action, horror, martial arts, movie, movie review, sci-fi

June 4th, 2017 Movie – Robo Vampire

robo vampire

Ahh, my favorite bit of false advertising when it comes to movies. Take a look at the poster for this movie. Pretty awesome, right. I mean, you have Robocop holding some guy in a headlock while firing a machine gun. What’s not to like about that. Well, when I finally got a chance to watch it, man was I in for a disappointment. See for yourself.robo vampire suit
See, this is what you wind up getting in the movie. Definitely a bit of a disappointment, but let’s see if the rest of today’ movie is just as disappointing as I watch Robo Vampire.

The plot: Two soldiers are leading their prisoner through am old graveyard when one of them trips and accidentally knock open a casket covered in holy seals. As the soldier starts to get up, a hand reaches up out of the crypt and a vampire attacks and kills him, then kills the second soldier as he is struggling with the prisoner. Elsewhere, some drug smugglers are bringing in some drugs when they are confronted by an anti drug unit and forced to flee. At his headquarters, Cole, the boss of the drug operation, is yelling at his henchmen about Agent Tom Wilde and his Anti-Drug force. He tells them that he has hired someone to train vampires to kill Tom, and find a new way to smuggle their heroin. At a temple, two men, Tony and Ken, are stuffing packets of drugs into coffins when the vampires inside the coffins wake up and start attacking them. The doctor that is training the vampires manages to rescue Tony and Ken, using wards to subdue the vampires, and afterwards, examines the drugs and finds that they are actually rice powder and says that Boss Cole will punish them. As Cole informs his workers about the new way they will be smuggling their drugs, a woman is shown cutting open a cow’s stomach and placing drugs inside before sealing it closed. As the doctor is creating another vampire beast for two of Cole’s men, he is attacked by a ghost, who is seeking vengeance on him for turning her love into a vampire beast. As the ghost gets the upper hand over the doctor, the doctor wakes the vampire beast and has him fight the ghost but he stops when the ghost is able to get him to recognize her. As the doctor grows upset, one of Cole’s men suggests giving them the wedding that the two lovers were denied in life and the doctor agrees to do this provided that both the ghost and vampire agree to do his bidding and the ghost accepts. The next day, Tom gets a tip from a double agent named Sophie about a drug run and he heads out with a team to stop them. Two of Tom’s agents are killed, as are the two bodyguards but the doctor is able to summon two vampires to kill Tom and the remaining agent, then drives away. Tom’s body is recovered and a scientist is given permission to use his body to create an android to continue the drug task force’s operation. Meanwhile, the doctor and Richard, one of Cole’s lieutenants, discuss the fact that they have a traitor in their midst and the doctor suggests killing every drug task force officer the encounter. Cole’s men capture Sophie, who was undercover posing as an assistant to a priest that was a front for the drug smuggling. Worried about Sophie possible being tortured and giving up classified information, the task force hires someone to head to the Golden Triangle and rescue her from Mr. Young, Cole’s partner. Meanwhile, the doctor and Richard continue their operations and when they are stopped by some of the task force, the doctor summons a vampire to deal with them. Suddenly, the android Tom shows up and the doctor and Richard make a run for it as Tom begins fighting the vampire. Meanwhile, the team to rescue Sophie is ambushed by Young’s men but they find themselves rescued by a mercenary named Andy, whom Ray, the team leader, had contacted about joining the mission due to his knowledge of the region and his own reason to take down Cole. Ray, finds one of the men that was holding Sophie hostage and manages to capture him. As he starts to interrogate him, the man’s mocking causes Ray to almost kill him but Andy stops him at the last second. Meanwhile, Tom is continuing to track down Cole and his men when he is attacked by 4 vampires. Tom manages to fight them off only for Cole’s men to blow him up with a bazooka so the scientist is forced to rebuild him. Ray and the team continue searching for Sophie and after an encounter with some of Cole’s men, they find the people of a nearby village had been completely killed off. Elsewhere, the doctor is performing the marriage ceremony for the ghost and vampire and as they are consummating the marriage, Tom shows up. The ghost begs him not to kill them and Tom, spurred on by memories of his own love, chooses to let them live. As he leaves, the ghost and vampire attack him but he is able to fend them off and trap them inside a coffin. Meanwhile, Ray and Andy’s sister, May, had snuck off to be alone and find themselves chased by Young and some of his men. They try to get away but end up being captured and tortured just like Sophie was but one of the worker girls chooses to help them escape. At the same time, Andy leads the rest of the team to rescue them and two members are killed but they are able to free Ray and the others, rescue Sophie, and blow up Young’s base. Cole is complaining about Young’s defeat and asks the doctor to help him re-establish his empire but before they get started, Tom shows up. The doctor summons his vampires and Tom ends up fighting them throughout the city. Meanwhile, the doctor is attacked by the ghost but he manages to kill her. Seeing Tom finishing off the last of his vampires, the doctor summons some more and as Tom fights them, he plans to use his magic to make them stronger but the ghost returns and kills the doctor, allowing Tom to kill the last of the vampires and leave the city.

This is the most confusing, ridiculous movie I have seen in quite a while, and it is absolutely hilarious because of it. The acting was ok but the dubbing was pretty atrocious at times, which really added to the humor of the movie. The funniest part though was how the vampires moved, because they would hold their arms straight out and just hop around to move. I almost literally was rolling on the floor laughing at that. The story was a confusing mess, as it kept switching back and forth between the robo-warrior Tom and Ray’s mission to rescue Sophie. It honestly felt like two separate movies were being smashed together to try an make one full movie but they left out half of the important plot elements. The special effects were about as low budget as you would expect, from the cheap looking robot suit to the fact that you could see some wires for the vampires in some scenes, like when Tom uses his flamethrower to kill a vampire and you see the flames catch the wire holding the dummy on fire. There were also several times where you can blatantly see the dummies being blown up or thrown around which was really funny. Not a great movie by any standards but definitely funny in a bad way and worth watching if you want to laugh at something completely ridiculous.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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action, comedy, martial arts, movie, movie review

May 13th, 2017 Movie – Return Of The Kung Fu Dragon

return of the kung fu dragon

So I go from a great martial arts movie yesterday to what could be a completely disappointing martial arts movie today. Yes, today’s movie comes from the Martial Arts box set, which has been rather hit or miss in terms of how enjoyable these movies are. Then again, maybe I am being too harsh regarding this set. I mean, not every movie is going to be a Bruce Lee caliber movie in terms of skill, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t entertaining. I mean, I loved the old school martial arts movies with the over dramatic “whooshing” noises during the fights as a kid. So I will do my best to keep an open mind and not to pre-judge today’s movie, Return Of The Kung Fu Dragon.

The plot: A long time ago in the South China Sea, there was an island known as Phoenix Island. The capital city, known as The Golden City, was ruled by a kind emperor and protected by his three loyal generals, who created a new style of kung fu. However, an evil Tyrant known as General Black has assembled an army to attack the Golden City. While the emperor is on a hunting trip, Black has his evil wizard, who has found an item known as the Dragon’s Head, to attack and kill the emperor, as well as his body guards. With them dead, Black then sends his army to attack the city. Despite the efforts of the two surviving generals, the Golden City is overrun after an all day siege so one of the generals, Mah Tsen-Kung, heads to the palace to try and save the empress and her daughter while the other does his best to hold back to invading army, but he is soon killed by Black. Mah Tsen-Kung finds the empress, Yen C, who begs him to save her daughter, and he does so but as he is preparing to leave, his own wife and daughter appear and ask him to help them escape as well. Mah Tsen-Kung begs their forgiveness but says that he can’t, as he has a duty to the royal family, and he leaves with the princess. Mah Tsen-Kung’s wife is killed shortly after he leaves while Mah Tsen-Kung is shot with an arrow as he goes over the city wall. With Black’s troops looking for him, Mah Tsen-Kung encounters an old man in the woods and ask that he take the princess to Hsiang Shou-Tien and the old man reveals that he is Shou-Tien. When Black’s troops show up and try to capture them, Hsiang Shou-Tien cast a spell that envelopes the mountain in fog, saying that nobody will be able to pass through the fog for 19 years, then heads up the mountain with the princess and his assistants. 19 years later, Yen C is shown to have survived and has raised a daughter with Black. Her daughter, Ma Chan-Chen, asks her why she ties a ribbon around an archway every year for the last 19 years and Yen C replies that it will be up to her to untie them. When Black shows up, Ma Chan-Chen teases him by showing off her kung fu skills, then leaves to go for a walk. As she wanders through the city, she encounters a man selling steamed buns and grabs one but when the salesman demands payment and she refuses, the salesman uses his martial arts to try to get the bun back from her. As the two fight over the bun, Ma Chan-Chen ends up grabbing several more from his basket and then drops them on the ground but one of the city’s guards offers to pay for the buns. As Ma Chan-Chen leaves, the guard confronts the salesman over causing trouble and sends his men to grab him but the salesman is able to fend them off, then escapes when Ma Chan-Chen intervenes. Meanwhile, Hsiang Shou-Tien is explaining to the princess, Hsiao Yu, that the fog will soon disperse but she will not be able to defeat Black. He tells her that the only ones who could defeat Black are the descendants of the three generals, then sends his servant, Hou Ping, to see  Yen C and have her recruit the Black Girl to their cause. Hou Ping uses his ability to disappear and reappear and makes his way to the Golden City and delivers Hsiang Shou-Tien’s letter to Yen C. After reading it, Yen C says the day has finally arrived and tells Hou Ping that she will locate Ma Chan-Chen, who happens to be the Black Girl, and tell her the truth. Yen C tells Ma Chan-Chen that she is the daughter of Ma Tsen-Kung, and she raised her when her mother was killed during the attack 19 years ago. She then tells her that the mark she has on her back is shared by the other descendants of the generals and she must locate them. Meanwhile, Hsiang Shou-Tien sends Hsiao Yu to the city to meet with the descendants but the evil wizard sees her leaving the mountain and has the generals arrest all of the teenage girls entering the city. Hsiao Yu enters the city and seeing the guards arresting all of the girls, she tries to help some of them and the guards start chasing after her. One of the guards, a friend of Ma Chan-Chen named Che Kwan Yu, catches up to Hsiao Yu and it is revealed that he is one of the descendants and the two fake a fight in order to keep up his appearance of a loyal soldier. Hsiao Yu meets up with Hou Ping and they try to escape but end up being caught by the evil wizard. Ma Chan-Chen meets with Che Kwan Yu, revealing she knows who he is, and says she will help free Hsiao Yu and Hou Ping while he gets the last descendant. Che Kwan Yu goes to the home of Pao Ta-Hsiung, the steamed bun salesman, and talks to him, revealing Pao Ta-Hsiung to be the last descendant. Pao Ta-Hsiung refuses to listen but after Che Kwan Yu leaves, his father tells him the truth. Che Kwan Yu is attacked by his own men, who have been ordered to kill him by the evil wizard, but Pao Ta-Ksiung shows up and helps him defeat them, while Ma Chan-Chen frees Hou Ping, but makes it appear as if it was by accident. Meanwhile, Black orders Hsiao Yu to be killed but the evil wizard convinces him to use her as bait to capture the others. He places Hsiao Yu in a place that only he can get out of but Ma Chan-Chen is also able to enter the prison and frees Hsiao Yu. She then takes her to see Yen C, who tells Ma Chan-Chen that she must go to see Hsiang Chou-Tien. Hsiao Yu disguises herself as Ma Chan-Chen but ends up being captured again by the evil wizard. Meanwhile, Hou Ping, Che Kwan Yu, and Pao Ta-Hsiung are preparing to head back to the city when they are attacked by some of Black’s men but they end up being rescued by Hsiang Chou-Tien’s son. HE tells them that he is there to help destory the evil wizard’s mirror, then gives them an object that will cause the mirror to explode. The three head to the city and Pao Ta-Hsiung goes to place the device near the mirror but he ends up being captured. Ma Chan-Chen returns and meets with Che Kwan Yu and they try to come up with their own plan but are interrupted by the arrival of Black. Meanwhile, the evil wizard had been studying the device and places it down near the mirror while he meditates and it ends up succeeding in destroying the mirror. Che Kwan Yu is able to use the distraction to free Pao Ta-Hsiung and Hsiao Yu and they make their escape. Meanwhile, the evil wizard has Hsiang Chou-Tien’s son captured and uses him as bait in order to trap Ma Chan-Chen, who he suspects has turned against Black. Ma Chan-Chen goes to free him only to be confronted by Black and during the fight, Hsiang Chou-Tien’s son is knocked into the pool of acid and killed. Ma Chan-Chen escapes and goes to get her mother but they are attacked by the guards and Yen C is killed. Ma Chan-Chen continues to run and encounters Black but she is saved by Che Kwan Yu and Pao Ta-Hsiung. The three meet up with Hsiao Yu and Hou Ping and make a plan to destroy the Dragon’s Head. Hou Ping goes to grab the Dragon’s Head, convincing the wizard’s assistant to let him steal it. However, the wizard catches him and Hsiao Yu tries to save him. Ma Chan-Chen is fighting with Black but goes to help Hsiao Yu. When the wizard’s assistant gets a hold of the stick, everyone asks her to give it to them but she ends up giving it to Hou Ping. The wizard kills the assistant then knocks Hou Ping over the rail overlooking the volcano. The heat from the volcano burns Hou Ping’s legs but he refuses to drop the stick until it is noon, as the stick will not work until then. When Hou Ping finally sacrifices himself, the resulting explosion knocks Black and the wizard off their feet and destroys the wizard’s prison. Ma Chan-Chen, Che Kwan Yu, and Pao Ta-Ksiung combine their attacks and kill Black, but Pao Ta-Ksiung dies as well. Ma Chan-Chen, Che Kwan Yu, and Hsiao Yu then work together to kill the wizard and finally bring peace back to Phoenix Island.

Man, this was one confusing movie. The acting was ok I guess, though it was a little hard to tell with the dubbing. The basic story sounded good but they way they developed it just made it overly confusing and hard to follow at times. The fight scenes were definitely the best part of this movie and several of them were very entertaining, although some of the ones involving Hou Ping were pretty ridiculous and a little too comical at times. Not completely terrible, but definitely not something I would go out of my way to watch again.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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action, comedy, crime, martial arts, movie, movie review

May 12th, 2017 Movie – Return Of The Dragon (a.k.a. The Way Of The Dragon)

return of the dragon

Everyone has to get there start somewhere. And who would have guessed that the legendary figure known as Chuck Norris would get his start in a Bruce Lee movie. Then again, I can’t think of too many movies that would be a better way to debut in. The only downside is that this kind of renders all of those Chuck Norris jokes moot, as he does end up getting his butt kicked in this movie. But I am rambling so let’s get right into today’s movie, Return Of The Dragon.

The plot: Tang Lung arrives in Rome, Italy and is picked up by Chen Ching Hua, who was expecting someone else. Chen Ching begins to tell Tang Lung about how she owns a restaurant with her uncle Wang and business was good until a criminal syndicate showed up wanting to buy the restaurant. When they refused, the syndicate began chasing off the customers, causing the business to start to fail. Chen Ching takes Tang Lung to an apartment that the restaurant owns but wonders what exactly Tang Lung can do to help them. After taking Tang Lung to the bank and showing him around town, Chen Ching leaves when Tang Long appears to flirt with a strange woman. Tang Lung heads back to the apartment and meets Ah Queen, one of the workers, who takes him to the restaurant. At the restaurant, Tang Lung meets Wang and the other workers, who have started practicing karate during the down time. Ah Quen tells Tang Lung he doesn’t like it, as he prefers Chinese boxing, but Tang Lung tells him that if it helps him in a fight, he should be open to any discipline. Some customers arrive at the restaurant but before they can eat, the syndicate’s men, led by a man named Ho, arrive and chase them away, then tell Wang that they will be back at midnight to have them sign over the restaurant. That night, another group of syndicate men arrive and pick a fight with the wait staff and after Wang begs them not to damage the restaurant, they agree to head out back to fight. One of the syndicate men quickly knocks out the restaurant worker that challenged him so Tang Lung decides to fight them and easily beats all 4 of the syndicate men. Chen Ching and the restaurant workers are happy about the victory but Wang warns them that they will be back and could make things even worse. Returning to the apartment, Tang Lung asks where he can buy a gun but when Chen Ching says that he cant, she finds him making some throwing darts for defense. The next day, the workers ask Tang Lung to teach them Chinese boxing and he agrees to show them some moves, almost injuring one of them when he kicks the practice bag too hard. That night, Tang Lung and Chen Ching return to the apartment to find a man with a gun waiting for them but Tang Lung uses one of his darts to disarm the man, then quickly beats him and tosses him out of the apartment. The syndicate’s boss is upset at the failure of his men to get the restaurant and when he hears about Tang Lung, goes to the restaurant himself with a large group of men to confront Tang Lung. Chen Ching is giving Tang Lung a tour of Rome but he is unimpressed with the city. When they arrive at the restaurant, they are quickly grabbed by the syndicate men and Ho gives Tang Lung a ticket back to Hong Kong, then the boss has some of his men escort Tang Lung outside. Once he is outside, Tang Lung quickly disarms the man holding him at gun point, then begins attacking the other men. The gunman quickly goes back inside to get some reinforcements but Tang Lung is able to knock them all out single-handedly. Heading back inside, Tang Lung uses his darts to disarm the men holding the workers at gun point, and the workers help him deal with the remaining thugs before Tang Lung confronts the boss, then tells Ho to tell him not to come back to the restaurant. The next day, a death threat is sent to the restaurant and Wang says they have to send Tang back to Hong Kong and convinces Chen Ching to convince him. That night, Chen Ching tries to talk to Tang Lung but he refuses to leave, saying that his place is with her. When an assassin tries to shoot Tang Lung, Tang Lung heads across the street and deals with the assassin but when he returns to the apartment, he finds Chen Ching missing. Tang Lung gets the restaurant workers and heads for the syndicate’s headquarters, where they confront the boss and his men in order to rescue Chen Ching. After they leave, Ho speaks with his boss and says he knows of two martial artists, one Japanese and one European, who they can get to help them with Tang Lung but when his boss asks if they are the best, Ho recommends an American named Colt and makes the call to America to hire him. As Tang Lung and the others celebrate Chinese New Years, Tang Lung receives a telegram asking that he return to Hong Kong but Tang Lung tells the workers that he won’t leave until he sees this through. Suddenly, Ho shows up and invites Tang Lung to meet with his boss the next day and Tang Lung agrees. Meanwhile, Colt arrives at the syndicate’s headquarters and breaks up a fight between the two other martial artists, with the European one revealed as one of his students. When the Japanese expert challenges Colt to see who is better, Colt quickly beats him, then the boss explains their plan to deal with Tang Lung. The next day, Tang Lung, Wang, and three of the workers arrive at the meeting but Ho says the boss isn’t there but he will take them to him. Ho takes them to a deserted area, where the two martial artists are waiting for them. The three workers quickly challenge them but they end up losing so Tang Lung steps in and quickly dispatches the two. Wang tells Tang Lung to go after Ho, saying the workers can finish dealing with the martial artists but as soon as Tang Lung leaves, Wang kills two of the workers, saying he planned on selling the restaurant and returning to Hong Kong a rich man. Tang Lung follows Ho to the Colosseum, where after some taunting by Ho, he is confronted by Colt. As the two start to fight, Colt gets the upper hand and appears to be poised to beat Tang Lung. Sensing this, Tang Lung changes his style of fighting, adopting a bouncing movement to his stance, and is able to get the advantage over Colt and eventually kills him. After paying his respects to the fallen warrior, Tang Lung chases after Ho, and Wang tries to pass off the workers deaths as he is doing, but when Tang Lung turns his attention to Ho, Wang picks up his knife and moves to stab him. Suddenly, the syndicate boss shows up and shoots Ho, then shoots Wang when he fails to stab Tang Lung. As the boss attempts to kill Tang Lung, the police show up and arrest him. Chen Ching and the other workers show up and Tang Lung says that now that things are finished, he must leave. As Tang Lung starts walking towards the airport, Ah Quen tells Chen Ching that Tang Lung will always be a loner.

Return Of The Dragon met with high praise from the critics, holding a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the critics all remarked on the action and the charisma of Bruce Lee. This film marked Bruce Lee’s directorial debut and he cast Chuck Norris, who was US Karate Champion at the time, as he was one of the few people who was fast enough to keep up with him. Return Of The Dragon was the highest grossing movie in Hong Kong when it came out in 1972, earning $5.3 million, and was Bruce Lee’s most profitable movie at the time.

This is a great martial arts movie to watch on a number of fronts. The acting was really good, with Bruce Lee doing a great job as Tang Lung. Nora Miao (Chen Ching) also did a good job, as did Chuck Norris, though I was a little disappointed that his role was so limited. Admittedly, the story was a little basic but the addition of the humor in the movie helped keep this from being boring or another generic martial arts movie. The fight sequences were very well choreographed and did a great job of showing off Bruce Lee’s skills, as well as Chuck Norris’ during his fight with Bruce Lee. Definitely one of Bruce Lee’s best movies and well worth watching.

Rating: 5 out of 5

 

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