Uncle Jasper reviews: Bruce Lee’s Deadly Kung Fu (1976)

[Author’s note: This review is intended to kick off a two-week series showcasing the highs and lows of Bruceploitation, the wild and often tasteless deluge of films that came out after the unexpected death of Bruce Lee. These films featured Bruce lookalikes in films that ranged from half-assed remakes & inaccurate bio-pics to the just plain bizarre. When a screen legend dies at the top of his game the natural tendency is to rush in and fill that void. Enter the Dragon was about to hit theaters worldwide, Bruce Lee Mania was still in full swing, and nobody was willing to accept that the Little Dragon would no longer be around to make films. The Hong Kong movie industry, who was no stranger to milking proven box office success until it was withered and dry, hired dozens of Bruce lee imitators to star in films with amusingly deceptive sounding titles like New Game of Death and Exit the Dragon, Enter the Tiger.

The resulting films are often quickly dismissed by kung-fu film aficionados as cheap, crass, and shameless… and well, they are. But let’s accept that and give these films a second shot. It’s time to taste our blood, thumb our noses and take a closer look at the wacky world of Bruce Lee exploitation cinema.]


Bruce Lee’s Deadly Kung Fu [詠春截拳](1976)
AKA The Story of the Dragon; Bruce Lee’s Secret; Bruce Li’s Jeet Kune Do; A Dragon Story; He’s a Legend, He’s a Hero; Master of Jeet Kun Do; Bruce Lee: A Dragon Story

Starring Bruce Li, Jimmy Lee Fong, Carter Wong, Hwang Jang Lee, Roy Horan, Paul Wei Ping-Ao

Directed By Chan Wa & William Cheung Kei


When it comes to Bruce Lee imitators, Bruce Li set the standard. He was among the very first out the gate after the Death of Bruce Lee, and with good reason. He pretty much nailed all of Lee’s mannerisms and put them on display just enough as not to overdo it. While most Lee imitator’s mimicry bordered on tactless parody, Bruce Li was actually very believable, masterful even, in his portrayals of Lee.

Li, whose real name was Ho Chung-Tao, was busy working as a stuntman in his native Taiwan, trying to break into the film industry with no success. It was only after the death of Bruce Lee, that producers in Hong Kong took notice of his resemblance and virtually launched him to superstardom overnight. Ironically, Li’s claim to fame would haunt him for most of his career. In later interviews he expressed some pretty heavy resentment towards a film industry that pigeonholed him into living in the shadow of Lee, never really allowing him to distance himself from the role. (Which is a very valid argument, Bruce Li was a pretty accomplished martial artist in his own right.) He ended up retiring from acting altogether after the death of his wife in the early ’80s.

Continue reading Uncle Jasper reviews: Bruce Lee’s Deadly Kung Fu (1976) →

MacHeads (2009)

Starring a bunch of MacHeads

Directed by Kobi Shely

Expectations: Low. I like Macs but I’m not a fanboy.


MacHeads tells the story of how the Mac community grew from an extremely dedicated bunch of computer nerds into millions of users that may or may not even own an Apple computer. The shift in Apple’s focus from the computer to the handheld device signaled the company’s rise in mainstream popularity, while also causing its hardcore fanbase to dwindle. Fanbase may be a strange word to use for a company but if you’ve ever talked with one of these folks you realize that hardcore Mac users really are huge fans of the company and what they stand for.

As Apple grows and leaves behind its underdog status, is it still a viable option for the elitist to claim that Apple is “fighting the good fight” against corporate giant Microsoft? I don’t think so. The question only exists for those of us that have followed computing since the days of things like the Apple IIe and DOS. For the rest of the populace, it’s more a question of cost vs. value and most people are not going to spend the money for a Mac when they can get a comparable Windows-based computer at half the cost.

Continue reading MacHeads (2009) →

Monsturd (2003)

Starring Paul Weiner, Beth West, Dan Burr, Brad Dosland, Dan West, Rick Popko, Hannah Stangel

Directed by Rick Popko & Dan West

Expectations: My expectations were flushed before I even considered watching this.

On the general scale:
halfstar

On the B-movie scale:
onehalfstar


I’m not going to beat around the bush, this is one big piece of shit. Monsturd tells the touching story of a prison escapee who falls into the wrong vat of goo and emerges as a giant shit monster. I’m getting ahead of myself though. First, the movie sets itself up as a fairy tale with a little girl waking up from a bad dream. Her father comes to check up on her and when he proposes to tell her a calming story, she refuses and tells him a story of her own. The story of an evil doctor employed by DuTech who unleashes a shit-storm of bad vibes on the town of Butte County, CA by dumping a shitload of toxic waste into the sewer system. When the escaped convict gets trapped in the sewer and falls into the goo he is reduced to nothing more than a bloody skeleton. OR SO THEY THOUGHT!

A man and his wife fight over cleaning the toilet. The wife insists that the husband gets his ass down there and cleans up his own shit. He does so, but as he’s plunging the toilet the shit monster comes up behind him and murders him. The scene is truly awful and laughable but not as funny as you might expect. When the cops come to investigate they see the calling card of the convict, a written message on the bathroom wall. It says, “Don’t Get Caught With Your Pants Down!” in, you guessed it, shit.

Continue reading Monsturd (2003) →

Uncle Jasper reviews: Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (2006)

Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (2006)

Starring Jason Yachanin, Kate Graham, Allyson Sereboff, Robin Watkins, Joshua Olatunde, Rose Ghavami, Caleb Emerson, Lloyd Kaufman, Khalid Rivera

Directed By Lloyd Kaufman


Believe me, I tried. I tried really hard to mentally prepare myself to brave another Troma film. I am in love with the gaudy trash that Lloyd Kaufman spews out there to his deranged audience. But god damn, every film manages to outdo the others before it in terms of bedrock tastelessness and unadulterated offensiveness. I thought I could hang with the big guns this time around, but within the first five minutes a drooling axe murderer is caught slapping his cock around while a zombie hand shoots out of the ground and straight up his ass… That just told me instantly that I was doomed.

When a fried chicken franchise restaurant is built on top of Tromaville’s Indian burial ground, the product begins coming to life. A gang of lesbian protesters demonstrate in front of the franchise, carrying signs with sayings like “Fuck Tibet, free the chickens!” When they are tricked into eating the tainted poultry, well, I bet you can figure out what happens next…

Continue reading Uncle Jasper reviews: Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (2006) →

Coco Before Chanel (2009)

Coco Before Chanel [Coco avant Chanel] (2009)

Starring Audrey Tautou, Benoît Poelvoorde, Alessandro Nivola, Marie Gillain

Directed by Anne Fontaine

Expectations: Moderate.


Going into this movie I expected a tale of how Coco Chanel became a fashion giant, how she built her empire. Instead, I was treated to a simple love story, that funnily enough, was pretty devoid of love. This is definitely not my general type of movie. I have nothing against a good romantic movie, it’s just not a genre I’d specifically pick over something I’m more interested in. I find so many romantic movies to be formulaic and boring, so I generally overlook them. Coco Before Chanel is without a doubt a slow, plodding film, but it has a purpose and it builds towards it well.

The film opens with Coco as a small child, her father dropping her off at the orphanage. This abandonment instills within her a reluctance to trust men and influences her later decisions. The film jumps forward to when Coco is about 20 or so and singing at a saloon. She is noticed by the Baron Balsan (Benoît Poelvoorde) and the two develop a relationship. This gives her a foot into the upper class of French society and through Coco’s determination she remains true to herself and her personal style.

Continue reading Coco Before Chanel (2009) →

Uncle Jasper reviews: Blackenstein [The Black Frankenstein] (1973)

Blackenstein [The Black Frankenstein] (1973)
AKA Black Frankenstein, Return of Blackenstein, Blackstein

Starring John Hart, Ivory Stone, Joe De Sue, Roosevelt Jackson

Directed By William A. Levey


After the runaway success of Blacula, it was only a matter of time before other studios would attempt to cash in on the blaxploitation/horror sub-genre. The most obvious attempt was 1973’s Blackenstein, a movie that takes everything Blacula did right and throws it completely out the window.

When Vietnam Vet Eddie Turner (Joe De Sue) loses all of his limbs from a land mine, his fiancée Dr. Walker consults her old teacher, mad scientist Dr. Stein (John Hart) for help. Dr. Stein attempts to attach new limbs to Eddie, and all is going according to plan. But when his assistant, Malcomb professes his love for Dr. Walker and is rejected, he secretly switches the bottles of DNA solution out of spite. The unbalanced solution is injected into Eddie, mutating him into Blackenstein, a hideous (?) monster who escapes the laboratory every night, limping around Los Angeles like a 93-year-old woman, killing random strangers by ripping out their intestines.

Continue reading Uncle Jasper reviews: Blackenstein [The Black Frankenstein] (1973) →

Critters (1986)

Starring Scott Grimes, Dee Wallace-Stone, M. Emmet Walsh, Don Keith Opper, Billy Green Bush, Terrence Mann, Ethan Phillips, Billy Zane

Directed by Stephen Herek

Expectations: Fairly high. I’d wanted to see this since I was a little kid.

On the general scale:
onehalfstar

On the B-movie scale:
twohalfstar


I’ve seen parts of this over the years but had never seen it all the way through. I gave it a go, but this is definitely one that would be better with a bunch of friends. It’s a horror comedy and my sights were set a bit more towards gore-fest. The key flaw to my logic though is that I never bothered to notice that this was PG-13. That would have tempered my expectations quite a bit, instead of building them up over the last couple of decades.

Basically, the Critters (or Crites, if you want to get technical) make a daring escape from a prison asteroid, stealing a spaceship. A couple of shapeshifting bounty hunters head off in pursuit. The Crites land on Earth, rural Kansas to be exact. It’s been a long flight and their little Critter bellies are rumbling. From here it devolves into a slight clone of Hitchcock’s The Birds, if the birds were prison-breaking, meat-chomping little furballs from space. I loved the opening of the movie, even if it does focus on the family a little too much. As the film dragged on, my bloodlust raged. “When will the Crites start chomping the innocents?” I thought.

Continue reading Critters (1986) →

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