February 4th, 2008

DEADLY DUO (1983) **

I can’t tell if this historical Chinese epic has too much plot or not enough because I couldn’t tell what the heck was going down half the time.  The story had something to do with a guy and girl escorting a princess somewhere; only they have to stop at the end of each reel of the film to kung fu a bunch of people.  Whenever it looks like the shit’s about to hit the fan, this dude is silver pajamas called “The Number One Killer” joins the fracas and kicks major ass.  Then there’s a bunch of talk about rebels finding some “list” or something, then an argument breaks out, then there’s more kung fu.  In the end, there’s a big “surprise twist”, which I won’t spoil for you because it didn’t make a lick of sense to me. 

 

But you don’t watch a kung fu flick for the plot; you watch it to see people kick the shit out of each other for 90 minutes.  The kung fu in this movie is competently done, but the fight scenes suffer from being a bit too mechanical and look over rehearsed.  The violence is a little slack for my liking as too many people get killed by poison darts, but there is at least one great death scene where a guy gets stabbed to death with a handful of chopsticks. 

 

I don’t know if it was the ADD kicking in, but I just couldn’t figure out what the heck this movie was about.  I don’t know if it was the overabundance of plot (or apparent lack thereof) that had me confused or what, but I just didn’t have a clue.  I’m usually good at figuring out the plots to these things, but this one even had me baffled.  I couldn’t even figure out WHO the titular Deadly Duo were.  I think they were talking about the guy and girl who were protecting the princess chick, but really, only the dude was proficient at kicking butt.  Honestly, the more that I think about it, the only true badass of the movie was that Number One Killer fella, so it really should’ve been called the Deadly Uno. 

 

Of all the horrendously dubbed dialogue, it’s the bastard in the silver pajamas who gets the best line of the movie:  “I need no thanks for killing scum!”

42ND STREET FOREVER VOL. 3: EXPLOITATION EXPLOSION (2008) ***

 

The good folks at Synapse Films deliver yet another indispensable collection of B Movie trailers.  Some of the highlights include:  The trailer for Sudden Death, which features more alliteration than you can shake a stick at.  (“A Pair of Panthers on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge!”)  The Jaguar Lives preview features not one, or two, but THREE former James Bond villains (Christopher Lee, Donald Pleaseance and Joseph Wiseman).  There are also trailers for low budget rip-offs galore:  Beyond the Door (Exorcist rip-off), Jennifer (Carrie rip-off) and Shark’s Treasure (Jaws rip-off).  Some of the best trailers feature narration by the stars of the films themselves like Burt Young (Blood Beach) and Jerry Reed (High Ballin’).  Even though a lot of the trailers are surprisingly light in the gore and sex department, the nudity in the trailer for Prison Girls (which originally was in 3-D) alone more than makes up for it. 

 

Like the other volumes in the series, the trailers are more or less organized into genres.  There’s kung fu (Enter the Ninja, Five Fingers of Death, and The Stranger and the Gunfighter), killer animal movies (The Uncanny, The Pack, and Alligator) and the ever popular nurse films (Night Call Nurses, The Young Nurses and Candy Stripe Nurses).  We also have some classic examples of exploitation advertising at it’s finest.  Particularly, the trailer for Gorp in which the producer informs us that he can’t show us anything from the movie because it’s too offensive, and Chain Gang Women’s trailer which cleverly hides the fact that the chain gang is entirely comprised of MEN! 

 

As with the other 42nd Street Forever compilations, this collection can get a little numbing for one sitting, so it’s recommended that you watch five or six trailers at a time right before you watch an exploitation movie, so you can get the full 42nd Street grindhouse experience.  There’s also a bonus feature of rare television spots that add to the fun. 

NINJA CHAMPION (1986) **

 

A woman named Rose gets raped by three men over the opening credits.  After we learned who directed this sucker, Rose finds out that the rapists are actually diamond smugglers.  She kills the first rapist (“The Boxing Champ of Asia”) by poisoning her nipples (!) and whipping him before drowning him in a bathtub.  Then she blows another rapist away while he lies in a hospital bed.  Rose's quest for vengeance is brought to an abrupt end when the main rapist murders her.  Luckily, her twin sister Cherry, an Interpol agent gets revenge for her. 

 

Next, a couple of ninjas in red and white pajamas duke it out for no apparent reason whatsoever. 

 

Then Cherry infiltrates the diamond smugglers’ ranks and stabs the main rapist with a samurai sword. 

 

Finally, the Red Ninja and the White Ninja show up, say a couple meaningless lines of dialogue to connect the plot together and then fight to the death.     

 

If you’re wondering why the heck this movie is called Ninja Champion, it’s because it features approximately THREE minutes of Ninjas fighting each other. 

 

Basically what we got here is a PG rated version of I Spit on Your Grave with a gratuitous diamond smuggling plot tacked on and a dash of a third rate Ninja movie thrown in for good measure.

 

The plot is a mess (probably because the movie is two movies edited into one) and the way they link the two sections of the film together is dubious at best.  If the flick had continued with the goofy female revenge plot, it could have been fun, but unfortunately the half assed smuggling subplot is nearly unwatchable and detracts from what could have been a quality flick.  The inane Ninja fight scenes ARE good for a laugh however. 

 

The film is dumber than a bag of egg rolls, but there’s enough random nuttiness to keep you watching, including hilarious disco dancing, a fake version of the Star Wars theme (not to mention a fake version of ZZ Top’s Legs), and some truly priceless dialogue such as:  “My gun has no compassion!”, “The more I suffer, the better it is for me!”, and “She never did you any wrong, you turd!” 

 

Richard Harrison co-stars via outtakes from Diamond Ninja Force talking on a Garfield phone.  Dragon (Muscle of the Dragon) Lee also has a small role. 

SPIRITS OF BRUCE LEE (1980) * ½

 

Okay let’s get one thing straight here before I start this review:  There are NO spirits in this movie (one guy thinks he sees a ghost but it turns out to be just a dead body) and NO Bruce Lee.  In fact, this flick doesn’t even feature a Bruce Lee imitator like Bruce Le, Bruce Lo, or Bruce Li.  Actually no one in this movie looks remotely anything like Bruce Lee, but there IS one guy who looks like Elvis Presley.  He may look like Elvis, the King of Rock n’ Roll, but he is no Bruce, the King of Chopsocky. 

 

So what DO we have?  Well there’s this one guy who’s looking to get in on the ground floor with his brother’s jade trading company.  He learns that his brother was killed by a gangster and he goes out for revenge.  Along the way, he meets up with the Elvis look-alike who kung fus a bunch of would-be rapists and makes nice with a cute chick who has a retard for a bodyguard.  Luckily, this chick just isn’t some dumb broad/love interest, she can actually kung fu with the best of them.  She uses her sexy charms to lure the murders out into the open so that our hero can kung fu them to death.  Unfortunately this guy is so stupid he ends up kung fuing a lot of guys who DIDN’T murder his brother by accident. 

 

Normally, I wouldn’t mind the needless acts of violence, but like I previously mentioned, this guy is no Bruce Lee.  He isn’t even Bruce Willis.  He’s more like Lee Strasberg, except he couldn’t act his way out of a Chinese takeout box. 

 

When one of the villains in Afro-Centric clothing kills the chick’s father, everybody bands together to put their feet through the bad guys’ sternums.  We even get a great scene where the retard guy does his own brand of Special Olympics Karate while cheap porn music plays.  Unfortunately, Elvis shows up with the cops before the bad guys get their just desserts and they get carted off in the paddy wagon. 

 

I can excuse the fact that there are no spirits or no Bruce Lee in this movie, but I cannot excuse the incompetence of the action in this flick.  The karate sequences look like they were choreographed by Stevie Wonder under the direction of a coma patient.  We do get one halfway decent scene where the Elvis impersonator beats down the rapists and a scene where a guy gets his testes squeezed like a stress reliever, but every other action scene in this movie is weak, weak, weak.  I do admire the filmmakers reaching out to the handicapped and allowing the “mentally challenged” to show us their own unique fighting style, but give me a break. 

 

Too bad our hero is so lame.  One could only imagine if the Elvis dude was the star of the movie instead of that no-name wimpy dude.  Heck, I would even take the retard over that guy.  Sigh… 

 

The dubbing is predictably terrible, but there is NO funny dialogue to keep you entertained.   

AKA:  Angry Tiger.