Posts Tagged ‘Martial Arts’

Enter The Fat Dragon

Ah Lung is a country bumpkin who works on a farm feeding the pigs. An opportunity arises for him to go to the big city (Hong Kong) and help out in his uncle’s noodle shop. Just as he is settling down to working there, a gang of thugs who is making a nuisance of themselves in the area starts some trouble. Being a devoted Bruce Lee fan who can fight like his idol and imitate the great man, Ah Lung sends them all packing. However whilst Ah Lung is out on an errand the gang return and demolish his uncle’s restaurant. As a result he is out of work but with the help of two friends he gets a job cleaning dishes. It’s not long however that Ah Lung is embroiled in a plot by a gang who kidnap a woman he likes and wants to sell her to a billionaire named Pai. Ah Lung sets out to rescue his girl but first he must defeat 3 of Pai’s deadly bodyguards…..

After the death of Bruce Lee in 1973, a slew of Bruceploitation movies were released in Hong Kong that tried to cash in on his name and featured many actors trying to copy his style. Sammo Hung who was a very good friend of Bruce and worked with with him on Enter The Dragon wasn’t very impressed with these johnny come lately’s shamelessly cashing in on his friend’s name so he made this comedy tribute movie to him. Sammo might not look like Bruce Lee but my word he can imitate him superbly. Probably the best person to do it. He even strokes his nose exactly the same way that Bruce did, delivers his noises and is pretty much a master of nunchuks like his friend. Sammo even uses Jeet Kune Do with some kung-fu in the fights. The storyline is mostly episodic in nature and is about how Ah Lung’s fighting keeps getting him into trouble. The fight scenes on display is exciting, fun and fast and get better as the movie wears on. You’ll never see a more agile fat guy than Sammo Hung. It’s hard to believe how good a martial artist he really is. I’m not sure if the climatic showdown in which Ah Lung faces 3 foreign fighters was Sammo’s homage to Game of Death but it features a funny scene of a Chinese man who is blacked up with an afro wig (obviously a parody of Jim Kelly) going one on one with Ah Lung. You can’t help but laugh at the scene. There’s a telling scene in the movie in which Sammo delivers a scathing criticism of the copycat Bruce Lee movies produced at the time when he visits a film set and gets into a fight with a second rate Bruce Lee impersonator and promptly beats his ass and the film crew as well! His put-down comment of “amateurs” after the fight is brilliant. The slapstick comedy is a little bit hit and miss but when it works well it makes you smile. Sammo even has time to poke fun at Jackie Chan’s Drunken Master! His character of Ah Lung comes across as lovable and charming and you can’t help but like him.

Enter the fat dragon clip

Animal lovers might get a little offended in the opening scene as Sammo’s character practices his kung fu on some pigs. It’s hard to say whether the pigs were hurt by Sammo’s kicks. From a lot of HK movies I’ve seen from the 70’s and 80’s, animal welfare wasn’t a high priority on any film set!

All in all, a fantastic early Sammo Hung production considering it was done on a very low budget and a must see for fans of martial arts.

No trailer but here’s a clip where Sammo fights a Bruce Lee impersonator

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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The Queen’s brother Pan Bao is killed in a tournament by one of Yang Ye’s sons. Furious at this, she orders her father Pan Mei to destroy the Yang clan at the battle of Jinsha. All goes according to plan but for the fact that the 5th and 6th sons manage to escape from the trap that had been laid for them. Pan Mei must track down the remaining sons or he won’t be able to continue with his bigger scheme which is to overthrow the Emperor. The 5th son returns home but the stress of what has happened has turned him insane. Meanwhile the 6th son vows to become a monk at a temple but has a lot of anger inside of him. The temple refuses to take him in but he insists on being a monk. He takes a razor and shaves his hair off. Reluctantly the lead buddhist monk takes him in but he does not train with any of the other trainee monks. Back at the Yang clan residence, the mother hears that the 6th son is alive and sends her 9th daughter off to seek him out but Pan Mei’s spies are everywhere and follows her. She is captured at an inn below the temple that the 6th son is training. When the 6th son hears that his sister is a prisoner of Pan Mei, he vows revenge on Pan Mei once and for all.

This is a classic HK Shaw Brothers movie starring Gordon Liu. It’s a period piece set during the Sung Dynasty packed full of action and incredible swordplay fights. I would say this is probably the finest showcase for pole fighting you’ll ever see. It was a troubled production at the time of filming and it took 2 years to complete the movie as one of it’s stars Alexander Fu-Sheng had a serious injury which resulted in both his legs being broken. When filming resumed, Fu-Sheng was involved in a terrible high-speed car accident which claimed his life. It was Fu-Sheng’s character that was supposed to be the main focus in this movie but due to the tragic circumstances that happened, the plot shifted onto Gordon Liu’s character. The compelling storyline has no humour at all which considering that a lot of 70’s HK martial arts movies had at the time may be more to the fact that it would have been inappropriate due to Fu-Sheng’s death. If it’s action you’ve come to watch in this movie then you’ll have plenty to enjoy here. Each fight that follows just gets better and better and the final melee involving Gordon Liu’s character taking on Pan Mei’s forces at the temple with his pole is impressive. A visual spectacle in athleticism containing fantastic choreography with swords and poles. Just watch as the 6th son has his sister strapped to his back whilst fighting off the hordes of Pan Mei’s army. There’s some gore involved as Pan Mei’s army is decimated and a lot of the blood comes from seeing them lose their teeth!! This is to do with the training at the buddhist temple which rather than kill their enemies outright, their beliefs is to defang them instead. The weaponry on show is great and I loved the poles that Pan Mei’s army have which have a twisty grappling device on the end which is supposed to counter the threat of the Yang family’s poles.

It’s sad to see Fu-Sheng in this movie knowing it would be his final role. It is said he had a bright future ahead of him as a movie martial artist. A hell of a shame his career was cut short like it did. His character for the majority of the movie acts like a man whose mind has been irreparably damaged by witnessing his brothers and father being killed. He shouts a lot and even attacks his own mother and sisters thinking they’re Pan Mei’s troops. What can I say about Gordon Liu in this movie that hasn’t been said about him elsehwhere. He is just amazing. It’s painful to watch as he shaves his hair off with a sharp razor which results in his head being bloodied and then uses several temple candles to burn 6 dots on his head signifying how serious he is about being a buddhist monk.

This isn’t called one of the best martial arts movies for nothing. Everything you’ve ever wanted in a classic Shaw Brothers movie is in this movie. Do not miss out on watching this if you’re a serious martial arts fan. Recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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Big John and Little John are a couple of swindlers who are on a streak of bad luck. When one of their intended victims The Silver Fox beats them up badly, the duo realise they need to sharpen up their kung fu so Little John asks The Silver Fox if he’ll be their Master. Turning down their offer at first, he eventually relents and starts teaching them a new style of kung fu. Things are going well for the duo under their new Master until Little John discovers his tutor killing a man. It seems The Silver Fox is a wanted criminal and has been using the pair for his dirty deeds. The pair try and fight him but he uses a deadly style of Snake kung fu which ends with Big John paying for his life and Little John barely escaping. He winds up staying at the home of a wily beggar who is also skilled in the art of kung fu. Little John asks the beggar to train him up so that he can take on The Silver Fox and avenge his friend’s death.

Knockabout is a classic martial arts comedy movie which has been rated highly by Hong Kong movie fans. It brings together 3 of the biggest names in the late 70’s of HK movie makers in Sammo Hung (who directs and acts in this movie), Ka-Yan Leung and Yuen Biao. Even though Yuen Biao would never get the acclaim that his brothers in the Peking Opera (Sammo and Jackie Chan) obtained, he is still widely appreciated by martial arts fans. This would be his breakout movie role. I actually didn’t think I was going to like this movie as the first 40 or so minutes is just a rather silly story with some routine slapstick comedy which falls flat and so-so martial arts but once The Silver Fox turns on the 2 swindlers and Little John teams up with the beggar the movie improves with the martial arts fights getting better and better. In hindsight this was probably a ploy by Sammo to show that the swindlers had much to learn in their kung fu skills so that is why the earlier fights in the movie are so underwhelming. You just have to see the training scenes that the beggar puts Little John through – Yuen Biao is bloody amazing in these scenes. The guy was a gifted martial artist and was well known for his kicking and acrobatic prowess. Sammo’s beggar character makes him backflip, somersault and do some cartwheeling whilst using a skipping rope and just the training scenes alone makes it worth seeing the movie. It makes you forget the silly comedy that took place earlier on. The training scenes are topped however by the 12 minute final fight that sees Little John and the beggar combining their monkey style kung fu skills and squaring off against The Silver Fox. The moves that Yuen Biao pulls off in the fight are breathtaking. It rounds off what was eventually a very satisfying movie experience.

A big part of why this movie is such a success is down to Sammo Hung and under his direction Yuen Biao is outstanding. The intricate martial arts fight sequences he employs in this movie was a typical trademark of his and they’re a joy to watch.

Fans of old school HK martial arts will love this movie. It’s an entertaining movie you shouldn’t miss out on. Recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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‘Fatty’ Lung and ‘Baldy’ Mak are two gung-ho officers in the HK police force who are trying to bring down a powerful cocaine drugs lord known as Prince Tak. Nicknamed the ‘7-11 Cops’ as they provide a service 24/7, they create chaos whenever they go due to their habit of bending some of the rules. Their unorthodox style brings them results much to the delight of their boss. The police commissioner might not like what they do but the duo’s boss usually smooths things over so the pair can escape scott free from any punishment. Whilst trying to arrest a lady-boy who is smuggling drugs, they are accused of sexually molesting a woman at a shop (she’s a member of the criminal gang) and then to confound things even further whilst running after a suspect they completely wreck the Police Commissioner’s wedding. The duo are ordered to take a holiday whilst things cool down and go over to Singapore when they meet a couple of women. They are convinced to quit their jobs and start a karaoke business with the woman funding their venture. On coming back to Hong Kong and giving their resignation notices to their boss, they are drawn back to the Prince Tak case when Baldy’s girlfriend is threatened by his goons. Baldy and Fatty vow to take down Prince Tak, his brother and their workers once and for all setting up for an explosive climax.

Skinny Tiger, Fatty Dragon isn’t one of Sammo Hung’s most celebrated works thanks to the thin basic plot and so-so comedy. It’s your standard HK ‘buddy cop’ movie which is elevated above average thanks to the fantastic fight action on show. It doesn’t help that the main plot comes to a grinding halt about half-way through the movie and goes on a pointless diversion when our two heroes go to Singapore. It hinders the story. Thankfully things get back on track when they arrive back in Hong Kong. Depending on whether you like Karl Maka’s silly comedy, you may find him getting on your nerves after a while although some of the humour is well done. I did laugh when the duo break into a suspect’s apartment and come face to face with a fierce alsation dog. Baldy tells the dog to put his paws up and face the wall. Seeing the dog actually do that is very funny. The real highlight is the action scenes especially when performed by Sammo Hung. He does a very good impression of Bruce Lee and the way he fights considering his bulk frame is amazing. It’s obvious that some of the fights are a tribute to Bruce Lee himself. The choreography for the action alone is worth checking the movie out such as Sammo battling a gang of jewel thieves who are all wearing Sesame Street masks, the trashing of a restaurant and the superb finale which sees him taking on the baddies with some nunchukas. The climatic fight between Sammo and the knife-wielding chief villain played by Lau Kar Wing is superb. You can see that Karl and Sammo are comfortable in each other’s company as it shows on screen. They have great chemistry due to having worked together in the past on some rather good martial arts movies.

This is still a great light-hearted comedy action movie to watch despite its flaws thanks to the excellent martial arts action on display and some hilarious comedic moments. Well worth having a look.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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A Korean man Mun and his family consisting of wife Mi-ja, elder son Tae-yang, daughter Tae-mi and younger son Tae-Poong have settled down in Bangkok, Thailand where the father runs a Taekwondo school and the mother runs a restaurant. An expensive Thai treasure valued at $30 million dollars called the Kris Of Kings (basically an ancient long dagger) has been returned to the country and already a gang of Korean thieves take the opportunity to steal it but luckily the Mun family is nearby and manage to thwart the robbery. The gang of thieves escape and the family gets to be famous thanks to their efforts. However, the leader of the gang refuses to accept that the family have humiliated him and sends some of his thugs to the Mun restaurant but again they come away defeated. Mun decides to send his kids away to an old family friend who runs a small zoo in the countryside thnking that it’ll be safer for them there. Eventually though the gang find out where they are and kidnap Tae-Poong. The only way Mun and his family can have him back is to steal the Kris and hand it over to the gang leader. Will they be successful in stealing the Kris and rescuing their young son?

Whilst there are plenty of action movies from Korea, Korean martial arts movies are few and far between. This movie tries to readdress the balance but is it any good? Well, the answer is not really. This was the first joint movie project between South Korea and Thailand. The plot is nothing new, in fact the story is wafer-thin and just an excuse for the continuous action and whilst there are a few decent martial arts fights, it just wasn’t enough to make the movie rise above anything else than plain average. There’s even a dull side plot about Mun pushing his elder son to succeed at martial arts because he failed at the Olympics 20 years previously but all Tae-yang is interested in doing in taking part in dance auditions. It didn’t help the movie one bit that terribly cheap CGI effects was used at times such as a scene in a crocodile pit. It just looks bad. The villains aren’t even that menacing, there’s a distinct lack of any drama and the comedy I thought was lame. The highlight for me is near the end in a fight inside one of Bangkok Zoo’s enclosures where Tae-yang jumps on top of empty animal cages and has to fend off the villains all the while trying to avoid several spinning metal fans dangling from the ceiling. Quite an inventive scene and very exciting but sadly that was the only scene that really got me going. Maybe I was expecting director Prachya Pinkaew to come up with the goods seeing as he gave us the excellent Ong Bak, Chocolate and Tom Yum Goong but he doesn’t come close to emulating those movies with this one even if it does feature a dancing elephant!!

The cast I didn’t think was particularly good either apart from the 2 young Koreans who played brother and sister. Na Tae-Ju as Tae-yang is probably the best actor in the movie and I enjoyed his fighting style. He’s very nimble and acrobatic. He incorporates some dancing moves in keeping in line with his character and some taekwondo to kick some ass. Kim Gyeong-suk as Tae-mi who plays his sister fares well in her fighting scenes as well. That’s to be expected as both are major Taekwondo stars in South Korea. The rest of the Korean family is a bit bland. Thai martial arts star Jeeja Yanin is horribly underused and doesn’t get the chance to really show off her skills. After all, even though the movie is set in Thailand, it is mostly a Korean production (they funded 75% of the movie) and the filmmakers obviously didn’t want Jeeja to overshadow the main stars. Those expecting her to feature in some bone crunching action like in her 2 previous movies (Chocolate/Raging Phoenix) will definitely be disappointed. I know I was!

The Kick might have it’s moments but overall I found the whole movie very underwhelming. Instantly forgettable.

Sadako’s Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

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Kazuma Higaki and his daughter Yumi are attacked by a rival karate master Nikaido who wants the man’s job as top karate master. After cowardly teaming up with four other masters they manage to disable one of Kazuma’s arms and stick a kunai knife in his eye. Leaving him alive but crippled Kazuma trains his daughter Yumi to avenge him and the death of a friend. In New York City, years of hard training follows with Yumi beginning to hate karate. After Kazuma’s death, his daughter Yumi goes to Tokyo to kill her enemy. She enters into a karate tournament which is being run by the very same man Nikaido who killed her father. As this tournament is attracting some of the best fighters from across the globe, Nikaido sends his 4 assassins to destroy them all in order that his students will win the tournament. It is left to Yumi and another karate student to stop them but after Yumi’s arm is severely injured her revenge mission seems to be over. But Yumi isn’t one to give up that easily and nothing will stop her in killing her father’s murderer.

Billed as a Sonny Chiba movie and he has top billing, he’s only onscreen for about 15 mins before Etsuko Shihomi takes over as the main character for the movie. This is a fairly decent martial arts actioner. It won’t be the best you’ll ever see but you’ll find enough here to entertain you for an hour and a half. It’s more or less your standard revenge plot with it’s usual cliches. There’s plenty of fights and some gore but the main problem during the fights is with the camera. The action is obscured by bad camera angles and some shaking which is rather annoying. It will spoil your enjoyment of the fights that’s for certain. I felt the story was stretched too much even for 90 mins and could have been cut by a good 15 mins. For some inexplicable reason an erotic dance scene featuring a topless woman and a man has been inserted into the movie. The 2 characters have no relevance to the main plot whatsoever. It’s just stupid things like that which brings this movie down. Etsuko Shiromi makes for a good heroine and is pleasant on the eye. She fights well and one of the highlights of her performance sees her taking on a couple of vicious rottweiler dogs.

The DVD version I watched of this was pretty awful. The print was terrible – very grainy and washed out. The dubbing was also horrendous. I don’t know if there’s a better DVD print available which has been cleaned up but I would tell people to avoid the Movie Ventures DVD I saw. It would be nice in the future to see how the original Japanese version looks and if it’s any different to the American dubbed version.

There’s little to surprise you in this movie and whilst it has some good martial arts scenes (though short) at times, I can’t really recommend this to anybody especially with the shitty print on the DVD.

Sadako’s Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

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Kyoung-su Kim is a newly transferred student to Volcano High. He’s a gifted teenager with special telekinesis abilities but these powers have done nothing for him except get him expelled from a succession of schools. This latest transfer is basically his last chance. His transfer to the school comes at a turbulent time with the vice principal who conspires with a student Jang Ryang managing to overpower the principal by a poison and framing another student in the process for the incident as he wants to acquire the Great Manuscript – an ancient document which gives it’s owner the ultimate power. However the location of the manuscript eludes even the vice principal so in order to get any information out of the school’s students as they might know its location, he recruits a 5 strong group of teachers who will stop at nothing to bring discipline even if it costs a student’s life. But they didn’t count on the resilience of Kyoung-su Kim………

Although Volcano High looks great with it’s special effects, I wasn’t that impressed overall with the movie at all. The storyline just wasn’t good enough and I felt like it was just written to show off the SFX effects. It’s nothing new either as we’ve seen these kind of effects before in The Matrix and I’ve never been a fan of wire-fu which is used a lot here. To be perfectly honest I thought the filmmakers at times were trying too hard to top The Matrix with the effects. Perhaps if this kind of movie hadn’t been done before it might have been groundbreaking. On saying that it is fairly entertaining if you like this sort of thing. You don’t get bored watching it at all as the pace is fairly brisk with some fairly decent action sequences but they could have been improved. There is some kind of comedy element in this movie which I didn’t find funny. Whatever you do, don’t try and make any sense of the plot or your brain might fry. It’s probably best to just sit back and park your brain by the door before watching it. Director Tae-gyun Kim has obviously tried his best to make this movie exactly like an anime as the story is based on a manga.

Jang Hyuk is likeable enough as the goofy Kyoung-su Kim with his silly faces and I’m not sure how the character of Yoo Chae-I is the most beautiful girl at the school as I think her best friend So Yo-seon is far better looking than her. The performances of the cast are exagerrated deliberately to enhance the anime-like feel of the movie.

If you’re going to watch this movie with the notion that this is just mindless entertainment you’re sure to get something out of it otherwise those expecting a coherent plot with some great fight sequences are likely to be found wanting. Volcano High was just average to me.

Sadako’s Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

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Bullet is a delinquent teenage girl who is being released from jail. She has a fractious relationship with her police inspector father since he put his wife and Bullet’s mother in jail for a crime where she committed suicide. Since that time, Bullet went off the rails and joined a triad gang. As she comes out of jail, her father tries to patch up his relationship with his daughter but is ignored. Bullet joins up with her best friend Chitty and her delinquent gang. Bullet, Chitty and her friends unwittingly get involved in the activities of a dangerous gangster Mad and his cohorts when Chitty’s friend May is lured by an offer of a movie role, is drugged before being raped, videotaped and forced into prostitution by the sleazy Mr Chin. This enrages the gang who burst into Mr Chin’s office and demand the tape be given to them. Bullet’s impulsiveness for stealing some jewellery leads the whole group into trouble with May and her friend being kidnapped for ransom by Mad. Even Chitty’s aged uncle gets in on the action. However the rescue mission for the 2 kidnapped people results in Chitty’s uncle, May and her friend being killed. Chitty is upset and distraught that Bullet has caused all this trouble thanks to what she’s done. Bullet refuses to admit responsibility for her actions. Determined to make things right, Bullet takes matters into her own hands and armed with 2 molotov cocktails and a short sword tries to take on Mad and his gang all by herself. Despite her initial success, Bullet is killed along with her father who turns up just after his daughter has been shot. The female partner of Bullet’s father in the police force and Chitty now both want revenge on Mad and everything is set up for an explosive finale……

What an incredible Girls With Guns movie this was. We’re straight into the action immediately at the start as Sibelle Hu’s acrobatic police character Madame Wu goes in all guns blazing to a building as some jewel thieves hold a couple of hostages and that’s just the beginning of a series of sensational set-pieces that you will see in this movie. The fight choreography, shootouts, brilliant stunts and the tragic storyline that unfolds all adds up to make an entertaining movie that will blow you away. With an all star female cast of Moon Lee, Yukari Oshima and Sibelle Hu how can this movie not go wrong! This is Yukari Oshima’s movie though and the story is mostly focused on her character Bullet. Her character is mean and moody. It doesn’t help that she can’t control her rage and this brings down the rest of her friends with her. Right from the beginning where she gives the middle finger to a female police officer as she’s released from jail you just know that Bullet is a pack of trouble and with a pair of pants that she wears with the word “slut” written all over them it doesn’t take a genius to realise that Bullet doesn’t like authority very much! I did like the slow motion sequence as Bullet slashes her way through Mad’s gang in the middle of a street armed only with a short sword with blood covering her face only to be gunned down by Mad himself – it’s almost like she is sacrificing herself for the mistake she has made. This leads to a fantastic climax at Mad’s beach hideout with Moon Lee involved in an excellent hand to hand combat fight with 2 female opponents while Sibelle Hu blasts her way through the bad guys with a pump action shotgun. All 3 women give it their all in this movie with Moon Lee and Yukari Oshima given the chance to show how good their acting really is as well as their kick ass fighting skills. I’m not taking anything away either from Sibelle Hu who gives one of her best performances ever as a no nonsense police officer.

If you are a HK fan who’s never seen this movie then you owe it to yourself to see it. Violent, fast-paced and a high bodycount make this one of the greatest Girls With Guns movie I have ever seen. Miss it, miss out!!

No trailer but here’s Yukari Oshima character’s death scene in the movie.

Sadako’s Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

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Martial artist Billy Lo is dismayed that younger brother Bobby is neglecting his studies and spending all his time looking at porn. Meanwhile a friend of Billy’s, Kung Fu master Chin Ku, dies under mysterious circumstances. Billy heads to Japan to find May, Chin Ku’s daughter, now a singer at a club in Ginza.  Later, at Chin Ku’s funeral, a helicopter appears out of nowhere and with its dangling steel claw snatches the kung fu master’s coffin. Billy latches on to the helicopter, but is shot with a dart and falls to his death. Bobby, shocked back into reality by his brother’s death, is determined to get revenge. He’s soon off to Japan himself, where he learns a sadistic foreigner/martial artist, Lewis, had associated with Chin Ku in the days before the latter’s death. Bobby visits Lewis’s palatial estate, determined to uncover the secret of the “castle of death.” But when Lewis is brutally murdered, Bobby must investigate the mysterious Fan Yu temple, where he must enter an underground pagoda and face off with the most terrifying of enemies.

So Game of Death II isn’t actually a proper Bruce Lee movie. The filmmakers might say it was done as tribute to him but the majority think it was more of a shameless cash-in on his name. The Bruce Lee footage on show here is leftover material taken from his other movies and 2 doubles (Yuen Biao for the acrobatic fights and Kim Tai Chung for the rest) takes his place in the new footage shot. So I would advise viewers to forget about this being a Bruce Lee movie. To be perfectly honest, once the footage of Bruce has finished and his character Billy Lo dies from a dart to the neck, the movie actually gets better and is actually a very good martial arts movie although the plot is barely passable. For those who just want to see the martial arts that won’t really matter. This movie is in fact better than the first Game Of Death which was a bit of a mess. There is one laughable sequence which is simply embarassing to watch and that’s Bobby Lo being attacked by what’s supposed to be a lion (but it’s obviously a man in a lion suit). Did the filmmakers actually believe they could get away with that and that people would think it was a real lion? With Yuen Wo Ping as the fight choreographer you know you’re gonna get some great stuff and this is true in this movie especially during the climax as Bobby makes his way into the underground Tower Of Death which looks more like a villain’s lair from a James Bond movie and has to fight the various opponents on offer there.  Kim Tai Chung does OK as Bobby Lo. Hwang Jang Lee makes a very good villain so it’s a pity you only really get to see him at the beginning and the end of the movie.

Overall, a solid if unspectacular martial arts movie which doesn’t really stand out from others in the same genre made around the same time. Still, it’s a lot of fun and I would recommend it.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5.

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The story begins with a flashback scene as 2 practising geomancer brothers are searching for the holy grail area of Feng Shui in an unnamed country with the hope of locating the ideal burial place when they die. They find the perfect idyllic place based on their theories. The location where they hope to be buried will determine the fortune that will be bestowed on the future generation of their respective families – be it power, wealth or wisdom.  When one brother doesn’t like what the other is saying about where he wants to be buried as he wants his family to be powerful in the future, he makes a run for it with his brother’s mercenary forces in hot pursuit. He barely manages to escape by jumping into a local peasant’s boat but unfortunately the peasant himself is fatally wounded. His final wish is to be buried in the area where his children will acquire some wealth and as gratitude for saving his life the brother carries out his wishes. The brother himself wants to get buried where his son will be granted great intellect. Fast forward 20 years in the future where a young woman Anna who runs a computing company in LA is having dire financial problems and also has to deal with a computer hacker named Wisely.  He is also having his own problems having discovered that he has a brain tumour. It won’t kill him but will make him insane.  Both have a feeling that their misfortune is linked to the burial site of their ancestors and along with an astrologer friend who’s an expert in geomancy and feng shui travel to the country to locate their burial sites. It seems that because an evil person has also been buried in that area the tomb must be destroyed for the bad luck to disappear. However there are complications for the trio when they arrive in the country as the President’s top military general stages a coup and kills the leader. He has plans for world domination using the powers of geomancy, astrology and feng shui. The general’s sister isn’t too happy about this and assists Anna, Wisely and the astrologer with their quest but when the general finds out he goes crazy. Can the trio complete what they originally set out to do and also stop the mad general’s plan with their lives intact?

This is an action packed adventure (a bit like an Indiana Jones style movie) which also contains a mystical element to the story too. It’s to do with feng shui and geomancy which is divination by means of lines and figures or by geographic features. As the movie assumes that the viewer knows something about geomancy in general, this could be why many Western viewers are a little bit confused about the story. No expense was spared with the budget on this production with the movie shot in Los Angeles and in Indochina. The biggest draw in Bury Me High is the superb well staged action scenes with some tanks and heavy weaponry being used. A lot of explosives go off, more than what is usually seen in HK movies. The martial arts is fantastic  – fast, brutal and exciting which is topped off by an amazing three way fight between Moon Lee, Yuen Wah and Chin Kar Lok. The final 20 minutes showcases some of the best intense action scenes in HK cinema you’ll ever see. I also have to mention the beautiful cinematography by Peter Pau. The location they use for the majority of the movie is just gorgeous with a stunning mountain range used as a backdrop. For some reason this movie didn’t do so well at HK cinemas at the time of it’s release. You’d think with the great cast involved it would have done OK but apparently it didn’t. Perhaps the mix of various genres didn’t appeal to audiences?

The cast is uniformly great and play interesting characters from Moon Lee who looks beautiful in her designer outfits (even appearing in a bikini) as the young female tycoon Anna and has some cool fight scenes to Yuen Wah who nearly steals the movie as the mad and nasty villain General Nguen. Sibelle Hu, Chin Kar Lok and even Tsui Siu-Ming (the movie’s director) who play the rest of the 5 leading roles in this movie also contribute hugely to the slick fast paced story.

Despite a bit of a slow start, once Bury Me High gets going you won’t find a better action movie. It’s possible that you may get confused with the storyline. All I can say is just pay close attention to the first 10-15 minutes, take it all in and perhaps then you might understand what’s going on. I loved this movie and I hope you will too.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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San Te is a student that’s caught up in the conflict between the Han rebels and the controlling Manchu government. Seeing the common people treated badly and oppressed makes San Te angry and this grows when he witnesses a murder of an innocent person. After consulting with his teacher, he chooses to join the rebellion who hope to topple the Manchu government. However when they discover that San Te and his students have sided with the rebels they are all rounded up and his family is murdered. San Te and his friend flee their town and decide to head to the Shaolin Temple to learn kung fu in the hope that when are fully trained they can come back and defend the town.  However they are pursued and San Te’s friend is killed. San Te is himself injured in his leg but manages to crawl to a nearby village where he collapses. The villagers manage to get him inside a large barrel which is bound to the Shaolin Temple by the monks. Once inside the temple itself he’s discovered inside the barrel. The monks nurse him back to help but the head monk of the temple wants him to leave as he’s an outsider. He asks if he can join them. For 6 months all he does is sweep the temple grounds. In the end he grows tired of this and ask if he can learn kung fu. He is asked which one of the 35 chambers he would like to start his kung fu training. He replies at the top – the 35th chamber. Unfortunately he is completely humiliated so he begs to start at the very bottom at the 1st chamber so he can work his way up. Each chamber gives San Te something for him to learn as his knowledge of Shaolin grows. The training is tough and involves using his brains as well as brawn to clear the chambers. Many years pass and San Te is seen to be progressing at a fast pace compared to the other students. As his training comes to an end, San Te is officially exiled from the Shaolin Temple so that he can help his own people against the tyrannical Manchu government. He plans to teach the local people some kung fu. His antics soon bring him to the attention of General Tien Ta, the Manchu Governor who wants San Te dead.

You may be a person that loves martial arts movies but you can’t call yourself a proper fan until you’ve seen this classic Shaw Brothers movie. You might have even heard about the movie but not bothered to take any notice of it. If you’ve thought why should I bother with those cheesy HK 70’s martial arts movies then shame on you as you’re missing out on some sensational stuff and in this one of the very best martial arts movie you’ll ever see. 36th Chamber of Shaolin was the movie that made martial arts movies popular again in Hong Kong which had been on the wane since the death of Bruce Lee. Fans of the genre would have a new hero to worship in the brilliant Gordon Liu and this was the movie that would thrust him into the limelight and establish him as one of the greatest martial artists of all time. He delivers a stellar performance as San Te. It’s a simple enough tale of a young man learning and maturing into a grand master of kung fu.

This may be a kung fu movie and yes, there are some fights along the way but that’s not the main attraction of the movie. It’s the brilliant training sequences we witness inside the Shaolin Temple that stand out more than anything such as the water crossing scenes for example. San Te is an impetuous young man when he starts his training and gradually we see a change occur in him. He becomes more disciplined and is determined to overcome each obstacle he faces. You can feel his pain as he struggles to master each new chamber. Once San Te is exiled from the temple that’s when we get to witness some amazing fights especially the climatic one with General Tien Ta as he battles him with his own invention – a three section staff.

36th Chamber Of Shaolin is a very special movie which has drama, an excellent plot, great characters and some incredible martial arts fights. To put it simply – don’t miss out on it. It might be the ultimate kung fu movie. It really is that good. Highly recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 5 stars out of 5

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As the fierce rivalry between the Iga and Kouga ninja clans rages on, a pair of psychotic eunuch ninjas, are tasked with abducting young women to serve as “tools of pleasure”. Little do they realise that one of their latest victims is a kunoichi, a highly skilled female ninja (Rina Takeda). She is also a kunoichi on a mission of revenge who’s determined to smash the evil flesh trafficking heritage to which her own mother once fell victim.

Frankly I was disappointed with this short 65 minute movie. If you compare it with Rena’s 2 other movies High Kick Girl and Karate Girl you’ll see this movie doesn’t even come close to matching them for quality martial arts and action. I was underwhelmed by the fight choreography and I don’t think it showed Rena at her best. Most fights were brief and over in a couple of minutes. Only hardcore Rena fans should watch this otherwise it’s best to look at her other movies if you’re a new fan of hers.

Sadako’s Rating: 2 stars out of 5

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After seeing his parents viciously murdered by a mysterious, tattoo-covered killer, a grieving young man named Zieng vows to avenge their tragic deaths. When Zieng learns that the murderous maniac who slew his parents also runs with a nefarious group of cattle rustlers, the righteous martial artist’s mission of vengeance takes on the larger task of stopping the group’s illegal activities and ensuring that each head of cattle is delivered back to its rightful owner.

I usually quite like Thai action/martial arts movies but this one just isn’t good enough and hasn’t anything really to grab and hold your attention. The plot I found fairly dull about a young man seeking revenge on a dark wizard that killed his parents. The acting is generally awful and too camp and the fighting scenes involve too much wire work and are repetitive. However, not all of the fights are poor and one or two sequences saved this movie from being a total disaster but on saying that I really did want this movie to finish as I was starting to get bored. There are far better Thai martial arts movies out there for serious fans. Only watch this is you have time to waste otherwise don’t bother.

Sadako’s Rating: 2 stars out of 5

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Donnie Yen plays a hot-headed ex-cop named Dragon Yau whose attitude has got him in trouble with his bosses and his wife. On a trip to the lawyers, he is witness to a robbery where a suitcase of money disappears and a lot of guys get shot. Somehow, he ends up with lawyer Mandy Chang (Rosamund Kwan) on the run from the cops who think they committed a murder and from the bad guys that think they have the money. Reluctantly they are forced to form an alliance with one of the bad guys, David (David Wu), who has been betrayed by the gang led by Waise Chow (Robin Shou).

Tiger Cage 2 is another classic HK actioner from the 90’s. The plot is simple, but action director Yuen Wo Ping doesn’t stay focused on the plot for too long…he gives the people what they want to see and that’s loads of gunfights, plenty of humour and fantastic fight choreography that hits dead centre!

Donnie Yen shows us some of the solid, hard-hitting, high-kicking action that has made him famous over the years. The man truly does enjoy playing the hard-boiled tough guy who never runs from a fight and never backs down when trouble is near. Rosamund Kwan did a terrific job as Mandy Chan, the divorce lawyer who finds herself in an unpredictable situation and doesn’t have a clue why people are trying to kill her and is plagued with guilt over the death of her best friend Petty. The situations with her and Donnie are just too funny for words as the two can’t stand each other’s behaviour but learn to come to an understanding when they realize they can’t survive without each other.

The fight scenes are amazing: plenty of raw kicking power, sword swinging action and gun-fights galore to keep you on the edge of your seat. The choreography for the scenes is spot on. Tiger Cage 2 is a fantastic movie and I recommend it to anyone who’s into modern day actioners, Donnie Yen, Rosamund Kwan and the choreography of Yuen Wo Ping. Highly recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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Lo Tung and his friend Malted Candy, pedicab drivers working the streets of Macao, have both fallen in love. The problem is that both their objects of affection – one a baker, the other a prostitute – are working under cruel and lecherous bosses. Somehow, the pair must find a way to win the ladies’ hearts and free them from their unpleasant jobs.

One of Sammo Hung’s best movies and considered by many to be his masterpiece, it starts out as a comedy, moves into romance before entering heroic bloodshed territory by the time the end credits roll. The plot could have been made tighter but it doesn’t matter when you’ve got a good balance of humour and drama including a funny nod to Star Wars when Sammo has a flourescent light tube fight. However, the mood changes dramatically to the dark side in the 2nd half as Sammo is out for revenge when his friend and his new bride are slaughtered. The fight choreography throughout the movie are outstanding. Even though Sammo may never leave the shadow of his countryman Jackie Chan, he is definitely just as inventive and nimble for a large man in his fights. The fast and furious stick fight between Sammo and Lau Kar Leung is a model of dazzling choreography and sharp, superb direction, and easily one of the best ever of its type.

A seemless and utterly compelling blend of first-class martial arts comedy and truly breathtaking violence, “Pedicab Driver” showcases the master of Hong Kong action at his awesome, bloody best.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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