Friday, 26 July 2013

Enter The Dragon

In our final Jim Kelly review (for the time being, anyway. I plan on looking at Three the Hard Way somewhere down the line), we’re going to be talking about Enter the Dragon. Jim Kelly isn’t the star of this movie. It’s Bruce Lee and it was his break-out role in the first Kung Fu flick financed by Hollywood. Pretty cool stuff. While this is clearly a Bruce Lee vehicle, Kelly near as dammit steals the show with his own unique charisma, as a character called Williams. Williams is very similar to a lot of the roles Jim Kelly would go on to take in his short acting career and in looking back on Enter the Dragon, it’s hard to comprehend the fact that Kelly’s character doesn’t make it all the way to the end of this picture. The story goes that John Saxon’s agent threw a bitch fit and had the screenwriter’s cook up a whole new ending where Saxon's character gets to live but Kelly's doesn’t. Pretty bum deal if you ask me but in a way, this kick started the whole Jim Kelly phenomena as audiences wanted to see more of this unmitigated bad-ass in a movie where he doesn’t get killed like he’s just some sort of punk bitch. As usual, there are going to be some major spoilers in this review (you know me by now; I basically tell you the plot) but to be honest, if you haven’t seen Enter the Dragon, you and I have no further business with one another. On we go…


This movie begins with Bruce Lee beating up a fat dude played by a young Sammo Hung. It’s obviously an exhibition match of some sort and it’s being held at this Shaolin temple which Bruce is probably the star pupil of. It’s not really a great introduction to the character because it’s hard to side with someone who has far superior martial arts abilities, beating up a fat dude. Still, it’s just as good a point as any to start, I guess. So Bruce beats up a fat guy and goes for a meeting with the head of the temple. This guy has the most American accent I’ve ever heard. Like, whoever’s dubbing the voice isn’t even trying to sound even remotely Chinese. Seriously, he’s so American. He basically tells Bruce that’s he’s a fucking bad ass and he’s operating at a level above the physical but he puts it to him in more spiritual way and I don’t think this hurts Bruce’s self-esteem any. He probably appreciates it more than if someone were to just say ‘Dude, your Kung Fu is pretty sweet’. Anyway, this monk also tells him about a former student of the temple called Han, who we find out a little later on is the bad guy in this movie. He tells Bruce that Han sacked off his responsibilities went rogue and brought shame to the temple. Basically, he’s a dick. He tells Bruce to reclaim the temple’s honour. This monk tells Bruce that there’s a guy at the temple who wants to talk to him, called Braithwaite. Bruce meets up with this guy who tells him about a tournament that Han is holding and that they want Bruce to attend. By ‘they’ he means ‘the government’ but we’ll hear about them a little later on, too. Their conversation is cut short by one of Bruce’s students and what I imagine is one of their many weird little intervals that they have over a typical day. Bruce is trying to teach this guy about combat but he’s doing it in a really confusing way. Braithwaite seems pretty impressed with this display but I think they’re just putting it on and fucking with this stuffy white guy and his (probably) stereotypically racist preconceptions of martial artists.

Then we get the title sequence. During this sequence, we’re introduced to Jim Kelly’s character but only in as much as we see him get off a plane and walk around Hong Kong. This doesn’t really lead to anything other than being impressed with Kelly’s afro which I sense is what we’re really being introduced to. We also get to briefly glimpse Saxon’s character who's also getting off a plane but also looks like he’s shouting at a little Chinese guy about his luggage. Seriously, he looks pretty condescending in this scene. It bothers me a little. Here, the credit sequence ends pretty abruptly and we’re now in Braithwaite’s Hong Kong office where he’s talking to Bruce who’s wearing a pretty sick three piece suit. Braithwaite is basically going over the main assholes of this movie so you can just kick back and learn everything you need to know about these dudes.  Braithwaite shows Bruce the only existing film footage of Han that anyone has. He then shows Bruce footage of this guy called O’Hara who Braithwaite says is Han’s bodyguard. This O’Hara guy is presented as something of a bad ass because you see movie film footage of him having shit broken over his arms and him punching through flaming bricks. The most physically notable thing about O’Hara is how he was kind of Chuck Norris before Chuck Norris got in on that action. He’s got a beard and semi-permanently fixed hair but Bruce manages to ruffle it later on. Next, Braithwaite shows Bruce a picture of Han’s island where he’ll be holding the tournament. He tells Bruce that Han lives completely self-sufficiently on this island and spends all of his time running a school of martial arts. At this stage, you have to stop and think that this Han guy doesn’t sound all that bad. I mean, O’Hara looks like a fucking chump but what’s wrong with Han living on a private island and teaching some kids how to kick ass? Braithwaite shows Bruce some footage of a dead girl who was washed ashore and was last seen partying on Han’s private boat. Braithwaite tells Bruce that Han gets shit loads of young girls like her hooked on heroin and then sells them on the black market. Oh, shit. So THAT’S what’s so bad about Han. What an asshole. Braithwaite tells him that his government body knows everything about Han but they can’t prove shit which seems odd but then he explains that part of Han’s island doesn’t lie within their jurisdiction. Damn red tape. Braithwaite gives Bruce a picture of this chick who’s been working on infiltrating Han’s operation and says that they lost contact with her a while ago but he can meet up with her when he gets to the island, if she’s still alive and not all junked out on heroin.

Tonight on Lifetime 'The P-Diddy Boat Party That Went Horribly Awry'

I just want to take a moment to mention that the first third of this movie is all kinds of fucked up because most of the story is told in flashback so it’s really difficult to write about it chronologically. When we get a flashback sequence, I’ll make sure that you’re all subtly aware that one is happening just before it does, ok? Cool.

FLASHBACK! Bruce is chatting with one of his friends back at the temple and it’s supposed to be just before Bruce leaves for Hong Kong. His buddy is telling him about the time that Bruce’s sister was killed. DOUBLE FLASHBACK! Bruce’s buddy and his sister were having a walk around the city (doesn’t say which city. I guess it’s Hong Kong) when they were attacked by a Super Rape Gang of Han’s men, led by O’Hara. It’s daylight, by the way so you know these are some brazen assholes because they beat up Bruce’s buddy and they’re totally going to rape Bruce’s sister as well. These guys just don’t give a fuck. Bruce’s sister beats up a couple of the guys in the gang but Bruce’s buddy tells her to run while he slashes O’Hara’s face with a concealed knife. O’Hara is understandably pissed about this and beats the shit out of this guy before getting his men to chase after Bruce’s sister. She eventually winds up in this abandoned warehouse or something but Han’s men smash through the windows and surround her. She opts out of being their unwilling sex doll by picking up a piece of broken glass and stabbing herself in the stomach while O’Hara looks on passively like a douche. It’s difficult to tell why Bruce’s buddy told him about this, exactly. I mean, it serves for an interesting angle later on in the film but telling him this just before he leaves is surely going to make him lose focus. Man, this guy is a shitty friend. This is the first time he’s told Bruce about what actually happened to his sister as well so you’re left wondering what the fuck they told Bruce about it in the first place. Next, we see Saxon preparing to board the boat for Han’s island FLASHBACK! Saxon’s flashback shows him playing golf. He’s playing with this other guy and they put a bet on Saxon potting the ball or whatever it’s called in Golf. Saxon fucks this up so he’s already down a couple of thousand dollars to this other guy. Saxon smashes his ball into the rough so he goes looking for it when these big dudes in suits and moustaches appear from the trees, saying he owes them serious money. I think it’s all gambling money or something. That’s probably true given that he’s just unwisely gambled with his golfing partner. It’s never really mentioned what it is Saxon does for a living, by the way but it seems to be something where he can play golf all day. I sometimes like to imagine he works with something really dull like timber or steel which is why he spends his time learning Kung Fu and playing golf. Anyway, he has a hilarious fight with these guys and high tails it to Hong Kong. Now it’s time for us to meet Kelly’s character FLASHBACK! Kelly’s leaving this all-black karate school when he’s stopped by these two asshole Policemen who are using a load of racial slurs and trying to arrest him for being black on a Friday night or whatever. These guys are stupid even for racists. These Policemen literally pull up outside the building that Kelly is leaving like they were waiting for him. Kelly isn’t taking no shit from the man, so he resists arrest and beats the shit out of these cops who are just pissed off that Kelly has plane tickets to Hong Kong. Then he fucks right out of that place in their patrol car and heads to the airport. Don’t know how he made it there. You’d think someone would have stopped him. It can’t be that easy to steal a Police car and drive it to an airport I wouldn’t have thought.

'Got a passport, have ya? Gonna be doin' some legal travelling, are ya? Tickets probably bought and paid for with wages from your steady job, huh? We'll soon see about that, you son of a bitch!'

After these flashbacks have finished, all of the principle cast are on a boat bound for Han’s island. You find out that Kelly and Saxon are old Vietnam buddies. They seem to have a kind of sixth sense for dangerous situations and are constantly giving one another little looks to show each other that they know shit isn’t right. Right after Kelly and Saxon reunite is where we meet Boat Asshole. I’m sure this character is called Parsons and someone mentions that he’s from New Zealand so essentially, he’s Russell Crowe because he’s sort of Antipodean and an overly aggressive prick. He’s so incidental though that it doesn’t really matter what his name is so I call him Boat Asshole. When the boat is well under-way for the island, Boat Asshole is just hanging out on deck when he just starts kicking all the hired help around for like no reason. He approaches Bruce and starts doing some flexing and other weird shit in front of him to try and intimidate him. Boat Asshole wants to fight and tries to get Bruce to show him some of his moves. Bruce agrees but humiliates the guy by tricking him into getting into this little rowing boat and then threatening to let go of the line. All the guys that Boat Asshole has just been kicking around get a good laugh out of it so justice is served for the time being but you know this prick is going to be back for seconds later on in the movie.

Fuck you, Boat Asshole. You don't even deserve anything even remotely resembling a funny caption

So, the boat arrives at Han’s island and the contestants are greeted by this big mother fucker called Bollo who spends his time looking mean and menacing even though he’s basically a glorified bell boy in this scene. Bollo is kind of a random element in this movie but you’ll get to learn more about him a bit later. There’s also this woman called Tania who Saxon immediately spots and starts making creepy comments about. She leads them away from the boat and around the main building where you see all of Han’s students standing in formation and doing some kung-fu moves in unison. One of the guys isn’t really keeping up with the others so I’m guessing he’s the remedial student. You’ll spot him if you look carefully. Tania tells everyone that there will be a feast in the main hall at 8:00pm. She tells everyone at the front of the line, at least, which includes Kelly, Bruce and Saxon. I guess she just leaves it up to chance that Boat Asshole and all the other contestants will work it out later on that there’s food and a party when they start to get hungry.

In the next scene, it’s much later on (probably after 8:00pm) and everyone’s in the main hall having fun at the feast. There’s Sumo wrestling going on in the middle of the room, these little jester guys are cart wheeling around the place, chicks are serving food etc. It’s pretty good. Kelly and Saxon have this chat about how something doesn’t seem right although to be fair, we only know something isn’t right because we know from Braithwaite’s briefing that Han is an asshole so they’ve got no real reason to be this suspicious yet. That Tania chick from before is there and she’s dressed like Barbarella and even O’Hara shows up, looking like he took a wrong turn coming out of Medieval world. All of a sudden, there’s this huge gong sound (which I think must be someone hitting a gong) and Han comes in through these big double doors, followed by these chicks who don’t say anything. He starts going on about how everyone that’s taking part has honed their body to the peak of physical perfection and he makes it sound like they’ve all sacrificed something to be as skilled as they are which I can believe in Bruce’s case and probably even Kelly’s but Saxon? This guy can’t even convince me that what’s sitting on top of his head is real hair. I mean, look at this shit; even imdb is trying to tell me that he has a black belt in karate. I’m looking at the trivia page right now. I don’t believe this shit for a second. Anyway, Han has finished his speech and he walks over to this big bowl of apples. He starts throwing them in the air and the chicks he’s brought in with him start throwing these concealed darts at them. Some of the random guys in the room catch the apples with darts in them before Bruce catches one which is thrown by the woman he recognises from the picture Braithwaite gave him earlier on in the movie. Han leaves the room and the party continues. I don’t know why he felt it necessary to show off his dart blowing chicks in this way. They don’t really factor into this movie at any point later on which is kind of a shame.

'What's that, sweetcheeks? Yes, I'm a blackbelt...yes, 'seriously'...sure thing I'll wait while you look it up on imdb'

Later on, after dinner, all the contestants are back in their rooms and Tania is knocking on the guests’ doors and offering them sexy fun time with this wide selection of chicks from Han’s own, personal stash. I kind of feel bad for Tania at this point because she’s been there to greet the contestants when they first arrived, she was at the party and now she’s in full of Madame mode, dispensing whorey delights on the contestants. She’s been through at least two hair style changes and three dress changes by this point. The first room she goes to is Kelly’s, who’s listening to some sort of funky jazz on his head phones when they first come in. Kelly picks out four girls saying that he would have picked more but it’s been a long day and he’s tired. Tania doesn’t seem impressed by this but she should be happy because this is kind of her job and her reaction is as stupid as someone working on a used car lot getting angry that he’s sold every car on the same day. Next, she goes to Bruce’s room. He’s not interested in any of the tarts on display, instead asking for the owner of the dart that he picked up from the party. Tania says she can arrange this for him. It’s all business with Bruce. Not sexy business. Secret agent business. The final room we see (and there have to be a lot of rooms. There were at least 40 contestants at the party, perhaps more. That’s a lot of whores Han must have) is Saxon’s but there’s only one chick he’s got his dubious martial arts skill eyes on and that’s Tania. She seems quite happy with this despite the fact that she and Saxon haven’t exchanged a single word before this point in the film. Meanwhile, Bruce is chatting to the girl with the dart who we find out is called Mai-Ling. She tells Bruce that she’s monitored all the time and she doesn’t know shit about what Han is up to. She also tells him that there are all these girls that go missing on the island but we kind of know what happens to them.

The next scene is morning time and Bruce is busting out some moves in his room when O’Hara comes in and tells Bruce to attend a morning ritual in uniform which he doesn’t. He turns up in this brown karate suit which, for a secret agent, is kind of stupid because he’s obviously trying to infiltrate this thing that Han has got going on and he doesn’t want to draw attention to himself. One of Han’s guys confronts him about it but Bruce has nothing for this except a stern look which seems to be ok because this guy leaves him alone. So next time you want to go into work and you fancy opting for a sarong and not your usual shirt and tie ensemble, just flash your boss a stern look when he questions you. It works. After this, we get to see Kelly fighting Boat Asshole and Kelly hands his ass to him pretty heavily. All the time while this is going on, there’s a little guy with a toothbrush, Hitler ‘tache who’s running his own little gambling ring which Saxon is naturally taking part in. Hitler ‘tache looks a bit too old to be taking part in anything to do with the tournament or the kung fu school and we never see him fight so I’m assuming he’s just a guy who lives on the island although I don’t know why Mr Han would have anyone on this island other than his guards, whores, heroin employees and sweet throwing dart chicks. Saxon gets to kick some guy’s ass while Kelly carries on the betting. Again, a lot of Saxon’s moves are kind of shown with a close angle so you don’t have to see his sloppy kicks. There’s a lot of movement implied but never really shown. They don’t do a great job of hiding it.

'Bet you $20 that my toupee and awkward karate is less offensive to the Jewish community than your moustache'

Later on, Saxon is in his room having some sexy time with Tania while Kelly is in his room with these four chicks again. Kelly mentions that he wants to go outside but one of the girls tells him that this is forbidden. Kelly ignores this warning and goes outside anyway. Elsewhere, Bruce is also making a quick trip outside but the difference is, he’s decked out in this all-in-one number and he’s doing some covert ninja shit across the palace grounds to dig up some dirt on Han. This scene is pretty good and there’s some good tension built up as you’re watching Bruce sneak around the palace but you’re left wondering why Han would employ such utter fucking dip shits as his guards. Maybe they’re his nephews or something. He can’t have picked them himself unless they’re agency workers. I’ve worked for agencies before and they don’t always employ the cream of the crop. I’ll give these guys a break if that’s the case. Anyway, Bruce does some snooping around and finds this concealed hatch in the grounds, which leads to an underground warehouse of sorts. I say it’s concealed, but the only concession they’ve made to concealing it is putting a potted plant on top of it. His investigation is cut short when two guards find the rope Bruce has used to climb down the hatch. He beats the shit out of them and makes his escape back to his room. Meanwhile, Kelly is still outside catching some air and doing some moves when he spots Bruce making his escape across the palace walls. Kelly, true to character, doesn’t give a fuck, decides to make a pithy comment and thinks nothing more of it.

The next morning, Han has called all the contestants to the courtyard and he’s pissed. He’s found out about someone snooping around the grounds and brings that big mother fucker Bollo into play to discipline the guards and by ‘discipline’ I mean ‘murder the fuck out of’. This is where it’s kind of confusing because I thought O’Hara was supposed to be the main cause for concern for everyone what with him being Han’s personal body guard but by this point, all we’ve seen him do is ineffectually try to rape someone, turn up to a dinner party in clothes which are about five hundred years out of date and stand at Bruce’s door thinking he’s the shit but with no proof to back it up. It’s soon O’Hara’s time to shine though because as soon as Bollo has finished snapping spines and crunching necks, he steps into the ring with Bruce. O’Hara has this prop board with him which he smashes in front of Bruce’s face but you get the impression that this asshole always does this before a fight and just brings something like balsa wood for the effect. Bruce is unperturbed by this because he can probably punch through an entire fucking forest without breaking a sweat. The fight between Bruce and O’Hara doesn’t take long for Bruce to finish. He keeps getting the drop on O’Hara and the bouffant prick never even manages to a get a single punch in. O’Hara loses his shit after Bruce has kicked him through some chairs and picks up these two bottles which are lying around. He smashes them and starts to make his way towards Bruce. There’s this pretty call slow mo sequence of Bruce disarming him and kicking him to the floor before he finally puts this bastard out of his misery by stomping his head into the floor. Bruce turns around and remembers that he’s taking part in a martial arts tournament and probably shouldn’t have pulped O’Hara’s head but Han doesn’t give a shit. He just says that O’Hara was a bit of a dick cheese for trying to stab Bruce up with some broken bottles and leaves. Just after this happens, Saxon mentions to Kelly that he’ll be in his room if he wants to talk about anything that’s just happened and given that the last five minutes of their lives have been all about dudes murdering other dudes in what was supposed to be a friendly martial arts tournament, you kind of understand why Kelly says he’ll be along for a chat in about half an hour. Saxon exits the courtyard but before Kelly can leave, Tania approaches him and says that Han wants to see him in his study.

'SUPERSISTERRAPEVENGEANCEKICK HI-YAH!!!!' - Street Fighter II: Enter The Dragon Edition

The following scene is probably one of the most simultaneously disappointing but brilliant moments in cinema.

Kelly walks into Han’s study so blissfully unaware of the shit storm that’s about to go down. Han starts off being complimentary about Kelly’s skill but then segues into this little life lesson about how Kelly should really prepare himself for defeat. Kelly, understandably, can’t get behind this shit. He’s Jim Kelly, for Christ’s sake. He tells Han that if someone does ever defeat him, he won’t notice because he’ll be too busy looking good. Han decides to cut straight to the chase at this juncture and asks Kelly what he was looking for when he attacked the guards the other night. Kelly tells Han that it wasn’t him. Han counters by saying that he was the only one outside of the palace. Kelly owns up to being outside but says that he wasn’t the only one outside that night. When Han demands to know who else was outside, Kelly’s done fucking around with this turkey. He tells Han that he wants to leave the island and Han denies him. Kelly’s response is the stuff of cult movie legend and I just want you to indulge me here for a moment. For everyone who’s seen this movie (that’s everyone, ever in the world, right?) and anyone who hasn't, please hit 'play' in 3...2...1


Damn, that feels good. Feel free to replay it a couple more times. Just after this, Kelly notices that there are some guards outside Han’s study. He turns to Han and tells him (yep, we’re doing this shit again)…


The fight that Kelly has with the guards is pretty good and shows off some more of his natural skill at martial arts but it feels like a bit of an afterthought given what we know will happen to him when this is over. The end of this fight with the guards is officially the end of the awesome in this scene. Han gets up from his desk to finish what his guards are incapable of doing and he and Kelly square off. Kelly throws up a pretty mega kick but he collides with Han’s hand and recoils in pain. Turns out Han has a fucking metal left hand which he can detach, chop and change with various instruments of death as he sees fit. I’m not going to spend too much time on this scene because it fucking grates with me that Kelly is killed off. It adds an extra dimension to the film because you can’t help but have become attached to Kelly’s character by this point so seeing him killed off is really disappointing but really shocking. It doesn’t spoil the movie but it doesn’t sit right especially not with how much they’ve been building up the character. Fucking Hollywood agents and their opinions. We could have had the ultimate bad-ass showdown with Bruce, Saxon and Kelly fighting back to back and taking down the whole operation. That’s right; I’d even allow Saxon to take part in it. No hard feelings or anything. So anyway, just to round this scene off, Kelly is punched and kicked around and then killed off in a really brutal way by Han and his T-800 hand.

In the next scene, Han is having a walk with Saxon through his war room where he’s got all these antique weapons and suits of armour. Han is explaining that he wants to talk about some important shit with Saxon. It’s worth noting that Han has a white cat in his arms in this scene. It serves a purpose just a few more minutes into the scene and kind of creates the illusion that he’s had it all the way through the film because he’s already been revealed to have a metal hand and a private island. Han is never more of a James Bond villain than he is in this scene and it’s easy to forget that at no other point in the film does he really resemble one. Anyway, he’s chatting with Saxon when they get to the end of this war room and Han puts his cat’s head on an antique guillotine. Saxon takes the cat off the block just as Han pulls the cord to the machine. We find out that it’s a dummy guillotine because it acts as an elevator to the underground warehouse which Bruce discovered earlier on. They continue to walk through the warehouse area and for a while, it all seems kosher. Then we come across these glass sided torture boxes where Han keeps all these chicks hooked on heroin. Bless the 70’s for having a limited understanding of the effects of hard drugs but the solemnity of the moment is ruined by Hollywood naivety as women either stare vacantly into space or shake their head repeatedly like malfunctioning droids. As if this wasn’t enough, Han shows Saxon all these prison cells which are chock full of dudes in black overalls who he says are drunks and various other vagabonds from the city who have lost their way. Why he keeps them here in this way is never really explained. It’s a bit creepy really when you think about it. Seriously, why would you actively collect drunks and keep them locked up in cells? Weirdo.

'Dude, seriously?! You collect drunks? Why would you collect drunks? That's a fucking weird hobby, buddy. Just saying'

Anyway, Han shows Saxon his heroin racket and asks him if he wants to represent his organisation in America. Saxon, despite being an irresponsible dick with a serious gambling addiction, is a deeply moral guy and can’t do this. Han decides to try another tactic and shows him Kelly’s lifeless body hanging above what I always think is a piranha pool but isn’t actually. It’s just a pool. Let’s put what Han is trying to do to Saxon into simplistic business terms; I sell ice cream. It’s pretty damn good and is a proven, competitive brand in the market. I have a little ice cream stall which you’re walking past one day and I try to entice you into buying one. You refuse, stating politely that you’re lactose intolerant and the dairy produce in my ice cream will make you ill. I take this information on board and respond by smashing the ice cream into my asshole before jumping up and down and threatening to kill your parents. It’s kind of like that but Han doesn’t smash anything into his ass. Not on camera, anyway. So, Saxon has reached a bit of an impasse by this point and keeps his acknowledgement of the situation kind of nondescript as to avoid meeting the same fate. At this stage, Han thinks he has Saxon in the bag.

Meanwhile, above ground, Bruce is doing some more snooping around. This time when he approaches the hidden hatch, there’s a fucking cobra just chilling out near it. Bruce grabs the snake and puts it in this handy little snake sack that he brought with him. Actually, that’s probably the bag that his climbing rope came in. He climbs down into the warehouse area again but this time doesn’t get interrupted above ground so he manages to make it all the way down. Bruce comes across this control room which he can’t circumnavigate and notices a radio inside. To get the guys manning the control room out that place, he throws the snake in there but smacks it round the head first for good measure. The guys in the control room get the fuck out of that place pretty damn fast so Bruce gets in and sends a message over the radio to Braithwaite. By this point, all hell has broken loose and Bruce has to fight a load of Han’s guards. This is probably the best of Bruce’s fight scenes in the movie and even progresses onto the infamous nun-chuck scene where he gets to demonstrate his awesome ability with weapons. He dispatches the majority of these guards in a fairly standard, non-lethal way with the exception of one guard who he mercilessly slaughters in the same way he disposed of O’Hara earlier on. His motivations for taking all his aggression out on this one guard remain hazy. So, Bruce gets a good run of beating up these guards and he’s trying to find a way out of the underground warehouse when he runs into this one room and these steel doors come down around him, locking him in until Han is ready to deal with him.

This just looks too fucking cool to not put in this review

The next scene shows Han’s courtyard and Bruce is standing next to Bollo who’s keeping an eye on him. A guard brings Saxon to the courtyard and it’s pretty obvious to all assembled that Han wants Saxon to kick Bruce’s ass. In the context of the film, this was never going to happen. In real life, this was never going to happen. If the magic of movies and the allure of being an actor lie in the fact that we get to become everything we’ve always wanted to be, Saxon is getting the shit end of the stick in this scene.  He quite rightly refuses to co-operate with Han who responds by setting Bollo on him. Saxon makes pretty easy work out of Bollo, who tries to pull some spine snapping tricks on him. Saxon fights dirty though and manages to give Bollo the drubbing he deserves. He would have made a better target for Bruce’s angst rather than that guard who’d done literally nothing but try to earn his pay cheque. Han gets royally pissed at this and sets all the students on Saxon and Bruce. Meanwhile, Mai Ling is setting all the drunks and losers from the prison cells free and the Coastguard are scrambling to helicopters to make their way to Han’s island. Meanwhile, Bruce and Saxon are ploughing through these students like they aint no thing. This is testament to Han's skill as a kung fu master because every single one of these students is fucking useless. All the drunks from the cells are above ground now and fighting the students alongside Bruce and Saxon. It’s curious to see that all of these drunks possess the same level of kung fu skill as the students so I’m wondering if Han’s selflessness extends even to the prisoners that he collects for no reason and he just can’t help but teach them some kung fu, too. In fact, he's taught them better kung fu because they're ploughing through Han's guards pretty easily as well. While all this fighting is going on, Bruce is trying to make his way to Han for the final showdown but one of the students commits the cardinal sin of interrupting Bruce’s singular, destined approach towards Han. This is the action movie version of cock blocking and I fucking hate to see it. You know whoever interrupts our hero isn’t worth shit and Bruce, true to form, gets this guy out of the way really easily so it’s kind of pointless him doing it in the first place. Han has brought a wooden box out with him to the courtyard because it has one of his little hand attachments in it. Han has a lot of spikey hand attachments and this one looks like it belongs to the King of The Wicker People armour from Tim Burton’s Batman movie. Han gets it stuck in a chair as he’s taking a swing for Bruce which makes him look like a dickhead. Han makes a quick exit but Bruce has had enough of this bullshit and follows him.

This man cannot teach hundreds of students to beat up two guys with any success

Bruce follows Han to his war room where he’s now changed his hand into this weird fucking chrome lions paw thing. They have a bit of a fight in here which looks cool. Han tries to run Bruce through with a spear but instead he drives it into one of the walls. Bruce continues to pound on his ass but Han bitches out and escapes into this hall of mirrors which he has hidden behind a revolving wall in the war room. Bruce follows him in and becomes a bit disoriented by all the mirrors and shit. This scene is cool and all and it’s easy to just admire the production value and the creativeness behind having a final battle in these surroundings but ask yourself this; why does this room even exist? What practical application does it serve? Is this Han’s sexy time room? Was one mirror above the bed just not enough? We see like a dressing gown hanging up in there and that’s all the evidence I need. Anyway, Bruce is wandering around looking for Han and, just like the little bitch he is, he strikes from a distance and then disappears again. You’re wondering how Bruce is going to win this one given that he’s fighting Han on his terms and not his own. We then hear this voice over, like it’s playing through Bruce’s head, of something that the Shaolin monk from way back at the start of the film told him about breaking the opponent’s image. I see what they did there. Mirrors. Image. Mirror image. That’s some clever shit, right there.  So Bruce smashes as many mirrors as he can to distort the image and therefore giving Han less of an advantage. As he’s doing this, Han comes in for the kill but Bruce is ready for him. He kicks Han so hard that this prick falls onto the spear which is poking through the wall from the war room. Bruce actually looks pretty surprised that this has happened, like he wasn’t expecting this kind of luck. Given that he’s almost been murdered several times over the last few days, I guess you wouldn’t be expecting a break like that either.

'Ho-lee shit! Did you see that?! Somebody tell me they saw that...ah, shit'

Back in the courtyard, things have finally wound down. Saxon is taking a breather and looking out over all the unconscious and probably dead bodies. He scans across the courtyard and notices Tania has been killed which he’s pretty sad about. Bruce comes back up to the courtyard and spots him and gives him the thumbs up. They both look pretty sad, to be fair and this is where the film ends as the Coastguard turn up in their helicopter’s just a little too late to have saved some lives. Pretty fucking bleak, all things considered.


So, Enter the Dragon is a great movie with some sharp editing, interesting set pieces and a kick ass Lalo Schifrin soundtrack. All the performances are great and even though I rag on Saxon a lot, he’s really good and I don’t know who else could have brought the charm to this movie quite like he does. Of course, we’re here to honour Jim Kelly above all else and he really is the star of this movie in many ways. Don't get me wrong; Bruce is great and rightly deserves his place as a legend of martial arts cinema and as a cultural icon but we started this journey because of Jim and his big personality. If by some stretch of the imagination you've never seen a Jim Kelly movie or know someone who hasn't seen a Jim Kelly movie, spread the love. A bit more Jim Kelly love in the world can never be a bad thing. And on that note, I think I've only got one more thing to say: Jim, you’re sorely missed, man. Thanks for all the awesome.

Oh, and please understand; if I've missed anything, it's been a big day. I'm a little tired.

Pictured: Bad Ass

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Monday, 15 July 2013

News Update

Hello, everyone.

Just wanted to make any newcomers and regular readers aware that I'm currently locked in a titanic struggle of bureaucracy with Twitter.

Basically, they've suspended @exploitmovie because I was trying to network socially on a social networking site. I've made my apologies via email, pleaded for my electronic life, bowed before the infinite majesty of King Twit and apparently, I'm now in a queue with technical support so normal services should be resumed somewhere between now and the last days of Sodom (apparently it's within five days but I expect it'll be done sooner than that).

So, for anyone who has followed me and has come here looking for answers; don't worry, I'm still here.

For anyone new to the site and thinking to themselves 'Hey, this guy is a pretty funny dude. I think I'll take his advice and follow him on Twitter...say...there aint no '@exploitmovie' on Twitter. That sack of shit lied to me!'; don't worry, I'm still here and please check back in a few days and the Twitter feed should be working again.

Thanks for your time,

Rich.

P.S Couple of people have mentioned that the black background/white writing was making their eyes do crazy shit. Can't say it affected me to be honest but I'm not the guy reading the damn thing so the layout has been changed for your viewing pleasure.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Black Belt Jones aka Dick Punch Jones aka Bad Maths and Psychopaths


Hello, everyone. Thanks for coming back. This week, we're going to be looking at Jim Kelly's first starring role - Black Belt Jones. It's an entirely different animal to Black Samurai in the respect that it's not Jim Kelly who's the lunatic in this one.

The movie starts with these stereotypical mafia types driving this big ass car through some fancy looking gates towards a big house which is also a vineyard. The vineyard is guarded by these big dudes wearing ringer t-shirts with polar bears on them so you know there’s something a bit dodgy about this place. Either that or it’s just a really bad ass vineyard with big dudes acting as front of house and it’s completely legit. So, the car goes through the gates and there’s a guy looking on from a balcony at the car pulling up. You later find out that this is Don Steffano and he’s kind of the main bad guy in this movie although you see a lot more of this black dude called Pinky and he’s kind of on main bad guy duties to begin with but we’ll talk more about him in a little while. There’re these two mafia guys in the car.  One of them is called Big Tuna because his name is Tunasari or something and the other is called Blue Eyes which I’m assuming is because he has blue eyes and not brown and they’ve just called him blue eyes ironically or something douchey like that. Big Tuna looks like your standard lunkheaded mafia guy while Blue Eyes is a creepy, Christopher Walken looking mother fucker who also kind of looks like a mortician. Actually, they’re both really stereotypical when I think about it. They wouldn’t be able to trick you into thinking they weren’t cold blooded killers or anything. You wouldn’t ask them to, like, cat sit or some shit. They get out the car with this other dude called Ellis. Ellis is working for the government as a spy and he’s wearing this watch with all this sophisticated radio shit in it because you cut to a small scene of these government types listening in on the conversation that’s going on at the vineyard. They escort him into this room with all these vats of wine. One of the vats has all this cash in. Big Tuna is fucking about with this cash, saying it’s hot now but in a couple of years, they can use it for shirts with big collars or something. Blue Eyes isn’t into all this fucking around and he just wants business over and done with. He asks Ellis if he’s brought the money for these photographs that the mob have acquired. I don’t know what these photographs are of. It doesn’t even allude to them being kinky bondage shots or anything. At this point, Blue Eyes and Big Tuna are clearly fucking with him and you know this is going to end in a really bad way for this Ellis dude. They ask him about his watch and if it’s the kind of watch that works underwater. Big Tuna starts to take the watch off Ellis’ wrist while Blue Eyes strangles him with what looks like a piece of bungee cord but I don’t think they had those in the 70’s so we’ll just say it’s coloured rope. 

'Say, that's a pretty nice piece of rope HURGH! OH, GOD! WHY?!'

I don’t know why they asked him if his watch was the kind that works underwater because you think they’re going to drown him but they don’t. These are weird mafia guys. So after they’ve iced this guy, they dump him in one of the vats which is surely going to spoil the wine. That’s bad business sense and it’s no wonder these guys aren’t in charge if this is how they do things. We cut back to the government types looking frustrated that one of their guys has been killed and one of them says to the other that they need to find ‘Black Belt’ so you know that this operation has been a cluster fuck right from day one.

We’re then introduced to Kelly’s character, Black Belt Jones. He isn’t called anything other than that, or some variation thereof, throughout this movie so you’re left thinking that this might be his birth name and some role has been forced upon him by his family, like this is some future Gattaca-esque alternate universe dystopia. I don’t think it is or anything, I’m just saying it could be. Kelly is at this TV studio where this South American diplomat is making an impassioned speech. The host of this TV show says that they’ll be right back after commercial but they’ll be talking to someone else so this is the diplomat’s cue to leave. Kelly is obviously working as some sort of bodyguard for this guy and his advisors because he has this muted conversation with them about leaving the building and you imagine that he’s said that he’ll go on ahead and scout for potential threats. Outside the TV studio, the diplomat and his guys are leaving. Now, Kelly’s strolling along without a care in the world when he happens to catch sight of someone behind a parked car, with a gun. He’s not being stealth or covert or anything like that. He’s literally just walking and when he spots the guy with a gun, it’s almost like he’d forgotten that he was supposed to be looking after these guys. Anyway, he spots these assassins and bang, we’re in business. This is where the title sequence kicks in and this is my favourite part of the movie. The title sequence is all shot in slow-mo and it keeps going to these freeze frames of Kelly in action or getting ready to kick some ass while this funk track plays over the top of it. Chronologically speaking, this is technically the first time we see Kelly punching people in the dick and in this movie, he sure does show you how to punch a guy in the dick. He does it twice in this scene alone and this is just the title sequence! Amazing.  Anyway, as the title sequence comes to its conclusion, Kelly shoots an escaping assassin in the ass, places the gun carefully back where he found it, gets in his car and promptly fucks off so I guess he did forget that he was supposed to be playing body guard for these guys in the first place.

'You need more lead in your...ass. I was going to say 'diet' but that wouldn't make sense'

Next, we see Kelly in this government guys’ office and it’s the same guy from earlier on in the film who realised all too late that trying to infiltrate a criminal organisation wasn’t as easy as, say, a game of Snap. He’s saying that they need someone to break into Don Steffano’s operation and they’ve already lost three people to this asshole. Kelly isn’t interested because he thinks they’ll kill his ass too and so starts a running theme of Kelly holding down a government job with a lot of responsibility but not wanting to do what they pay him for unless he has a personal interest in it (see my ‘Black Samurai’ review). You’ve got to ask yourself; if Kelly doesn’t want to get shot, stabbed, burned, vultured, sacrificed or whatever, then why the fuck did he say ‘Yes’ when these agencies offered him a job? Why the shit did he apply for the job in the first place?! Anyway, he tells Government Guy to have a word with the big men upstairs to arrange to have a tank shoved up this mafia dude’s ass. Government guy shows Kelly this picture of Don Steffano having an all-tits-out-super-millionaire-party with these other guys and some chicks and says that three of the guys in the picture are like senators or something important so shoving a tank up his ass is out of the question. No one mentions shoving a tank up anyone’s ass, by the way. Kelly mentions tanks but he doesn’t say to shove it up Steffano’s ass. That’s just me getting into the spirit of things. Government Guy offers him $100,000 which in 1970’s money is, like, $100,000. Kelly tells them something cryptic which is a bit racist and he leaves the office. Government Guy picks up a phone and tells his superior that he thinks Kelly will accept the mission. I don’t know why he thinks this because the conversation didn’t really play out in their favour if you ask me.

Up next; back to Don Steffano’s bad-ass vineyard and there’s some bald mob guy talking to Blue Eyes about how they murdered Ellis. Don Steffano over hears this and tells this guy never to mention Ellis again. This dude is carrying a suitcase which has all these maps and important things in it. He tells Don Steffano that he had to call in a lot of favours for the information he's about to give him although I don't know why given that Steffano is already having super-dick-out parties with chicks and senators who could easily give him this info. The senators that is, not the chicks. They're just at the party because titties. He tells Steffano that there’s a central piece of land which is the key to the whole deal. That seems a bit hyperbolic though. The city wants to build a civic centre and the mob obviously want to get in on it but saying this shitty little building is ‘the key to the whole deal’ is odd. Just buy the building. Or offer to open the karate school in one of the new buildings or set it up in a nicer area of the city. There are a lot of other options open to him and I doubt ‘kill the shit out of everyone’ is the answer anyone would arrive at first. Bald guy tells Don Steffano that the building in question is a karate school owned by a guy called Papa Byrd (played by Scatman Crothers). Steffano looks up musingly like he's had dealings with this guy in the past. Holy shit, could we be getting some ultimate karate master showdown between Crothers and Steffano? Or between Steffano and Kelly? SPOILERS No.

'Papa Byrd...Papa Byrd...wait! Is he the big, yellow chicken guy from 'Sesame Street'? No? Oh, I don't know him then'

The next scene is where we get to meet Crothers as Papa Byrd and he's a bit of an irresponsible prick. He spends his time gambling and chasing girls even though he’s like a thousand years old and runs a karate school. He ignores conversations about business, won't marry his girlfriend even though she's been waiting for him to ask for fifteen years and doesn’t seem to understand the depth of the shit that he’s in at any point in this movie. He leaves the day-to-day running of the karate school to his head karate guys called Toppy and Quincy. He arrives at the school and goes into this back room where he starts having an argument with his girlfriend, Lucy. She's looking at this picture of Crothers and this little girl who we find out is Sydney, Crothers' daughter. Toppy comes in and tries to have it out with Crothers about how he's a useless piece of shit and doesn't even teach class anymore. Lucy suggests that he doesn't teach class because he’s tired and out of shape and spends all of his time woman chasing but again, it’s more likely that it’s because he’s a thousand years old and can't lift his leg without having a stroke. If they’re trying to sell me the idea that Scatman Crothers is skilled in martial arts, I’m not buying it. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike Crothers at all and he's a decent actor but I barely bought him as a psychic in The Shining so I’m sure as shit not going to buy him as a martial arts instructor. Shit, I barely even believe David Carradine could throw a punch and he was in Kung Fu.

The next scene is some black panther looking dudes walking towards this club called ‘Hip Pocket’ which belongs to a big badger bearded mother fucker called Pinky. These black panther militants tell Pinky to stop selling drugs to the locals because it’s destroying the community. They don’t go into this confrontation very well prepared because Pinky’s men manage to capture them pretty quickly. Pinky’s about to do some dental work on one of the guys with a pool ball but then there’s a knock at the side door of the club. Turns out this is Big Tuna and Blue Eyes. The mob give him the job of putting the squeeze on Crothers because Pinky has been stealing money from them. There's a running theme of really fucked up maths through this film and it starts here. Big Tuna tells Pinky that they figure he's stolen about a million from Don Steffano by now and they say that he should pay half which, to Tuna, is two hundred and fifty thousand. That's...that's not half. Anyway, Pinky and these guys turn up at the karate school and start throwing the students around. Pinky likes calling people ‘ants’ which isn’t going to endear him to anyone and gets tiresome after a while. The students kick the shit out of Pinky and his men and you're left wondering why Pinky looks so indignant given that he's just taken a bunch of fat guys into a karate school and expected the owners to just hand everything over. Interesting note; one of Pinky's men, called Jelly, is played by Earl Jolly Brown who also appeared in Live and Let Die alongside Gloria Hendry who plays Sydney in this movie. Knowledge is power, kids.

If being bad at simple maths is the running theme here, then lack of basic logic skills is the sub-plot

Next, Kelly is acting as trampoline instructor for some chicks at the beach. The government can’t be paying too well if he has to work as security for South American dignitaries AND as a girls only trampoline instructor. It’s the hardest way to make an easy living I guess. He gets a call from Toppy at the karate school saying that Pinky’s men showed up earlier and they’ll probably be coming back later on that night. Kelly agrees to come and help do something about it although why they don’t call the police or community support or whatever is unknown. When Kelly arrives at the school, Toppy is concerned about Crothers because he's an irresponsible dick and he knows that he owes Pinky some money. It's a bit like Toppy can't make his mind up though because he asks Kelly to speak to him about being such a dick, Kelly agrees but then Toppy says that Crothers won't listen. Confusing but on the whole, Toppy is a responsible guy. 

So, it’s night time and Kelly is half naked at the karate school. He could have done all this in a tracksuit or something but he decides to do it half naked. Toppy is with him and they notice that Pinky and his men are coming so they turn the lights out. Kelly tells Toppy to ‘remember; every three seconds’ and you’re not sure what’s going on but this soon becomes clear. What Kelly is going to do is prowl around in the dark, all stealth and shit and Toppy will hit the lights so that Kelly can smack all of Pinky’s men in the mouth before he turns the lights off again. What follows, my friend, is amazing.

So the room’s dark. Pinky and his men are fumbling around looking for a light switch. All of a sudden Pinky shouts ‘who the hell hit me?’ and then either Kelly or Toppy shouts ‘Batman, motherfucker’ in a deep, dramatic voice. The lights come on and BANG! Kelly’s kicking ass in slow-mo before Toppy shuts the lights off again and the room is once more plunged into darkness.  This scene is my second favourite of the entire movie and it only falls short of the title sequence on the technicality that while awesome, it’s a bit silly. There’s a moment when the lights come back on and Kelly is wearing a hat. The lights are shut off and when they’re turned on again, it’s gone. For the briefest moment in time, you’re a passenger aboard the SS Fractured Brain Tank and you’re hurtling towards a haemorrhage on a sea of clown’s murder dreams. It’s truly insane.

'Hat Man, mother fucker!'

Pinky and his men retreat while Kelly and Toppy have a good laugh at their expense. Pinky and his men turn up at this bar and they start giving the staff some shit. Pinky asks the woman behind the bar who's in the back room and she lets slip that Crothers is in there. Pinky confronts Crothers at the back of the club while he’s playing poker. He tells Crothers that he owes him $11,000 which Crothers says is bullshit because he only owes him $1000. Pinky is continuing the trend for bad maths. He knows how much he owes Pinky so this guy knows when he owes someone money and he’s responsible enough to remember the amount so why doesn’t Crothers give a shit about it? I mean, by this point you know that Pinky and his guys are a pack of bastards so why try and fuck them on money in the first place? Anyway, Pinky asks one of his guys to rough up Crothers because he won’t give Pinky the money nor will he give him the karate school. Pinky’s men punch Crothers in the face a couple of times but Crothers must have a medical condition which gives him a really weak face because this punching kills him. There then follows this Viewing (I think it’s called a Viewing. I know it’s not a Wake because that’s after the dude has been buried but this is definitely before Crothers is buried) which is a really weird mix of black gospel but with some eastern influence because all his students are there doing some tai-chi around the coffin. When it comes to the funeral itself, the same shit is going there as well except this time, the eastern influence is mixed in with some traditional New Orleans funeral jazz. So,  Government Guy is at the Viewing and Kelly tells him to track down Crothers' daughter.

At the funeral, we’re introduced to Sydney who Crothers hasn’t seen since she was five years old. Sydney’s a hard bitch because she sees Crothers’ girlfriend crying and she tells them that she did all her crying on the way over. I don’t know how much I believe that. I also think she’s bi-polar and/or a malfunctioning android because she fluctuates between being sultry and seductive to satanically nasty within the blink of an eye. To be honest, she’s the worst part of this movie. It’s weird because the actress was ok in Live and Let Die but she’s just horrible in this. Kelly asks Quincy to take her to her hotel but she manipulates Quincy into dropping her off at Pinky’s pool hall where she squares off against a load of Pinky’s men with a display of some impressive karate skill but she spoils the moment with a homophobic slur which doesn’t even make sense.  After she’s kicked everyone’s ass, her demeanour changes. She goes all cold and monotone but then changes to all sweetness and light. To be quite frank, she’s scary. When she’s talking to Quincy in the car, she asks him a series of questions, one of which doesn’t make any sense and even Quincy, who let us not forget is a character in a movie working from a script, can’t answer her because he's too confused. When she first walks into the bar and asks for Pinky, she speaks like the fucking Terminator, like she has a pre-programmed set of speech parameters which she can’t deviate from. It’s difficult to understand why Kelly finds her so attractive when she has the personality of a serial killer. The fact that she can back up this detachment from humanity with lethal karate skill is nightmarish. Oh, and she also likes punching people in the dick.

'BZZZ DOES NOT COMPUTE. WHAT IS THIS THING YOU CALL 'MOURNING'? BZZZ'

Back at the school, Quincy tells Kelly how bad-ass she is in a fight. He goes for a walk with her and talks to her a bit about her father. Sydney tells Kelly that she's jealous of his relationship with her father so she's mastered this one emotion so far. Meanwhile, Pinky has been to see Steffano to explain that one of his guys can punch a man to death and that the karate school now belongs to someone called Sydney. In this scene, we're given some insight into Don Steffano's issues with Aspergers because Big Tuna tells Pinky to walk on his left side and never to walk in front of him. Earlier in the film, Steffano has an issue with the bald mob guy because he's smoking. It's pretty weird. Anyway, Pinky has brought in some hard asses from out of town who go over to the school looking for Sydney. His men have told him that Sydney is a chick and he's pretty pissed that his guys got beaten down by a woman. He shouldn't feel too bad though because she's comprised of living tissue over a metal endo-skeleton. Pinky and his new bunch of heavies beat the shit out of the students at the school and he demonstrates more bizarre maths saying that Crothers owed him $250,000. Pinky kidnaps Quincy and holds him to ransom. Toppy then makes a quick call to Kelly to tell him that Pinky has abducted Quincy and probably failed his SAT's in maths. 

Kelly is pretty pissed off about this and takes a gun out of his suitcase and tucks it into his waistband but he really needs a holster. Perhaps he can't afford one. I don’t get it though because if he’s not earning enough to buy a holster as a government employee and has to teach big titty chicks how to trampoline properly, why does he have such a massive house and all these sharp suits? His car is a piece of shit though. I mean, it looks new but it seems small. It’s really confusing. I think Black Belt Jones II should have been about Kelly getting on top of his finances. It’s easy to see why Kelly can’t balance his books because he doesn’t seem to understand what Pinky is doing when he adds more and more money to the IOU. He gets all confused and tells Toppy that he’s coming over and it sounds like he wants to get the financial side of things straight in his head before he even considers a rescue. Maybe it’s the way he learns best.

'So that's five and...carry the ten...no, mother fucker, I hadn't forgotten about the decimal point! Can't you hear me trying to work this shit out?!'

Kelly calls Government Guy and asks him to come over to the school. The whole civic centre plot line comes out and the penny finally drops for everyone concerned. Kelly asks Government Guy for some help in retrieving Quincy and Sydney offers to give Pinky the school but Kelly tells her that this isn't necessary. When Sydney is talking, she tries very hard to approximate human concern for Quincy's well-being. I can’t give her any credit for this but I’ll give her programmers at Skynet 5 out of 10 for effort. Kelly tells Toppy to wait for a call from Pinky and tells him what to say. Pinky makes a call to Toppy who says that it'll take a few days to get the money.

Back at the Government Guy's office, Kelly is telling him what he needs to get Quincy back. They're thinking that they can kill two birds with one stone and take down the mob as well as get Quincy back. Kelly asks for an additional $55,000 dollars from Government Guy who seems agitated by this. Maybe he's thinking that Kelly's maths is off and he doesn't actually need that much money but arguing with him would require a couple of hours and a whiteboard to show him how the figures work out. So, Kelly enlists his trampoline girls into his private army and offers to pay them $5,000 each if they'll help him out with a job. You then get this montage of them setting up all their gadgets for whatever it is Kelly has planned. There's a great moment where Kelly is showing one of the girls how to use a Polaroid camera. I appreciate that in the early seventies, Polaroid's may not have been that common place but it's still pretty stupid to not know how one works.

As Kelly and his trampoline ninja's are making their way into the grounds (which seems really easy - again, the government should probably have asked him to do this first then they wouldn't be down one expensive spy watch), Don Steffano is having some sort of big meet up with other mafia guys. Steffano greets everyone around this dinner table and tells them that they've been having some problems but it is a peaceful time between them all so they should just have something to eat and not talk about any unpleasantness although it's debateable that no one would have brought it up anyway so he's just the worst kind of host if you think about it. Kelly and the titty ninjas are making good progress by this point. They're kicking ass and setting up this intricate series of devices to fool Steffano into thinking that everything is ok. Steffano has all these security cameras up around the grounds so what Kelly has done is attach polaroid pictures to the fronts of the camera's so it looks like the camera is still pointing at the grounds.

'This plan is so stupid that it just might work'

The plan all along has been to steal the money that Steffano keeps in that wine vat and give that to Pinky. Kelly and Sydney escape with the money and that envelope of pictures which no one in the film has mentioned for over an hour. Kelly and Sydney turn up at this warehouse where Pinky is holding Quincy. Pinky is a double crossing piece of shit because he takes the money and gets his men to kick the shit out of Kelly. Sydney makes her way around the building to help Kelly out and her and Quincy escape while Kelly pulls off this fucking awesome kick which is all done in slow-mo. Kelly escapes and makes a call to Big Tuna to tell him that the money Pinky has given him is the same money that was stolen. Back at Pinky's place, Big Tuna and Blue Eyes are seriously going to kill Pinky because he's a double crossing piece of shit. Tuna counts the money in the bag and comes to $250,000 but then asks Pinky where the rest of it is. I think Tuna was just to embarrassed to correct himself earlier and was hoping that Pinky would be able to do the maths himself. Now he's got to kill him because they're both so shitty at division. Pinky manages to convince Tuna and Blue Eyes that it wasn't his men because they're all fat and that they wouldn't have been able to do all that kung fu in the first place. Obesity serves as scientific proof enough that he's telling the truth and they let Pinky go.

Kelly and Sydney are at the beach just talking through some stuff about their experiences and what Sydney is going to do next. She mentions that she'll be going back to New York but will continue to run the karate school. Kelly deems this as logical a point as any to try and get fresh with her and this should act as a cautionary tale to all who want to get sexy with a malfunctioning instrument of death that hasn't been programmed to do anything but destroy. This whole scene is supposed to be cute but it just comes across to me as a hunt for a rogue cyborg. When Kelly does manage to catch up to her and subdues her with his junk, I’m surprised that she doesn’t rip his dick off, apologise unconvincingly and then try and re-attach it with a hot glue gun while vomiting motor oil. Sydney also gets to showcase more of her disturbing and aggressive homophobia. During the sex chase, they come across a guy who's just playing some guitar on the beach. Sydney takes the guitar off him and tries to smash it over Kelly's head but completely destroys it against this wooden post. This guy looks seriously fucking crestfallen and they both run off without an apology or anything.

'That's the third guitar I've lost to a kung fu sex chase this week'

After the rude and uncomfortable beach sex, Kelly and Sydney are back at his house. Blue Eyes, Big Tuna and pretty much everyone else turn up at Kelly's house to kill him. Pinky calls Kelly from the car phone and screams at him about the money and the pictures so they're important enough to get the main bad guys all riled up but not important enough to explain to the viewer in any way nor mention that much. Kelly puts a quick call into Government Guy but he's not available (which is actually the second time that's happened in this movie). Kelly and Sydney jump the wall and steal a car off two tourists because they've not done enough to offend and upset innocent people in the last few hours and get into a car chase with the mob. Kelly gets diverted into a garbage truck depot but they can't make their way around all the parked trucks. Their car gets trapped at the exit of a big industrial car wash that the garbage trucks use. Kelly gets out of the car and smashes the fuse box with a wooden pallet because...yeah, there's no reason. It only really serves to create the most homoerotic scene in a movie since the beach volleyball game in Top Gun. Kelly fights literally every single guy in the soap suds and foam spilling out of the truck washer. He throws the guys over to Sydney who puts them all in the back of a garbage truck and hits 'start' on the garbage compactor. I don't think this kills them but she's probably thinking that it does. I can't imagine her disappointment that she doesn't get to hear flesh and sinew becoming pink body mash. There's a lot of dick punching in this fight and even some ball crushing so fans of this won't go hungry. So when Kelly's finished punching everything and Sydney is finished being disappointed that she can't re-stock on human screams, Kelly and Sydney get into the truck with the intention of driving it to the police or the government or God know's who. They're stopped by Government Guy and a load of Policemen who escort the truck out of the city towards somewhere official and government-y.


Disturbingly, it kind of looks like Kelly's beating up a black Santa at one point

So, this is a pretty good movie with some intentionally funny moments. It's a better made movie than Black Samurai so why Jim Kelly didn't keep with a better quality of production like this, I don't know. There are still some bizarre plot inconsistencies though like the photographs which are built up to mean something but then come to nothing and some of the characterisation is odd like Sydney's aggression and Steffano's Aspergers but this is exactly what makes it a classic exploitation movie. Sadly, there’s no decent version of this movie readily available on Region 2 (if, like me, you live in the U.K, this is balls) so you may well have to buy a Region 1 copy and get yourself a multi-regional DVD player. Or tell the man to suck your dick and just download it from a torrent site. I don’t care. Alternatively, we can all band together and option Arrow Video or Shameless Screen Entertainment to give us a shiny new 1080p version? I’m going to start that shit right away. Last one on Arrow’s website gets a punch in the dick.

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Sunday, 7 July 2013

Black Samurai aka Asshole Samurai aka The Violent Delusions of an Un-medicated Psychopath

It's Jim Kelly week here at Exploitation Movie Review and after the sad news of his passing, I wanted to honour the man's life and legacy by taking a look over his small but awesome body of work (yeah, you'll probably find that the next few weeks are all Jim Kelly movies. You're just going to have to find a way to cope with that). We'll start with 'Black Samurai'...

In this movie, Jim Kelly plays Sands, an agent of D.R.A.G.O.N but we never find out what this is an acronym for, code named Black Samurai but his character is a complete asshole and quite possibly schizophrenic. He’s not an asshole like Sonny Chiba’s character in The Street Fighter because he’s never really set up as anything other than an asshole but this Sands guy is just a fucking tool. You’ll read about the reasons later but I invite you to have your own asshole/insanity points tally as we go through. He’s also not really a Samurai because he only uses a Katana, like, twice in this whole fucking movie. I was sort of suckered into buying this because the front cover of my DVD has some decent pictures of Jim Kelly looking tough and it says ‘Star of Enter the Dragon’ so I guess I should have known that it was going to be pretty liberal with the truth anyway.


The movie starts with these guys cruising in a car and they’re following this woman called Toki, who’s the daughter of this Japanese Minister for something. You don’t really find out. The guy in the back of the car looks like the biggest piece of shit of the three. He’s called Chavez and he kind of looks like Lee Van Cleef. You later find out that he IS a real piece of shit because his hobby is rape and woman punching. 

'Man, I sure do love rape and woman punching'

They follow this girl back to this big house with a pool and everything and she settles down to get her bronze on. These car assholes creep into the back yard and they beat up the pool boys but then shoot them anyway which seems a bit stupid considering they could have done that right away. Maybe they’ve got a point to prove or something. They kidnap Toki and bundle her into their car. This leads into the title sequence but this is pretty much full of lies too because it shows Kelly using a Samurai sword like it’s his main weapon and the only people it shows you him beating down are the midgets from later on in the movie (there are an uncomfortable amount of midgets in this shit). This kinda makes him look like a bit of an asshole but because it’s only the title sequence, we’ll mention it but we won’t count it against him.

Jim Kelly is on vacation when we get to meet him. Kelly is playing Tennis with some girl when these two dudes interrupt his game and probably fuck up his average or whatever it is they have in Tennis. One of them is called Farnsworth which is really typical stuffy white guy name and the other is called Pines who shows up later as his contact in California (I'm assuming it's California. I don't think they mention it, it just looks like California). They show him a bunch of photos which include pictures of Chavez and this guy called Janicot who Farnsworth says is into all this black magic and voodoo and shit as well as drugs, prostitution etc. He also likes having midgets around but that apparently isn’t in Farnsworth’s dossier so Kelly has to find that out for himself. He’s been getting some shit from Toki’s dad so he’s kidnapped Toki to send a message to this guy to suck his balls and to get some cash from him. They also show Kelly a picture of this other chick called Synne. Kelly seems pretty interested in her but Farnsworth and Pines tell him that she’s a real nasty piece of work and his boner goes away. Kelly isn’t interested because he’d much rather be playing Tennis and swimming and even though they try to appeal to his basic humanity by telling him that all the dudes in these pictures are total fucking douche nozzles, he seriously doesn’t give two shits. When reason and logic fail, they show him a picture of him and Toki kissing. This is where we find out that Kelly and Toki are seeing one another. You can tell that they’re in love because we get to see a flashback and they’re walking in this garden and she’s pointing at things. 

'I feel so comfortable pointing at things when we're together'

When they kiss, it looks like Kelly’s into it but she doesn’t look too taken with the situation if you ask me. Maybe she’s just a really bad actress or maybe the character is supposed to be a bit reserved. She seemed into him a minute ago when she was pointing at stuff. I don’t know. Anyway, the fact that she’s been kidnapped pisses Kelly off and he tells them that he’ll look into it. He tells these guys to make sure his car is there waiting for him when he arrives in California or wherever it’s supposed to be.

Now, I bring that up because you can tell that a lot of the budget went into this car because there’s a really un-eventful car chase where there’s not even any wheel banging or anything like that. Kelly’s car is tricked out with some James Bond like gadgets because he flips this switch which bursts these other guys’ car tyres and they fall down this ditch and their car explodes for like no reason. When this is over and he’s probably forgotten about it because he’s a sociopath, Kelly pulls up outside his hotel and has the good grace to not just leave his car too many spaces in front of the next parked car like you’d think he would. You can tell by this point that Kelly’s character doesn’t have much respect for authority (or humanity in general) by the way that he spoke to Farnsworth and Pines earlier and the way that he’s a selfish asshole but it’s nice to know that he respects common courtesy amongst drivers. I have to say that at this point, when Kelly is in his room, that this is the only time that we see Kelly doing anything with a Samurai sword until the end of the movie where he uses one to cut a character free from some rope. We also get to see him using some nun-chucks and they use the same sound effects they used in Enter the Dragon when Bruce is using them. When he’s finished his exercises, he starts to meditate but as soon as he does this, a gun barrel appears at his head and there’s this midget and another guy in his room saying they’re going to kill his ass. How the fuck they got into the room, I don’t know but the midget says that he enjoyed watching him practice which is weird. 

'My partner and I enjoyed watching you. Not in a gay way though because fuck you, you can't prove anything'

Kelly takes these dudes out by shooting the midget in the head and throwing the other guy out of a window. Pines shows up as soon as all the fighting’s done and tells him that Janicot is having a party later and he’s got Kelly an invitation. Kelly makes a couple of comments to Pines which suggests that he doesn't trust him too much which doesn’t make any sense.

So then we get to see the party that’s being held at Janicot’s place. It’s kind of weird when you first join the party because there’s a mariachi band playing and there’s a vulture just hanging out on this balcony above them. It looks like it might be some sort of festival at first glance and it’s really difficult to tell that it’s a party because everyone there is dressed differently. All the guests are wearing all these different styles of clothes and some of them don’t look like the kind of people this asshole would associate with. Some of them just look like tourists and it’s not until Janicot and Chavez show up that you realise that this is his party and he’ll vulture mariachi if he wants to. I don’t know why there’s a mariachi band at the party. Maybe they were part of a package deal with the vulture. 

I guess he's like security or something

When the mariachi band has stopped playing, this chick starts dancing for everyone and taking her clothes off but she never gets naked. She’s wearing like two pairs of pants and two bras and she seems really out of place, like this guy couldn’t afford to have a girl dancing on every table. It’s just really awkward and I can’t imagine that I’d have stuck around for much longer if I was at that party. Plus, the room looks really small. Like it’s being held in a wine cellar or something. Anyway, Kelly turns up and is immediately accosted at the door by one of the guys from the car at the start of the movie. This guy has a Village People moustache and is wearing the same vest that he had on earlier. Chavez is wearing a suit now but still hasn’t washed his hair and the other guy from the car at the start (called Bone) has come dressed as a Buccaneer. Kelly twists this dude's arm and shows him his invitation before letting him go and mingling with the other party guests. At this point, that Synne woman starts chatting to Kelly and flirting with him. Kelly introduces himself as Joe somebody or other and plays up to all the flirting. When Synne tries to introduce him to Janicot, this dude already knows that he’s an agent for D.R.A.G.O.N because he calls him by his code name and everything. This all seems a bit stupid and it’s like those moments in a Bond movie where everyone knows who he really is and you wonder why he bothered with a fake name in the first place. Kelly tries to leave but Janicot tells Buccaneer Bone to stop him. There’s a rooftop fight with more fucking midgets and some other guys and Kelly gets away. Jim Kelly really likes punching people in the dick which I can’t deny is effective but seems odd. He takes out at least five people in this movie by punching them in the dick and he even calls one of them a ‘whiny faggot’ which seems harsh.

'DICK PUNCH, SUCKAAAAA!!!'

Janicot is seriously pissed with his guys for letting Kelly get away and he makes Buccaneer Bone and Village People throw this guy who just had the misfortune of turning up to the de-briefing into a cell to make an example of him. You don’t know what’s in there until the end but during this scene it doesn't sound too cool. Right after this, Janicot accuses Synne of being attracted to Kelly which is weird but then tells her that he’s looking forward to a good game of cat and mouse with him so you’re left wondering why he throws that guy in the cell in the first place.

After some really uncomfortable scenes with Chavez trying to get his rape on with Toki, Kelly confronts Pines, saying that he’s been set up and that Janicot has a someone on the inside helping him out because he was expecting Kelly at the party. Pines literally hasn't a fucking clue what Kelly is talking about and it doesn't even occur to Kelly that Village People knew he was coming to the party because he was the guy that escaped from the hotel room earlier on but Pines acts pretty cool about it all. He doesn't lose his shit with Kelly or anything but when you're dealing with a dangerous lunatic like Kelly is in this movie, it's probably the best thing to do. Kelly basically tells him that he’s going to get to the bottom of this bullshit and drives off towards Chavez's house. Then, a load of other guys try to run him off the road in his car and he beats them down. There are no midgets in this fight but it’s pretty cool anyway. Next, Kelly calls D.R.A.G.O.N and tells them that he needs to get to Chavez’s house and he needs a boat and a jet pack which is the most ostentatious, dick headed mode of transport he could think of seen as though driving there went so horribly wrong the first time. When Kelly’s on the boat, he’s talking to someone but you never see anyone else on the boat so this could all just be voices in his clearly disturbed and aggressive mind. He lands somewhere near the grounds and is confronted by ANOTHER fucking midget who’s wearing a ten-gallon hat and who tells him that he’s under orders to bring Kelly in. Suddenly, Kelly is attacked by Zulu warriors and he gets into a fight with them.  Kelly manages to kick a couple to the ground but he throws one of the Zulu’s into this pond and because he’s a violent, schizophrenic nut box, homicidal rage over takes him and he drops a fucking huge rock on the guy’s head. For the briefest moment, you can see in Kelly’s eyes that he’s pondering the same question that’s going through your head; ‘why the fuck did you just throw a rock at that dude’s head? You have serious fucking problems, pal’

...yeah

We return to Kelly in his car and it’s night time so he’s probably been driving for a long time and not giving a shit about the fact that he’s just murdered a guy for no reason. He uses his car-phone to call Pines but he thinks it’s all a crock of shit and this guy is definitely setting him up for a fall. Kelly’s really condescending and clearly suffering from paranoid delusions because he genuinely has no reason to be this suspicious of Pines. What you find out is that Chavez, Village People and Buccaneer Bone have a gun to Pines’ head and they’re making him tell Kelly to come to Janicot’s place so they can fuck him up. Kelly gets a call from D.R.A.G.O.N telling him that the local authorities want to know what the fuck happened at Chavez’s villa and why there’s a dead Zulu floating belly up in a pond. Kelly doesn't give a shit. Like, not even the tiniest nugget of a shit. He even says ‘So what?’ with all this fucking attitude in his voice and D.R.A.G.O.N just back off probably thinking that it’s better to have a psychopath like this on-side rather than not and tell him that they’ll handle it.

So, while all this is going on, Janicot has decided that he doesn't care for Chavez’s attitude anymore (don’t look to me for answers because I haven’t a fucking clue) and has decided to kill his ass. Janicot is holding some sort of satanic ritual back at his place and the vulture shows up again so it’s obvious now that he didn’t just order that vulture for the party and that this is his own, personal vulture. There’s all this tribal dancing going on with dudes in masks and then this white chick comes out and starts dancing. I don’t think it’s the party stripper from earlier because she has different coloured hair. However, Janicot did say earlier that the party stripper girl can earn up to $500 a night so I guess he’s getting his money’s worth if all she did before was dance a bit and take off two pairs of lingerie before all hell broke loose. She probably had to provide her own hair dye, though. Kelly sees what’s going on and decides to come in through the building. Next, we see Chavez walking into Synne’s room while she’s getting ready for bed and just like earlier on, he’s trying to get laid in the stupidest way possible. Kelly catches him doing this and beats the shit out of him while Chavez holds a flick knife in one hand and his jacket in the other, like it has his phone and his keys in and shit and he doesn’t want to lose them during a fight which he’s not confident he can win. Either that or it’s a loaner and he doesn't want to get it creased. Synne is really grateful that Kelly’s helped her out and offers to repay him in titties. Kelly isn't interested; he just wants to know where his girlfriend is.


 'Do you accept Vag-isa?'

Eventually, Synne tells him that she’s in the tall tower which seems kind of obvious when you think about it. While this is going on, Chavez has escaped the room. Now, I know what you’re thinking but don’t worry SPOILERS he takes the jacket. Chavez gets into his car and he’s driving away and suddenly his car explodes with him inside. I like to think the bomb was in the jacket and if he’s just left it in Synne’s room, this film could have been over a lot sooner. Kelly finds Toki and they try to make an escape, only to be stopped by a load of Janicot’s men. They’re then tied to these pillars along with Pines and Janicot is planning to make them a sacrifice or something. He tells them that Synne will be executing them and she appears in all this High Priestess regalia but she fucks about too much and it gives Kelly time to get this exploding pen thing out of his trousers to free himself and the others.

How...how have you kept this in your waistband all along?

Toki goes to take on Synne and shows some basic Kung Fu skill but you wonder why she didn't help those pool boys at the start of the movie because she totally could of. I guess she wasn’t interested in coming to the rescue of the help. When she finally kills Synne, Synne sounds like a banshee and it’s pretty creepy. Pines gets to do some fighting as well but he seems to just take over on midget punching duties, leaving the full grown men to Kelly. Although in Kelly’s tortured, labyrinthine mind, they’re probably all manifesting themselves as 6ft tall screaming unicorns with guns for hooves.

During Kelly’s final fight with Buccaneer Bone, the dubbing is really poor and makes the fight really confusing. You’re left thinking that they must be communicating psychically with one another as they exchange generic insults like ‘chump’ and ‘sissy’ because literally, neither of their mouths is moving during the entire fight. Kelly breaks the guys back and casually declares that the guy will never walk again. Kelly's pretty much fought his way through all the henchman they could afford for this movie by this point and his final battle remains to be had with Janicot himself but before he can do this, Janicot unleashes the power of Vultron (that's the vulture) on him. Kelly dispatches Vultron in an uncharacteristic display of leniency by just punching Vultron out. Janicot notices that this avian ace in the hole was probably a really stupid idea and runs off into the tunnels beneath the house. 

Tonight on CBS: 'When Semi-Sentient Satanic Cult Vultures Attack'

After a bit of running around in the tunnels, Janicot tricks Kelly into walking into that cell from earlier on in the film. You find out that all this room has in it are snakes. This is really fucking retarded because the door to this cell isn’t like a solid wood door or steel or anything, it’s a fucking door with bars on it which snakes could easily escape through. You’re left questioning everything once you’ve seen this. Anyway, Kelly kind of puts this one rattlesnake into a trance and then pulls this mini flamethrower gadget from his concealed gadget waistband and he scares the snakes away. Then he burns through the lock to the door and starts chasing after Janicot again. Janicot is hiding around a corner and tries to bury an axe into Kelly but Kelly grabs the axe from him and threatens to kill Janicot with it while punching him in the face. He picks Janicot up and explains to him that, of all the options open to him at this point in time, he’s going to take him to the retarded snake room and lock him in there. If you’re the kind of person who treats death by axe or death by snakes as anything resembling a choice, you should seek professional help. 

'Snake or axe, sucka?! Either way, I just want you to know I am ROCK hard right now'

Kelly does this and just walks away while Janicot’s screams echo through the catacombs (a potent symbol of his own madness? You decide. I’m deciding ‘yes’). Outside of the tunnels, he bumps into Pines and Toki. Pines explains that the rest of Janicot’s men got sick of having their asses handed to them and fucked off. Kelly says ‘Well, I guess that’s it then’ and they leave. Credits roll. Just another day at the office for your average American secret agent psychopath.

So, yeah this movie is pretty fucked up and Kelly’s character really is a complete fucking chode. Some of the action sequences are pretty good and I’d be lying if I said that this wasn't entertaining as shit. It wasn't until I’d watched this movie through a few times that I began thinking to myself that maybe there were no midgets or Zulu warriors. Maybe there was never any mission to retrieve a kidnapped girl. It was all in his mind this entire time. For sure, the plot holes and inconsistencies could be explained off as a result of Kelly’s brain damaged nightmares and it makes sense to think that if I were a Kung Fu obsessed egomaniac who needed constant supervision and professional care, this is the kind of life I’d want for myself, too. So, anyway you can pick this up of Amazon for £9.99 or torrent it. And as for the asshole/insanity points tally, I lost count round about the time he started talking to himself on a boat.

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