Monday, July 1, 2013

"Hong Kong Godfather" (1985) d/ Wang Lung Wei

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Holy shit. If there was a sudden shortage of crimson paint in Hong Kong in 1985, tonight's focus ( a modern era Shaw Brothers crime drama with elements of the Johnny Wang Yu heroic bloodshed pictures the studio churned out in the early seventies) as directed by none other than villainy king, Johnny Wang Lung Wei himself, is probably the culprit, by the Gods. If you've only seen the depths of Wang's cinematic treachery as an actor and you dig the color red a lot, you really owe it to yourself to bear witness to the uberviolent bloodbath he dreams up as a screenwriter/director/fight choreographer, it may be the craziest action experience this side of John Woo. Playing out Wang's blood-soaked triad tale are the always dynamic Liang Chia-Jen ('Beardy'), Norman Chu ( who's rocking a perm and a rat tail, mind you ), and Shu Yuan-Hsu. It should also be noted that the previous generation's apex baddie, Enter the Dragon's "Mr. Han", Shih Kien is along for the ride here, even demonstrating a brief form during his lens time. Onwards!

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Bad news sometimes comes in sunglasses and an ugly blazer. And so what.
After treating some Chinatown rivals to some hearty machine gun fu for which he's given a life sentence, Hei (Wong Chun) uses his Triad connections to get pardoned and return to Hong Kong, where he plans to rise to the top of the Asian underworld with the cooperation of  Brother Han (Shih Kien), the crime boss with a heart of gold. Han has been seeing to "Mad" Wei (Liang Chia-Jen), a former associate-turned-florist(!), and setting up the transfer of his operations to 'Playboy" Lung (Norman Chu), his head bodyguard with a fucked up haircut, much to the dismay of the scheming, aptly nicked "Rotten" Chi (Sam Wai), who's epic backstabbery results in Lung getting laid up in a hospital bed with a hundred machete stitches, and then Han,  his family, and most of his  henchmen being wiped out in a choppingly good mob hit where even his young grandson gets an ethno-backbreaker and chucked out a window like a half full trashbag by one of Hei's hitmen in one of the film's many multiple exclamation point moments. We're introduced to various lowlifes and thugs through lengthy dialog exchanges, but the choppers come out and the screen is drenched in arterial spray before the action can grind to a halt.

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"Pass me that Chinese kid, I'm open for three!"
Hei's blade-wielding powerplay (Isn't this a modern era flick? Where are all the damned guns?) leaves only Mad Wei, Playboy Lung, and Sargeant-on-the-take, Man (Richard Cheung Kuen) alive to exact bloody retribution for Han's violent slaying, and after Wei's daughter is abruptly abducted and slutted up by their unscrupulous rivals, the three descend upon Hei's building (the same indoor mall Jackie Chan used in his Police Story the same year) with various bladed objects, and chop, hack, and slash their way to the final square off versus Hei, Rotten Chi, and all of their bodyguards, Wang Lung Wei included. If you've made it this far, you're about to be rewarded with a visceral orgy of martial violence of truly epic proportions. This is one you're gonna wanna see for yourselves.

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"How many strawberry preserves jokes can this B.W. guy make already!!!"
Previously only available in edited bootlegs and a region three disc, the folks at Funimation have done us all proper, in releasing a beautiful uncut print of this Peckinpah-esque gangster epic for old fans to revisit in it's full glory and for new fans to discover for the first time. Johnny Wang would return to the director's chair the following year with The Innocent Interloper, then twice again in 1988 with Fury and City Warriors, all of which will eventually find their way to this very review site, I guarantee you that. Though the story isn't anything discernibly different from the genre norm, it's the batshit crazy action-packed finale that lifts this effort above the usual fare, and the dated, laugh-worthy eighties fashions of the day on all involved here don't hurt, either. Recommended. Three Wops.

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"If you dont run the Swiffer, you'll make me lose face, you bastard!"
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achillesgirl said...

Super awesome!

beedubelhue said...

Thanks AG!

I've got some Sammo and Venom Mob coming up in November, so stay tuned!


achillesgirl said...

I shared your review here:

and I also just sent you a friend request on fb. how did that not happen before? (it's from Sylvia not achillesgirl)

beedubelhue said...

How did that not happen? Your HKG entry is impeccably done, my dear, and I'm proud to be a part of it! Your contribution to the interwebz is most choice, indeed.


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