Saturday, January 30, 2010

Kung Fu Time Capsule: Marquees

Back in the late 70's and early 80's, it was common to find dingy grindhouses showing double bills, triple bills, or even all day marathons of kung fu flicks. Here's a picture of a 42nd Street NYC theatre marquee in the process of being changed. I'm not sure what's coming or what's going, but I'm damn sure I would have spent the day in there watching it! How about you?


"Never take your eyes off your opponent... even when you're bowing!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Review: The Delightful Forest (1972)

Most of my Shaw Brothers viewing has been of films involving the Venoms, Alexander Fu Sheng, or Gordon Liu. Last night I decided to watch "Delightful Forest", a Chang Cheh film starring Ti Lung, one of biggest Shaw Brothers superstars to grace the films of the 70's. If I knew what I was missing, I would have sought out this movie a long, long time ago. I found it to be an excellent film!


"Delightful Forest" tells part of the story of Wu Song (Ti Lung) from the classic Chinese novel "Outlaws of the Marsh." Wu Song is a heroic, no-nonsense guy with strong moralistic ideals and a penchant for getting hammered on strong wine! He once slayed a tiger with his bare hands, which he makes sure to let everyone know whenever he gets the chance. The story starts with an intense fight between Wu Song and Ximen Qing, with Wu Song avenging his brother's death by killing Ximen Qing. Ximen Qing was an adulterer who poisoned and killed Wu Song's brother. Once getting his vengeance, Wu Song turns himself in to the authorities and is escorted to prison, befriending a couple at an inn on the way. Once at the prison, he meets Shi En (the son of the prison head). Wu Song earns a very short and pampered prison stay by agreeing to help Shi En take down Chiang Chung, who is feared by the people and has taken control of all the businesses in the town of Delightful Forest. Wu Song heads out to confront Chiang Chung, drinking three bowls of wine at every inn on the way, and proceeds to drunkenly demolish him. After the battle, Chiang Chung's allies scheme together to frame Wu Song and have him put away for good. While practically at death's door, Wu Song is saved once again, and sets out to put an end to Chiang Chung and everyone else that framed him. This leads to a super intense bloody battle ending with Wu Song covered pretty much head to toe in blood, victoriously standing amongst the bodies of Chiang Chung and his many cronies. Wu Song marks the spot by writing "Wu Song killed all these men" on the wall in his own blood, then leaves Delightful Forest. He then goes on the run disguised as a priest with the help of the couple he befriended while being escorted to the prison.



This was an awesome movie! Ti Lung's portrayal of Wu Song was classic. His fighting, acting, and presence was incredible and I really got absorbed in the character. The movie also started with a bang with the great opening fight against Ximen Qing and ended in a flood of blood after the epic ending battle. This movie has certainly made me take notice of Ti Lung, and I'm going to make sure to watch a lot of his other work, especially "The Water Margin" and "All Men Are Brothers," both movie adaptations of parts of the "Outlaws of the Marsh." novel. Anyway, do yourself a favor and check out this classic Fu flick! You won't regret it!

RATING:
4½ out of 5 Venoms

Trailer

"Buddha's name be praised..."



Thursday, January 28, 2010

Kung Fu Humor: Imaginary Ninjas

Well, I finally got an email pertaining to my pre-order for "Five Element Ninjas" and it wasn't good news. Apparently it's delayed AGAIN. No announcement on when it will be available yet. I keep hearing February 23rd, but that's not officially confirmed. Oh well, I've been waiting this long...

Anyway, to stay on the recent ninja theme, I happened to run across this video that cheered me up. This guy's got some bad-ass moves, huh? Enjoy!



"So who are you going to kill next, Mr. Ninja?"
"My friend, a ninja doesn't kill. He eliminates and only for defensive purposes."


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Happy Birthday Sun Chien!

Another day, another birthday for another famous Face of Fu! Today, January 26th, is the 55th birthday of Sun Chien, one of the Five Deadly Venoms!

Sun Chien got his start in martial arts movies in 1977 when he was chosen for the supporting role in Chang Cheh's "Chinatown Kid." Soon after, he signed a contract with Shaw Brothers and started appearing in many more films. His place in kung fu cult history was cemented when he got the part of the Scorpion in "The Five Venoms." Sun Chien went on to act in many more Shaw Brothers films throughout the rest of the 70's and 80's. Happy birthday Sun Chien!




RECOMMENDED VIEWING


The Five Venoms (1978)
Invincible Shaolin (1978)
Crippled Avengers (1978)
Magnificent Ruffians (1979)
House of Traps (1982)



Meet the Five Venoms


"Poison Clan Rocks the world!"


New DVD Release: Five Element Ninjas (1982)

As you've probably noticed, I've had ninjas on the brain recently. It's probably subconsciously due to the fact that today marks the long awaited release of "Five Element Ninjas" (Chinese Super Ninja) from Media Blasters/Tokyo Shock. This is one of the bloodiest, most violent kung fu epics ever. Many Fu fans have been waiting for this, as our bootleg VHS and DVDs can't take much more! I'm hoping it actually shows up on shelves today. I've had it pre-ordered for a long time and am still waiting for a shipment notification. I'm keeping my fingers crossed...

Original trailer


"Loss of a fight means loss of one's life to a Samurai..."


Review: Revenge of the Ninja (1983)

Well, posting the trailer for "Ninja Destroyer" really got me craving some hardcore ninja action. So... what did I need to satisfy that craving? Nope, not even a Snickers® could handle that. I had to go for the throat, pull out the big guns, reach for the pinnacle of ninja films.... REVENGE OF THE NINJA! This was the movie that we watched many times over many summers, and made us want to become ninjas ourselves. In fact, it was our training film! So how did it stand up to the test of time? Let's find out...

The story begins in Tokyo, with a happy Japanese family strolling through their garden, feeding the coy fish, and admiring a new baby boy. Out of the shadows appears a gang of ninjas and they just start tearin' shit up. A man takes 5 blades to the back, a woman gets her throat slit, and a young boy takes a BRUTAL shuriken to the face. SWEET! The young mother escapes long enough to hide her newborn baby in the bushes, and promptly runs back and gets skewered by an arrow. The ninjas hear someone coming and disappear back into the shadows. Along comes Cho (Shô Kosugi) and his American friend Braden. Braden is trying to talk Cho into coming to America to run some art galleries specializing in Japanese Dolls. They happen upon the scene of NINJA DESTRUCTION, and back out come the ninjas. Cho and Braden make short work of them. We find out that Cho's wife and son were among those sliced up by the ninjas, and the baby hidden in the bushes is Cho's youngest son Kane. Now that there's nothing left in Tokyo, Cho decides to take his mother and Kane to the States to start a new life....

So... jump ahead six years. Cho is in the States and he's given up fighting. He's sealed his sword forever. He's opening up a Japanese doll gallery for Braden.... Well it turns out, unbeknownst to Cho, the gallery is a front for Braden's heroin smuggling operation. The first shipment of heroin is for Chifano, the local mafia boss, and he ain't paying. Braden's pissed and we also find out... he's a NINJA (who wears a bad-ass silver mask)! He starts knocking off Chifano's thugs one by one. Chifano calls Braden and says he has his money, and they agree to meet at the art gallery in three hours. In an attempt to double cross Braden, Chifano sends out some thugs (including a Native American named "Chief," complete with tomahawks..) to steal the heroin filled dolls from Cho's gallery. Cho happens to walk into the gallery during the robbery and confronts the thugs, and then gets dragged around town hanging off the back of their Dodge van. After the dolls are already gone, Braden sneaks into the gallery in his ninja gear hoping to finish Chifano, and realizes he's been duped. Cho's mother sees Braden, they fight, and he kills her. Kane also sees Braden when he unmasks. Braden chases Kane out onto the rooftop and Kane manages to escape from the evil ninja. Meanwhile Cho returns to the gallery bruised and bloodied and finds his dead mother. Next, trying to get a lead on who robbed the gallery, Cho and his cop friend get into a fight with the Village People at the local playground. (Check out the gay cowboy!) After takin' care of business there, Cho goes back to the gallery and finds out Kane has been kidnapped. Time to unseal the sword! Braden heads off to put an end to Chifano, and Cho heads off to put an end to Braden! Braden infiltrates Chifano's headquarters, and this leads to the climactic battle of Cho vs Braden on top of the building!

So how does it stand up to the test of time? It's even better now! Aside from the awesome ninja ass-kicking and some pretty good gore, this movie is so bad it's good, which is something you don't notice when you're 10 years old and watching it. It's got amazingly bad acting, unintentionally funny dialog, and hilariously horrible characters. I can't recommend this one enough, it's a must see. And I still want to be a ninja!


LINES TO LISTEN FOR

"If you want to work out, you forgot your pants."
"What the fuck is this, Halloween? Get outta here!"
"You guys celebrate downtown every time one of us gets the clap!"
"Only a NEENJA can stop a NEENJA!"
"Hey look! Superman!"
"Son of a bitch ninja!"

RATING:

5 out of 5 Venoms


Final battle of "Revenge of the Ninja"



"400 years of training in the art of sudden death... unleashed on 20th century America..."



Saturday, January 23, 2010

Happy Birthday Sonny Chiba!

Today, January 23rd, we here at The Faces of Fu celebrate the 71st birthday of Sonny Chiba, Japanese martial arts superstar!

Chiba started his acting career around 1960. His first starring role was in 1961 in the film "Invasion of the Neptune Men." Throughout the 60's Chiba continued to act, mostly in sci-fi and crime/thriller movies. Around 1970, he started the Japan Action Club, a training school for young martial arts actors. In 1974, not long after the Bruce Lee craze and popularity-explosion of martial arts movies, Chiba got his international breakthrough role. The film was The Street Fighter. This movie was notorious for it's graphic extreme violence. In fact, due to a scene where Chiba's character Terry Tsurugi "neuters" a rapist with his bare hands, the film garnered an X-rating. It's said this was the first movie to receive an X-rating due to violence alone. In order to receive an R-rating, nearly 16 minutes of violence had to be edited from the film! The film's popularity sparked several related sequels: Return of the Street Fighter, Sister Street Fighter, and Street Fighter's Last Revenge, all also released in 1974! Chiba continued to act through the 70's, 80's, 90's and beyond, doing a lot sci-fi, action, thriller, and martial arts movies, as well as taking many television roles. He can most recently be seen in Kill Bill: Vol 1 (2003) and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006).

So... Thank you Sonny Chiba for many great martial arts movies, and much much more! We wish you many more years of health and happiness. Happy birthday!

MY CHIBA FAVORITES
not all martial arts...

The Street Fighter (1974)
Bullet Train (1975)
G.I. Samurai (1978)
Message From Space (1978)
Shogun's Ninja (1980)
Ninja Wars (1982)





"The Street Fighter" trailer...


"If you've got to fight... fight dirty!"



Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Happy Birthday Beardy!

Faces of Fu would like to send out warm birthday wishes to Leung Kar-Yan, who was born on this date, January 20th, in 1949. Happy 61st birthday, Beardy! Check out our Beardy profile here!

What's your Beardy top 5? I'd have to go with, in no particular order:
  • Thundering Mantis
  • Legend of a Fighter
  • Exciting Dragon
  • Warriors Two
  • Miracle Fighters



Beardy in a comical role in "Exciting Dragon."



"Buddha's name be praised..."



Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Trailer - Ninja Destroyer

What we have here is a trailer for the 1986 Godfrey Ho splice & dice "Ninja Destroyer." Basically what Ho would do was film a few scenes of some weird dudes dressed in ninja outfits (usually sporting headbands that say "NINJA," in case we got them confused with the people NOT in ninja outfits I guess??) flipping around and disappearing and throwing things at each other. Most of the time, these ninjas would have authentic ninja names like "Mark," "Donald," or "Maurice." Anyway, he would take that footage and splice it into other pre-existing, already-crappy-enough films. The end product? A even crappier, even less coherent movie! This can be seen on display in the following video clip:





I really like this trailer because, for a movie relased in 1986, they gave it a classic 70's vibe with that boomy, echoing narration. And the movie is a laugh a minute riot. Horrible dubbing and dialog, NINJA headbands, breakdancer graffiti, it's got it all. I especially loved the line "I never trust anyone who'll double cross me." CLASSIC! Just remember, to keep from getting a headache, don't try to follow the "plot." Just watch in awe and amazement at the authentic ninjas and martial arts action! To avoid fainting, keep repeating "It's only a movie... It's only a movie..."


"Buddha bless you..."

Purchase Ninja Destroyer at amazon.com