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Old 04-14-2012, 11:51 PM   #1
Killer Meteor
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LION VS LION (1981)

The first half of this Shaw comedy is pretty excruciating, with endless scenes of comedy relief (relief from what?) and yet another excuse for me to by mystified by the fact that Wang Yu (the comic star, not Jimmy) was a big star at the time, as he's really dreadful. Lo Meng does provide some great kung fu though, and when the plot actually arrives nearly an hour into the picture, things improve. The titular Lion dance occurs part way through the film, and features blatant cheating from our "heroes". The dance itself is very impressive. Later, a great fight between Wang Lung Wei and Chin Yuet Sang proves a highlight and shows what this picture SHOULD have been. The finale is a bizarre mix of half-assed Chang Cheh style heroics and half-assed jiangshi horror, which kinda sums up the film as a whole: half assed.

5/10

Last edited by Killer Meteor; 04-26-2012 at 12:50 PM.
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Old 04-14-2012, 11:52 PM   #2
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FIVE VENOMS (1978)

I was never very impressed by this one on VHS (the English dub track was heavily muffled), but seeing the DD dvd has given me a great deal of appreciation for this slice of kung fu guignol. It's heavy on the chat, but it's good, intelligent chat, and is rich in atmosphere and has a keen sense of the bizarre. Wei Pei still can't act for toffee though.

Kudos to Bey Logan's commentary, which really helped me appreciate the riches this film has to offer.

8/10
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Old 04-14-2012, 11:54 PM   #3
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CHALLENGE THE DRAGON (1974)

Apparently shot for change found down the back of the sofa, this is a very formulaic poverty row kung fu flick, with endless back-and forth and to-and-froing fights and running, and little else to show for it. The cast is mostly unknowns, though Shih Chung Tien is cool as the Japanese villian. The lead, Tong Lung, is a freaky Bruce Lee lookalike who is so absurdly ripped he looks ridiculous, very rigid and big bosomed, can't run properly, and has the charisma of a welk.

The audio track for the US print was redubbed in Europe, with voices familiar from Italian horror flicks. The sound FX is a weird mixture of new effects (footsteps, birdsong) produced during the dubbing, and the original Chinese sound track, which is never synced properly and often has punches sound well before the action on screen. And why is that one character called Brother Matthew, when everyone else is referred to by their Chinese name?

4/10
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Old 04-14-2012, 11:55 PM   #4
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HONG KONG GODFATHER (1985)

Outside of their old school period films, Shaw's product often looked as fresh as the Golden Harvest or Cinema City stuff, and this is a good example. The gory action is fun, there's some ok humour, a killer mall finale that was seemingly included to pre-empt the same year's Police Story, and Shih Kien still proving himself a kung fu master at 72. Not sure what to makes of lines like "Mother worried so much that she died from cancer" though...

6/10
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Old 04-14-2012, 11:58 PM   #5
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SUPREME SWORDSMAN (1984)

Incredibly old fashioned for its day, this swordplay faire from Shaw Brothers has a dull first half with some of the worst undercranking you will ever see, but does improve in the second half with some surprisingly welcome comic relief, excellent set design and awesome skull masked warriors accompanied by the theme from Death Rides A Horse. Neat ending too, but seriously, did Shaws just crank out these Johnny Come Latelys as some sort of tax write off?

5/10
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Old 04-16-2012, 02:44 AM   #6
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Good job with the reviews. I agree with you on Five Venoms, alot of talking, but an excellant story.
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Old 04-20-2012, 03:23 PM   #7
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TWO CHAMPIONS OF SHAOLIN (1980)

Chang Cheh's updating of his Shaolin cycle, featuring the Venoms in place of the likes of Fu Sheng and Chi Kuan Chun, is mostly a sign of lethargy intruding on the great director, with an very dull beginning of characters sitting in chairs and providing a Greek chorus.

Once the action commences, things improve, though the reasonable period authenticity of the earlier Shaolin films has gone out of the window - everyone looks dressed for a Village People video. The Shaolin heroes are amazingly brutal and callous: I found myself 100% behind the Wu Tang clan here!

Phillip Kwok is noticeable absent from the cast, though he did contribute to the fights (this is due to a dispute between him and Lu Feng over who would be the fight director). The main focus is on Lo Meng as "Shaolin Hercules" Tung Chen Chin (a minor character in Men From The Monastery and Showdown At The Cotton Mill) and Chiang Sheng as Hu Wei Chin (played by Chi Kuan Chun in those two films as well as Shaolin Avengers). For guys supposedly tormented by revenge (Tung's wife is killed before the wedding night nuptuals!), they seem rather jolly and care free, even when tearing guy's penises off! Poor old Sun Chien gets precious little to do, and is given an especially awful pudding-bowl hair-cut that looks like someone forgot to eat the pudding first. The famous characters Fong Sai Yuk and San Te make brief appearences of little consequence: the actor playing San Te is particularly awful.

On the Wu Tang side, things are rather more interesting. A very young Chin Siu Ho makes his official debut as a kid with confused loyalties: frankly, he comes off as incredibly selfish and smug, but maybe that's the point. Still, it's nice to see that at least one of Chang Cheh's latterday discoveries went on to become a regular star. Wang Li and Yu Tai Ping get better roles than usual, and Candy Wen makes a very good impression as a real rarity: a genuinely interesting female character in a Chang Cheh film. There's also some ugly Monkey fighters - in fact, most of the supporting cast in this seem to have been selected for being especially weird looking, possibly because Chang Cheh was getting fed up of the Venoms being called ugly!

But the main highlight of this film is Lu Feng as the main villian (it's meant to be a surprise, but come on, when it came to "surprise villians", Lu Feng was Shaw's answer to James Tien!) Lu had won an award the previous year for his role in Shaolin Rescuers, but it's here he really gets to shine: mixing charm with evil with great charisma.

Fights are a bit clunky: there is an awesome finishing move at the finale that makes up for the stodge though. Chang Cheh's usual sexual weirdness comes to the fore when a guy is hit in the back, and what is supposed to be either brain or spinal fluid instead looks like a very large ejaculation!

And yes, this is the movie that appears in the Chemical Brother's video for "Get Yourself High."

6/10
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Old 04-20-2012, 03:36 PM   #8
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HE HAS NOTHING BUT KUNG FU (1977)

Early attempt at a kung fu comedy from the Lau Brothers, with Wong Yue as a con-man who finds himself mixed up with an admiral's estranged son, Gordon Liu, who has forgotten his memory...except in kung fu!
Unlike much of the kung foolery that followed, this is very tolerable and pleasant, with good comic timing, a humourous compiled score, a hilarious opening credits sequence and a great gaggle of bad guys (mixing Shaws alumi Chiang Tao and Lee Hoi Sang with Golden Harvest regulars Lam Ching Ying and Mars). The only let down is the ending, which is far too abrupt (a common complaint of many Lau movies). Still...8/10
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Old 04-22-2012, 09:27 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Killer Meteor View Post
HONG KONG GODFATHER (1985)
Not sure what to makes of lines like "Mother worried so much that she died from cancer" though...

6/10

Reminds me of "she cried so much she went blind". I think that was Triumph of 2 Arts.
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Old 04-22-2012, 12:21 PM   #10
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Quote:
Reminds me of "she cried so much she went blind"
Ha ha....that line also gets thrown into the proceedings of 'The Heroic Duo', the 2003 snooze fest by Benny Chan.

Killer Meteor - great capsule reviews, I'm really enjoying reading them!
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