Sunday, July 27, 2014

"Warriors Two" (1978) d/ Sammo Hung

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Sammo Hung Kam-Bo is probably just as important a name in martial arts cinema as anybody else you could think to mention. Being head of the Seven Little Fortunes Peking Opera group with Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao until he was sixteen, working with Shaw Brothers and Bruce Lee, starring, directing, and coordinating action sequences in countless movies dating back to 1977, and even being considered a pioneer in the Hong Kong New Wave of the eighties and crazy Jiang-Shi hopping vampire sub-genre of the era, there's few highs that this portly pugilist has yet to reach. Tonight's review is famous for it's technically authentic depiction of the Wing Chun style of Kung Fu, a close quarters fighting style reputed to be developed by a nun named Ng Mui and later made popular by one of Grandmaster Yip Man's students, a guy by the name of Bruce Lee. You may have heard of him. Wasssaaaaaah!!! Yeah, that bad motherfucker.

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"Forget you ever knew me as 'Beardy'. You must call me "Mustachey" now."
After a dramatic formal introduction to Master Tsang (Liang Chia Jen), who's the fourth expert in succession of the secret Wing Chun technique, and Cashier Wah (Casanova Wong), who, we're told, will be the fifth master of the style, we're introduced to a real sinister cunt named Mo (Feng Ko An), who's scheming to be elected mayor after having assassinated the current one, with the help of his cronies, Thunder (Tiger Yang), Master Yao (Dean Shek),  and Iron (Lee Hoi San), among others. Of course, standing in the way of Mo's future misuse of power is the well-respected Master Tsang and his pupils, which include Porky (Sammo Hung), who carries buckets of shit through the streets for a living, since he regularly gets cheated out of his wares. Wah overhears Mo's evil plans and unwittingly lets Master Yao in on his secret, earning him a near fatal beatdown at the hands and feet of Mo's henchmen, only to be saved by Porky in the nick of time. The stubborn Tsang takes Wah in as a pupil, and a lengthy, entertaining and informative training sequence is what follows.

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"This is the pressure point dummy. Down here, are the pressure point dummy's impressive genitals...", notes Master Tsang (Liang Chia Jen).
The aloof mayor is warned of the impending danger by Porky, but he laughs off the warning and is set upon in the forest by Mo's henchmen, despite the able Monkey style defense of his bodyguard (Liu Chia Yung), who also perishes in the end. Porky also hides news of Wah's mother's murder from him, but when Tsang himself is later ruthlessly cut down by Mo's assassins, they hand deliver the master's lifeless corpse to the school on a gurney, spurring on a large scale battle that Tsang's young proponents are ill-prepared for. Porky mixes up the names of their foes as mapped out in their revenge plans, but dispatches his spear-wielding opponent just the same, though his female classmate's butterfly swords are permanently negated by Mo's swordsmen. Meanwhile, Wah's victory flushes out Lord Mo, who removes his obviously fake old guy appliance, to reveal that he's really a young, gothy-looking Northern Mantis King who could probably use a V8. Insert obligatory rock 'em, sock 'em martial fight to the finish followed by freeze frame end title, right about here.

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"I get all like this when I try to chat up the sweeties!", confesses the mayor's bodyguard (Liu Chia Yung).
Casanova Wong was one of the best cinematic kickers ever (just watch his scene in Game of Death II/ Tower of Death (1981) to see what I mean),  and this movie only helped prove that his top half was also very good, indeed. Feng Ko An displays some serious Northern Mantis technique, as usual, and only some silly wire fu shenanigans in the final reel mar an otherwise excellent appearance from him. Liu Chia Yung is the middle brother of Liu Chia Liang, and his monkey sequence cameo is worthy of note here. Liang Chia Jen, or "Beardy" as he's come to be known, shines as the stoic martial instructor, sans beard, and has several amazing displays in this one. Then you've got Sammo Hung himself, directing, choreographing, acting, doing stunts, pulling off broad physical comedy, and also showing off some top shelf martial skills that fans of his movies have come to expect on a regular basis. This one's a classic all around, and if it's not on your shelves, you've got nobody to blame but yourselves. Four wops, and my strongest recommendation.

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"Movement number eighteen...praying mantis overindulges on strawberry preserves..."
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