September 7th, 2009

THE KING OF COMEDY (1983) ***

Robert De Niro stars as a marginally talented and mentally unbalanced stand-up comedian named Rupert Pupkin who has a chance encounter with his idol, talk show host Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis).  Pupkin asks for an opportunity to appear on Langford’s show and gets the usual “call my office” brush-off.  Since Rupert is severely delusional (he often has intricate daydreams about schmoozing with Jerry), he takes that to mean “yes”.  After getting the run-around from Langford’s underlings, Rupert decides to take matters into his own hands and kidnap Langford.  The ransom:  Performing a five minute stand-up routine on Jerry’s show.

 

Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy is somewhat of a companion piece to Taxi Driver in that it examines the mindset of a ticking time bomb psychotic that gains fame from doing a criminal act.  Granted, The King of Comedy is nowhere near as good as Taxi Driver, but it has its own rewards.  Scorsese’s direction is slick and confident and I particularly liked how he incorporated Rupert’s daydreams into the “real” world. 

 

The performances are also top notch.  I always thought Lewis was kinda annoying but he does a helluva job here playing things completely straight.  De Niro is pretty amazing in this flick and even though his character says and does some loathsome stuff, you can’t help but feel sorry for him.  (At least I did.)  I also enjoyed Sandra Bernhard’s out-there turn as De Niro’s extremely unstable partner in crime.

 

Although The King of Comedy is kinda hit-and-miss in spots and runs on a bit too long, it’s still a strong offering from Scorsese and De Niro.  You also have to give it points for being ahead of it’s time.  I mean the idea that someone could become a celebrity in their own right (not to mention get a book deal) from doing something crazy like Pupkin seems like an old hat nowadays but it must’ve really seemed strange in 1983.  It just goes to show how innovative Scorsese is.

 

Scorsese and De Niro’s next collaboration was the classic Goodfellas.

BRUCE LEE’S WAYS OF KUNG FU (1982) **

A mean old king has 18 hot daughters who act as his bodyguards and kill anybody that fucks with him.  When they murder this one guy, his Kull the Conqueror look-alike son tries to get revenge.  He doesn’t know Kung Fu very good so the 18 badass bitches beat the snot out of him.  This guy goes around moping for a bit until he finds this chick and this other nincompoop who all have grudges against the royal bastard.  They also conveniently learn that they each possess a third of a medallion which links them in their destiny to kill the old asshole king.

 

Okay before I go any further with this review, let me get a couple things off my chest.  First off, Bruce Lee isn’t in the movie, Bruce Lei is.  Secondly, we never learn his “Ways” of Kung Fu.  Last but not least, even if Bruce Lee WAS in this movie and we DID learn his ways of Kung Fu, I still don’t think it would’ve been very good.  There, I feel a little bit better now.

 

Bruce Lee’s Ways of Kung Fu is all over the fucking place in terms of storytelling.  Way too much time is spent on inconsequential bit players and the really important characters are given very little screen time and/or don’t even appear until the movie is almost over.  The film also feels really choppy and bounces around a lot; almost as if the flick was made up of episodes of a weekly series that got edited down into 83 minutes.

 

The action scenes are tolerable and will probably keep your interest for the most part.  (I’m not going to guarantee that though because I fell asleep on it last night and had to finish watching it this evening.)  The sexy 18 Daughters of Death (they are never called that but they should’ve been) are pretty cool; even though they don’t get naked or anything.  If the whole movie had been about them, Bruce Lee’s Ways of Kung Fu might’ve been tight.  Well, it wasn’t, so… Two Stars.

 

AKA:  Bravado of a Lady Fight.