwa would go on to work with Billy Chong on Crystal Fist (1979), A Hard Way To Die(1979), and Kung Fu Zombie (1981). Perceptive readers might wonder how one of the better Bruce Li efforts only merits two wops on the scale, but I think that rating speaks volumes on how much worse most of his other stuff really was. Then again, compared to the next most prolific Lee imitators, Huang Kin Lung(Bruce Le) and Dragon Lee, whose collective unwatchable stink-bomb rate is prodigious as all fuck, average is pretty much as good as it gets in this subgenre.

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"Sayyy, are those Swingster ski pants?"
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