December 19th, 2009

INFERNAL STREET (1973) ***

“The Chairman” is a Japanese drug dealer running opium and morphine out of a nightclub in Thailand, turning most of the townsfolk into addicts.  When a kindly doctor offers to treat the addicts free of charge, the Chairman gets pissed and sends out his goons to initiate an elaborate extortion scheme.  The pacifist doctor is willing to pay the money and be done with it, but his hot-headed assistant has too much pride and kicks everyone’s ass in sideways.  This really cheeses off the Chairman who goes so far as to implicate the assistant in murder.  Finally, the assistant says enough is enough and sets out to clear his name and get some payback.

 

Infernal Street is a slightly above par Kung Fu flick.  Though nothing extraordinary, the doctor vs. gangster plotline is refreshing, especially if you’ve sat through countless indistinguishable Good Karate School vs. Bad Karate School programmers (like me).  What makes it different from your average run of the mill chopsocky is that the Kung Fu sequences are driven by the plot and not the other way around.

 

I’m not saying that it’s perfect or anything.  Far from it in fact.  Because the plot drives the fight sequences, that means you have to wait awhile until you get to the good stuff.  The fights themselves aren’t particularly well choreographed, but their so-so staging is compensated for by a generous amount of energy and just a dash of weirdness.  The scene that really spoke to me was when our hero pulled his own tooth out and spit it into the villain’s forehead.  You don’t see that everyday.  The part where he cut both of the main henchman’s ears off was pretty cool too.  (In the industry, we call that a Double Van Gough.)