action, crime, martial arts, movie, movie review, video game

December 4th, 2017 Movie – Street Fighter: The Legend Of Chun-Li

street fighter the legend of chun li

You know what needs to happen, a prequel story to Street Fighter that has no relation with the original movie. Ok, I am completely lying about that and yet that is exactly what we got with today’s movie. Now, as soon as I saw the trailers for this movie, I knew it was going to be a “steaming pile” and had no desire to see it in theaters or rent it. Then I got bored while wandering through Movie Stop one day and ended up buying it. To be honest, I think the only reason I bought it was because I was buying some video game based movies and decided to go full on terrible in my purchases. Well, let me get some antacid ready as I watch today’s movie, Street Fighter: The Legend Of Chun-Li.

The plot: As a young girl, Chun-Li is forced to travel a lot due to her father’s job but while they are at their home in Hong Kong, her father Xiang begins teaching her wushu. One night, when Xiang returns home, he is attacked by Balrog and some men and he manages to hold them off but when Chun-Li comes downstairs to find out what is happening, Balrog grabs her and Xiang surrenders so he will let her go. Bison enters the room and tells Chun-Li to listen to her father and head upstairs and she watches from her window as Xiang is forced into a car and her mother is struck by Balrog when she tries to stop them. Years later, Chun-Li has become a young woman and is performing a piano concert in Hong Kong and when she returns back stage, her friend says a gift came for her, an ancient scroll. As Chun-Li takes the subway home, she sees some men beating on someone before leaving him lying on the ground and as Chun-Li approaches him and asks someone to help, she notices the web tattoo on his hand. Meanwhile, Bison meets with the heads of the local branches of Shadaloo and says that he will be taking over control of all of them and when the men laugh and leave the building, Bison has Vega kill them all. He then receives a flash drive from Balrog and takes it to Xiang, whom he has been holding captive all this time, and tells him it is photos and a recording of Chun-Li’s concert, which he gives to him in exchange for his continued work for him. After Chun-Li’s mother dies, she decides to find out more about the scroll she received and as she is walking along the streets of Hong Kong, a street sweeper, bearing the same web tattoo, forces her into a shop. Inside, the owner examines the scroll and tells Chun-Li that she should go to Hong Kong and seek out a man named Gen, and Chun-Li realizes that Gen was the one she had helped and forced her into the shop. Meanwhile, Thailand police detective Maya Sunee is joined by Interpol Agent Charlie Nash and they discover the heads of the crime families and Nash tells her that Bison is the one behind it in order to consolidate power. Chun-Li travels to Bangkok, where she lives on the streets, and constantly searches for Gen but has no luck. One night, she sees some thugs beating someone and yells at them to stop, then proceeds to get in a fight with the men. Chun-Li beats them but passes out due to exhaustion and Gen shows up and carries her away. When she regains consciousness, Gen tells Chun-Li that they have been watching her and know where Xiang is being kept. Chun-Li is shocked to learn that Xiang is still alive and asks where he is but Gen tells her she is not ready to know. He then starts to explain about Bison and Shadaloo, saying he used to be part of the organization but now chooses to help those that Shadaloo hurts. He then offers to train Chun-Li in his style of martial arts, warning her that her anger will keep her from realizing her potential and Bison would easily capitalize on it. Meanwhile, Bison has kidnapped the families of various property owners of the slums around the waterfront in order to buy up the property for his own ends. Nash and Maya are keeping tabs on Bison’s operations and follow Bison’s secretary Cantana after she leaves the meeting. Unknown to them, Chun-Li was also watching Shadaloo and follows Balrog, where she overhears him discussing a shipment called the White Rose and asking for it to get into the city without going through customs. Chun-Li continues her training with Gen, who comments on her improvement. That night, Chun-Li heads to the night club where Cantana is and, given her fondness for women, manages to attract her attention and lead her into the bathroom. Once there, Chun-Li attacks her and manages to get the location of where the White Rose will be arriving and gives Cantana a message before she is forced to quickly leave when Cantana’s bodyguards start to break into the restroom. Chun-Li heads to another part of the club, where she ends up being attacked by the bodyguards and some other men, but she quickly defeats them and quickly runs when Nash and Maya, alerted to the commotion, head into the club and see what she did. The next day, Nash and Maya try to find Chun-Li but realize that the people in the area are protecting her. Meanwhile, Chun-Li asks Gen to tell her about Bison and he tells her how Bison had grown up an orphan and became a thief as the years passed. Seeking to get more power, he took his pregnant wife to a hidden temple and transferred all of the goodness in his soul into his unborn child, then kills his wife and cuts the child from her womb. Gen then sends Chun-Li out to get some groceries, wanting to get her out of the house as he knows Shadaloo men are coming. When the men get there, Gen is able to defeat them but Balrog fires an RPG at the house, blowing it up. Chun-Li had just returned and is knocked back by the blast and when she tries to find Gen, all she can find is his medallion and she weeps for the loss of her master. Meanwhile, Bison hires Vega to ensure the White Rose arrives untroubled and to kill Chun-Li. As Chun-Li is walking the streets, she senses someone following her and takes off running along the rooftops before quickly hiding. When Vega approaches where she is, Chun-Li fights with him and quickly beats him, leaving him tied up and hanging off the roof of a building. The next day, Chun-Li heads to the harbor and questions a dock worker as to when the White Rose is supposed to arrive. Meanwhile, Nash returns to his task force headquarters to find that it has been disbanded under orders from above and Maya tells him that he was right about Shadaloo’s influence. Chun-Li heads to the dock to intercept the shipment only to be captured by Bison and his men. Chun-Li is taken to a warehouse and tied to a chair, then Xiang is brought into the room and the two are left alone to talk for a few minutes before Bison enters and breaks Xiang’s neck before leaving. Balrog orders two men to kill Chun-Li but she is able to knock them out and escape. As she makes her way through the streets, Balrog and his men spot her and give chase and start firing at her but some of the crowd begin chasing after them. When Chun-Li is shot trying to prevent Balrog from shooting a kid, the crowd begins throwing things at Balrog and his men, forcing them to leave. Chun-Li ducks into an alley, where she is found by Gen and he takes her away to tend to her injuries. After she is healed, Chun-Li returns to the dock worker, who apologizes for leading her into a trap, and learns when the White Rose is really arriving. Chun-Li then heads to see Nash, telling him of the White Roses arrival and asking him to help her take down Bison. Nash arrives at the dock with his men and are soon joined by Maya and some of her men but as they see Bison arriving, Nash notices a bomb in the building and they quickly evacuate before it explodes. Bison’s men then begin firing on the cops, who are forced to defend themselves but Maya is injured during the fight. Elsewhere, Gen heads onto the boat and encounters Balrog, who reveals that the White Rose is a girl before Gen uses liquid nitrogen to kill him. Meanwhile, Chun-Li is on the boat looking for Gen when she spots a girl and tells her to stay where she is. When Chun-Li finds Gen, he tells her what Balrog said and Chun-Li realizes that the girl she saw is actually Bison’s daughter, Rose. The two go find Nash, who has a helicopter ready and they head off after Bison, who had managed to grab Rose and get away during the confusion. Chun-Li, Gen, Nash, and one of Maya’s SWAT team members head into Bison’s headquarters and attempt to find Bison and Rose, taking out the guards along the way. Gen encounters Bison, who easily defeats him, while Nash finds Rose and takes her out of the building. When Bison enters Rose’s room, he finds Gen waiting for him and the two fight again but when Bison throws Gen out the window, Gen’s leg is impaled on a piece of rebar. Before Bison can finish him off, Chun-Li attacks him and after a vicious battle, she summons a ki blast to knock him off the roof they are on, then jumps down onto him and breaks his neck. Nash approaches her and tells her to leave while he deals with the fallout with the authorities. Some time later, Chun-Li returns to her home in Hong Kong when Gen approaches her and shows her an article about an upcoming street fighter tournament. He says that they need to recruit some more fighters and mentions a prospect in the tournament named Ryu but Chun-Li says that she won’t join him as she is home now.

It may be hard to imagine, but Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li did even worse than it’s predecessor, only earning a 6% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “The combination of a shallow plot and miscast performers renders Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li a perfectly forgettable video game adaptation.” The movie marks the third fighting video game franchise that Robin Shou has been a part of, as he had played Liu Kang in the Mortal Kombat movies and the pirate leader in D.O.A.: Dead Or Alive. The movie was a box office bomb, only earning $12.8 million off of an $18 million budget.

Oh yeh, this is definitely one of those movies that is famous for being terrible. The acting was ok at best, with Robin Shou (Gen) and Michael Clarke Duncan (Balrog) doing good jobs in their roles but the actual stars, Kristin Kreuk (Chun-Li) and Neal McDonough (Bison), actually being pretty boring with their roles. The story was a horrendous mess, only loosely following the story in the game, that being the fact that Chun-Li was after Bison for revenge for her father, but several of the major characters in the game, outside of Bison’s men Balrog and Vega, are not seen or mentioned, except for Ryu at the end. Some of the fight scenes were ok but a lot of the special effects looked cheap, which hurt the scenes they were used in. If you really want to watch this movie, do yourself a favor and smack your head against a brick wall a few times first, so you can be rendered unconscious before the movie starts.

Rating: 1 out of 5

 

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December 2nd, 2017 Movie – Return Of The Street Fighter

return of the street fighter

Ahhh, a Saturday morning and I find myself watching a martial arts movie. That is really a flashback to my childhood, though the movies would usually come on in the afternoons, as I obviously needed to watch my Saturday morning cartoons first. Anyways, today’s movie is the first of two sequels to The Street Fighter and luckily for me, it happened to be a part of the Martial Arts box set. So let’s see what happens to Terry Tsurugi with today’s movie, Return Of The Street Fighter.

The plot: Terry Tsurugi is hired by Isamu Otaguro to kill two of his former business associates, one of whom is being held and questioned by the police. Terry speeds through town and fights the officers attempting to arrest him in order to get arrrested and taken to police headquarters. As he is being taken to his cell, Terry hears the man being questioned in the interrogation room and breaks free from his captors and smashes his way into the room. Once there, he takes out the guards and kills the witness, then fights off some more cops before making his escape out the window, where he gets into a car and drives off. As he drives, his assistant, Kitty, unlocks the handcuffs for him and then asks about when he will take out the next target. The next day, Shichiro Yamagami, the police inspector in charge of the case,  asks to be allowed to go after Terry but when he is turned down, he resigns. As he is leaving, the police get word that the man’s partner, who is also the second man Terry is to kill, has been spotted and they go to pick him up. The man is hiding in a movie theater while waiting for a flight to take him to Australia. When he sees the police looking for him, he tries to run but ends up running into Terry. Terry tries to stop him from leaving and the man ends up throwing the bag he is carrying at Terry so he can pull out a gun but ends up getting into a shootout with the police, while Terry escapes with the bag. Sometime later, Kitty takes the bag to Otaguro, where it is revealed to contain a priceless statue. At Masaoka’s dojo, Yamagami goes to speak with Kendo Masaoka and tells him what he knows of Otaguro’s martial arts academy and it’s ties to the Yakuza. He also asks Masaoka about Terry and Masaoka tells him that Terry is a skilled fighter and that they had fought once a few years ago. Masaoka goes to speak with Otaguro, saying he knows what is being said and if the rumors are true, that he should stop what he is planning and return the money but Otaguro gets angry and tells him to leave, summoning some of his stronger fighters to try and intimidate him. Meanwhile, Yamagami heads over the the building architect to ask him some questions about Otagura’s proposed building but the architect refuses to answer at first until Yamagami beats all of the security that had come to escort him out of the building. Elsewhere, Terry is working out in his gym with Kitty when they receive a secret message on an 8-track, telling them to head to a nearby subway station. Once there, a man gives them a key to a locker and when Terry opens it, he finds a suitcase of money from Otaguro and a note saying to kill Masaoka. Terry rips up the note and takes the money back to Otaguro, telling him he refuses to kill Masaoka, and after he leaves, Otaguro orders his men to kill Terry. Terry heads up to a snow covered mountain with Kitty and when she asks why he refused the job, he tells her he couldn’t kill Masaoka as he is the only person he can really trust. After riding a ski lift to the top of the mountain, Terry comes under attack from two of Otaguro’s assassins and manages to kill them. As he relaxes at a spa, Terry comes under attack again from a group of men but manages to beat them all, then places their unconscious bodies in a sauna and turns it on high while locking them inside. Back at his dojo, Masaoko is speaking with one of the men that runs another of his dojo and learns that Otaguro is forging his name to solicit donations for his organization. Terry returns to his hotel, where he ends up picking up a woman in the elevator. As they lay in bed together, the woman reaches into her purse to pull out a collapsible baton and tries to attack Terry only for him to easily disarm and beat her. Suddenly, the woman’s escort, an Arabian martial arts champion, breaks through the door and attacks Terry but Terry beats him and questions him, learning that the Mafia had sent him, before finally killing him. Kitty pleads with him not to go but Terry heads out to deal with Otaguro when he is confronted by Junjo, whom he had believed to have killed. Junjo, speaking through use of a voice box, tells Terry that he survived and the Mafia performed an operation to save his life in exchange for killing him and he eagerly agreed to it. Terry and Junjo fight and as Terry tries to fend off one of the sai that Junjo throws at him, he ends up falling off a building, crashing to the ground below, and Kitty cries over the body, pleading for him not to be dead before dragging the body away. The next day, Masaoka, Yamagami, and the heads of several other martial arts organizations, confront Otaguri about his crimes and his connections to the Mafia. A defeated Otaguri goes to see Don Costello and apologizes for what happened only for Costello to kill him, saying he will take over the operations. Costello sends some of his men to ambush Masaoka and the others as they have a celebratory dinner and shoot and kill most of them but Masaoka survives and manages to take out the men that had come to finish the job. Elsewhere, Kitty is tending to Terry’s injuries and is happy to see that he isn’t dead and pleads with him to keep fighting. Terry blacks out, where he dreams about when his father was executed for being a traitor and hears his father’s voice telling him to keep fighting and let nobody beat him. As he is eating and resting, Terry indicates that he knows Kitty was working for the Mafia the whole time and she admits that she betrayed them because she fell in love with him. She then tells him that Yamagami was killed and Masaoka injured and Terry makes plans to deal with the Mafia. As he heads out, Kitty is grabbed by the Mafia while she is walking and is tortured. When Terry arrives at Otaguri’s building, he finds Kitty lying on the stairs, and she warns him to run but he finds himself surrounded by Costello and his men. Costello tells Terry his plans for controlling the area, then kills Kitty but before he can kill Terry, Junjo stops him, saying he and Terry have to settle things. Terry lays Kitty’s body on a nearby table, using the time to slip two hidden blades into his hands, and as he faces off against Junjo, Terry throws the blades, killing one of the Mafia men while the other goes in Costello’s eye. Terry then begins attacking the men, making his way towards Costello, who is trying to escape. Terry eventually takes out all of the attackers, though he is wounded in the process, until the only people left are Junjo and Costello. As they continue to fight near an electrical transformer, Terry knocks Junjo into the leads, electrocuting him, then continues chasing after Costello. The two end up on the roof of a passing tanker truck and Costello pleads for his life but Terry strikes him, knocking him onto the hood of the truck, causing the driver to crash into the support for an overpass while Terry jumps to safety and watches as it explodes into flames.

Not as extreme with the violence but this was still a pretty good movie. Sonny Chiba did a good job in his role and I feel like he actually had a lot more character development with this movie than he did in the first one. I also liked Masafumi Suzuki returning as Masaoka but felt like Masashi (Milton) Ishibashi’s return as Junjo was a little anti-climatic. The story was pretty good, with Terry still working as a mercenary but showing a little more honor in how he handles his contracts. There were a lot more fights in this movie than in the previous and they were pretty well choreographed (such as the fight in the spa)  but the violence was toned down some, such as leaving out the x-ray scenes of various broken bones and some of the more violent death scenes. However, they did decide to leave in one of the funniest scenes I have seen in a serious martial arts movie. When Terry was facing the assassins on the mountain top, he punched one of them in the back of the head and….welll…eye poping out

Needless to say, this had me cracking up for how ridiculous it was. That aside, this is a fun movie to watch and a great way to indulge in some mindless action cinema.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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December 1st, 2017 Movie – The Street Fighter

the street fighter

You know, as hit or miss as the Martial Arts box set has been, I will say that today’s movie is one of the reasons I am glad I got it. Now as odd as it may sound, this movie came to my attention by way of another movie. See, in the movie True Romance (which I will be reviewing sometime next year), Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette’s characters were watching a triple feature of the Street Fighter movies and my interest was piqued by it and decided to rent today’s movie one day. So let’s see what all the hype was about with today’s movie, The Street Fighter.

The plot: Tateki Shikenbaru (Junjo) is awaiting execution in his cell when the police bring a priest, Takuma Tsurugi (Terry), in to offer him last rites. Junjo refuses at first but after staring into the Terry’s eyes, Junjo asks to be left alone with the priest. The police agree and after they close the door, Junjo comments about Terry knowing karate and says he wishes he had the time to challenge him and Terry says he has the time so they begin fighting. Terry wins by using his oxygen coma punch, a technique which Junjo recognizes, and Terry tells him to hold on for 10 minutes before he falls victim to the punch. The police come to lead Junjo to his execution but before he reaches the noose, he collapses and the police send for an ambulance. As the ambulance makes it’s way to the hospital, they stop when a man (Ratnose) is standing in the street and as some of the officers go to move him, Ratnose attacks them. After he deals with the police and doctor, Ratnose is joined by Terry and they drive off in the ambulance. As Terry and Ratnose are watching the news about the ambulance theft, Gijun and Nachi, Junjo’s brother and sister, arrive and ask to see Junjo. When Terry refuses to tell them where Junjo is until they pay him the rest of the money they owe him, Gijun attacks Terry but Terry easily beats him. Nachi pleads with Terry to give him more time and Terry agrees, but says he will need some collateral, grabbing Nachi and kissing her. Gijun becomes enraged and attacks Terry again, joined by Nachi, and during the course of the fight, Gijun does a jump kick at Terry but Terry dodges and Terry ends up jumping through the window and falling to his death. Elsewhere, Kendo Masaoka, the owner of a karate dojo, informs his niece Sarai that her father, a wealthy oil tycoon, has just died while in Cairo and some people arrive to take her home but Kendo says that it is better if she stay there where he and his students can protect her. Meanwhile, Terry sells Nachi to Renzo Metaguchi, who proceeds to sell her to a sex trafficker. Renzo then introduces Terry to two of his associates, who want to hire him to kidnap Sarai but Terry refuses after learning that they are part of the Yakuza. Worried that Terry will be a threat to them since he knows their plans, the Yakuza send some men to kill him but Terry easily beats them and sends them back with a message for the Yakuza’s boss. Terry then heads to the dojo and after making his way to Sarai’s room, challenges Kendo and the rest of the dojo to a fight. Terry easily defeats Kendo’s students but Kendo is able to get the upper hand against Terry. After knocking Terry down, Kendo says he recognizes his name as belonging to a karate master from long ago who wanted to combine karate with Chinese boxing and asks Terry if he is his son. Terry, recalling the events of his childhood, is able to continue the fight and ends up battling Terry to a standstill. As the two men recover, Terry tells him what is going on and Kendo agrees to let Terry take over guarding Sarai, despite Sarai’s objections. Elsewhere, the Yakuza is coming up with plans to kill Terry and kidnap Sarai, planning on sending several of their strongest assassins to handle the job. Junjo happens to be in the same bar as the Yakuza boss and when he discovers that Nachi is one of his prostitutes, he quickly heads to her. Nachi is happy to see that Junjo is still alive and says that he has to avenge their brother’s death. The Yakuza boss, thinking it a coincidence that Junjo happened to be there and discover his sister, decides to take advantage of the situation and agrees to give Junjo a job so that he can get his revenge on Terry. Some time later, Sarai is preparing to head back home to deal with her father’s company, with two students from the dojo accompanying her. Terry and Ratnose follow in another car but the Yakuza box them in and use a crane to capture them, then drive to a ditch and drop the car into it. Two Yakuza members head down to ensure he is dead but Terry quickly manages to kill them. Heading after Sarai, Terry kills one of the Yakuza assassins that is waiting for him, then tells Ratnose to head back to the car and keep the motor running. Continuing to look for Sarai, Terry encounters Junjo and Nachi, who are there to kill Terry, and Junjo tells him he is too late, as Sarai is being taken to Renzo’s place as they speak. Junjo attempts to fight with and kill Terry but Terry jumps out the window, landing in the back of the truck and tells Ratnose to get them out of there. Meanwhile, Sarai and her escorts arrive at Renzo’s place, where Sarai’s father’s worker reveals he double crossed them. Sarai and her guards try to leave but they find their way blocked by a blind swordsman, who manages to kill both of the students, but the students kill his knife throwing companion before they die. The next day, Terry and Ratnose take a motorboat to Renzo’s place, where Sarai sees them and waves out the window to tell them where she is. Sarai is about to be raped but Terry climbs up to her room and kills her attempted rapist by castrating him by hand. Terry then has Sarai climb down the rope and he joins her but when Renzo’s men chase after them, he tells Ratnose to get Sarai to safety while he holds them off. Terry takes out several of the guards before Renzo faces him and the two battle to a stalemate when the other Yakuza bosses say they need to question Terry to learn where Sarai is. Terry is tied up and tortured but refuse to talk when Ratnose, disobeying Terry’s orders, shows up and attempts to free him but is captured. Ratnose gives up Sarai’s location to try and spare Terry’s life but the Yakuza end up knocking Terry off the cliff and into the water below. Ratnose heads down and manages to save Terry but Terry pushes him away, saying he betrayed their duty and are no longer friends. Terry heads out to rescue Sarai, who is being taken to a freighter out at sea but he encounters the blind swordsman on the docks. Terry and the swordsman fight, during the course of which a man on a motorbike interferes and is attacked by the swordsman. Terry manages to take advantage of the distraction and kills the swordsman, then discovers that the motorbiker was Ratnose, who was trying to make amends to Terry. On the freighter, Sarai learns that her father’s business partner was behind her kidnapping, as he wants her to sign over control of her father’s company to him, so the Yakuza will have a monopoly in the oil business. Meanwhile, Renzo speaks with Junjo and says that if he can defeat Terry, he will turn over control of his organization to him. Terry makes his way out to the freighter and begins taking out the guards as he tries to locate Sarai. Terry eventually finds Sarai but is unable to rescue her and Renzo says to let Junjo deal with him. Junjo and Terry head out to the deck and start fighting as a storm buffets the ship. During the course of the fight, the bodyguard of Sarai’s father’s business partner tries to shoot Terry and Renzo kills him and the business father for interrupting the fight. Nachi attempts to stab Terry but when she misses, she grabs onto Terry and tells Junjo to stab Terry through her. Junjo reluctantly agrees, killing his sister and severely injuring Terry, then continues to press the attack. When Terry is knocked down, Sarai rushes over and tells him to get up but Junjo pushes her aside and goes to finish off Terry. As Junjo attempts to strangle Terry, Terry manages to grab Junjo’s throat and rip it out, then get to his feet, where Sarai and Renzo both help him keep his balance.

While there isn’t a critic score on Rotten Tomatoes, the average movie goes loved this movie, giving it an 81% score on the site. The Street Fighter is famous for being the first movie to receive an X-rating in the U.S. due solely because of the violence in the movie (primarily because of the scene where Terry castrated a man with his bare hands). The movie, and it’s sequels, gained a lot of mainstream exposure after it was featured in the movie True Romance. 16 minutes were cut from the movie to give it an R rating, which is the version that was first released on home video. The movie has since been released in it’s entirety but is now in the public domain, where it can be downloaded for free.

This is precisely the type of film that you expected to see during the martial arts craze of the 70’s. Violence, violence, and more violence makes this a great movie to watch if you are in the mood for some almost nonstop fighting and action. Sonny Chiba was really good in his role but I will admit that some of his facial features during the fights were absolutely hysterical. The story was a little confusing after Terry’s first fight with Junjo, but it seemed to correct itself as the movie continued. The fight scenes were as brutal as you would expect from the title and while I think some modern movies look a little smoother, the choreography between Sonny Chiba and his opponents was pretty good. If you are a fan of martial arts movies, this is definitely one of those movies that you should watch, if for no other reason than the cultural impact it had.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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November 2nd, 2017 Movie – SPL: Kill Zone

spl

From a martial arts movie, to an anime movie, and back to another martial arts movie. I sense a pattern here. Now I remember first hearing about today’s movie years ago when I was going through a pretty rough patch in my life and, deciding on a change of pace from my usual sci-fi B-movies that I was drowning my sorrows in, decided to check it out. Needless to say, I obviously liked the movie as I own it so let’s see if SPL: Kill Zone is still as good of a movie as I felt it was back then.

The plot: In 1994, Inspector Chan Kwok-chung is escorting a witness and his family to court in order to testify against Wong Po, a notorious gangster. However, there car is t-boned by another car driven by an assassin named Jack, who ensures that the witness is dead. With the witness dead, the police do not have enough evidence to hold Wongin custody and he is released. Chan survived the crash, as did the witness’ young daughter Hoi-yee, and Chan decides to adopt her due to his guilt over her parents’ death. While visiting the hospital for a check-up, Chan is told that he has a brain tumor and while there is a chance to remove it with surgery, the odds of success are slim. Meanwhile, Hoi-yee had wandered off and encounters Wong, who was sitting in the hallway after being told of his wife’s second miscarriage. Hoi-yee offers Wong a piece of candy but as he speaks with her, Chan comes and pulls her away from Wong, then tells him that as long as he lives, he will come after him. Chan tells the members of his team (Inspectors Kwok Tze-sum, Lo-Kwun-wah, and Lee Wai-lok) about the cancer and they dedicate themselves to trying to bring Wong down, sending one officer undercover to infiltrate Wong’s gang. Three years later, Chan is set to retire in two days and turn over his unit to Inspector Ma Kwun and the police chief asks Chan not to cause problems before he retires. Chan and his team head out and one of Wong’s drug rings and afterwards, they head out to the beach with Hoi-yee. Ma meets up with them there and talks with Chan about his team while on the shore, Chan’s team are dismissive of their new boss and make plans to take care of Hoi-yee when Chan dies. That night, Chan is showing Ma the portion of the city that they are in charge and as they discipline a punk for throwing a bottle at a police officer, they encounter Wong, who taunts Chan by throwing his own bottle on the ground, causing several other thugs to do the same. The next day, Chan and the team arrive at the scene of a murder and discover that it is his undercover officer. At the station, a young man comes forward with a video tape showing the murder and Wah takes the tape to show Chan. Chan calls Lok and Sum into his office, excluding Ma, and they watch the tape to see Wong beating the officer with a golf club before he is shot by one of Wong’s henchmen. Knowing they can’t arrest Wong for murder, Wah suggests erasing the part of the tape showing who really killed the officer. Chan orders Wah to check on the witness, Lok to find the henchman who actually killed the officer, and Sum to come with him to arrest Wong. Ma enters the office to find out what is going on and they show him the altered tape and Ma goes with Chan to arrest Wong. They find Wong at the hospital heading up to see his one month old son and when they try to arrest him he starts fighting with them but they eventually overpower him and arrest him. Meanwhile, Wah is intimidating the witness to say that Wong was the one to kill the officer and ensuring that there isn’t another copy of the tape but after he leaves, the witness reveals he has another tape. Later, Chan and the others go to where the real killer is hiding and after chasing and beating him down, they kick him off a roof. Ma arrives in time to see them kill the man and after a brief fight, confront’s Chan about his framing Wong for the murder. Chan explains his reasoning for doing this, saying that they tried doing it by the books but were going nowhere, and leaves Ma. Ma is conflicted about what to do, as he had once beaten a drug dealer so bad that he is now a mentally handicapped homeless man and Ma’s guilt causes him to check up on him every week. Ma returns to the station to find several of Wong’s henchmen trying to confess to the murder and Ma tells the officers to take their statements but doesn’t turn in Chan or his team. Knowing they need a gun to frame Wong with, Lok contacts a dealer that is not associated with Wong and goes to get a gun from him and Ma accompanies him. Chan heads down to evidence to get the bullet from the crime scene while Sum goes to see his daughter and Wah comes with him. As Chan is in evidence, Wong’s men show up with the witness and the unaltered tape and the chief is forced to release Wong. The chief then goes to arrest Chan but Chan, sensing something went wrong, manages to avoid them with the help of Uncle Ba, an officer who is friends with Chan. Lok and Ma go to meet with Lok’s contact and when he demands more money, Ma goes to get it. While he is gone, another man shows up to talk with the dealer and after he leaves, the dealer and his friends suddenly race out of the area a few minutes later, locking Lok inside. Lok is approached by Jack, who proceeds to fight and stab Lok, but when Ma shows up and starts shooting at him to drive him off, Jack uses Lok as a shield, then slashes his throat before making his escape. Ma calls Chan to tell him what happened and Chan tells him to go check on Wah and Sum but he is too late as Jack shows up at the square where they are at and attacks them both. When Ma arrives there, Wah is still alive but barely and Wah tells Ma that they took the drug money from the raid and hid it in Lok’s car in order to help raise Chan’s daughter. Chan is finally able to sneak out of the station and meets up with Ma, who tells him what his friends did. Chan says if they give back the money, Wong will call off his men so Ma goes to get the money but Chan heads to Wong’s place with a bag full of newspaper clippings, claiming it is the money, and proceeds to attack Wong’s men but he is attacked and injured by Jack. Meanwhile, Ma gets the money from Lok’s car but as he goes to leave, he is confronted by the chief over Chan’s actions and Ma’s knowledge of them so Ma hands over his badge and gun, quitting the force. Ma then calls Wong and tells him he has the money and will turn it over so long as Chan is still alive and Wong tells him to hurry. When Ma gets to the building, he is met by Jack outside and the two start fighting, with Ma using a metal baton to counter Jack’s knife. After a brutal fight, Ma is able to beat Jack, killing him with his own knife. Ma heads inside and, seeing Chan’s body strung up, begins fighting with Wong. During the course of their fight, Wong’s wife calls and Ma, who has Wong in a choke hold, loosens his grip so that Wong can speak with her and Wong tells her to wait downstairs in the car. After she hangs up, the two continue fighting and Ma eventually wins, throwing Wong into the tower of liquor bottles and seemingly killing him. Wong then grabs a bottle of vodka and pours himself a drink then stares at Chan, who asks if he plans on cutting him down. Suddenly, Wong recovers and attacks Ma, pushing him out the window and Ma ends up landing on Wong’s car, killing his wife and and child when the roof collapses on them. Wong stares down the window and recognizes the car, just as his phone starts ringing with his wife’s ringtone, and Wong collapses into a chair. Some time later, Chan is seen at the beach with Hoi-yee and as she plays in the surf, Chan succumbs to his tumor and he ends up dying on the beach.

When I first heard about it, this movie was advertised as one of the best martial arts films of the century and I have to say, the claim isn’t far off. The acting was pretty good, with Donnie Yen (Ma), Simon Yan (Chan), and Sammo Hung (Wong) doing great jobs in their roles. The plot was really good, using a great deal of drama that only accented the brief times where the action scenes took place. The dilemma that Ma faced in deciding if he wanted to help Chan in his vendetta to bring down Wong under any circumstances was made even more poignant in the scene where he hung out with the drug dealer he crippled, as he deals with the results of his actions face to face. As for the fight scenes, they were great, with some of the fastest paced choreography I have seen in a long time. The fight between Ma and Jack (Jing Wu) was incredible and the weapon movement between the two was amazing. Whether you are a martial arts fan, a crime movie fan, or a combination of both, this movie is definitely worth watching.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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action, martial arts, movie, movie review

October 31st, 2017 Movie – Spirits Of Bruce Lee

the spirit of bruce lee

Happy Halloween everyone. I was hoping that the holiday would coincide with a horror movie but unfortunately, that isn’t the case. Now I always found it funny that martial arts movies from the late 70’s would capitalize on Bruce Lee’s name in order to market them in the US, even if they had nothing to do with Bruce Lee. Granted, it was probably the studio that released them in the US that did this but still, I feel like it is kind of sad that they couldn’t come up with a better way of marketing than to use the name of a dead man. Now let’s see if today’s movie, Spirits Of Bruce Lee, would have been able to stand up on it’s own marketing

The plot: A Chinese man named Chang Fan travels to Thailand to purchase some jade but as he makes his way through the jungle, his guide betrays him and Chang Fan finds himself surrounded by bandits. Chang Fan attempts to fend them off but his guide stabs him and the bandits steal the jade and Chang Fan’s watch, then leave him for dead. One year later, Chang Fan’s brother, Chang Chen-Wai, travels to Thailand to look for his missing brother. Stopping at a roadside restaurant, Chang witnesses a group of thugs arrive and force other patrons away from one of the tables. When the thugs see two girls walking towards the restaurant, they quickly surround them and attempt to rape them but a man, Li Pai-Yu, attacks them, allowing the girls to escape. Chang goes to help and the two men quickly drive off the thugs. Afterwards Chang and Li discuss where they are headed, Chang going to find his brother while Li is looking for work, and when they realize they are heading to the same place, decide to travel together. Reaching the town, the two friends part ways after Chang gets a room at an inn. Later, Chang talks to the innkeeper about his brother and the innkeeper says that he did stay there but just disappeared and after holding his room for a while, he was forced to sell his luggage. Chang goes around town and asks people if they have seen his brother with no luck but when he returns to the inn, the innkeeper introduces him to Mr. Wong, another Chinese man who had settled in the area, and Mr. Wong invites Chang to his restaurant the next day. Chang accepts, thinking Wong might be able to help him with his search but he finds out that Wong invited him there in the hopes that Chang would marry his daughter. As they are talking, Li shows up looking for Chang and Wong comments about Li becoming a new martial arts teacher in the area. As the two friends talk with Wong, Wong’s son shows up and Chang notices he has his brother’s necklace so he questions him about it, revealing his matching necklace that he owns. Wong’s son tells him that he and his sister found Chang’s brother near death on the path and he gave him the necklace before he died. Learning that his brother died, Chang asked to be taken to where they buried him and as he cries over the grave, Chang vows vengeance on whoever killed him. As Chang starts training, Wong’s daughter becomes attracted to him, showing him her own fighting skills as they briefly spar. One day, the two head into town and Chang notices a man gambling nearby who has his brother’s watch. Wong’s daughter lures the man away to where Chang is waiting and after a brief fight, the man tells Chang where he got the watch and takes him there. When Chang reaches the house, he questions the man inside, who turns out to be Chang Fan’s guide, Chang starts battling with the guide and as he gets the upper hand, the guide says his boss, Ming Pan-Tin ordered him to take Chang Fan on a dark path so Ming’s men could attack him but doesn’t tell him that he was the one to kill Chang Fan. As Chang swears to kill Ming, the guide attacks him but Wong’s daughter kicks the guide and knocks him off of a cliff. Meanwhile, Ming is told about Chang coming for him so he orders the guards around his house to be increased and his men leave, passing by Li, who had just been hired as a guard. Chang returns to Wong’s home, where Wong and his family agree to help him in his quest but Chang doesn’t want to get them involved so he sneaks out that night. Heading to Ming’s home, he takes out two of the guards and then sneaks into a bedroom, where he finds a man and woman having sex. Mistaking the man for Ming, Chang attacks and kills him, then leaves when the girl starts screaming for help. Chang starts fighting off the guards as he goes to escape but the real Ming, spotting Chang from his balcony, throws a knife into Chang’s leg then orders his men to take him alive. Chang continues to run but as he is cornered, Li knocks out the guard, then hides Chang until the rest of Ming’s men pass by. After the move on, Li and Chang are able to leave the property. Back at his home, Ming is upset that his men couldn’t find Chang but when he learns that Chang is staying at Wong’s place, he tells his men to go there the next day and deal with him. The next day, Wong’s daughter is tending to Chang’s injury when Li shows up and says he will help Chang get Ming but that they should make a plan and not rush in bull-headed like Chang did last night. That night, Ming’s men arrive at Wong’s house but when they find it empty, decide to burn it down. Chang and Wong’s daughter, hiding with Wong and his son in a nearby cave, see the fire and Wong stops Chang from rushing out to attack the men, saying they will deal with Ming later. Meanwhile, Li is keeping watch at Ming’s house and sees one of Ming’s men go into a secret room and bring back a rifle, revealing that Ming is smuggling guns into the area. Chang continues to mend and after his injuries are healed, he and the Wong family head to Ming’s place and take out his guards and then start attacking Ming. Meanwhile, one of Ming’s men heads into town and alerts the rest of Ming’s men and as they head to the house, Li sees them and goes to get the police. At Ming’s house, Ming fights with Chang and the Wong’s and manages to kill Wong before Chang kills him. As Ming’s daughter weeps over the death of her father, the rest of Ming’s men attack Chang and Wong’s daughter and son when Li and the police show up, taking Ming’s men into custody. As Li goes and finds the rest of the weapons while Chang grabs Wong’s body and leaves with Wong’s children.

This was a pretty confusing movie to be honest. The acting was ok from what I could tell but the dubbing was about what I would expect. The story was kind of a confusing mess, primarily where Li is involved as you had no idea he was working for the police until the very end. The fight scenes were kind of a mix in how good they were, with some being pretty good but some looked pretty poorly coordinated. So yeh, this is about as average of a martial arts movie as you would expect and pretty much par for the course with this time frame.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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action, martial arts, movie, movie review

September 3rd, 2017 Movie – Snake Fist Dynamo

snake fist dynamo

Two martial arts movies in a row. It’s been a while since I have watched multiple martial arts movies. So once again I find myself annoyed over the fact that martial arts movies tend to have multiple titles and sometimes, those movies don’t match with the titles given. Now to find out what kind of movie I have on hand today as I watch Snake Fist Dynamo.

The plot: A teacher is doing some martial arts training while his students watch and cheer him on but he is more of a buffoon than an actual master. When they return to the classroom, they find a man there trashing the place who wants to kick them out of the building. The teacher tries to placate the man but when he tries to fight him, the teacher lures him outside and manages to embarrass the man, who quickly runs away. When the teacher is told that the man will be back with his brothers, he decides to leave so as to avoid causing more problems, and when the man returns with his brothers, they find the class being taught by the teacher’s oldest pupil. The teacher travels through the country and, after being attacked several times by snakes, stops at an inn to rest. While he is there, two ruffians come in and assault the owner and the wife begs the teacher help her. Another patron tells him that he will fight with him and the two end up chasing off the ruffians. The teacher continues on his way and meets another traveler and they begin traveling together, stopping to let a funeral procession go by. As they reach the next town and get something to eat, they realize they have no money so they stage a fake fight to get out of paying. When the townsfolk start chasing after them, they manage to escape but the teacher gets caught up in a fight among the funeral procession, who are fighting over some gold that was found on the hill. As the rumors of the gold on the hill persist, the mayor is asked to put an end to the rumors but things are still going crazy in town so he decides to hire a new security chief and the teacher is hired and he has his new friend help him. The teacher has a run in with some of the mayor’s aides, who are jealous that they were not chosen to be the security chief and they start a fight but the mayor quickly placates them. Later that night, the teacher attempts to break up an illegal casino but the two aides yell at him for doing so. The female workers begin attacking him, while the two aides attack his friend, but the fight is stopped when the mayor arrives and tells the teacher to let it slide. The next day, the teacher encounters the innkeepers wife, who was thrown out by her husband and had been at the casino until he shut it down. She attempts to seduce the teacher into telling her if there really is gold on the hill and he tells her no but there is a cave far off that supposedly contains treasure. The mayor and his assistant release two criminals that the teacher had captured and try to follow them to the treasure but they are killed by a mobster instead. The next day, the teacher and his friend are approached by his former student and the man who attacked them at the school, who begs the teacher to teach him martial arts. As they are talking, they are approached by the mobster and his boss and a fight breaks out between them. The two mobsters are being overwhelmed but the other patron at the inn that helped the teacher shows up with two more men and with their help, they are able to capture the two mobsters.

Ok, this was a short, confusing mess of a movie. The acting was ridiculous, made more so by the dubbing. The main character was an absolute goofball and the dubbing just made him seem completely incompetent. The story made no sense and just seemed like they threw a bunch of ideas out to see what stick. I’m serious, I had no idea what was going on in this movie. The fight sequences honestly looked poorly done and somewhat sloppy, which is saying something considering some of the movies I have seen. The only redeeming quality about this movie is that it was short, but that is about it.

Rating: 1 out of 5

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action, martial arts, movie, movie review

October 2nd, 2017 Movie – The Snake, The Crane, The Tiger

the snake the crane the tiger

If I might have a brief moment of your time, I would like to offer my condolences to the victims of the shooting in Las Vegas. I hate waking up in the morning and the first thing I see is another pointless mass shooting. Now as to today’s movie, I get to go back to watching a classic martial arts movie. It has been a while since I saw one of these and a nice change of pace as far as movies go. So let’s see what is in store for me with today’s movie, The Snake, The Crane, The Tiger.

The plot: The Ming Emperor’s kingdom is being overrun and the emperor decides to deny his enemies the pleasure of killing him by killing himself. His daughter, 3rd Princess Chang Ping, pleads with him not to kill himself but to escape so he can rebuild his kingdom but the Emperor cuts off her arm in an attempt to kill her. When the enemy forces enter the chamber, they find that everyone has committed suicide but Chang Ping has escaped so the leader, Li-Tzu Chang, places a bounty on her. Chang Ping gets word of this and makes plans to leave the city and meet up with her aide later so she can plan her revenge. As Li-Tzu Chang’s men search the city, three of them harass a girl as she is eating when Ping’s aide stops them and embarrasses them and they quickly return with more men but they find she has already left and taunts them with a basket of eggs and a note. Meanwhile, the princess hides from some more men but as she goes to leave, a stranger tells her that she is going to die. She makes her way out of the city and hides in a field but the stranger follows her and tells her to come out. When she doesn’t, the stranger leaps through the air and begins slashing the grass, killing several men that were hiding in the grass. Another man emerges from the grass and offers the stranger a job working for Li-Tzu Chang but the stranger refuses and after a brief fight, kills the man. The stranger then tells Chang Ping to come out and when she asks for his help, he says he will help if she sleeps with him but when he learns she is the princess, he agrees to help her. That night, they attack Li-Tzu Chang but they are outmatched and the stranger tells the princess to run and helps her escape before he is killed. Chang Ping makes her way to a small house in the mountains where she finds a man, Hai Yu-Sha, playing a flute and reciting poetry. Hai Yu-Sha has his servant help the princess but when the emperor’s men arrive and try to take her, he kills them. He then speaks with Chang Ping and has his servant hide her as more men arrive but when they find no sign of Chang Ping, they leave. Meanwhile, Chang Ping’s aide, Tsu Yu, searches for her but finds no sign of her. That night, Hai Yu-Sha tells Chang Ping of how he wants to kill Li-Tzu Chang and she tells him of a secret passage they can use to get into the palace and kill him, unaware that they are being watched by Hai Yu-Sha’s servant. As they reach the palace, they find themselves surrounded and see that Hai Yu-Sha’s servant had betrayed them. However, it is revealed that Hai Yu-Sha was actually the one who betrayed Chang Ping, while the servant is a patriot who kills Hai Yu-Sha and helps Chang Ping escape but is killed in the process. Chang Ping soon falls into a trap but as she fights, Tsu Yu shows up and helps her defeat the soldiers, then tells her where she has gathered some other patriots to help fight but they are unaware that one of the soldiers survived and heard them. Chang Ping and Tsu Yu arrive at the temple but learn that Li-Tzu Chang’s soldiers are coming and so they all hide. As the soldiers hunt for them, Tsu Yu cuts off her arm in order to pose as the princess and tells Chang Ping to hide. When the soldiers find Tsu Yu’s body, they believe it is the princess and take it back to Li-Tzu Chang, but one of the soldiers knows it is Tsu Yu but chooses not to say anything. Li-Tzu Chang decides to go ahead and hold a coronation ceremony to make him king and hangs Tsu Yu’s body in front of the palace. When Chang Ping sees this, it drives her mad and she ends up starting a food fight between two merchants but it is broken up by Butcher Tu. The next day, Chang Ping continues to cause problems in the merchant’s area but when the other store owners capture her, Butcher Tu tells them to leave her alone. That night, Butcher Tu is surprised to see Chang Ping had followed him home and he decides to help her out by giving her a job helping him. When his sick mother asks about Chang Ping, he tells her that she is the girl he will marry, in order to please his mother before she dies. Meanwhile, Li-Tzu Chang learns that a general of the former emperor is heading there with the intention of overthrowing Li-Tzu Chang so he decides to hid in the mountains. The wedding ceremony commences and Butcher Tu tries to explain it to Chang Ping, who seems subdued, but when he goes to tell his mother that he is going to help the other patriots kill Li-Tzu Chang, he finds that she has hung herself, leaving her a note about how she is happy he found someone. In the mountains, Li-Tzu Chang and his men are attacked by the patriots and after killing several of his men, Butcher Tu faces off against Li-Tzu Chang. Li-Tzu Chang is able to get the upper hand and is prepared to kill Butcher Tu but heis saved by Chang Ping. As the last of Li-Tzu Chang’s men appears, he sees the princess is still alive and fights with Li-Tzu Chang to spare their lives. Meanwhile, Chang Ping goes to check on Butcher Tu, who asks why she married him when he learns that she is the princess. Li-Tzu Chang goes to kill them but is eventually killed, though the soldier and Butcher Tu die from the injuries they suffer while Chang Ping goes on to become a nun.

This was a decent movie but a bit confusing. The acting was ok as far as I could tell while the dubbing was the typical ridiculous terribleness that you would expect. The story was confusing as they didn’t seem to clearly explain what was going on half the time. The pacing was also pretty bad as the movie seemed to jump around all over the place and didn’t really give you time to focus on what was going on until the end. The fight scenes were definitely the best part of this movie but there were not a whole lot of them to keep you interested for long, while the story telling portions were just boring. Something to have on in the background but there are better 70’s martial arts movies to watch.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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