When an undercover agent gets killed trying to bring down a big time opium ring, Roc Tien is called in to investigate. He goes around beating the tar out of people and acting cool for about 80 minutes until he comes face to face with the big boss man. It goes without saying that Roc kills him since he has Hands of Death.
I am totally unfamiliar with Roc Tien but he seems like a pretty cool guy to me. He’s proficient during his fight scenes and has a generous amount of charisma. Roc also directed this bad boy and he stages the action rather well, although some of the bad guys are kinda shoddy at Kung Fu.
What really knocks the movie down a notch is that it never quite knows what it wants to be. It starts out as more or less a spy picture (it even reuses some music cues from Diamonds Are Forever) then it turns into a Kung Fu flick, then it goes back to more spy stuff. I think if old Roc could’ve made the plot transitions a bit smoother, Hands of Death could’ve been pretty tight. I’m still giving him the benefit of the doubt though because he’s cool in front of the camera. I wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to see another Roc flick, that’s for sure.
What I dug about the film most was the whole Hands of Death angle. Roc kills people with one punch to the chest (or back, like in the scene where he disguises himself as a masseur and kills the guy in a steam room) but nothing is ever really made of it. He never says, “Beware my Hands of Death!”, which I thought showed a lot of composure on his part. This guy didn’t have to brag about his lethalness, and that was refreshing. Having said that; I would’ve enjoyed seeing him in a flashback scene at his job interview to be a spy. I can see it now:
Employer: “Roc, what makes you think I should hire you over all the other applicants?”
Roc: “Well boss, I’ve got good people skills; I can type 45 words a minute, plus I got that whole Hands of Death thing going for me…”
AKA: The Notorious Bandit. AKA: The Tongfather.