Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Kung Fu Time Capsule: Brucesploitation & One-Sheets

Ahhh.... Brucesploitation.

"Bruceploitation" came about after the death of Bruce Lee in 1973. Bruce Lee was the first martial arts film star to make a huge impact internationally. After he died, and "Enter the Dragon" became a worldwide smash hit, many of the Hong Kong film studios were afraid their productions would make less money without an internationally known star spreading the popularity of kung-fu films. So what did they do? Well, to ca$h in on the death of Bruce Lee, they hired a bunch of look-a-likes to star in cheap kung-fu films to make audiences think they were seeing an actual Bruce Lee film! These actors even changed their stage names to sound much more like Bruce Lee. Probably the three most prolific of these imitators were Bruce Li, Bruce Le, and Dragon Lee.

Bruce Li, Bruce Le, and Dragon Lee
(click to enlarge)

What we have next is a one-sheet poster that takes Bruceploitation to the EXTREME. It's a poster for a film titled "Bruce Is Loose" starring "Lee Bruce" which is actually another name that Bruce Le went by! What makes it even more confusing is the fact that NO Bruce Lee, Lee Bruce, Bruce Le, or any other Bruce imitator ever actually appears in the film at all! The film is actually "Green Dragon Inn" from 1977, starring Polly Kuan, Lo Lieh, and Yueh Hua.

(click to enlarge)

The movie "Green Dragon Inn" is good... but this poster is AWESOME. "Deadlier than Chiba, Quicker than "The Juice," Look out baby, Cause BRUCE IS LOOSE!" "Starring LEE BRUCE, the only star who could play the part written for BRUCE LEE!" "The most VIOLENT, SPECTACULAR fighting we've ever seen! - Kung Fu Express" (isn't that a chinese restaurant?) "NEVER SHOWN BEFORE!" "An Official Chinese Black Belt Society Film," whatever the hell that is! And then look at the artwork! That dude is a killing MACHINE! He's crushing one guy's sternum with a back kick, annihilating another guy's ballsack with a front kick, and SEVERING a THIRD dude's head with a chop... ALL AT THE SAME TIME! The poor fourth chap completely passed out just from sheer TERROR! I mean really, what on this poster would make somebody NOT want to see it? I guarantee this poster put quite a few asses in seats, but I wonder how disappointed the people were when they finally found out there was no Bruce(s)? Only those people know.... Anyway, thanks again for dropping by and look out for more one-sheets in the near FU-ture!

PS - I wonder if they would update the tagline to "Deadlier than Chiba, DEADLIER than "The Juice," Look out baby, Cause..." if they ever re-ran this film??

"Amitabha Buddha..."

Sunday, February 14, 2010

New DVD Releases: 2/16/10

A couple notable DVD releases coming up this Tuesday...

First and foremost is "Black Dynamite," a tribute to blaxploitation films of the 70's. Michael Jai White is Black Dynamite, a vengeance minded man intent on finding and taking down the people responsible for the death of his younger brother. It was no small town job either, and Black Dynamite follows the trail all the way to the top in a great finale that has to be seen to be believed. This is a great laugh-a-minute trip filled with kung fu fights galore, blazing guns action, great "bad" acting, and sight gag throwbacks that are both expected and a surprise at the same time! Dolemite, Superfly, and Shaft all rolled into one, "Black Dynamite" is sure to become a cult classic! A MUST SEE! Available on DVD and Blu-ray on 2/16/10.

Also coming on 2/16/10 is Akira Kurasawa's "Ran." Basically Kurasawa's vision of William Shakespeare's King Lear, a historical epic about power, greed, and loyalty. Set in feudal Japan, it recounts the story of Lord Hidetora, an aging ruler who intends to divide his kingdom equally among his three sons. This sets forth a greedy power struggle between the sons which eventually drives Hidetora insane and leads to the ultimate destruction of his entire family and kingdom. This Kurasawa epic is touted as one of the greatest foreign films of all time. Available on Blu-Ray.

"How many times have I told you not to call here and interrupt my Kung Fu?!"

Black Dynamite trailer...

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Kung Fu Time Capsule: Admats

Here's an old admat for an interesting double feature. First off we have "Duel of the Iron Fist" (AKA The Duel - 1971). This was a Shaw Brothers production, directed by Chang Cheh and starring Ti Lung and David Chiang. Many consider it to be the first of the Hong Kong style ganster type movies. Knife fights galore in this one!

The second feature isn't actually a Kung Fu flick at all, but a Euro-Western. Cut-Throats Nine was a Spanish western released in 1972. It follows the story of a soldier and his young daughter who have to transport a chain-gang of seven vicious criminals across some treacherous mountain terrain. It's known to be one of the most bloody and violent westerns to come out of the early 70's Europe. Definitely worth checking out!

Special thanks to Fred for this admat scan, and probably some others you'll see in the future! Check out his great review site Critical Condition: Obscure & Bizarre Films on Video & DVD!

"Blackbelt killers on the loose!"


Cut-Throats Nine

Friday, February 5, 2010

Review: Unbeaten 28 (1980)

After watching "Delightful Forest, I decided pick a flick that was a little less polished and less serious in tone. "Ahhh... "Unbeaten 28." Now this is the kind of fu flick that brings back the childhood memories. Full screen, scratchy print, old school dubbing, that boomy echoing narrator telling the lead-in story... and a lot of pure goofy fun.

"Unbeaten 28," written, produced, and directed by Joseph Kuo, stars Mang Fei as Tiger, and features Jack & Mark Long in supporting roles. The narrator tells us that the evil warlord Yen Chan Tin (Mark Long) has ordered and carried out the slaughter of a family and their entire clan. Only a baby survived, and was taken to safety to the nearby Abbot. Meanwhile we see a duel between Yen Chan Tin and a brave man who's hellbent on putting an end to Yen Chan Tin and his reign of tyranny. Needless to say, Yen Chan Tin stomps the hell out of the guy, killing him in a wonderful freeze frame shot while yelling "May you rot in hell!" Who did you THINK would win? We wouldn't have much of a story if the bad guy died in the first five minutes, now would we??

Next we find that the Abbot has taken the aforementioned baby (Tiger) to Master Yung (Jack Long), a respected kung fu instructor, to teach him the art of fighting to eventually avenge the death of his family. Master Yung takes Tiger to Lin Wan Mountain and starts his training at 1 year old with "a special diet of tiger's milk and wild herbs." In a scene I found particularly funny, we see Tiger sitting in a giant wok over a fire as Master Yung rubs hot sand on him to "temper the muscles and give the body power." "His hands were hardened in hot sand until his fingers had the strength of tensile steel!" Gotta love that narrator! Meanwhile, while Master Yung is busy training Tiger at Lin Wan Mountain, Yen Chan Tin strikes again, this time killing Master Yung's wife and all his students. Now is Tiger not only training to avenge his own family's death, but the slaughter of Master Yung's clan also!

After 18 years of constant training, Tiger is now ready to go to the Tai Shin Temple to test his skills against the 18 obstacles and be awarded the secret kung fu manual. Tiger enters the temple and must use his skills to deal with heavy bronze doors, a giggling stone man that slaps him around, fighting statues, and the effeminate 'spirit' of Tai Shin Temple that fights in various animal styles, ox, snake, and monkey included. Tiger is unsuccessful in his first attempts to complete all the obstacles, and during this time Master Yung is slain by Yen Chan Tin in a too short duel in the forest. This gives the motivation Tiger needs to complete the temple challenges, obtain the Tai Shin Kung Fu Manual, and face off in the final fight against Yen Chan Tin, which includes flying hats, a bunch of giant styrofoam rocks and fire breathing statue. Tiger emerges victorious, and we are to assume he goes on to rebuild his clan.

I found this to be a slightly better than mediocre Joseph Kuo effort. While it wasn't filled with wall to wall fights like, say, "The 7 Grandmasters," or a genre classic like "18 Bronzemen," or even up to the par of "Born Invincible," it did have enough entertaining training sequences and charming wackiness in the Tai Shin Temple and KFC's¹ to keep my interest. Meng Fei was good as Tiger, and Mark Long made an excellent villain as Yen Chen Tin. And even though he didn't really get a chance to show off much of his kung fu skill, Jack Long was quite captivating as Master Yung. Actually the one thing that disappointed me was the very short and uneventful duel between Master Yung and Yen Chen Tin. With the supreme skills of Mark & Jack Long at his disposal, Joseph Kuo really dropped the ball by not showcasing their talents and making that a longer, more dramatic battle. Altogether though, "Unbeaten 28" is certainly worth checking out, so what are you waiting for? (PS. - I still haven't figured out what the 28 were, as they only refer to the "18" obstacles of the Tai Shin Temple.... oh well, I guess that's all part of the goofy charm!)

3 out of 5 Venoms

¹KUNG FU CLICHES: Classic dubbing, cheap props, freeze frame, confusing genders, flying hats, animal abuse, and more.

Unbeaten 28 trailer

"May you rot in hell!!!"

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

New DVD Releases: 2/2/10

Pretty good week for martial arts releases!

"Ong Bak 2: The Beginning" (2008) - Tony Jaa stars and co-directs this prequel of sorts to his hit film "Ong Bak: Thai Warrior." High impact stunts and fights galore in this one, as Jaa utilizes a variety of styles (Muay Thai, Wing Chun, Drunken Boxing!!) and weapons. From Magnolia Home Entertainment, available in Single Disc, Two-Disc Collectors Edition, and on Blu-ray.

"Delightful Forest" (1972) - Ti Lung stars in this blood soaked Shaw Brothers classic. Well Go USA gives this one an individual release, as it has been previously available in their Epic Heroes 4 DVD Metal Tin Collectors Set. See a review here: Review: The Delightful Forest (1972).

"Heroes Shed No Tears" (1980) - Alexander Fu Sheng stars in this Shaw Brothers wuxia fantasy. Well Go USA also gives this one an individual release, as it was also previously available in their Epic Heroes 4 DVD Metal Tin Collectors Set.

And in other good news, I got a shipment notification yesterday that my pre-order of "Five Element Ninja" has shipped! Only a one week delay, not that bad. Hopefully it will be popping up on store shelves soon. Most online retailers are still listing it as backordered, possibly there was a much higher demand than expected, which would be a great sign for future classic kung fu DVD releases!

Ong Bak 2 trailer.

"Buddha bless you..."

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Kung Fu Humor: Subpar Subtitles

Sometimes the language barrier is harder to break than a stack of boards, and they say English is the hardest language of all to learn. Literal translations of cliches and sayings common to a particular language can be quite comical. Here's some screen caps of English subtitles taken from various kung fu and action films. Special thanks go out to Hong Kong Subtitles on Facebook and twitter. Enjoy!

What a kick ass pimp-cycle!

That's a great way to pick up a damsel in distress...

Better to be pissed off than pissed on, I guess...

Good, I always hated shaving myself...

Maybe you should ask her first...

Once again, great pick-up line...

Mmm! Chicken ass! My favorite!

"Beware! Your bones are going to be disconnected..."