Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Kiss of Death(Du Nu,1973)

For the first movie review, I figured we'd go
outside of the box a bit and cover this offering
from the Shaw Brothers, 'The Kiss of Death'. Made
in 1973, the main stars are Chen Ping and Lo Lieh,
both studio icons, Lieh more so due to his role in
'King Boxer'(Five Fingers of Death stateside).

Chen Ping plays Ling, a young woman in Hong Kong
with no family. She works hard in a factory to
live. One evening, she's attacked by four thugs
who take her to a roof and rape her. It's not
until a day or two after that she finds out that
she's gotten a STD. Ashamed, and feeling alone,
she goes to work as a bargirl in a club run by
Wong Ta, who's crippled but still commands respect.
Ling finds out with the assistance of one of the
other girls that she has 'Vietnam Rose', one of
the more lethal forms of venereal disease. After
seeing her boss dispatch a few hooligans easily,
she begs him to learn his kung fu. And so, Ling
begins her deliberate revenge on the four rapists.

This film, directed by Ho Meng-Hua is one the first
for Shaw Studios to employ a mixture of violence,
female nudity and sex which defined some of their
films during the 1970's. It wouldn't be out of the
ordinary to compare them to the Pinky violence films
in Japan; in a few shots one can see the influence
with regards to camera angle and action. Plus they
weren't shy about a few long closeups of breasts.
Also, Ping winds up fighting in some interesting
outfits, especially the disco shorts and high boots
combo at the end. Makes you think twice about who
you approach at happy hour doesn't it?

Despite these elements within the film, Chen Ping
gives a great performance, handling her role as a
poison ivy very well. Fellas, be warned: her way
of delivering justice involves a blow to the crotch
with a medical instrument. And we're not talking
Q-Tips. The first time I saw this movie I kept
jumping up and flinching. Lo Lieh does well here too
as the cool and collected club boss. One scene to
watch out for is his first fight scene. Straight
brutal. And I'll end this off with a bit of trivia..
Shaw Studios wanted a different English title for
this film, which was 'Vietnam Rose'. It was dropped
after protests because a name like that could be
seen as slanderous given the amount of illegal
immigrants and relocated Chinese nationals that
were escaping the war in Vietnam at that time.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

how 42nd street played a part.

i'll admit, i never set foot inside of one those old
grindhouse movie theaters that used to line 42nd street.
by the time i was of age to hit the subway by myself,
42nd street was in the beginning stages of being cleaned
up due to it being 'Giuliani time'. amid all of the new
restaurants and theaters being built for Broadway shows,
the video stores still remained. most, if not all of them
still sold pornography by the ton along with the infamous
video booths. it wasn't until 2000 that i got a chance to
fully explore the dwindling world that 42nd street used
to be.

now i realize that i sound rather nostalgic but i knew
exactly what the forty deuce used to be: a hot spot for
all kinds of filth and wild behavior. i was working on
42nd street with a broadcast advertising agency, one of
those first jobs out of school. i was working the night
shift, which meant leaving the office at 1 in the morning.
so you KNOW each night had the potential for it to be
like Whodini's classic 'Freaks'. but those stories are
for another time. one thing that amazed me was the ratio
of kung-fu flicks to porn in a couple of stores. i can
distinctly remember one store having nothing but martial
arts movies right on Eighth Avenue. before i would get
on the E train back to Queens, i'd head into the store
and pick up one or two flicks along with some grub and
make my way home.

most stores had a wide variety of films. you had your
Shaw Brothers, your Ocean Shores, your Golden Harvest..
if you were lucky you might find a rare gem of a movie
not even released stateside. and the store owners knew
what sold; i remember one tiny store on 43rd street
that made it a point to not only sell rare kung fu flicks
but damn near every blaxploitation and b-moive ever
made. i can still smell the mixture of lamb and rice
off the food cart and ammonia that seemed to be a staple
of these spots along with a penchant for having the
radio blare '80's pop music. there are SOME advantages
to the digital age.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

welcome to the dojo!!!

one of the baddest men to ever fight onscreen, sonny chiba.

what's happening good people? for those that know
me personally, i am an avid fan of martial arts
movies. it's been that way ever since i got a
chance to watch 'The Big Boss(Fist of Fury)at the
age of nine. the uncensored version at that. my
love for chop-socky flicks only grew as the grand
masterpieces of Shaw Brothers movies became the
climax of my Saturday afternoons growing up.

(c'mon...i HAD to take you there. props to TAPTHAT)

things haven't changed much. i still love these
movies with a passion and i've found out in the
most emphatic way that i'm not the only one. so
this blog is going to be part journey down memory
lane and part film lesson. but don't be shy, please
feel free to share your thoughts and favorite
movies as well! sit back and enjoy!!!