Young People (1972) Review

"Young People" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"Young People" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Director: Chang Cheh
Cast: David Chiang, Ti Lung, Chen Kuan Tai, Agnes Chen Mei-Ling (Agnes Chan Mei Ling), Irene Chen I-Ling (Chan Yi Ling), Bolo Yeung (Yang Sze), Yen Shi Kwan
Running Time: 118 min.

By Mighty Peking Man

Young People is a story of active college kids who are divided into three groups, with each one having a leader: David Chiang’s consists of musicians, singers and dancers. Ti Lung’s are basketball players. Chen Kuan Tai’s men practice kung fu.

They’re all from the same school, yet there’s still a sense of rivalry between the students. Ti Lung’s jocks and Chen Kuan Tai martial artists poke fun at David Chiang’s group for being into non-manly activities; Chen Kuan Tai has a beef with Ti Lung for stealing his girl (it’s fun to watch Irene Chen juggle all the guys around); David Chiang seems to be the cool cat of the bunch, who spends most of his time breaking up fights; and even though his forte is playing the drums, he tears it up when it comes to any activity, especially kung fu.

I don’t know how Chang Cheh did it, but he managed to make an enjoyable movie with no deaths, no blood, and a limited amount of PG-rated brawls. Mind you, I walked into Young People knowing it was a non-action movie based more on a friendly plot about competitive, fun-loving college kids. I just never realized I’d end up liking it as much as I did. In fact, I can honestly say that it was much more enjoyable than your average Shaw Brothers basher. But who knows? Maybe I just needed a break from watching a bunch of guys killing eachother.

Young People is cornball movie making at its finest. The comedy isn’t smart. The story is nothing intriging or original. Expect a lot of dated music (some of it’s in English). With all this said – and I know it doesn’t make much sense – Young People is interesting throughout it’s 90-minute duration. It’s kind of like watching an episode of some cheesy 1970’s TV show: it’s outdated, it’s far-fetched, but for some reason, you just keep on watching it.

If there’s anything truly negative to be said, there are a couple of draggy segments. One is an overlong basketball game (we only needed a few minutes of it, not 15 or whatever it was). Also, there are a couple of numbers performed by Agnes Chan that seem to go on forever. Depending on your taste (or mental stability), these scenes may knock off the film’s nice pace.

No biggie though.

Besides, where else you gonna see Ti Lung and Bolo play basketball? Where else are you going to hear Agnes Chan perform a cheesy cover of James Taylor’s “You’ve Got A friend”?

Need a break from the usual Chang Cheh flick? Give Young People a try.

Mighty Peking Man’s Rating: 7/10

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Web of Death (1976) Review

"Web of Death" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"Web of Death" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Literally: Five Poison Web
Director: Chor Yuen
Cast: Yueh Hua, Cheng Lee (Ching Li), Lo Lieh, Guk Fung (Ku Feng), Wong Hap (Wang Hsia), Lily Li Li-Li, Wong Chung (Wang Chung), Angela Yu Chien, Ngaai Fei, Yen Shi Kwan
Running Time: 87 min.

By Joe909

I’ve loved these old school Shaw Brothers movies since I was a kid, and figured I knew a little about them. But I had never heard of director Chor Yuen. I had heard of one of his movies, though: 1977’s Clans of Intrigue, and the only reason I knew about that one was because it starred the fucktastic Nora Miao. But it turns out that Yuen was one of Shaw’s biggest directors. Unlike Chang Cheh and Liu Chia-Lang, Yuen delved into the esoteric world of swordplay films, with all-powerful characters, fantastic sets, colorful costumes, and complicated plots. He lacked the buckets of blood Chang Cheh doused his films with, but hey, no one’s perfect. Re-introducing Yuen’s body of work is just one of many things Celestial should be thanked for.

Praise aside, the only things hampering Yuen’s movies were the byzantine plotting and cluttered cast. You can’t entirely blame him, because the majority of his movies were based on convoluted Gu Long novels, a few of which I’ve read, and which themselves can be very confusing. But it can still be hard figuring out who’s who in Chor’s movies, and what’s going on. Web of Death is no exception, even though it doesn’t seem to be based on anything by Gu Long.

The sets are the most interesting thing about this movie. That’s not an insult to the film; these sets are fantastic, even beyond the usual magnificent Shaws set design. There’s a trap-filled dungeon, a clan headquarters that seems to be colossal, and fog-shrouded cauldrons with pools of acid. I can only imagine what martial chaos Chang Cheh could’ve wrought on such sets, but Chor Yuen’s movies are more introspective, complex, and feminine than Chang’s bloodthirsty tales.

Another interesting aspect of this movie is the similarity of its plot to the Shaw Brothers classic Five Venoms. Both of these movies came from the pen of I Kuang; Web of Death in 1976 and Five Venoms in 1978. You could consider Web a prologue to Venoms. It’s about the Poison Clan, but whereas Five Venoms is a kung-fu mystery of the highest order, Web of Death is a high-brow swordplay/romance/B-grade horror movie.

The plot concerns the evil leader of the Snake Clan’s search for the fabled Five Poisons spider, the most powerful weapon in the martial world. It’s just a little spider in a weird box, but it glows red, screeches, and ensnares its victims in a radioactive cobweb. It can also apparently do all sorts of wacky stuff. The Poison Clan leader won’t let him have it, as the spider was banned ages ago and is now hidden. So the Snake Clan leader devises a ruse to find it; he makes it seem that other martial artist clans are out seeking the spider. This causes all sorts of confusion, fatal mistakes, and plotting in the martial world.

In the middle of this, a love story brews between virtuous swordsman Fei and the Poison Clan leader’s daughter, Hong. At times this part of the story takes on aspects of a kung-fu version of Three’s Company. Lots of mistaken identity, holding of secrets, and misunderstandings. All the movie really needs is a topknotted Normal Fell as Mr. Roper, who could live upstairs from these crazy kids.

The two plot threads come to a head when Fei is framed for the massacre of an escort agency, and the Snake Clan leader, now in possession of the spider, comes after him. The final battle is good for a while, but then the spider is unleashed. The special effects in this part are entertaining solely due to the cheese factor. We’re supposed to buy it when this fake-looking spider ensnares all of the master swordsmen in a radioactive web. Unfortunately, there is only way to kill the spider, and doing so gives the movie its requisite tragic ending.

Cheng Lee, as the clan leader’s daughter, is the true star of the film, with lead-billed Yueh Hua mostly providing back-up. Lo Lieh is the black-garbed villain, and he’s perfect as the power-mad leader of the Snake Clan. He also has the best outfit in the movie, though I did like the wiry Centipede Clan leader’s “centipede” shield. I would’ve preferred to see more of these clan leaders in action, but when people do fight, it’s generally along the fantasy side of things. Lots of leaping and bolts flying from fingertips.

Action-wise I didn’t find this movie on par with Chang Cheh, though surely others will disagree. I guess it comes down to genre preference. For me, I tend to like just about anything which begins with that majestic Shaw Brothers logo, save for the odd movie or two. I do prefer kung-fu to swordplay movies, but it’s not a hardcore preference. That being said, I still found the action scenes to be over too quick in this one, and would have loved to see the violent epic Chang Cheh might have created with these sets and costumes.

Joe909’s Rating: 7/10

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Angry Guest, The | aka Duel of Fists 2 (1972) Review

"The Angry Guest" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"The Angry Guest" Chinese Theatrical Poster

AKA: Kung Fu Killers, The Annoyed Guest
Director: Chang Cheh
Producer: Runme Shaw
Cast: David Chiang, Ti Lung, Chang Che, Chan Sing, Yasuaki Kurata, Bolo Yeung, Cheng Lee, Woo Wai, Gam Kei Chu, Lee Pang-Fei, Yen Shi Kwan
Running Time: 93 min.

By Mighty Peking Man

Fan Ke (David Chiang) and Wenlie (Ti Lung) are back, and this time they’re up against a powerful Japanese crime syndicate (headed by director Chang Cheh, himself). Not only that, but Killer (Chan Sing), the head villain from “Duel of Fists,” has escaped prison and wants retribution. Killer’s revenge plot leads to Wenlie’s girlfriend’s kidnapping, and forces the two heroes to travel to Japan to set things straight and kick some ass.

Unlike “Duel of Fists,” this sequel doesn’t take itself seriously at all, which works great, considering its wacky content. Filled with non-stop action and far out situations, “The Angry Guest” feels more like a down ‘n dirty Golden Harvest exploitation flick (ie “Stoner”) than your average Chang Cheh joint. Complete with ultra-violence, cheesy gadgets, vehicle chases, cheap Bond-ish set designs, colorful villains (Bolo at his hippest), and a raunchy sex scene that titty-squeezers will get a kick out of, this movie will appeal to true fans of Chang Cheh at his playful best.

Though “The Angry Guest” succeeds where “Duel of Fists” didn’t, the film may have lost a point due to the bad presentation. The version I saw was PanMedia’s DVD release and even though it was in its original aspect ratio, the picture quality was like that of a VHS and its English-dubbing was awful (yet sometimes entertaining). Let’s face it, we’re all spoiled by Celestial’s line of remastered Shaw titles (well, most of them), so second rate quality really stands out. If it were the early 90’s, then my DVD virgin eyes would have thought differently.

Mighty Peking Man’s Ratin: 7/10

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Shaolin Rescuers | aka Avenging Warriors of Shaolin (1978) Review

"Shaolin Rescuers" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"Shaolin Rescuers" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Director: Chang Cheh
Writer: Chang Cheh, Ni Kuang, Choi Naai Ban
Producer: Mona Fong Yat Wah
Cast: Jason Pai Piao, Lu Feng, Lo Meng, Philip Kwok Chung Fung, Chiang Sheng, Sun Chien, Chiang Nan, Walter Tso Tat Wah, Yeung Chi Hing, Wong Ching Ho, Chan Fai Kei, Chan Shen, Cheng Miu, Cheung Hei, Chow Kin Ping
Running Time: 110 min.

By Joe909

Despite the fact that the opening credits feature San Te (the character featured in “36th Chamber of Shaolin”), Fong Sai-Yuk (featured in several films), and a few other famous Shaolin monks getting killed by the villainous Pai Mei and his henchmen, Avenging Warriors of Shaolin is a comedy. As a matter of fact, you’d think Lau Kar-Leng, the Shaw director most noted for his comedic efforts, was behind this film, instead of Chang Cheh.

The Venoms star in this one, and though all of their previous films together had featured some comedy, none of them had it to this level. Unfortunately though, Chiang Sheng, usually the most humorous Venom, has a rather straight-laced part, and doesn’t even show up until the last half hour. Lo Meng shines as a bean curd seller who learned Mantis Fist from a teacher whose name he never learned. Kuo Choi shows off his own comedic talents and acrobatic skills as a smart-ass waiter who doesn’t mind stealing food from customers’ plates. Kuo’s kung-fu skills were taught to him by his dad, who showed Kuo how to fight with a bowl and chopsticks. Lo and Kuo are best friends, and spar with each other constantly, much to their respective bosses’ dismay.

When injured Shaolin student Hung Sze-Kuan, the only escapee from Pai Mei’s attack, shows up in Lo and Kuo’s town, they take it upon themselves to heal him. Sun Chien joins them, as the expelled student of a local Shaolin school whose evil master rejected Hung Sze-Kuan’s request for aid. The three drum up cash to buy the exotic potion required to heal Hung, stirring up the curiosity of Lu Feng and his henchmen.

Lu Feng plays his usual role, of course: cruel, evil, and deadly. He’s Pai Mei’s right-hand man, and he’s been sent out to find and kill all Shaolin rebels. Joining him is a muscle head who wields a humorously-large hammer, a guy who fights with wooden shield and sword, a punk who wears metal hoops, and a couple other stooges. Lu himself wields a spear and carries a pair of miniature claws that come in handy for tossing at his victims. In one memorable scene, Lu and his companions take on a Shaolin rebel who refuses to give up.

The laughs come on consistently with Kuo, Sun Chien, and Lo Meng’s parts, with Lu Feng giving the film it’s moments of brutality. As the film continues, it takes on a more serious approach, with the final battle being the usual life-or-death Shaw Brothers climax. And it should be noted that this final battle is one of their best. It features the usual breath-taking acrobatics, combined with more weapons than I could keep track of. Spears, swords, chairs, tables, chopsticks, weird-looking blades, the works; just about everything’s used.

Avenging Warriors of Shaolin is lighthearted through most of its running time, and provides a different look at the Venoms actors. I wouldn’t say it’s one of their best, as it quickly becomes apparent that most of the plot is just an excuse to set up the next fight sequence. This movie has more fights than any other Shaw Brothers movie I’ve seen. But it does feature two of the best fight sequences I’ve seen: the final battle, and the fight between the lone Shaolin warrior and Lu Feng’s men.

In a final note, there are currently two releases of this movie available. There’s the Ground Zero version, which goes by the name “Shaolin Rescuers,” and has shots from the movie on the cover, and the Venom Mob version, which is called “Avenging Warriors of Shaolin,” and for some reason has a photo of Gordon Liu on the cover. Both are the same length, and uncut. Opinion varies over which is better quality, but neither are pristine, and both were obviously dubbed off of a second or third-generation video. I bought the GZ version, as it’s cheaper. However, this movie is so rare that I’d recommend purchasing either of the releases, as it’s worth tracking down for the Venoms fan.

Joe909’s Rating: 8.5/10

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Bells of Death, The (1968) Review

"The Bells of Death" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"The Bells of Death" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Director: Griffin Yueh Feng
Cast: Chin Ping, Chang Yi, Chiu Sam Yin (Chao Hsin Yen), Lam Kau (Lin Chia), Tien Sheng, Guk Fung (Ku Feng), Paul Chun Pui, Yeung Chi Hing, Wu Ma
Running Time: 84 min.

By Mighty Peking Man

Bells of Death is the story of Wei (Chang Yi) , a young man who seeks revenge on the three bandits responsible for slaughtering his family and kidnapping his sister. Armed with his blood-thirsty sword and a bracelet of tiny bells – which symbolizes his murdered mother – Wei is an unstoppable, tortured soul and he will not rest until he gets a chance to piss on their graves.

Bells of Death is a revenge movie that doesn’t waste any time getting to the ‘revenge’ part. They even skip the whole ‘kung fu training session’ and leave it to your imagination. Throughout the movie, I was waiting for the training scene to kick in via-flashback mode, but it never came; In a way, not having the scene was strange, but once the rest of the film got going, it really didn’t matter.

For a movie made in 1968, Bells of Death feels more like something that was made in the late 1970s. That whole jolty camera style of the 60’s era Shaw flicks is absent; instead we get more of Westernized approach, which is restrained in comparison.

The tone of the film is very grizzly and dark. The costumes, set designs and backgrounds are mostly neutral in color. Even when someone is wearing red, it appears to be darkened, with very little contrast. The tone also applies to the gloomy soundtrack, which becomes haunting at times (like most Shaw flicks, a good portion of the film’s soundtrack was probably borrowed from Western films).

Bells of Death has a good amount of satisfying action. If you like blood and gore, it’ll put a smile on your face. There are a couple of scenes where sliced heads and limbs fall to the ground – and they show it!

Bells of Death gets the award for having the freakiest kung fu villain of all time, thanks to that stubby guy with a huge prosthetic nose and beard. As he attacks his victims, he does this eerie, horizontal head shake – and you can hear the cracks his neck makes when he does it. I think most people find it goofy, but it freaks me out for some reason.

Highly recommended.

Mighty Peking Man’s Rating: 8/10

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Cheap Killers (1998) Review

"Cheap Killers" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"Cheap Killers" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Director: Clarence Ford
Producer: Wong Jing
Writer: Wong Jing
Cast: Sunny Chan Kam Hung, Kathy Chow Hoi Mei, Alex Fong Chung Sun, Henry Fong Ping, Stephen Fung Tak Lun, Lilian Ho Ka Lei, Ku Feng, Michael Ian Lambert
Running Time: 94 min.

By Raging Caijin

“Cheap Killers” springs forth, guns blazing, from the twisted imagination of writer/producer Wong Jing. It’s a sweaty ode to machismo and bullets that at times plays out like “Happy Together” with guns. Fortunately, whenever any of Wong Jing’s excesses threaten to sink the entire endeavor, some solid performances and the stylish direction of Clarence Fok are there to redeem the picture. If you can handle the blatant homoeroticism that simmers just below the movie’s surface, then you may enjoy “Cheap Killers” for the stunning return to HK cinema’s glory days that it is. That’s right: this is a genuine ‘heroic bloodshed’ flick and one of the best in years.

The story follows Sam Cool and Yat-Tiu, two of the most successful hitmen in all of Hong Kong. They’ve got the house, the cars, and the women. Well, only Yat-Tiu is into the women but we’ll get to that later. Of course, his penchant for the ladies gets both men into a lot of trouble. Yat-Tiu falls for a femme fatale and it ends up his undoing; betrayed and left for dead, the two men have little choice but to pick up the pieces of their broken lives…and plot their revenge. And you can bet it’s going to be a sweet, bloody revenge.

This is all pretty standard HK action stuff, but what separates “Cheap Killers” from other movies of its kind is the relationship between the two lead characters. When you first load up the DVD and see the menu with both actors dressed in flowing white clothes, shirts open to expose their chiseled abs, looking like two male models – it is merely a hint of what is to come. To put it simply, Sam Cool and Yat-Tiu are close. Very close. The nature of their relationship is ultimately left ambiguous by the filmmakers, but be prepared for many scenes where the two men hold each other in their arms and cry together. And watch out for that scene where Sam Cool bathes Yat-Tiu. But don’t worry; there is good reason for these moments: something happens to Yat-Tiu and Sam Cool must take on an almost paternal role for his friend. To me, these scenes imbue the movie with more emotion than your average triad flick – or at least, as much real emotion as a Wong Jing movie can have.

There are strong themes of brotherhood and loyalty at play here. It’s unfortunate that Wong Jing has to ruin it by making the female characters either manipulative or weak. He seems to be saying “all men are brothers” and “all women are bitches”. Thus, it’s not surprising that some parts of this movie resonate and others do not. At one point, a character even says “Never trust a woman” without a hint of irony. While I wish Wong Jing had reigned in his misogyny a bit, I must say that in this case the woman-bashing helps make “Cheap Killers” even more a guilty pleasure. This is a trashy movie but the filmmakers know it – hell, it was directed by Clarence “Naked Killer” Fok, after all. It’s best just to sit back and enjoy it, without taking it too seriously.

And if you’re just looking for action, “Cheap Killers” is sure to please. This movie is violent as hell. People are shot, stabbed, cut in half, chopped by shears, impaled with harpoons; others have their eyes cut out or plummet to their death. It’s all delivered with a visual punch from Clarence Fok, who knows this kind of grimy neo-noir like the back of his hand. His kinetic pacing, unique camera angles, and excessive use of slow motion mean that “Cheap Killers” is a feast for the eyes as well; which is good because the eye candy tends to take your mind off of some of the plot holes, implausibility, or sleaze in Wong Jing’s script.

Sunny Chan does a decent job as the womanizing pretty boy Yat-Tiu, but the full depth of his acting talent isn’t realized until half-way through the film. He’s very convincing as someone on the edge of sanity. That said, this movie belongs to Alex Fong. His portrayal of Sam Cool is one of the most complex and fascinating characters out of HK in years. Honestly, an exploitation movie doesn’t deserve a performance this good! He comes across as tough and vulnerable all at the same time; he projects an impossibly macho attitude while still showing tenderness and love to his male friend. He does a consummate job and makes up for Kathy Chow and Henry Fong, who are content to mostly ham things up. They’re not bad performances per se; they’re just more typical of the genre (femme fatale and sleazy gangster) than Alex Fong’s three-dimensional portrayal. Stephen Fung shows up in a supporting role as a nice guy cop. His turn is nothing to write home about but he’s a welcome presence in the movie. His character is an honest beacon of righteousness in a movie otherwise consumed with debauchery and murder.

Overall, if you can’t already tell, I loved “Cheap Killers” . It’s not a good movie at all but it’s a hell of a lot of fun to watch. It’s a trashy b-movie, an exploitation flick, and tasteless to the extreme. But guess what? They just don’t make ‘em like this anymore. When was the last time you saw a movie where the heroes armed themselves to the teeth to exact their vengeance in a rousing finale of choreographed ultra-violence? While “Cheap Killers” cobbles together elements of “A Better Tomorrow” and “Bullet in the Head” , it stands on its own thanks to the strong chemistry between the two main characters as well as some stylish cinematography…and the fact that there hasn’t been anything like it since the year it came out.

What I love about “Cheap Killers” is summed up entirely by the final shot of the movie. I’m not going to ruin it for you but once you see it, there’s no way you can resist from shouting out “Hell yeah!” It’s just one of those moments that gets your blood pumping and reminds you of the good old days of Hong Kong action. The moment, just like the entire movie, is completely unrealistic, impossibly over-the-top, and stylized to the hilt – and that’s exactly why I love it. I’m not scoring this film higher because it’s admittedly just a guilty pleasure with little artistic merit; and I can’t help but think how much better it would have been if produced by someone like Tsui Hark instead of Wong Jing. But if you’re like me and you have a soft spot for the heroic bloodshed genre, then watch this movie as soon as friggin’ possible.

Raging Caijin’s Rating: 7.5/10

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Kiss of the Dragon (2001) Review

"Kiss of the Dragon" American Theatrical Poster

"Kiss of the Dragon" American Theatrical Poster

Director: Chris Nahon
Writer: Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen
Producer: Luc Besson, Jet Li
Cast: Jet Li, Bridget Fonda, Tcheky Karyo, Laurence Ashley, Burt Kwouk, John Forgeham, Colin Prince, Max Ryan, Cyril Raffaelli, Didier Azoulay, Vincent Glo, Ric Young, Vincent Wong
Running Time: 98 min.

By Mairosu

Liu Jian (Jet Li) is a top drawer Chinese cop, and also a master acupuncturist (yes, sounds silly, I know). He is summoned from China to help the local DEA bust a Chinese drug lord in Paris, but what he doesn’t know – or expect – is that the French chief policeman Richard (Tchéky Karyo) plans on killing the mobster himself, seizing his property and then setting up Jian for the whole thing. As that happens, Jian manages to escape and obtain a tape with visual evidence underway, and faces a daunting task of uncovering Richard’s shady web of corruption while trying to help a street hooker (Bridget Fonda) whose daughter is held hostage by Richard himself.

From the four films – not counting Lethal Weapon pt. 4 – Jet Li did since coming to Hollywood (other ones being Romeo Must Die, The One and Cradle 2 the Grave), this one is probably the easiest swallowable of them all – and by no means we’re comparing this to any of his Asian martial arts classics. The plot is contrived, full of holes and predictable, but this film relatively manages to redeem itself through a number of good factors which on the overall make this a very watchable action fare.

First, we have the pint-sized martial arts icon Jet Li firmly grabbing the center stage in a style Bruce Lee once did. Throughout the whole film his face is nearly emotionless as he beats up dozens after dozens bad guys, and you can hardly even notice sweat dripping from his face. Li takes his punches in a stoical fashion and delivers them in the same manner, radiating the “coolness” Bruce Lee had in his 70s films, and his acupunctural trait colours his character additionally, giving him somewhat more depth than the usual arsenal of hacks and kicks.

Then, there is Tchéky Karyo, in a role he could do almost blindfolded by now – the near-maniacal psychotic dealing with drugs or some other illegality – and he does it again with success. Quickly turning into the French equivalent of Jack Nicholson, with the filmmakers racing to cast him as many times as a lunatic as possible, the Istanbul-born Frenchman dominates the scenes in which he appears, masterfully portraying a power-hungry cop drifting deeper and deeper to the other side of the law, yet also being lucidically gentle and caring at the times.

Finally, what makes all this work is the brilliant direction of debutant director Chris Nahon. Nahon, who cut his teeth making music videos, blends great action with hip-hop music (without, amazingly enough, looking totally tacky) in the background and the mixture of both helps this film look visually – and aurally – as good as it does, slick and enjoyable. The martial arts choreography is done by Corey Yuen, a long-serving accomplice to Jet Li, and is on a reasonably high level – although some scenes, most notably the shot in which Li volleys a pool ball straight into the head of one of the baddies, are a bit over the top. Also, are we to believe one man can handle a room full of black belt martial artists who are armed with sticks ?

The annoying fact no. 1 with this film is that it acts as a 50s Hollywood WW2 feature – the Chinese speak English with Chinese accent to themselves, and the French communicate between each other, accordingly, in Flanglais , relegating the authenticity to zero level. I have been to France and frankly, if SO many people spoke English in there, the place would have been much more fun than it was. It would all have looked much more better if the characters were left communicating in their own languages, as it’s really silly to watch Karyo run through the local police station yelling “sound ze alarm !”. Bridget Fonda does her job routinely as a poor American farm girl who goes astray, but the few emotional scenes and humour lines don’t help her character – at least they didn’t involve a romantic aspect to the story.

So, when we ignore those couple of flaws and a emmenthaler-holed script and plotline, Kiss of the Dragon is a quite acceptable modern “kick flick”. For some different flavour, try obtaining the French version of the disc and watching it in French with subtitles, and don’t miss Burt Kwouk, legendary Cato from the Pink Panther films, who has a minor role as Jet Li’s Parisian-based uncle.

Mairosu’s Rating: 7/10


By Woody

Ingredients: 1 Jet Li , 1 Bridget Fonda, Cool French Locales, 1 teaspoon “The Professional”, and 1 tablespoon of Corey Yuen.

Instructions: Sprinkle Jet Li and Bridget Fonda among the cool French locales, mix in a tablespoon of Corey Yuen and a teaspoon of “The Professional”, strain out any bit of plot you may happen upon, and voila! You’ve got yourself the best American martial arts film I think I have ever seen.

The plot here is unimportant…this is pretty much just a showcase for the choreography of Corey Yuen and the undeniable coolness of Jet Li. This is pretty much wall-to-wall fights with pauses here and there to set up even more fights. And what great fights they are. My personal favorite comes near the end, when Jet fights these two huge blonde haired twin dudes. You can tell they had a lot of fun with that one. What I don’t remember is whether that scene comes before or after the scene where Jet Li fights all of the guys inside the dojo that is inside of the police station. So the movie doesn’t make much sense. The coolness of it all more than makes up for that.

Jet is also equipped with some really cool acupuncture needles that can make people fall asleep, become paralyzed, and wait ’till you see what the one he uses on the bad guy at the end of the film does. It’s pretty icky. As a matter of fact, there is a pretty good amount of icky stuff in this movie…the violence is actually violent, unlike the ultra-tame “Romeo Must Die”.

The acting is not bad either. Jet Li’s English is much better than before, and he is charming as always. Bridget Fonda gives a better performance that her underwritten role deserves. She gives what could have been an overly melodramatic, tragic character (a woman forced into prostitution by a man who is keeping her daughter from her) a very funny and ditzy attitude that makes her scenes rather enjoyable to watch. The only weak link in the film, in my opinion, is Tcheky Karyo, who plays the villain, a corrupt French police captain. The character wants to be Gary Oldman’s twisted cop form “Leon: The Professional”, but Karyo lacks the presence and demented charm that an actor like Oldman can give such a role.

That weak point aside, this is Jet Li’s best movie in a while, so don’t let the bad box office totals fool you into thinking this is a bad movie. It is truly Hong Kong in feel, with one well done fight after another, lotsa violence, and a fast pace. Right up there with “Enter The Dragon” and “Drive” in my list of best American martial arts films. Worth a rental, and, if you are a big martial arts fan, worth buying.

Woody’s Rating: 9/10


By Klotera

Ok, the basic premise of the film is fairly generic. But, I can accept that – as it seemingle exists to push along the action. What I can’t accept is the utter disaster of a screenplay that flows from that premise. It’s just pathetic. The dialogue, particularly between Li and Fonda, is so forced and fake its nauseating. Like I said, though, the film is mostly to push along the action – as it clearly demonstrates by getting into a long action scene within minutes of the film’s opening credits.

So, how does the action hold up? Well, it looks like Corey Yuen has some decent fights choreographed for us… I think. I’m not quite sure cause I COULDN’T SEE WHAT THE HELL WAS GOING ON! The fight scenes are filmed horribly, with tons of close shots, quick cuts, and handheld camera action. What seems like solid action is hard to appreciate given the camera. I didn’t even realize that the last fight was with two guys until halfway through the fight – if that gives you an idea how bad the quick cut camera is. So, maybe an okay one-time viewing for the action if you can stomach the camera. Other than that – this is a no go.

Klotera’s Rating: 5/10


By Yi-Long

First of all – Fonda SUCKED in this movie. Maybe it was her acting that sucked (I have seen no other movies that she’s in so I have no idea if she is always this annoying in a movie, but in this movie she sucked) or just the part her character has in this movie that sucked (I know I mentioned the word ‘sucks’ 3 times already in the first sentence which is never a good sign in a movie review unless I was reviewing a Cat-III movie, which this isn’t, but stick with me. I DID enjoy this movie…really…I swear…

Second of all, the acupuncture-thing was a bit lame I thought…original…but lame…it kinda ruined the ending for me. Ok then…those were the things I didn’t like about the movie, here come the good things; Jet Li is soooo COOL in this movie, it’s just great to watch him in these kinds of roles. For example the scene in which he escapes from some thugs in the hotel by the window to some room below and he just casually walks through someone’s bedroom – the way he glances over to the man in the bed who watches him walk by while he is calmly reading a book is BRILLIANT!…and there are so many of these small but very cool moments in this movie.

The fight scenes are fun and better then the ones he had in Lethal Weapon (duhhh!) or in RMD, but they are NOT as good as the ones in Fist of Legend (but that would be very hard to do anyways so even though we all hoped they would be, it would have been pretty surprising if they had matched that level of excellence). Sometimes I had some trouble seeing the action but that was probably to blame because I was sitting in a HK movie theatre where they had a pretty big screen in a pretty small room so I was a bit too close to the screen to really take in all that fast action. The fights are pretty sweet, it was nice to see Jet fight many people at once like he did in Fist of Legend and in My father is a Hero but the fight isn’t as long in this one, which is too bad. The 2 gwailo’s show talent but they are all brawn and no brain, plus they aren’t really the REAL bad-ass in this movie that has to get a beating, so it was pretty disappointing to see how Jet takes care of the main villains.

The double-gwailo fight didn’t really feel like a FINALE-fight…more like a WARM-UP fight be-4 jet would take care of the REAL villain, but I also understand that his character’s lack of fighting skills wouldn’t really have made an interesting fight-scene. The story in this movie isn’t really great, new or original or anything like that – just a simple story about a man that gets falsely accused and has to run to prove his innocence (btw..what’s Harrison Ford been up-to lately?) Nothing special in the story department but that’s not ‘really’ important (actually it IS but I liked this movie so in THIS case I say it ISN’t…ok!?. Thanks for understanding) if it’s entertaining to watch cause then u can just simply call it mindless entertainment which I will do in the following sentence which also happens to be my conclusion to this review…coincidence?? I think not…

All-in-all, this is a pretty straightforward action movie which isn’t really innovative or original, but does happen to be very entertaining which makes it a mindless fun (there it is) movie which will certainly only further establish Jet Li reputation as today’s coolest and most talented action-star in the world. I rate this movie an 8/10, simply because of Jet’s performance (although the lame acupuncture thing and Fonda role SHOULD have cost this movie a point).

Yi-Long’s Rating: 8/10


By Dan-O

Things I learned from this movie.

  • Jet Li still blows apes. Haven’t really liked one movie of his yet.
  • I have better things to do with my time than sit through a Jet Li movie, like castrating myself with a thumbtack.
  • Did I mention… yeah, Jet Li blows apes.
  • There were no apes in this movie, but I’m sure Jet Li was found on occasion scouting the Planet of the Apes set… you know…. for companionship.
  • My god, it’s the French guy from “Addicted to Love”!!! Ooooh… What a bad ass (French=Lameass, not French=Badass… silly rabbit)!
  • Um… Bridget Fonda. GAWD what a load. WhineWhineWhine, my daughter this, my daughter that. Give Jet a BJ already.. sheesh. Like he REALLY wants to hear YOU talk.
  • ANYONE can perform acupuncture! Just stick a needle somewhere, and watch the fun!! Shit… make it into a board game!! Anyone up for a round of “STICK-EM” tm?!
  • Jet Li’s career occasionally revolves around trying to “recreate” Bruce Lee fight scenes… homage or flaming-flying-fucking-ripoff.
  • No wires in this movie. I guess I’m supposed to like this then, eh? Then why do I watch this film and go… “ooookaaay, great, whatever, I’m fucking bored…. lalalalalalal….. “.
  • Ok, get that motherfucker who scores these Jet Li movies with those BLARING rap tunes that fuck up the flow (and the credibility) of the movie and nail him to an upsidedown cross on Sunday infront of the Roman Cathedral.
  • I did not see “Addicted to Love” on purpose. My girlfriend made me watch her copy. Really. I’m not into Matthew Broderick’s soft, sparkling eyes and pouty lips… I AM NOT!!! STOP IT!!!
  • Why, oh why, OH why, are you reading this horseshit. Your brain is oozing out your ear as you read this (LOOK DAMMIT NOW!!).
  • Jet?? What, the word “Dirigible” not good enough for ya?! What a pansy.
  • Twin blonde guys fighting. “Attack of the Swedes”. Maybe one guy should have colored his hair green or something. Perhaps a bandana. It would be nice if we knew just who the fuck is who, ya think?
  • Oh, the cueball-out-of-the-pocket-kick….. CGI. Jackie would have actually done it. There, I said it.
  • Don’t trifle with those wiggy Australian Airline pilots. They routinely pack enormous twin automatic weapons that could atomize a large elementary school
  • .

  • This movie sucked. Next.
  • Dan-O’s Rating: 3/10


    By James H.

    Firstly, I do not see this film being a big success in France. Why? Watch it and it becomes obvious. There is not one single French person in the film that is not a villain. I may have given something away just now, but no matter, it’s a martial arts movie.

    Secondly, the film stars Jet Li as a Chinese cop (dare I say Supercop?). He is set to France to work with their police to capture the bad guy from “The Corruptor”. Things go wrong. Things go very wrong. Chaos ensues as does several gunshots, punches, kicks and a gory explosion. All in the first ten minutes.

    There have been some critics who have said that the film’s plot is hard to follow. I disagree. There is no plot to follow. Sure there are some elements that resemble a plot, but it’s not fully there. It serves as a clothesline from which action sequences are hung. Anyway, the plot involves French conspiracies and an ex-junkie/hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold (played by a very un-showered Bridget Fonda).

    From the aforementioned clothesline are several fights. These fights are handled with grace and hyperkinetic energy by first time director Chris Nahon. The fights are quite violent and just so damned entertaining. It is a fun movie.

    However, I cannot fully and completely say that “Kiss of the Dragon” is a great movie. I had huge problems with the non-fighting or “plot” scenes. They were too slapped together and poorly written, but still has more brains and logic than “Romeo Must Die”.

    Li has a great screen presence and is on the right track. His English has improved as well. One can only wish him well in the future. He has plenty of talent that I think Hollywood doesn’t want to go to waste.

    “Kiss of the Dragon”” is a very violent, fast-paced and energetic martial arts film. And when it isn’t pretending to be a serious film, it’s bloody entertaining.

    James H’s Rating: 8/10


    By Numskull

    I suppose the first thing I should say here is that I have not yet seen Romeo Must Die, so I can’t compare this to Jet Li’s other American film (his sixth-billing role in Lethal Weapon 4 doesn’t count). So don’t expect a comparison.

    At the end of the day, Kiss of the Dragon is a quality action flick that certainly won’t hinder Jet Li’s Hollywood career, but it’s got its share of flaws. None of the characters has a whole lot of personality. Jet is the strong but silent type in a genre where strong but silent types are a dime a dozen. Bridget Fonda is little more than a talking head with a body attached, and her whiny speeches aren’t too convincing. And Tcheky Karyo is one of the most lame-ass villains in recent memory. The crooked law enforcement official seeking evidence of their own crimes is nothing new, and, even worse, there’s no viable explanation for this guy’s actions. He acts kind of like the Anti-Christ but, until Jet Li shows up, nobody seems to notice.

    The storyline may be simple, but at least there’s no romance in it. Jet Li came up with the original plot and he is to be commended for not following in the footsteps of so many other shitty action movies by having the good guy fall in love with (or at least bone) the girl for no reason. They get the gratuitous sex scene out of the way early, where a guy and a girl are going at it on the floor of a hotel room with their underwear on. I didn’t think that was possible, but what do I know about sex…

    The fight scenes are very well done…better than anything in one of Jackie Chan’s Hollywood movies, that’s for damn sure. They’re also more violent than you might expect. Chopsticks jammed in people’s throats, guys getting trapped in industrial strength washing machines, and so forth. The sound effects add to the in-your-face-ness quite nicely. An argument could be made in favor of wider camera angles and fewer cuts, but the way it’s done here adds to the claustrophobic feeling of fighting in close quarters, and boosts the adrenaline level.

    The musical score does a great job building the atmosphere, and the rap songs do a great job driving people out of the theater to wash their ears out with soap. I’ve never tried to hide the fact that I despise rap with every fiber of my being, but I’m willing to put up with it in a movie like this if it doesn’t get too intrusive. And it doesn’t until the end.

    In the climactic battle, Jet walks into a large room filled with office cubicles, and there’s this badass guy with blond hair waiting for him at the other side. Then another one shows up behind him, and they play cat-and-mouse with him before the real hell breaks loose. For the first time, Jet is put in a situation where he’s fighting a guy who can give him a serious run for his money. This scene should have been extraordinary…and if you watch it with the sound turned off, it is. But the stupid fucking bastards RUINED IT by putting this incredibly lame rap (or hip-hop or urban or whatever the fuck you want to call it) song on while they’re fighting and tearing up the place. I wanted to cry. No music at all would have been better than the shit they used. If you’re planning on sending me hate mail critiquing my taste in music, save your energy, because there exists no force on Earth that can change my mind on this. Rap fucking sucks. The scene would have been infinitely better off if they’d gotten the composer to write something for it instead. End of story.

    Hmmm…now, it appears I’ve little else to write about. The ending was rather formulaic, but the credits start rolling before it gets too saccharine. If this had been a Hong Kong production, I suspect Bridget’s character would have been killed off, leaving Jet to care for the kid on his own. Yeah, I just gave away the fact that a lead character DOESN’T die, but big deal. That’s par for the course in American action movies.

    See KOTD, but don’t buy the soundtrack album, or you will die.

    Numskull’s Rating: 7/10 (8/10 without that damn song fucking up the fight with blondie!!!)

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    Maximum Risk | aka Bloodstone (1996) Review

    "Maximum Risk" Japanese DVD Cover

    "Maximum Risk" Japanese DVD Cover

    AKA: The Exchange
    Director: Ringo Lam
    Writer: Larry Ferguson
    Cast: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Natasha Henstridge, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Zach Grenier, Paul Ben-Victor, Frank Senger, Stefanos Miltsakakis, Frank Van Keeken, David Hemblen, Stéphane Audran
    Running Time: 100 min.

    By James H.

    I swear, Van Damme must have a curse on him. This curse gives bad luck to all involved with his movies. This curse has struck acclaimed Hong Kong film director Ringo Lam. It happened to Lam, Tsui Hark and it almost happened to John Woo. Lam is an accomplished director, and could have a bright future in Hollywood, if he never works with Van Damme again.

    “Maximum Risk” is about a cop (Van Damme) from Nice who discovers he has a twin brother who is with the Russian mafia. The plot is definitely not new or original by any standard, but it has the potential to be done well and keep the viewer’s interest. This film had that potential, but it was discarded for action sequences. The mystery is pretty much solved in the first half hour of the movie.

    The characters, as in all Van Damme (and ‘B’ grade action movies), are cliched cardboard cut-outs. The cops follow the same rules as all ‘B’ movie cops do: kill first, ask questions later. The female lead is played by Natasha Henstridge (“Species”). And I can say I’m glad I’m not her boyfriend. She shows very little concern when she finds out the love of her life was killed. She also shows little loyalty when she doink’s her dead lover’s brother. But really, that’s as far as Henstridge’s acting abilities can go. Did you see “Species”? She didn’t become famous because she gave a stellar performance, she showed her titties. And she does here too.

    The action in “Maximum Risk” is generally well done by ‘B’ grade American Action Movie standards (or BAAM for short). But for HK, or rather Lam’s standards, it is below average. Lam, who directed the excellent “Full Contact”, is not used to his full potential. Van Damme has this thing where he thinks he knows more than the director. There is only one small fraction of a scene that truly show’s Lam’s talent (you’ll know it when you see it).

    “Maximum Risk” is nothing to write home about. Van Damme still can’t act and still has trouble with the English language. The villains aren’t very villainous or convincing, especially the two FBI agents. As far as BAAMs go, it’s not bad, but for a Van Damme movies, it’s pretty good.

    James H’s Rating: 5/10

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    One, The (2001) Review

    "The One" Chinese Theatrical Poster

    "The One" Chinese Theatrical Poster

    Director: James Wong
    Writer: Glen Morgan, James Wong
    Producer: Glen Morgan, Steve Chasman, James Wong
    Cast: Jet Li, Delroy Lindo, Carla Gugino, Jason Statham
    Running Time: 96 min.

    By Joe909

    Basically this movie is nothing more than “The Highlander” meets your basic comic book/parallel universe plot. The acting’s stiff at times and there’s no character development to speak of, but still, I had a good time watching it.

    The basic story: Evil Jet Li has killed 123 versions of himself in different realities. Absorbing their power, he’s almost a god. But there’s one last duplicate: good Jet Li, who as well has absorbed the energies of his dead copies, albeit unwittingly. Evil Jet comes to good Jet’s reality, and all hell breaks loose.

    The best part of the movie is the opening. It’s around 10-15 minutes of pure action. Gunfights, kung-fu, a car chase, the works. Probably my favorite part of the movie, though the end image of evil Jet beating down his countless opponents on a hellish mountaintop was pretty cool.

    Overall, I’d say “Kiss of the Dragon” was a much better film. The One is more of a goofy movie, something to watch for the occasional thrill. The “Matrix” effects got on my nerves; here they came off as very slow and unimpressive. Especially the shot of evil Jet picking up two motorcycles. I mean, what was that supposed to be? “Dragonball Z: The Movie?” It just looked fake. Same goes for when evil Jet flew into the air and kicked good Jet.

    Like I said, good if you want to watch something fun and mindless. For some reason, it reminded me of a less bloody (but nowhere near as good) modern-day Shaw Brothers movie, mixed with a Marvel comic book.

    Joe909’s Rating: 6/10


    By Numskull

    Lay to rest any fears you may have about Jet Li doing a “Matrix wanna-be” movie. The bullet dodging bits are pretty much the only element that The One swipes from The Matrix. It should have swiped more, because The Matrix is definitely the superior film.

    There are a grand total of 125 Jet Lis running around in 125 parallel universes (at least one of which has Al Gore in the oval office), and from the very beginning, one of them has killed 122 of the others. In the first action scene, he takes out #123, leaving just him and one more. But, whenever he kills one, he doesn’t just absorb their power, Highlander-style…instead, their life force gets distributed amongst ALL of the survivors. So, when it comes down to the final two Jet Lis, the only advantage the evil one has is that he knows what the hell is going on, while our hero, to no one’s great surprise, wants nothing to do with the whole mess and thinks the problem will go away by itself if he ignores it.

    The badassed Jet Li is pursued from universe to universe by two agents, one of whom is a strictly-by-the-book veteran, the other of whom is a rookie who wants to rush in all guns blazing. Yes, I know you’ve heard that before. No, it’s not any better this time around.

    Considering that Jet Li is often labeled a martial arts star, I don’t see a whole lot of martial arts going on here. g The evil Jet beats up one agent, then the other, then fights the “good” version of himself in a fairly lengthy, but not terribly exciting duel which uses too much slow motion and loses some integrity due to the “metal” song they insisted on playing. Mercifully, there’s no rap to be found here, although the “new metal” stuff they use (Drowning Pool, Papa Roach, etc.) isn’t really to my taste either. You want REAL heavy metal, listen to “Whoracle” by IN FLAMES or “Endorama” by KREATOR, or, for something a little less abrasive, “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” by IRON MAIDEN (cast off any preconceptions you may have about these guys if you’re not familiar with them…they’re MILES above and beyond other 1980s “hair bands” like Poison and Guns ‘n’ Roses).

    Where the hell was I? Oh yeah, The One. I find it funny that Jet Li stated that this movie would be more suitable for younger audiences than Kiss of the Dragon was. KOTD wasn’t more violent, it was just bloodier. The body count in The One is probably just as high as that of KOTD, if not higher. People get blown away left and right, and one poor sap gets crushed between two motorcycles. Also, when the hair-trigger agent is describing his favorite gun, he says it has an “antipersonnel warhead” or something like that. “Antipersonnel.” Doesn’t that just mean it kills people? Why dress it up? It’s a gun for fuck’s sake.

    This isn’t a bad movie, but I hope Jet Li returns to more traditional ass-kicking. And without rap. Dear God how I hate rap. Dub this movie’s soundtrack onto Kiss of the Dragon and use the score, rather than a licensed song, for the last fight. THEN you’ve got a winning combination.

    Numskull’s Rating: 6/10


    By Williams

    Take his evil character from Lethal Weapon 4, his dramatic charm from ‘Romeo Must Die’, and the energy from ‘Kiss of the Dragon’ and you’ve got One badass Jet Li flick right here. Wachowski brothers are shitting their pants! Should’ve given Jet the money he wanted for the Matrix sequels….

    This isn’t the first film to duplicate it’s main actor to star and fight against himself. (Twin Dragons, Double Impact) but this is definitely the most successful. It seems like Jet Li takes the best of his performances since he’s entered Hollywood and fused them together as ONE (sorry, couldn’t resist). The story is original and leaves a lot of room for the audience to fill in the missing pieces. It doesn’t dwell on the story too much and I like how we find out what’s going on the same time with everyone else in the film.

    And the fight scenes… oh boy! If you’ve liked The Matrix – then you will enjoy this movie. And if you liked Jet in his pre-Hollywood era you’ll love it even more. Jet performs pure Wushu – the martial art he studied as a youth. Looking back he always has so much emotion in his fight scenes – from facial expressions to physical movement (we first started seeing this in again KOD). Believe it or not he uses the martial art to tell the story of both characters he plays – such as the Yin/Yang soft and hard components of not only the art but the ONE who has developed them (sorry couldn’t resist again!) Moreover, their ability to to perform the art is enhanced with their understanding of their place in the universe.

    The finale is nothing short of incredible. You really believe it’s Jet fighting himself. He performs traditional Wushu intensely as both characters! They do an unprecedented job of showing his face in the same angle while performing complex fight choreography. As a filmmaker that’s something to keep you hard for about a month!

    Williams’ Rating: 9/10

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    Romeo Must Die (2000) Review

    "Romeo Must Die" American Theatrical Poster

    "Romeo Must Die" American Theatrical Poster

    Director: Andrzej Bartkowiak
    Writer: Eric Bernt, John Jarrell, Mitchell Kapner
    Producer: Joel Silver, Jim Van Wyck
    Cast: Jet Li, Aaliyah, Isaiah Washington, Russell Wong, DMX, Delroy Lindo, Henry O, D.B. Woodside, Edoardo Ballerini, Jon Kit Lee, Anthony Anderson, Francoise Yip, Tong Lung

    By Numskull

    Once upon a time (though presumably not in China), someone said, “Let’s take someone who has sold a lot of records but has never starred in a movie and team her up with the bad guy from Lethal Weapon 4. One can’t act and the other can barely speak English, so their weaknesses will make both their own and the other’s strengths seem that much more impressive. Gentlemen, I am a fucking genius. I demand the presidency of this company.” Or words to that effect.

    As the title implies, this movie is a spin on the story of Romeo and Juliet, with a guy and a girl who become close, against the wishes of their wealthy, warring families/factions. Jet Li’s and Aaliyah’s characters do not fall in love; if they did, the film could be categorized as fantasy just as easily as martial arts/action. She seems to think he’s kinda cute, and he’s just gotten out of (well, escaped from, actually) prison, so pretty much anyone with ovaries is probably gonna look good to him. But, God be praised, that’s as far as it goes. There are occasional stabs at humor, such as the out-of-place football match and pretty much every scene with Maurice, but none of them hits a vital organ.

    Jet and Aaliyah both lose their brothers as a result of the feud between black and Chinese gangsters, so they team up to find out, specifically, who the killer(s) is/are. If they paid more attention to camera angles and music cues, they would know which characters their real enemies are…but they don’t, so we watch them plod through a story that vaguely resembles a mystery, at the climax of which we are able to sneer “DUH!” at them. Jet gets into a few fights along the way (Aaliyah helps out in one; they had to give her something to do besides talk), and they’re mostly dull and one-sided. The exception is the final showdown with Russell Wong, who tears some of the skin off of Jet’s badly burned hand and then stomps on it. I don’t know about you folks, but I like the added level of hatred and sadism; fights to the death really shouldn’t be neat and pretty.

    Once in a while, it’ll do this stupid-looking x-ray shit during a fight to show a broken bone or something. I found this annoying, but not half as annoying as the presence of the noise pollution known as “rap”. I don’t think I’ve ever tried to hide the fact that I detest rap with considerable intensity, and I resent the hell out of the assumption that it should go hand in hand with martial arts movies, for demographic reasons or whatever. (In his review for Kiss of the Dragon, Dan-O states that the “motherfucker” who adds rap to the fight scenes should be “nailed to an upside-down cross on Sunday in front of the Roman Cathedral.” In the interest of poetic justice, I think the ecclesiastical nature of that particular punishment would be better suited to the likes of Bernard Law and Jerry Falwell, but I whole-heartedly agree with the general sentiment.)

    How to tell this movie was released in 2000: the DVD package has no less than four references to The Matrix on it, and in the “making of” featurette, Joel Silver (producer of both films) mentions The Matrix in every other breath, without ever saying the name “Romeo Must Die.”

    To summarize: “Ho-hum.” Kiss of the Dragon remains, in my opinion, Jet Li’s best English language film by a comfortable margin (despite the outrageously intrusive and inappropriate rap “songs” during two major fights, including the finale). What a mercy for the deceased Aaliyah that she is remembered more for her recordings than for this here movie. Bleh.

    Numskull’s Rating: 5/10


    By James H.

    I like rap music as much as the next average Caucasian, but the amount of rap music in “Romeo Must Die” is overwhelming. The music in this film is like nothing I have witnessed. It was constant and unrelenting. I began wondering whether the producers were trying to sell Jet Li or the soundtrack. It becomes irritating when you want to hear what the characters are saying, but can’t because the soundtrack is just booming over the actors.

    It’s a shame the soundtrack is so loud because there are some very talented actors in the film. Delroy Lindo, Isaiah Washington, and surprisingly Aaliyah, all give good performances, even if the characters are under developed.

    However, the most disappointing thing is that Li’s character (the main character may I remind you) is the most underwritten and one dimensional in the film. This is unfortunate because Li is a fine actor and has a good screen presence, although his English is something to be desired. Not only that, Li and Aaliyah had virtually no chemestry together.

    Wait, there’s more. The story and script itself is very amateurish. The subplot involving the NFL seems like it was taken from a generic 70s cop show. As well, the script seems like it is missing some key scenes, and has a lapse in logic. How does Jet manage to get a passport before going to America? He’s a fugitive in Hong Kong, the first thing the police would do is stakeout the airports. Also, how did he know Aaliyah ran that business? Nothing was said to him about it. Other questions that arise are things like, where does he get all of his clothes and money? He didn’t take them from HK. He also drives several different cars, where did he get them all?

    But that is neither here nor there. Fights are what put the asses in the seats There are quite a few of them, not to worry. Unfortunately, the fights are not that entertaining or very good for that matter. When watching HK films one can admire that Jet Li is actually hanging from those wires, and while being obviously fake, it is more believable than the use of digital effects on the fights in “Romeo Must Die”. The other problem is that the x-ray shots are not only distracting, but very cartoon-like.

    Over all it is not a very entertaining film, and should really be avoided. If Romeo must indeed die, consider it a mercy killing.

    James H’s Rating: 4/10


    By Rintor

    I had basically four reactions to this movie while watching it: DAMN! That was smooth…; Hey, that looked pretty fake…; Where the hell is Jet Li? I thought that he was the main character…; Yes! DMX died. The problem with this movie was that there was not enough of Jet Li and too much story development. Also the computer graphics were not needed. Especially since those are what detracted from the fight scenes. I watch HK movies to try and see the most realistic fighting I can see, and not this computer generated llama-spew. However, there are a some really cool fight scenes. My personal favorites were the Jail Beating and the scene where Jet Li beats the hell out of those guys at the apartment. My main point is that I enjoyed the film and didn’t walk out wanting my money back, and that’s all that really matters right? So, I do recommend that you see this film.

    Rintor’s Rating: 7/10

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    Cradle 2 the Grave (2003) Review

    "Cradle 2 the Grave" American Theatrical Poster

    “Cradle 2 the Grave” American Theatrical Poster

    Director: Andrzej Bartkowiak
    Producer: Joel Silver
    Cast: Jet Li, DMX, Gabrielle Union, Tom Arnold, Anthony Anderson, Mark Dacascos, Kelly Hu, Drag-On, Paige Hurd, Johnny Tri Nguyen
    Running Time: 100

    By Numskull

    I’m one of those people who stays in the theater after the closing credits start rolling. I want to see if they put in some little scene at the end. Usually, there’s nothing. Once in a while, there is. Example: Jeepers Creepers. Too bad I didn’t find out until afterwards that the guy who wrote and directed it (Victor Salva) likes to have sex with 12-year old boys (well, ONE 12-year old boy, anyway).

    Anyway. When I went to see Cradle 2 the Grave, I broke my own tradition. As soon as the names started rolling and yet ANOTHER blaring, abrasive, obnoxious rap “song” cued up, I peeled my sorry ass off the seat and made for the exit. But then, I heard Tom “What the fuck was I thinking when I married that fat bitch RoseAnn” Arnold’s voice over the rap (talk about the lesser of two evils) and knew something was happening. “What the hell,” I thought. “It can’t get much worse.” I turned around and watched an exchange between Tom and the guy who played Maurice in Romeo Must Die (a lackluster film from the same director which is absolutely dazzling compared to this one) in which the former describes his plan to write a movie about the events they’ve just survived and the latter offers various bits of input. This scene’s idea of “wit” is a proposal that the female thief be played by Winona Ryder. And, the really scary thing is, this is probably the best part of the whole movie.

    My original plan was to write a review filled with numbers in place of syllables and syllable fragments, emulating the “2” in place of “to” in “Cradle 2 the Grave.” I even preemptively made a list of number/word hybrids that I could use, such as “satur9” and “4thwith” (my favorite was “defenestr8”). Obviously, I ditched that plan, because A) I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought of it, and B) this movie is not worth the effort it would require to sustain that kind of wordplay for more than a sen10ce or two.

    So…we have DM “Why the fuck is my name only three letters and consonants at that” X leading a quartet of thieves, whose “no guns” policy and exclusive victimization of drug dealers and other unsavory types don’t make them any more likable. The other members are Maurice, the buxom ex-stripper Daria, and some other guy whose only reason for existence is to get Jet “Why the fuck am I here playing second fiddle to some crapper…uh, RAPPER when I could be back in Hong Kong making REAL movies” Li involved. In the opening scene, DMX and no-name break into a room full of safe deposit boxes while Daria uses her womanly wiles (read: big tits) to distract a security guard named Douglas. Alas, it turns out Douglas is gay; Daria realizes this when he resists her charms and she notices some gay porn sitting on his desk. (Something else she might have considered before spotting the magazine: maybe the guy actually had some sense of discipline?) Time for Plan B: Maurice comes in, pretending to be gay himself, and comes on to Douglas (no, not THAT way, you perv), who, being a plot device disguised as a character, takes the bait.

    DMX & co. wind up with a bag of what appear to be black diamonds which are actually an inert from of super-explosive being sought by a Taiwanese gang led by Mark “Why the fuck is this shit getting a wider release than Brotherhood of the Wolf” Dacascos and his playmate Kelly “Why the fuck did those CBS dickheads have to cancel my meal ticket Martial Law” Hu. They are former government agents who, at some point in the past, betrayed and tried to kill Jet’s character. However, this is revealed only through dialogue, and details are extremely scant. Hence, when Jet and Mark have their final showdown inside a circle of burning helicopter fuel, we have very little reason to give a damn.

    A la Kiss of the Dragon, the bad guys kidnap DMX’s daughter, bind her with duct tape, and stick her in a stolen van with spray paint blocking the windows. We never find out who this kid’s mother is, but since she manages to cut through the tape with a gold necklace hanging on the wall, I guess it was MacGuyver’s long-lost sister or something. After she has outlived her usefulness to the villains, she is inexplicably kept alive while they demonstrate the explosive capabilities of the “diamonds” to an assembly of international black market tycoons. This “demonstration” consists of one of the stones being placed in a fancy-looking device that emits bright beams of green light (goggles required) while the guy operating the machinery verbally states the destructive level that the stone is reaching as a graph on a computer monitor climbs higher and higher. No low-powered explosion is triggered to prove that these guys aren’t bullshitting, and no visible, tangible evidence is given to indicate that these things are, truly, anything other than shiny black rocks placed inside a machine that puts on a light show. Nevertheless, the arms dealers in attendance begin to drool all over themselves and erupt in a bidding frenzy.

    To no one’s great surprise, cut-crazed editor Derek Brechin fatally injures Cory Yuen’s fight choreography, and then the overall shittiness of the film puts it out of its misery. This is by far Jet Li’s worst American film (probably his worst film, PERIOD, for that matter), and also his most bland, generic role to date. (He’s a law enforcement official from Taiwan who can beat people up. That’s it. There is literally NOTHING else to the character, unless you count his unnamed, unseen 15-year old daughter. I mean, shit, at least he had his needles in Kiss of the Dragon.) Cradle 2 the Grave is not recommended even for the unintentional comic relief, or for completist purposes. There is simply no excuse for a movie this bad. Andrzej Bartkowiak, John O’Brien, and Channing Gibson should all be defenestr8ed.

    Numskull’s Rating: 2/10

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    Unleashed | aka Danny the Dog (2005) Review

    "Unleashed" American Theatrical Poster

    "Unleashed" American Theatrical Poster

    Director: Louis Leterrier
    Writer: Luc Besson, Robert Kamen
    Producer: Luc Besson, Steve Chasman, Pierre-Ange Le Pogam
    Cast: Jet Li, Morgan Freeman, Bob Hoskins, Kerry Condon, Andy Beckwith, Scott Adkins, Silvio Simac, Christian Gazio, Michael Ian Lambert, Kazu Patrick Tang
    Running Time: 133 min.

    By Ozark Savage

    Danny (Jet Li) is a dog, well a man raised like one. Caged and trained to be an unstoppable martial-arts machine when unleashed. He escapes his life when an attempt on his owner/boss (Hoskins) leaves his shot but alive. He ends up in the home of blind piano tuner (Freeman) and his step-daughter (Kerry Condon). Trying to start a new life with a family his past catches up with him all too soon.

    Luc Besson wrote the script of this movie for Jet Li and as in previous movies from the French auteur the character of Danny fills a familiar posisiton. Much like The Professional’s ‘Leon’ (Jean Reno) and to some extent La Femme Nikita’s Nikita (Anne Parillaud), Danny is childlike in nature, an innocent corrupted to do evil things just because that is all he knows. Then he finds himself in a place where he can escape all the past and start anew or so he thinks. At it’s bare bones it is a film about family and finding your place in that family.

    Definately more dramatic than the trailers and advertisements would have you think and this isn’t bad, unlike when Van Damme started trying to act with Nowhere to Run, Jet Li has some acting muscle to flex. His character lacks any facial emmotion but his eyes tell a different story and this is where Li excells he carries himself so well you often forget he is an action star. In fact he even outshines the always great Freeman and Hoskins.

    Then comes the action. And boy is it action. Jet Li IS an animal and the martial arts choreography courtesey of Yuen Wo Ping is sublime. The bathroom fight between Danny and ‘The Stranger’ (Michael Ian Lambert) is a particular high point. Fast, viscious and insane.

    The Good: Jet Li’s best Hollywood work to date.
    The Bad: Kerry Condon as the daughter seems a little out of place.
    The Ugly: Bob Hoskins isn’t a very nice person.

    Ozark Savage’s Rating: Action Unleashed. 9/10


    By Ningen

    After failing to make any money off the dubbed and edited Fist of Legend, and after getting kicked out of his own company by Disney, Harvey Weinstein kidnaps Jet Li in the middle of the night, and forces him to beat up investors who refuse to take a chance on Playing for Keeps 2. All kidding aside, Unleashed is really about a British loan shark played by Bob Hoskins who uses a non-collared Jet Li to beat up his “clients” when they don’t pay up. In his spare time, Hoskins’ character Bart keeps Li (known as Danny in the film) in check by making him wear a collar and by verbally abusing him. Eventually, Bart tangles with people way out of his league, and while they’re busy trying to bump him off, Danny escapes with the help of a blind piano tuner named Sam(wonderfully played by Morgan Freeman) whom he met earlier. Sam lives with a perky and out-going daughter named Victoria who’s currently enrolled at school abroad. Together, the two “tame” Danny by tending to his wounds and helping him get back on his feet. Having never encountered this kind of friendship before, Danny decides to cut ties with Bart so he can join Sam and Victoria on their trip back to the States.

    I saw a sneak preview of this flick through the Asian Film Foundation. Before the screening, the guy who runs http://www.angryasianman.com/ introduced the flick and admitted his apprehension at the premise, but that he enjoyed the final product because Jet gets to (I probably got this wrong…) “show his acting chops and kick some white ass”. I agree with the latter more than the former. Jet’s said for a long time that this was a project he picked, because he had a problem with fans admiring him for roles in which he solely fights. Thus he signed up for Unleashed, because he wanted to show that fighting has its consequences. And boy does this film have consequences. This isn’t your typical wuxia/Drunken Master-like choreography from Yuen Woo Ping. No, Unleashed is pure no-holds-barred street fighting, with limbs and necks being broken frequently throughout the film. People in the audience were gasping in awe at the brutality of the fights. And I wasn’t immune to being impressed either, as I would swear whenever the action scenes went overboard, which was often. I was initially afraid that Yuen Woo Ping’s moves would be minimized by the cameraman for Besson who ruined Kiss of the Dragon, but Ping was smart enough to use dark and cramped locations which forced the cameraman to move back to catch it all. I thought Ping reached his potential with Reloaded, but Unleashed proved he’s still got a few moves up his sleeve.

    As for Jet, well, his English has improved, but in terms of acting, Freeman steals the show. Jet is still the loveable naive but charismatic average Joe we’ve seen in other flicks, but I was hoping he’d show his more emotional side in Unleashed. I also thought his character’s blooming romance with Victoria was a little flat and forced, but it was still sweet and innocent enough to be passable. Freeman, on the other hand, possibly because he literally plays the father figure, gets all the good lines, and is so exceptional as a blind man, that, if only he were younger, he would’ve been my pick for Ray over Jamie Foxx in a second. Still, I think both Jet and Freeman could’ve been given roles with more depth. You barely know anything about their family histories which might’ve added to their importance in the film. If it weren’t for their performances, I probably wouldn’t care about their characters.

    Anyway, Unleashed delivers where it counts, which is the bone-breaking action which was sorely missing from Cradle 2 The Grave. So thank you for renewing my interest in Jet, Yuen Woo Ping. Quentin may have wasted your talents in Kill Bill, but you’re the real star in Unleashed.

    Ningen’s Rating: 8.5/10 (Add a 0.5 or a 1 if you don’t mind the rushed plot.)

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    Paycheck (2003) Review

    "Paycheck" Japanese Theatrical Poster

    "Paycheck" Japanese Theatrical Poster

    Director: John Woo
    Writer: Dean Georgaris, Philip K. Dick
    Producer: Terence Chang

    Cast: Ben Affleck, Uma Thurman, Aaron Eckhart, Paul Giamatti, Colm Feore, Michael C. Hall, Peter Friedman
    Running Time: 110 Min.

    By Numskull

    Paycheck. It’s so bad, the bank won’t cash it.

    John Woo, apparently still desperate to show the world that he can direct stuff other than straightforward action films (Windtalkers didn’t get it out of his system), does a sucky job directing a sucky cast from a sucky script and, on the plus side, drives one more nail in the coffin of Ben Affleck’s career. Seriously…does anyone consider this guy a real actor, as opposed to a movie star? Probably just the people who gleefully followed every twist and turn in his grossly overpublicized relationship with uber-bitch Jennifer Lopez; fuck ’em.

    The main character is Michael Jennings. He’s basically the Quentin Tarantino of computer technology; he “creates” stuff that’s cobbled together from other peoples’ work, and for this he is hailed as a genius and given huge amounts of money. (Cheap shot? For certain. Deserved? Even more certain.) Upon completion of each project, his employers erase his memory for X. X = the amount of time spent at work. (And Y = “Y” the fuck didn’t I just wait for the DVD?)

    Aaron Eckhart plays Jimmy, the two-faced boss man for AllCom who gives Michael a $92 million task. Even allowing for the third-rate material he’s given to work with, his performance is shitty. I’ve seen more threatening adversaries hanging around the kindergarten playground. Jennings’s flight from Jimmy and his Thug Camp dropout henchmen, using an envelope full of innocuous items he sent to himself after forfeiting his money but before completing the job, is fraught with about as much danger as I encounter when I check my mail.

    And then we have Uma Thurman, who portrays the love interest. So moved by her very existence is Michael Jennings that he transforms from a conscienceless, money-hoarding shitwad to the savior of humanity during the three years he works on Jimmy’s big-ass secret project. Equinox21 was quite correct when he said that this woman could not act her way out of a wet paper bag, and I echo that sentiment here. (However, I am not the least bit concerned about offending all of you Kill Bill people. Eat me, Kill Bill people! Hahahahaha!)

    If Philip K. Dick were still alive, he would most likely be horrified by this film. Minority Report was a much better movie that did a better job of going into the ethics of being able to predict the future. On the down side: Tom Cruise, and…well, Tom Cruise.

    Anyway…now that this has been done, it looks like John Woo won’t be directing a MacGuyver feature film. And if he does, at least it will (presumably) star Richard Dean Anderson instead of Ben Affleck. Or Tom Cruise. And best of all, we would know, with absolute certainty, that it would suck…with or without any precogs or great big predicting machines.

    Numskull’s Rating: 4/10


    By Equinox21

    *** Spoiler Warning ***

    If I had helped develop a machine that let me see the future I can tell you one thing I’d have done with it, I would have seen how lousy Paycheck was and would NOT have used up a free movie pass. I wanted to like this movie, I really did. I love John Woo’s Hong Kong movies (and, admittedly, haven’t seen all his Hollywood outings), I enjoy most of the Ben Affleck movies I see (I don’t see ALL his movies, but the ones I do see are usually decent) and I LOVE Philip K. Dick (Author of the short story that this crapfest was based on). Not that I want to sound like I’m a purist for movies based on books/stories, but this movie got so many things wrong, and I don’t mean just the translation from story to screen.

    First of all, there was an abysmal script. Dean Georgaris (who also wrote the Tomb Raider sequel screenplay as well as a few other upcoming projects which are sure to suck) should be shot. Why is it that in Hollywood the only way to create a movie based on a book is to change everything about it and make sure there are plenty of people getting pummeled and plenty of things getting blown up? I hate to sound like I’m one of those purists, but it seems like almost every movie that has been based on a book that includes even a MODICUM of action in it becomes a huge, explosion filled, action extravaganza. Not just that, but the end of the movie is the biggest, crappiest cop out ever. In the story, Jennings uses the machine (which is actually not only a way to view the future, but it’s called a “Time Scoop” because it is able to pick items up from the future and bring them back into the past, which is where Jennings gets the items that he leaves for himself) to finesse his way into becoming the co-owner of the company, thus insuring himself a wife (who happens to be the daughter of the owner) and more money than he will ever need. In the movie they forgo the finesse and simply have Jennings punch people and blow the machine up. Oh, but he can’t be left poor at the end, now can he? No· they have him find a winning lotto ticket that he’d left for himself. Worst. Ending. Ever. If Hollywood screenwriters could learn ONE word, I wish it would be finesse.

    Second problem with this movie is that it’s simply too John Woo for itself. I’ve realized that John Woo is a great director, but only when he’s directing the one and only genre he knows; action movies. The man can’t make a movie that doesn’t include heaps of bodies, hundreds, if not thousands, of rounds of gunfire and dozens of explosions. The guy is just ITCHING to get his “signaturesä into this movie· from the two situations in which characters are pointing guns at each other’s heads (a la The Killer) to the completely and laughably misplaced white dove flying through the door. Pathetic. If John Woo was supposed to be the director, which means he’s supposed to direct the actors on how to act, then he failed even the simple task of making this movie’s characters be somewhat believable. They chose to have Jennings break back into the building and in the process encounter dozens of the worlds dumbest and most inept security guards. Where’s the suspense? Where’s the acting? Where’s the direction? Ya broke my heart, Johnny, ya broke my heart!

    Worst problem of them all was Uma Thurman. No offense to all you Kill Bill lovers out there, but the woman couldn’t act her way out of a wet paper bag. Maybe it was just the script, but she was seriously grating on my nerves. Especially at the end when she was fidgeting around like a jonesin’ coke addict.

    Overall, skip this one. Avoid it. Save yourself the annoyance of seeing yet another big budget, crappy, self-righteous, Hollywood joke of the week. Just read the short story; it’s FAR more entertaining.

    Equinox21’s Rating: 4/10

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    Young Avenger, The (1980) Review

    "The Young Avenger" American DVD Cover

    "The Young Avenger" American DVD Cover

    Director: Wilson Tong Wai Shing
    Producer: Raymond Keung
    Cast: Wong Yu, Wilson Tong Wai Shing, Norman Chu Siu Keung, Chu Tiet Wo, Cecilia Wong Hang Sau, Cheng Hong Yip, Kong Do, Fung King Man, Tong Kam Tong, Ching Chu
    Running Time: 83 min.

    By Numskull

    I see little point in describing this movie in any great detail; I would just end up repeating myself. It’s a fairly typical chop socky flick with a protagonist who loafs at first but cleans up his act in order to take revenge on the bad guys. The twist, such as it is, is that he’s not doing it for his father or his mother or his grampa or his granma or his aunt or his uncle or his teacher or his wife or his girlfriend or his son or his daughter or his niece or his nephew or his neighbor or his dog; he’s doing it for this guy who was betrayed by the villains 17 years ago, got pushed off a cliff, and had his face eaten by ants. What I wanna know is, what took so long for him to start plotting some payback?

    Thankfully, little time is wasted on unfunny comic relief, and the fighting, while far from the best I’ve ever seen, is serviceable. The final duel is pretty good and clocks in near the ten minute mark. This is followed by a whole four seconds of denoument. Thus concludes another unremarkable but moderately enjoyable old-fashioned kung fu movie. Now go away.

    Numskull’s Rating: 6/10

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    Yellow River Fighter | aka The Fourth Disciple (1988) Review

    "Yellow River Fighter" American DVD Cover

    "Yellow River Fighter" American DVD Cover

    AKA: Swordsman of the Yellow River
    Director: Cheung Sing Yim
    Writer: Wong Mak Chuen
    Producer: Ho Ching, Chiu Hei Chung
    Cast: Yu Cheng Hui, Yu Hai, Sun Jian Kui, Hu Jian Qiang, Ji Chun Hua, Hung Yan Yan
    Running Time: 93 min.

    By Numskull

    No, it’s not a movie about a guy who fights people by shooting torrents of urine at them; it’s a period martial arts film from mainland China which chronicles the exploits of one Ma Yi, badass swordsman of the Yellow River region. Three feuding warlords…Guan, Lee, and Liu…are causing all sorts of problems for the residents of this area with their incessant power struggles. Ma’s policy is to not get involved. But, one fateful day, he interferes in a clash between Lord Guan and Lord Liu, and he finds himself swept up in the continuous shitstorm being raised, beginning with his sweet adorable little daughter getting skewered like a sweet adorable little piglet during a bloody raid on his home village.

    Ma, understandably perturbed, goes away someplace, drinks lots of wine, and becomes very surly. He meets Chi Chang, a wandering tumbler/street magician/jackass who tries to rake in some taels by having him perform his “drunken sword dance” in public. Bad idea. Ma is recognized by a warlord’s henchmen and they poison his wine, blinding him, but not killing him as they’d hoped.

    Ma and Chi are then taken in by King Guan, who seems to be the most honest and benevolent of the three warlords. They fight on his behalf against the vicious Lord Liu and the conniving Lord Lee, encountering a number of allies and surprises, and open a warriors’ school with some of their newfound wealth.

    The flight-free battles are solid, though not spectacular. It’s a relief that Chi Chang doesn’t constantly need to be bailed out of trouble. While not exactly a warrior, his athleticism and resourcefulness are sufficient to stay alive, elevating him above the status of a character who ends up being more of a hindrance than a help to the main hero. Throw in a couple of plot twists and some majestic Chinese landscape shots and you’ve got a pretty satisfactory swordplay movie, good for whiling away a rainy afternoon.

    Numskull’s Rating: 7/10

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    Yes, Madam | aka Police Assassins (1985) Review

    Yes, Madam

    Yes, Madam

    Director: Corey Yuen
    Writer: Barry Wong
    Producer: Sammo Hung
    Cast: Michelle Yeoh, Cynthia Rothrock, John Sham Kein, Meng Hoi, Tsui Hark, James Tien, Dick Wei, Tai Bo, Fung Lee, Chung Fat, Dennis Chan, Fruit Chan Gor, Johnny Cheung, David Chiang, Chin Kar Lok
    Running Time: 93 min.

    By Numskull

    Less than one minute into Yes, Madam, Michelle Yeoh slams a hardcover book shut on a man’s exposed genitals. At that point I knew I would be watching something a little…different.

    And I was right. “Different” in the sense that it doesn’t play out at all like the plot summaries on the package and elsewhere on the web would have you believe. The movie is described as an action flick with Michelle Yeoh and Cynthia Rothrock as cops (surprise, surprise) doing pretty standard HK action flick cop stuff. Not so! The main thrust of the movie is three friends…Aspirin, Strepsil and Panadol…trying to make a big score by diving into the deep end of the organized crime pool and cutting a deal with the notorious Mr. Tin. Aspirin and Strepsil and petty thieves and Panadol is a forger/counterfeit artist who has the most unintentionally funny line in the film: “I’ll do things unthinkable of!” Strepsil is stuck with the role of mediator when Aspirin and Panadol bicker (which is all the time) and Sammo Hung has a small role as their mentor, referred to only as “the old man”. It’s odd to see Sammo as a young man pretending to be even older than he is no (2/21/01). Tsui Hark also appears in the film…I believe he plays Panadol but since I’m not accustomed to seeing him, don’t think that’s set in stone. The guy who plays Mr. Tin has just about the worst diabolical laughter ever produced by villain or villainess. Young Michelle Yeoh, in one of her earliest films (#2 unless I’m mistaken) may be considered the lead and may have the most screen time but she most certainly is NOT the central figure in the story. Neither is Cynthia. This ain’t no mindless “You go, girl” flick about women just kicking ass…but you might wish it was.

    There’s a brief and pointless shootout to start things off; then, for a good hour or so, the story just plods along with a dash of excitement every now and then to keep the viewer at least vaguely interested. The catalyst for Michelle to have the case dumped into her lap is the murder of her friend Richard (which doesn’t seem to bother her on a personal level even one little bit). Cynthia Rothrock gets introduced a later on and beats up a fleeing suspect in an airport. Then she beats him up again in the interrogation room. That’s pretty much all she likes to do. Beat people up. Michelle’s character is more of a good Samaritan type of cop. She may be the beauty queen, but Cynthia is more fun to watch.

    Like I said, the plot (such as it is) focuses primarily on Aspirin, Strepsil and Panadol. Panadol is, to be blunt, an addle-brained buffoon, and his buddies aren’t exactly criminal geniuses either. Their antics are supposed to be amusing, but they give you an unpleasant sense of “filler”. Strange jokes pop up in odd places throughout the film to catch you off guard, but for the most part, they’re pretty lame. One notable exception is when Panadol (a complete wuss in addition to being a jackass) must elude an angry ex-customer inside his tiny apartment, which is cluttered with all sorts of obstacles that he uses to his advantage in order to keep his attacker from throttling him. Additionally, there’s a part where a civil servant and a police officer argue over the right to give a parking ticket which is worth a snigger or two. Also worth mentioning: a plastic tit, an unusual recipe for applesauce, and Mr. Tin’s henchman who looks like a caricature of Saddam Hussein.

    So what’s the point of all this? Well, it turns out that Aspirin and Strepsil have inadvertently stolen a microfilm from Mr. Tin, and it has fallen into Panadol’s possession. On the microfilm is a forged real estate contract worth billions of dollars. This is the plot device around which lots of shit revolves, yet it’s hardly given a mention.

    So, we have two ass-kicking ladies not kicking much ass and three nincompoops not doing much of anything for about an hour and twenty.

    And then, the payoff.

    Considering thie sparse and watered down action seen for the majority of the movie, my expectations for the inevitable showdown between the forces of good and the unscrupulous Mr. Tin weren’t too high. When said showdown took place (it WAS inevitable, after all) I was much relieved to see that the film had not been a complete waste of time. While not epic by any means, it is a very good “Us vs. Them” battle with Michelle and Cynthia sending bodies flying everywhere and Strepsil just trying to survive (the part where he’s cornered by swordsmen is the funniest bit in the movie; you’ll know it when you see it). After the peons are dealt with, they go after the big fish. This whole scene seems to be where most of the budget went. They really make a mess out of Mr. Tin’s home. The Police Story influence isn’t hard to see.

    So, when that’s all dealt with, it just remains for everyone to go home and live happily ever after, right? Wrong. The very end of the movie tosses out the NLP (Neat Little Package) syndrome and hits the viewer in the balls (female readers, substitute the body part of your choice). All in all, a so-so movie with a very nice finish, but not worth writing home over (unless it’s next door).

    Numskull’s Rating: 6/10

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    Master, The | aka Wong Fei Hong ’92 (1989) Review

    "The Master" DVD Cover

    "The Master" DVD Cover

    AKA: Wong Fei Hong ’92
    Director: Tsui Hark
    Writer: Jason Lam, Lau Daai Muk
    Cast: Jet Li, Yuen Wah, Jerry Trimble, Crystal Kwok, Billy Blanks, Anne Rickets, To Wai Wo, Lam Ping Hong, Rueben Gonzales, Georges Kee Cheung, Stefanos Miltsakakis, Steven Ho, Mark Williams, Dale Jacoby
    Running Time: 88 min.

    By Numskull

    Ladies and gentlemen, a new standard in lameness has been set.

    The Master may just be the worst Jet Li movie I’ve seen to date, surpassing even the feeble Dr. Wai & The Scripture With No Words and the unbearably cheesy New Legend Of Shaolin (or “Legend of the Red Dragon”, as Columbia/TriStar insists on calling it) in terms of overall crappiness. There’s so much wrong with this movie, I don’t know where to begin. Hmmm…how about the beginning? Yeah, that’s the ticket.

    There’s this girl who works as a janitor in a gymnastics studio. Apparently she doesn’t like the other girls because she starts fights for no evident reason and then gets fired. Shed no tears for her, my friends; it serves her right for being such a bitch.

    Yuen Wah (appearing, for the first time I can recall, in a non-villainous role) lives in San Francisco, runs a Chinese medicinal-type place, and knows about four words of English (he can say “hello” to answer the phone, but that’s where his expertise reaches its limit). Enter Master Johnny, an astoundingly non-threatening villain who got so pissed off when Yuen wouldn’t be his martial arts instructor a year ago that he went off and learned how to fight elsewhere, and now he’s back for (*gasp!*) REVENGE! He starts tearing up the joint and Yuen Wah, like any self-respecting shopkeep, feels obliged to put a stop to it. Waiting outside are two of Johnny’s students/cronies. They know their boss is a badass…such a badass, in fact, that they don’t dare to point out the slight matter of them having to bail him out when Yuen starts kicking the shit out of him. The now-unemployed janitor girl comes along on her scooter and rescues Yuen Wah, bringing him back to her trailer, where she nurses him… back to health, I mean.

    Next, Jet Li arrives in America to visit his master (three guesses who that is) and takes a bus to San Francisco. He speaks no English and, upon disembarking, is immediately robbed by a Latino street gang. Here we have a trio of young miscreants who cruise around town in their roofless, graffiti-covered car looking for trouble and singing: “We’re the Latinos and we’d like to say, we’re the meanest gang there IS today!” If that doesn’t strike fear into the hearts of the populace and send them fleeing in terror, nothing will.

    Now you begin to see how pitiful this movie is. The Latinos (great name, by the way) are such weenies that you get the impression that their idea of raising hell and general gang-like behavior consists of swiping newspapers from the doorsteps of befuddled old ladies and spitting on spectators from the highest point of the Kiddie Koaster at the local amusement park. They make even the wussiest member of the street gang in Rumble in the Bronx look like Satan himself, for fuck’s sake.

    Jet Li chases these hooligans and gets his stuff back (needless to say) by force. They then grovel at his feet, saying: “You’re the baddest dude I’ve ever seen! Teach us your martial arts!” Jet doesn’t strike me as a “bad dude” with his nice white teeth and bright blue ball cap, but who am I to argue with The Latinos? After all, they know one whole word of Chinese: “Sifu” (“Master”). When Jet hears them calling him this, he tells them to take a hike because he’s not teaching them shit. Of course, they don’t know what the hell he’s saying, so they follow him around like horny dogs in search of a leg to hump.

    Jet is dismayed to see that Yuen Wah’s shop has been closed down and boarded up, but at least he gets to meet Crystal Kwok, the one significant character who speaks both Chinese AND English. Thus, whenever she’s around, we don’t have to endure any language barrier situations that are supposed to be humorous but end up being about as funny as watching paint dry. Instead, we get to endure countless lines of dialogue being said twice as she translates for the benefit of the monolingual. It’s a wonderful world.

    With The Latinos’ lips still planted firmly on his ass (they have nowhere else to go now that their hideout has been torched by a gang that…as difficult as this is to believe…is even more badassed than they are), Jet goes to the police station and meets trailer girl (formerly known as janitor girl). She takes him to her place and he and Yuen Wah have a heart-warming reunion where the sifu bitch-slaps the student and tells him he wants nothing to do with him.

    Meanwhile, Master Johnny and his students dominate the local martial arts scene, beating people up just to prove that they can. In one scene, Johnny kicks in the windshield of a police car, and the cop behind the wheel faints or dies or something. The one in the passenger seat, despite having a perfectly good firearm at his side, does absolutely nothing about this. “Holy shit!” he thinks. “This guy is so strong, he can break glass. GLASS! It takes enough steroids to kill a herd of African elephants for me to work up the strength to rip a square of wet toilet paper in half, and this guy is breaking GLASS! I’d better not fuck with him. Maybe if I just sit here and quietly defecate in my nice new uniform, he won’t see my terrified face, hear my palpitating heart, or smell the five jelly donuts I had for supper pushing their way out of my intestinal tract. Our Father, who art in Heaven…”

    Jet finds time to have a budding romance of sorts with Crystal and gets a driving lesson in her SUV (that’s right, a fucking SUV. And she seemed like such a respectable young lady…), and also teaches The Latinos some kung fu to get them to shut the fuck up and stop following him everywhere. Their new skills (that’s “skills”, not “skillz”) don’t stop them from getting demolished by Johnny’s henchmen when they kidnap trailer girl. “Sheet!”, they say. I took French in high school rather than Spanish, but I believe that means “shit”. If anyone can verify this, please let me know.

    Yuen Wah goes to rescue trailer girl and finds himself confronting Johnny and his minions on a rooftop. Once again Johnny proves himself to be one of the baddest badasses ever to walk the Earth by attacking Yuen Wah after he’s thoroughly exhausted from fighting about 25 guys. Jet shows up to save the day and has a climactic showdown with Johnny. When they fall through a skylight (or something), they land on a conveniently placed blue mat and bounce half way back up. Since absolutely no attempt was made to conceal this…it’s even more obvious than the zipper in the monster costume in those old drive-in flicks…I can only assume that it’s an intentional part of the movie and that when it mysteriously vanishes from underneath them, it’s because something was removed from the final cut.

    I imagine the missing action and dialogue from the shortened blue mat scene would go something like this:

    JOHNNY: What have we here? It is firm and springy, like the breasts of a young woman, yet soft and inviting, like certain other parts of her anatomy. And upon my word, it is the color of pureed Smurfs!

    JET: Johnny bounces high into the air.

    JOHNNY: See how it propels me ever closer to the heavens high above! I’ve not felt so elated since that time I nasally inhaled a six-ounce tube of model airplane glue.

    Jet also bounces high into the air.

    JET: Ah, to be a carefree child again, delighting in the simplest of life’s pleasures! I propose we set aside our differences for the nonce, noble sir. Come, let us frolic.

    JOHNNY: I can bounce higher than you can.

    JET: Can not!

    JOHNNY: Can so!

    JET: Can not!!

    JOHNNY: Can so!!

    JET: CAN NOT!!!

    JOHNNY: CAN SO!!!

    JET: I’LL KICK YOUR ASS!!!!

    JOHNNY: OH YEAH?!?

    JET: YEAH!!!!!

    (The film has a way of “forgetting” the language barrier thing when it suits its purpose to do so. I guess we’re not supposed to notice.)

    You know what the most annoying thing is? The last fight here is actually pretty good. No wires or anything. The other fights aren’t bad either. We have choreographer Yuen Wah to thank for that. With other sloppy movies, I’ve let the stupidity slide and given them decent ratings, but The Master is just so lame, I can’t bring myself to even recommend just watching the good parts. Between the flat-as-a-board dialogue, laughable characters, and insufferable language barrier “jokes”, the whole thing just sucks the wax out of a dead man’s ears. This is one of those immeasurably rare movies where the Miramax treatment might actually be an improvement. You ponder that while I go out and stand up the garbage cans that just got tipped over; those badass Latinos are on the loose again.

    Numskull’s Rating: 3/10

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    Tiger Cage (1988) Review

    "Tiger Cage" Chinese DVD Cover

    "Tiger Cage" Chinese DVD Cover

    Director: Yuen Woo Ping
    Writer: Anthony Wong, Kim Yip
    Producer: Stephen Shin
    Cast: Jacky Cheung, Carol Cheng, Simon Yam, Donnie Yen, Ng Man Tat, Leung Kar Yan, Irene Wan, Vincent Lyn, Johnny Wang, Stephan Berwick, Michael Woods, Chang Seng Kwong, Chen Jing, Fung Hak On, Jameson Lam Wa Fan, Peter Mak, Wai Gei Shun, Yuen Cheung Yan, Yuen Shun Yee, Yuen Woo Ping
    Running Time: 89 min.

    By Raging Gaijin

    This vintage 80’s HK action flick is rather atypical for director Yuen Woo-Ping. It has plenty of martial arts action but it’s set during modern times, not ancient China; and while Woo-Ping has tackled the cops and robbers genre before with the “In the Line of Duty” series, none of those films relied on shoot-outs as much as “Tiger Cage” or were as pressingly dark. This film is violent, brutal, and unforgiving. I dare say that even some of the director’s most ardent fans may not enjoy “Tiger Cage”. It has plenty of phenomenal action sequences and solid acting talent but the story is so nihilistic and bleak that you can’t help but feel like crap after watching it.

    The movie opens with a drug-bust that includes one of the best HK-style shoot-outs I’ve ever seen. Yuen Woo-Ping obviously takes a page from John Woo but clearly departs from Woo’s style by not using slow motion and allowing the characters to leave the confines of the warehouse the bust starts in. The shoot-out gets taken to the bustling streets of Hong Kong where cops and Triad members alike climb across neon signs, run through traffic, and dive off of freeway over-passes. It’s incredibly intense and brilliantly directed by Yuen Woo-Ping. We all know he can choreograph martial arts like no one else on the planet but I had no idea he was so adept at gunplay. This scene was easily the highlight of the film for me.

    From there, the plot becomes the standard fare of good cop vs. dirty cops. There is no shortage of betrayal, double crosses, or gweilo villains. Jacky Cheung and Donnie Yen play two young officers who become aware of a vast conspiracy within their police unit. In their pursuit of justice, they risk their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

    Much like “In the Line of Duty IV”, these cops don’t give a crap about Miranda rights or police procedure. If they need to interrogate a suspect, they beat the shit out of him until he talks. Humanitarians may not want to watch this movie, or at the very least cover their eyes during these moments.

    I have to admit that in today’s times when everyone seems to think that morality and ethics are all relative and can be manipulated to fit any situation, it’s nice to watch these 80’s cop flicks where right is always right and wrong is always wrong. There was a kid in my sociology class last semester who tried to justify the fact that he had sold drugs in the past because it had been his means of getting the things he wanted in life: new shoes, clothes, a car, etc. Most people in the class seemed to feel sorry for him. Jacky Cheung and Donnie Yen wouldn’t have stood for that shit: when Donnie Yen finds out that his father-like mentor on the force is corrupt, he doesn’t hesitate for a moment to arrest his ass. This kind of righteousness is a rarity nowadays; in this film, it’s a refreshing change of pace. (Okay, sorry for that political tangent)

    Unfortunately, so much blood is shed and so many lives are lost that even when the villains are defeated, neither the cops in this film nor the viewer can walk away feeling triumphant. It’s a revenge movie where so much tragedy strikes throughout the length of the story that there’s not any catharsis when vengeance is finally wrought. I love dark and gritty cop films but there is such a thing as being *too* dark: when you rob the movie of any meaning or sentiment. “Full Alert” had a downer ending but it was still satisfying; you felt like there was real growth in Lau Ching Wan’s character and it was an honest expression of emotion. “Tiger Cage” just kind of leaves you feeling empty as it fizzles to its inevitable and bloody conclusion. Add to that a few plot holes (as soon as Jacky Cheung finds out his superior officer is corrupt, he decides to take a day off with his girlfriend and leave his phone off the hook. Huh?!) and I have to deduct some points.

    That said, if you’re a fan of Yuen Woo-Ping and you’re in the mood to see something different from this skilled director, then be sure to track down “Tiger Cage”. It has a lot of great action and shoot-outs, as well as likeable characters and solid performances. It’s just not as much fun to watch as “In the Line of Duty IV”.

    Raging Gaijin’s Rating: 7/10


    By Reefer

    Yuen Woo Ping directs this thriller without an ounce of fat on it. From the opening credits to the brutal finale, this movie rolls. The characters, at first, seem under-developed. Yuen uses types: the courageous leader, the impulsive one, the loyal girlfriend, the prankster and the corrupt cop. He takes these character types, turns their world upside down, and then reveals, a little bit at a time, what makes them tick.

    Obviously set up the demonstrate the team mentality they share, the movie starts out with a well-staged shootout involving the team and a drug dealer. After narrowly escaping the police, the dealer plots his revenge against the unit’s leader and viscously guns him down in cold blood the night before his wedding. It is during a police-brutality-filled search for the killer that corruption is discovered.

    Here is where, as a critic, I am not sure where to tread. You see there is a major twist here early on that I don’t want to give out. Some viewers might see it coming. Some might not. Anyway, it is the acceptance of the major character’s performance, as the movie switches gears, that really drew me into the film. The character I speak of turns out to be the main villain and I gleefully booed him as he continued to set the remainder of this likable cast up for a major fall.

    All secrecy aside, Yen has a supporting role in this one and has an another nifty fight scene with Michael Woods. This might even be his best acting performance in a movie next to Iron Monkey. And Jacky Cheung appears to have a lot more kung fu skills than I originally thought.

    This is a dark crime thriller with quality acting as it’s strength and is something of a surprise coming from Yuen Woo Ping.

    Reefer’s Rating: 7/10

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    Where A Good Man Goes (1999) Review

    "Where A Good Man Goes" Chinese DVD Cover

    "Where A Good Man Goes" Chinese DVD Cover

    Director: Johnnie To Kei Fung
    Writer: Wai Ka Fai, Yau Nai Hoi
    Producer: Johnnie To Kei Fung, Wai Ka Fai
    Cast: Lau Ching Wan, Ruby Wong Cheuk Ling, Wayne Lai Yiu Cheung, Lam Suet, Raymond Wong Ho Yin, Law Wing Cheong, Chang Siu Yin, Ai Wai, Cheng Ka Sang, Wong Wa Wo
    Running Time: 98 min.

    By Mighty Peking Man

    Not one single Hong Kong studio has developed a series of solid, back-to-back films like Milkyway Image company has. Films like “Beyond Hypothermia,” “Too Many Ways to Be Number One,” “The Odd Ones Dies,” “Expect The unexpected,” “The Longest Nite” and one of my favorites of all time, “A Hero Never Dies.” All of these films were released between the years 1996 to 1999. The year 2000 gave us the remarkable “Fulltime Killer.”

    Since then, Milkyway Image has taken a turn for more mainstream, comedy orientated films like “Love On A Diet” and “My Left Eye Sees Ghosts.” Why? Well, only Johnny To knows. I suppose these types of films not only bring in more money at the box office, but they’re probably easier to make.

    “Where A Good Man Goes” centers on Michael (Lau Ching Wan), an ex-gang leader who has just been released from prison. On his first night of freedom, he instantly pisses a taxi driver off, which causes the driver to physically attack him. Out of self defense, Michael takes on the taxi driver and a small duel turns into a “one vs. many” rumble when the cabbie’s co-workers pull up and join in on the beating. Victoriously, Michael takes them all on and shows them who’s badass. After the fight, Michael notices a hotel which he decides to stay in for the night. The hotel is owned by a struggling widow named Siu (Ruby Wong) and her young son. Both had just witnessed Michael’s violent encounter with the taxi drivers, which causes an instant tension between them and Michael.

    During Michael’s first night at the hotel, he immediately feels warm and at home. Despite Michael’s temper tantrums, Siu treats him as if he were a VIP, offering services she wouldn’t normally do, like: getting him cigarettes and making him meals even though the hotel’s restaurant is defunct. Even when an asshole cop (played by Lam Suet) tries to blame Michael for starting the “taxi” brawl, Siu stands up for him. It’s during this time that Michael grows for Siu and her son with a feeling he’s never felt before; a feeling of having a woman that truly cares, and a son who looks up to him as a father-figure.

    The plot thickens as Siu’s hotel is in the state of being repossessed by the bank, due to her constant financial hardship. Now that the hotel is sort of a “home” for Michael, he takes action and decides to help Siu financially by hitting the streets and getting back what he once had: money, and lots of it.

    As he hustles the streets, Michael realizes that he had lost his power, mostly while he was serving time in prison. His old gang mates are now helpless hoodlums, his ex-partners have fucked him over in shares, and his bitchy ex-girlfriend took all his money while he was in the cell. What makes matters even worse is the asshole cop responsible for putting him behind bars is watching his every move, so committing a crime isn’t exactly the best thing to do at the moment, or is it? Deep down inside, Michael must choose between reviving his life of crime and taking whatever penalties it may hold; or he must learn to accept that his successful gangster days are over. In between all this is Siu, her son, and a hotel that they’re about to lose.

    “Where A Good Man Goes” is a gangster film that’s high on human drama and low on violence. It’s a heartfelt film about about changing your life and letting go of the past, no matter how much you loved it.

    Mighty Peking Man’s Rating: 7/10

    Posted in Chinese, Reviews | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

    Exclusive: Interview with Robert Lee

    Robert Lee Interview Banner

    The following interview took place in the Temple Discussion (cityonfire.com’s now defunct Bruce Lee site) on 3/15/01 between regular vistitors of the site. All of the questions and answers were compiled by JT. Original chat session has been slightly edited for a tighter, easier read.

    Robert Lee: I first would like to say that Bruce Lee was a very special person in many peoples lives. Bruce has been the cause of many people changing their lives around for the better. It also brings great pleasure for me to be able to share the Lee families memories with you all out there. Yes, Bruce was a hero to many but he was also a brother, husband, father etc. I hope I can shed some light on the human side of Bruce. He was great and did great things, but he was also just a regular guy who liked to hang out with friends and family. With all that said, lets get started.

    COF: Did Bruce ever meet Elvis Presley?

    Robert Lee: As far as I know, Bruce never got the chance to meet up with Elvis. I am sure he would have liked to. I think everyone would have liked to hang with the King.

    COF: What you think Bruce would be doing today?

    Robert Lee: If Bruce were here with us, he would still be involved with films. Bruce would be doing more directing as well as some acting. Bruce would love to show that an older person can be in great shape and still be able to defend himself or herself.

    Scene from Robert Lee's 1977 Golden Harvest film "Lady Killers." Note Lee Kwan ("The Big Boss") and Gam Dai ("Way of the Dragon") in the background.

    Scene from Robert Lee's 1977 Golden Harvest film "Lady Killers." Note Lee Kwan ("The Big Boss") and Gam Dai ("Way of the Dragon") in the background.

    COF: What do you think of the current crop of Hong Kong/Hollywood action stars such as Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and Jet Li? What rare unseen footage do you know exists?

    Robert Lee: First I like to say that Bruce opened all sorts of avenues for Asian actors. I am happy that finally, people like Chan or Hung are getting their respect that they deserve. They are great performers. All these people have been influenced by Bruce and in fact most had worked with Bruce. There are still many obstacles for the Asian actors to overcome. As far as missing footage, all I can say is, yes, there is much. Hopefully in time we all will be able to see what Bruce wanted to share with us.

    COF: What exactly are these “on going investigations” that are going into Bruce’s “accidental” death and how have these delayed your book?

    Robert Lee: I believe we have touched base on these questions in the past. Now is not the time to discuss such matters. I will say that the Lee side of the Family have their beliefs, and our beliefs are valid. Thank you for your concern.

    COF: I am a big fan of your record album “The Ballad of Bruce Lee”. I have the original LP from the 70’s, I have the american 45 RPM single as well as the Japanese 45 RPM single. I thank you for making my childhood a most memorable one by coming into this world and being part of the legend that is: “The Lee Family!”

    Robert Lee: Thank you for the good words on my music. It is my personal Jeet Kune Do.

    Robert Lee's 1975 album "The Ballad of Bruce Lee." The track "Parting" features lyrics written by Bruce Lee.

    Robert Lee's 1975 album "The Ballad of Bruce Lee." The track "Parting" features lyrics written by Bruce Lee.

    COF: In regards to Game of Death, does the film have an actual ending? Was the plot subject to change, or was it to be improvised along the way?

    Robert Lee: I will tell you this about the Game. Bruce did have some sixty pages more or less. It had dialogue, ideas, fights etc. Bruce was the type to always be changing and discovering new ideas. Bruce might have, or not have changed what he had written. As far as I know there was no ending filmed yet, or beginning. There was a story line though. Bruce worked very hard on the Game and it shows. I have to say that there was much going on with The Game Of Death. I am sure there is extra footage here or there. We must not loose sight in what we have already in front of us, it can drive one crazy imagining what else is out there.

    COF: What is your fondest memory of Bruce? If you had one question to ask Bruce – what would it be?

    Robert Lee: Wow, this is a good one. Just being around Bruce influenced me greatly. I learned how to truthfully find my own path and Bruce was a big part of that. If Bruce was here today the one thing I would say to him was, I love you.

    Robert Lee, Phoebe Lee (Bruce's sister) and guest promoting the 2010 bio-film, "Bruce Lee, My Brother"

    Robert Lee, Phoebe Lee (Bruce's sister) and guest promoting the 2010 bio-film, "Bruce Lee, My Brother"

    COF: I wanna know what do you think about the movie “Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story” by Rob Cohen and Linda Lee?

    Robert Lee: I would honestly say that it does not portray Bruce’s life in the correct light. Unfortunately the real story has not been told correctly. Soon enough, the Lee family will be doing accurate projects on Bruce. I would say that Dragon to me was very disappointing. If you can only see that the rest of Bruce’s family was not even portrayed in the film. That should tell you something right there.

    COF: Are you in touch with the BLEF (Bruce Lee Educational Foundation) and Linda Lee?

    Robert Lee: I do not talk to Linda that often, but we still touch base.

    COF: What would you like the new generation to know about Bruce?

    Robert Lee: I would really like the new generations of fans to look at Bruce as a human being that did incredible things, and he was able to overcome many obstacles in his life. I guess I would simply want others to know that if you do express yourself truthfully, your path in life will come to you.

    Robert Lee in 1977's "Lady Killers"

    Robert Lee in 1977's "Lady Killers"

    Robert Lee with Sylvia Chang in 1977's "Lady Killers"

    Robert Lee with Sylvia Chang in 1977's "Lady Killers"

    Robert Lee with Sylvia Chang in 1977's "Lady Killers"

    Robert Lee with Sylvia Chang in 1977's "Lady Killers"

    COF: Bruce lost a great deal of body mass during 1973 and ceased his regular training six weeks prior to his death in July due to exhaustion. Did this happen?

    Robert Lee: Bruce did loose a lot of weight close to his passing. I cant go into detail on why this was, at this time. I will say that the Lee family will come out with much desired information surrounding Bruce’s death, soon as the right time permits. Bruce did not do himself in. There were other factors involved.

    COF: Is it true that Bruce was an avid practical joker?

    Robert Lee: When I arrived to the states and was staying at Bruce’s house, I fell victim to one of his jokes. Bruce asked me to come in his study for a minute. I walked in to where Bruce was, and he was whipping his Chucks. He was incredible. He was moving them around with incredible speed. I was very impressed and walked out the room. As I was walking down the hall way Bruce ran behind me with his war cry swinging the chucks and hit me on the back of my head. I almost had a heart attack. Bruce started laughing because he changed his real Chucks for a pair of fake rubber ones. I thought they were the real thing. He loved that.

    COF: Some Game of Death footage was released in the early 70’s, then disappeared to never been seen again. How did this footage make it to a theatre in Toronto, and why would it never be shown again? Did Bruce shoot any God footage in the 2-3 weeks before his death, and if he did, could his appearance (weight loss) have anything to do with the footage being hidden from the public? Also, did you ever find it difficult to carve your own niche in the world, and did there ever come a time where you just wished people would leave you alone about Bruce and let you get on with your life?

    Robert Lee: Well, I must say you have been misinformed on the Game footage. I wish I had the time to tell you what I know. Let me just say: 1. No footage was released in Toronto, that has been any different from what has been released anywhere. 2. Bruce’s weight had nothing to do with being covered up. 3. It was hard for me after Bruce died because he was a loved one. I always had my own identity but like all older brothers I looked up to Bruce and followed some of his beliefs.

    2004 book "Lee Siu Loong" Memories of the Dragon Bruce Lee," which Robert Lee co-authored with Phoebe Lee, Agnes Lee and Peter Lee.

    2004 book "Lee Siu Loong" Memories of the Dragon Bruce Lee," which Robert Lee co-authored with Phoebe Lee, Agnes Lee and Peter Lee.

    COF: During Bruce Lee’s final year in Hong Kong (you were in the USA at the time) why did he not go to your mother, sisters or Peter when all the stresses of the film industry became too much? Was Linda his only support? How close were/are you to Brandon and Shannon?

    Robert Lee: Bruce always kept in contact with us. Bruce really handled stress well. We his family, always were there to support him in anyway. I was close to Brandon but unfortunately Shannon and I have not stayed in contact because of schedules. We will always have a bond as Uncle and niece.

    COF: Are there any plans to release the Game of Death footage, also is there any other behind the scenes footage of Bruce Lee movies as yet unseen?

    Robert Lee: I do not have the rights to the studio Game Of Death footage. I do have some of my own footage that I will be doing projects with in the future. There is a lot of footage out there yet to be seen. I even hear that there is an alternate fight for the end of Way.

    Aarif Lee (young Bruce Lee), Robert Lee and Tony Leung Ka-fai (Bruce Lee's father, Lee Hoi-chuen) promoting the 2010 bio-film, "Bruce Lee, My Brother"

    Aarif Lee (young Bruce Lee), Robert Lee and Tony Leung Ka-fai (Bruce Lee's father, Lee Hoi-chuen) promoting the 2010 bio-film, "Bruce Lee, My Brother"

    COF: (1) Do you have any details of Bruce Lee’s trip to London in the early 1970s? Will any of your Game of Death footage be included in the Region 2 Hong Kong Legends DVD due out this Summer?

    Robert Lee: I can speak for myself and say that I really like England and the British people. I really don’t know much about Bruce’s trip to England. As far as the other question, I really do not know what will be on the DVD when it is released.

    COF: Which of Bruce’s movies is you favorite?

    Robert Lee: Well, I love them all. I must say that Way is my favorite, because it was Bruce’s baby. He did everything on that film.

    COF: Did Bruce ask you not to make it public that you two were Brothers? Did he have a weight gain plan for you? Do you know if Bruce Lee ever meet with Muhammad Ali or Elvis Presley?

    Robert Lee: Bruce did say that to me but he as only joking. Bruce was very caring and loving brother. He would do anything to protect me. That was Bruce’s character, always joking around. Bruce would have loved to have met Ali and the other. Bruce had much respect for Parker.

    COF: Which movie character was most like Bruce?

    Robert Lee: Bruce was probably most like his character in Enter The Dragon. You see his Physical and you hear his philosophy. It is important to note that Bruce was truly one of the guys. He was very humble and sincere. As far as a question that has never been asked, well, you just asked it.

    Robert Lee and Phoebe Lee (Bruce's sister) promoting the 2010 bio-film, "Bruce Lee, My Brother"

    Robert Lee and Phoebe Lee (Bruce's sister) promoting the 2010 bio-film, "Bruce Lee, My Brother"

    COF: Can you recall a fight in which Bruce was involved and is there any truth in the story that Bruce left for America in 59 because he had beaten up the son of a triad and had a price on his head? How much of Bruce did you see in Brandon and how did news of his death affect you?

    Robert Lee: Bruce had many fights, and in Hong Kong you never know who you are fighting or who the family of the victims are. Bruce had some trouble, but nobody he could not take care of himself. Brandon’s passing was tragic, we must see what he brought us as a gift. He shared himself with us, just like Bruce did.

    COF: There has been talk of you brother owning a fire arm could you shed some light on this? Also there was also a lot of debate regarding Bruce using steroids do you know anything on this topic?

    Robert Lee: Bruce liked all kinds of Weapons and studied how they worked. Yes, he did own firearms. He recieved them as gifts. I am a firearms expert and license to teach.

    COF: Can you tell us anything about your investigation regarding your brother’s death? Do You know what exactly happened to Bruce while his back injury? Was it caused by lifting weights?

    Robert Lee: Bruce’s death has been investigated and always will be. The Lee family does believe there was foul play. In the future the Lee family will be coming out with projects that support our beliefs. There is much to say, and much did happen. When the time is right, all will see the truth. Bruce hurt his back from weights not a fight like you see in Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story.

    COF: Do you have any letters from Bruce? If you do, are you going to release them to the public?

    Robert Lee: Me and my family had contact with Bruce frequently. By phone or letters we kept in touch. I do have very valuable writings from Bruce, and plan on possibly using them for future projects.

    COF: When did you discover you wanted to be a musician? What inspired you to be one?

    Robert Lee: As a small child I found the love for music. As I got older I found out that music was my personal Jeet Kune Do. There were many great groups out when I was growing up and they influenced me greatly. I still make music to this day.

    Robert Lee had a popular music career in the late 60's and throughout the 70's (both as a solo artist and with his beat band, The Thunderbirds), including a duet album with Irene Ryder, a popular Eurasian Hong Kong English pop singer.

    Robert Lee had a popular music career in the late 60's and throughout the 70's (both as a solo artist and with his beat band, The Thunderbirds), including a duet album with Irene Ryder, a popular Eurasian Hong Kong English pop singer.

    COF: Bruce is our hero, is there anyone you look up to or admire, and why? Also, what is your personal philosophy of life?

    Robert Lee: There are many people who I consider Heroes. I must say that Bruce was, and is my true hero. He taught me so much about life in a small amount of time. The bottom line is that Bruce expressed himself truthfully and he rocked the world when doing it. I remember going to the theater and watching Bruce on screen and thinking WOW, he is incredible. I was simply a fan like everyone else, and I still am. Bruce was awesome.

    COF: What do you think, Robert, can any one in this world express JKD in its pure form like MASTER LEE.

    Robert Lee: JKD is the truth. It is the truth of life and the truth of ones path (The Journey we take). JKD means to grow and adapt with life in any situation. This does not stop at only Martial Arts. You can be a painter or writer and musician. All of these and more have their own personal Jeet Kune Do. JKD is going to be different for everyone, and it should. It is a way of life. To fully know Jeet Kune Do, you must strive to know yourself.

    "The Lady Killer" Chinese Theatrical Poster

    "The Lady Killer" Chinese Theatrical Poster

    COF: Could you possibly tell us your feelings on people that continue to make money on your brother’s name?

    Robert Lee: It is unfortunate that certain people will go to any length to profit on Bruce’s name. The Lee family has watched this from a far, but we know what is going on. This is why we, the Lee family plan on doing our own projects so we can get the real truth out there. There was more to Bruce than what he ate in his diet or how many push-ups he did. To truly know Bruce, you must understand where he came from. There are still many great stories to tell and the Lee family will tell them.

    COF: Do you have any plans to record new music in the future?

    Robert Lee: I have just recorded a song for my son. It is about Bruce. The song is gaining popularity in Hong Kong. I am always playing around with music, it is in my blood. Music is my Jeet Kune Do.

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