7 Years Old!

Alright, here we are again; another year is in the can! Silver Emulsion entered its 7th year about six weeks ago (on April 12th), but I just now had the time and the inclination to write this thing. I think I’ll try to keep this one short and sweet, but who knows… we could have a 2000-word behemoth on our hands by the end of this.

Well, I’ve done pretty well this year, keeping my nose to the grindstone and putting out reviews consistently. The Arnold series was finished off in the last year, including all the cameo roles I had on the list. I’ve also started the Silver Emulsion podcast, and somehow it’s already been nearly a year since I started doing that! I’ve also started writing reviews for the official Shaw Brothers website run by Celestial Pictures!

What’s going on in the next year / Did I predict correctly last year?

  • I predicted I might be close to finishing Jackie, but what’s remaining is still in the double digits. I am well into the 2000s, though, so I will most assuredly finish the series in Year 7… and maybe even before 2017 is over!
  • I just did a count and at my current pace of a new review every other week, I have almost exactly one year of Full Moon reviews left… which is pretty much exactly where I predicted I’d be last year. I must have cheated and counted them out or got a Review Almanac from the future or something. 🙂 But Jackie should finish first, so theoretically this would finish off sooner than one year, too.
  • I’m very happy to have exceeded my conservative Shaw Brothers prediction, ending up almost done with 1975 at this point. At this rate, I should be somewhere around 1977 by next year.
    • Although… with the Jackie and Full Moon series both potentially ending before Emulsion Year 8 begins, I might even be further along! Let’s hope that’s the case, and that I can successfully manage to then bang out two Shaw reviews a week! We’ll see!

Anyway, it’s been a great year for Silver Emulsion and I hope it was a good one for you, too. Here’s to another year of reviews! Thanks to everyone who reads, shares, comments or otherwise contributes to the overall thing that this website is. Hahaha, “the overall thing that this website is,” whatever the hell that means. 🙂

Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold (1975)

Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold [女金剛鬥狂龍女] (1975)

Starring Tamara Dobson, Stella Stevens, Tanny Tien Ni, Norman Fell, Albert Popwell, Caro Kenyatta, Chan Shen, John Cheung Ng-Long, Christopher Hunt, Lin Chen-Chi, Lau Luk-Wah, Eddy Donno, Bobby Canavarro

Directed by Chuck Bail

Expectations: Moderate.


Like just about every American movie set in Hong Kong, Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold opens on a busy harbor full of junks and other ramshackle boats, scored with overtly “Oriental” music. The rest of the movie is also filled with all kinds of cliches and obvious story beats. Despite this, the movie rises above its trappings and manages to be quite an entertaining film. It exists in a gray area where the traditional American action film intersects with the Blaxploitation and kung fu genres, but only in the film’s incredible, lengthy finale does it ever really embrace any of those roots in a completely satisfying way. And it might just be my love of Hong Kong talking, but Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold is better than the original, which I watched last week in preparation for this review.

The film’s story is probably its weakest element. Matthew Johnson (Albert Popwell) and Melvin Johnson (Caro Kenyatta) attempt to buy some product from drug lord Soo Da Chen (Chan Shen). Chen wants to do the deal behind the back of the big, bad Dragon Lady (Stella Stevens), who controls the illicit trade in the region, in a bid to undermine her power and potentially take over. Dragon Lady is too smart to let this happen, so she assaults the boat where the deal is happening, taking Matthew and Melvin hostage. Enter Cleopatra Jones, sent to Hong Kong to rescue them, and maybe take down the drug ring in the process. I honestly don’t remember if that was part of her assignment. In any case, that’s the whole plot; the rest of the movie just continues down that path, dealing with some obstacles that arise as Cleopatra makes her way through the Hong Kong underworld.

Continue reading Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold (1975) →

The Kingdom and the Beauty @ ShawBrothersUniverse.com!

Hey there, Emulsionites! My latest post for the official Shaw Brothers site went up yesterday! This time it’s a review of the 1959 Huangmei opera classic, The Kingdom and the Beauty, directed by Li Han-Hsiang! Check it out here and enjoy!

And if you’re looking to watch The Kingdom and the Beauty, your options are a bit limited at the moment. It was released on HK Region 3 DVD and HK Blu-ray, both of which are still available (as of this writing) via my favorite HK import retailer: DDDHouse.

 

Dead & Rotting (2002)

Starring Stephen O’Mahoney, Tom Hoover, Debbie Rochon, Trent Haaga, Jeff Dylan Graham, Barbara Katz-Norrod, Christopher Suciu, Beth Biasella, Tammi Sutton, Jamie Star

Directed by David P. Barton

Expectations: Low.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


I always hope to like the movie I’m watching, but I must admit that I started Dead & Rotting with a real sinking feeling. The title seemed prophetic of the film’s quality, and its ugly cover art (see above) didn’t reassure me any. So when I began the film and it wasn’t an immediate train wreck, my spirits lifted a bit. A few minutes in, I actually thought to myself, “This is actually pretty good!” By the end of the film, I had been converted completely, and I can now declare Dead & Rotting to actually be one of the best Full Moon films of the early 2000s. Maybe now I’ll have learned my lesson not to judge a movie by its title/cover, but with Full Moon movies like Magic in the Mirror: Fowl Play still on deck for review, I’m unsure if it’ll stick.

Three prankster buddies are out for a night ride in their truck, daring each other to check out a scary house in the woods rumored to be the house of a witch. Before they can get too close, though, they meet a weird, dirty man who runs them off the property by attacking the truck with some kind of animal on a stick. One thing leads to another and the witch sets out to curse the men, asking them, “Do you know what it feels like to be dead and rotting?” It’s a fairly simple, straightforward movie and it’s also short, so I’ll leave it at that. You get the gist.

Continue reading Dead & Rotting (2002) →

The Bloody Escape (1975)

The Bloody Escape [逃亡] (1975)

Starring Chen Kuan-Tai, Shih Szu, Wai Wang, Wu Chi-Chin, Chiang Tao, Chan Shen, Li Min-Lang, Yeung Chi-Hing, Pao Chia-Wen, Wong Ching-Ho, Lei Lung, Chen Wo-Fu

Directed by Sun Chung (and Chang Cheh to some degree)

Expectations: High.


The Bloody Escape was one of the many films released in 1975 that had actually sat around unfinished for a while. Some magazine scans on Cool Ass Cinema show that the film started shooting as a solo directing gig for Chang Cheh, but from another scan in a post on the Kung Fu Fandom message board we can see that Sun Chung was cited as a joint director from the beginning of the project. For some reason the film wasn’t finished at that time, though, leaving Sun Chung to finish it up for its eventual release in 1975. The film’s on-screen credits list Sun Chung as the sole director, but all the online databases and even Chang Cheh’s memoir list Chang as the film’s co-director (and co-writer). How much of the film is Sun Chung and how much is Chang Cheh is something we may never know, but in terms of feel The Bloody Escape definitely doesn’t give off the usual vibe of a Chang Cheh film.

What it does feel like is a variation on what is probably Sun Chung’s most well-known film, The Avenging Eagle… three years before that film came out! So I suppose it’s actually the other way around, but I imagine almost everyone watching Shaw films nowadays came to the films in the “incorrect order.” In any case, The Avenging Eagle is one of the best Shaw Brothers films out there, bearing a wonderful story and script by Ni Kuang, so an earlier, lesser version of that film starring Chen Kuan-Tai is quite the find among the many nooks and crannies of the Shaw catalog.

Continue reading The Bloody Escape (1975) →

Traces of a Dragon (2003)

Traces of a Dragon [龍的深處:失落的拼圖] (2003)
AKA Traces of a Dragon: Jackie Chan & His Lost Family

Starring Jackie Chan, Charles Chan Chi-Ping, Fang Shi-De, Fang Shi-Sheng, Chan Yu-Lan, Chan Gui-Lan

Directed by Mabel Cheung

Expectations: Moderate.


Traces of the Dragon is a documentary about the lives of Jackie Chan’s parents, the details of which were unknown to Jackie Chan himself until some time around the filming of this documentary. Crazy as that sounds, it’s true; his parents were focused more on surviving and keeping the family afloat than regaling their young son with tales from their lives before he was born. Jackie wasn’t around his parents for much of his youth, anyway. His distaste for regular school led to a 10-year, contracted enrollment in the Peking Opera school where he would meet Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao, laying the groundwork for his life of entertainment and death-defying stunts. And from the way they talk about it in the film, it doesn’t seem like Jackie did much of anything but practice his skills during these school years.

Jackie Chan may have gone on to become a global star, but his parents’ lives are actually far more interesting and worthy of a documentary than his. It’s such a moving tale that the director of the documentary — well-respected Hong Kong filmmaker Mabel Cheung — would later dramatize it into the 2015 film A Tale of Three Cities. They not only lived through the Second Sino-Japanese War and the continued Chinese Civil War that followed it, his father was involved in the war as a Nationalist operative and both of his parents were hugely affected by these country-wide struggles. Their story is one of war, refugees, and making the hardest choices that life can throw your way.

Continue reading Traces of a Dragon (2003) →

The Silver Emulsion Podcast: Ep. 32 – Bloody Muscle Bodybuilder in Hell

Episode 32! Talkin’ about the low-budget Japanese horror film Bloody Muscle Bodybuilder in Hell, directed by Shinichi Fukazawa. We also were on full-on ramble mode so we go in and out of many different things on our way through the talk on Bloody Muscle Bodybuilder From Hell.

Music Notes

Intro:

  • Holland – Wake Up the Neighborhood

Outro:

  • Mal Waldron with John Coltrane – Wheelin’

If you’ve got feedback, throw it into the comments below or email it to me via the contact page! I’ll include it in a future show!

The podcast is embedded directly below this, or you can go directly to Podbean (or use their app) to listen. If you want to subscribe, paste http://silveremulsion.podbean.com/feed/ into whatever reader you’re using, such as iTunes.

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