The Silver Emulsion Podcast: Ep. 79 – The Boxer’s Omen

This week on the Silver Emulsion Podcast, Stephen and I brave the dangerous waters of the Black Magic world to talk about Kuei Chih-Hung’s 1983 film The Boxer’s Omen, sequel to Bewitched. Listen and enjoy! 🙂

Also: the show is now on iTunes! So if you feel like subscribing there, or rating/reviewing the show, feel free to share your thoughts!

Music Notes

Intro:

  • Jimi Hendrix – Somewhere
    • People, Hell & Angels (iTunes, Amazon)

Outro:

  • The James Boys – The Mule

If you’ve got feedback, throw it into the comments below or email it to me via the contact page! We’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.

Dragons Forever (1988)

DragonsForever_1Dragons Forever [飛龍猛將] (1988)
AKA Cyclone Z, Action Hunter

Starring Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Deanie Ip, Pauline Yeung Bo-Ling, Yuen Wah, Roy Chiao, Crystal Kwok Gam-Yan, Benny Urquidez, Billy Chow Bei-Lei, Lee Ka-Ting, Phillip Ko Fei, James Tin Jun, Tai Bo

Directed by Sammo Hung

Expectations: High. Can’t wait to see the Jackie/Benny the Jet re-match again, and find out about all the stuff I completely forgot about.

threehalfstar


Dragons Forever is the final film to feature the Three Brothers (Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung & Yuen Biao), and in many ways it feels very knowledgeable of this. It often pits the brothers against each other (to wonderful results), perhaps bringing on-screen the off-screen tension due to creative disputes. It sees the return of the Wheels on Meals heavy, champion kickboxer extraordinaire Benny “The Jet” Urquidez, for a re-match. Its title has nothing to do with the movie, instead referencing the brothers themselves and their enduring friendship. Dragons Forever is a victory lap for the fans, sending off the brothers’ film collaborations at the height of their careers. As a fan you can’t argue that they didn’t deliver enough after so many movies throughout the ’80s, and since they were all capable of headlining their own films at this point in their careers, the idea of “One more Three Brothers film!” is a wonderful way to say goodbye to a very fruitful relationship. Would I like them to get back together and do another? Yeah, I wouldn’t mind that in the slightest, but there is something to be said for exiting the game at the top.

Jackie Chan plays Jackie, a sleazeball defense lawyer who handles cases for despicable criminals and womanizes every chance he gets. Sammo is something of a con-man. We first meet him selling weapons out of a duffel bag, but soon Jackie directs him to set his sights on the owner of a fishery (Deannie Yip). Jackie’s client owns a chemical factory that is polluting the fishery’s water, and he’s hoping to discredit her in any way he can to win the case. Yuen Biao is Jackie’s crazy friend, who he employs to place a bug in Miss Yip’s apartment, again to gather information to help build his case. Against type and tradition, the three brothers are all on the wrong side of this tale, so initially you can’t really root for them like you normally would.

Continue reading Dragons Forever (1988) →

Heart of Dragon (1985)

HeartoftheDragon_1Heart of Dragon [龍的心] (1985)
AKA Heart of the Dragon, The First Mission, Powerman III

Starring Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Emily Chu Bo-Yee, Melvin Wong, Lam Ching-Ying, Mang Hoi, Chin Ka-Lok, Yuen Wah, Corey Yuen Kwai, Peter Chan Lung, James Tin Jun, Chung Fat, Dick Wei, Phillip Ko Fei, Anthony Chan Yau, Lam Ying-Fat, Wu Ma

Directed by Sammo Hung

Expectations: I remember not liking this one at all, but I’m sure I’ll be more open to it than I was as a teenager.

threestar


Heart of Dragon is one of the few Jackie Chan films that isn’t a traditional action film, and this makes it a hard sell to many fans. Director Sammo Hung wanted to stretch out the acting chops of both himself and Jackie, so the action was scaled back to allow the story’s drama to take the center stage. They even shot two fight scenes that were cut from the film, which should give you a pretty good indication of how dedicated Sammo was to making a more serious film that his previous work with Jackie. It also gave them the right to say, “We threw away better fight sequences than [insert movie title here] had!” 🙂

Heart of Dragon is actually more tonally mixed than all that makes it sound, and this really surprised me. I saw this film once before during my teenage obsession with Jackie, and the only thing I remember is Sammo in overalls and how bored I was. I honestly didn’t remember there being any action at all. This time I found Heart of Dragon to be a delicate mix of serious drama and lite comedy, with sprinkles of action and romance. Often the tones would mix together, too, which is always challenging for a movie to pull off. The scene when Sammo masquerades as his friend’s father to visit the school principal comes to mind. It’s funny as an isolated scene, but when you consider the entire situation it’s heartbreaking how vulnerable Sammo’s character is.

Continue reading Heart of Dragon (1985) →

The Killer Meteors (1976)

KLRMTEORThe Killer Meteors [風雨雙流星] (1976)
AKA Karate Death Squad, Jackie Chan Versus Wang Yu

Starring Jimmy Wang Yu, Jackie Chan, Tung Lam, Lee Man-Tai, Ma Cheung, Phillip Ko Fei, Ma Kei, Lee Si-Si, Chan Wai-Lau, Weng Hsiao-Hu, Sit Hon, Lily Lan Yu-Li, Yu Ling-Lung, Henry Luk Yat-Lung, Wong Yeuk-Ping, Woo Wai

Directed by Lo Wei

Expectations: Moderate.

threehalfstar


Right outta the gate: this isn’t a Jackie Chan movie. He plays a villain and has a couple of fights, but this is a Jimmy Wang Yu movie all the way. If you go into this movie expecting anything remotely similar to a Jackie movie, you’ll be sorely disappointed. So set your expectations to Lo Wei/Jimmy Wang Yu classic wuxia, and you should have a grand ole time like I did. My high assessment of The Killer Meteors will likely be an unpopular opinion, but I can only call it like I see it and I had a fantastic time watching this movie.

The Killer Meteors is about a martial artist so badass that other martial artists come and pay him tribute. He wields the infamous Killer Meteor, a weapon with unparalleled power that no living person has ever seen in action. This martial artist (Jimmy Wang Yu) is hired by Hua the Hearty AKA Devil Meteor (or Immortal Meteor, depending on the translation) to kill his wife. She has poisoned Hua and is refusing to give him his yearly dose of the antidote. Hua is sick of the games, so he sends in the one-man wrecking crew of Jimmy Wang Yu to settle the score. But as this is a wuxia in the classic sense, the final tale is not so cut and dry as that.

Continue reading The Killer Meteors (1976) →

Seeding of a Ghost (1983)

Seeding of a Ghost [種鬼] (1983)

Starring Norman Chu Siu-Keung, Phillip Ko Fei, Wai Ka-Man, Maria Yuen Chi-Wai, Wong Yung, Wai Yee-Yan, Hung San-Nam, Tin Mat, Pak Man-Biu

Directed by Yang Chuan

Expectations: High, can’t wait to see what they cooked up for this one!


This is why you don’t fuck with black magic. Seeding of a Ghost opens with a black magic practitioner digging up some graves, y’know as black magic practitioners do, but a raging group of people come over the hill and try to catch him and stop him. He runs off, only to be hit by a passing taxi, but when the driver gets out to see if the guy’s alright, he’s gone. When he gets back in the car, the guy’s in the back seat ready for a ride, and he tells the taxi driver that it’s his bad luck to run into him today… maybe you’ll only be sick, but you and your family might also die. Seems like a wide range of possibilities there and reason enough to stay far away from the black arts!

It’s been much too long since I’ve reviewed a Chinese black magic movie, and what better time to get back on the train than October? Prior to this, I’ve only seen two movies in this sub-genre, but goddamn if they aren’t two movies that burned holes directly into my soul. I remember them like I watched them yesterday, and their crazy shenanigans are usually close to the surface of my mind. I don’t know what that says about me, that I’m thinking of black magic practitioners drinking the blood of unborn fetuses to refuel, or flying alien heads with spaghetti-like spines flailing around, but I like it. These movies are unique, special and incredibly entertaining, and while Seeding of a Ghost is definitely not at the same level as those two films, it’s still quite fun.

Continue reading Seeding of a Ghost (1983) →

The Boxer’s Omen (1983)

The Boxer’s Omen [魔] (1983)

Starring Phillip Ko Fei, Lam Hiu Yin, Wai Ga Man, Bolo Yeung-Tze, Wang Lung-Wei, Elvis Tsui Kam Kong, Cheung Chok Chow, Leung Hak Shun, David Lam Wai, Wan Seung Lam, Lai Yau Hing, Lam Chi Tai

Directed by Kuei Chi-Hung

Expectations: High, it’s a Kuei Chi-Hung black magic movie.


Regular visitors will be familiar with the extreme exploits of director Kuei Chi-Hung, the Shaw Brothers’ resident weirdo. Films such as The Killer Snakes and Virgins of the Seven Seas show his range, but for my money his witchcraft movies are the main event. The Boxer’s Omen is a slight sequel to his previous film Bewitched, and it should open with a serious warning to anyone that could possibly be pregnant and/or have a heart condition. Kuei pulls no punches during the nearly non-stop parade of filth that constitutes The Boxer’s Omen, so fans of Hong Kong witchcraft films ready your snake gallbladders and alligator carcasses and we’ll get down to business.

Continue reading The Boxer’s Omen (1983) →

Uncle Jasper reviews: The Eighteen Jade Arhats (1978)

The Eighteen Jade Arhats [十八玉羅漢] (1978)
AKA The Eighteen Jade Pearls, Jade Killer, The Eighteen Claws of Shaolin, Jaws of the Black Dragon, Eighteen Deadly Arhats, Bruce Lee – The Flying Dragon

Starring Polly Shang Kuan, Lee Jan-Wa, Lo Lieh, Chang Yi, Phillip Ko Fei, Lung Fei, Ching Kuo-Chung

Directed By Jen Chieh Chang


Oh Eighteen Jade Arhats, you looked so good when we first met. You presented yourself with nothing but class and promises of wonderful times. How my heart fluttered at your awesome box art full of white-eyebrowed old men in dexterous kung fu poses and bizarre multi-limbed training machines. Your plot summary read like a smorgasbord of wu xia thrills and edge of your seat action, a veritable buffet of tasty kung fu goodness. Your opening credit sequence featuring a duo of seasoned martial artists fighting a 20-foot-tall, 14-armed robot statue nearly brought tears of joy to my eyes. Oh where did it all go wrong? I thought we had something special. Instead, our love fizzled out in a sea of dizzying confusion and broken promises.

That’s the gist of it. The Eighteen Jade Arhats, in its eager attempt to give you the world, throws a little bit of everything at you at such a frantic, breakneck speed that it ends up playing out like a collection of Shaw Bros. trailers instead of anything resembling a real motion picture. At one moment you have a dizzying, treetop wire-assisted fight scene, and at the next you have a supernatural kung fu zombie thriller. This would of course be acceptable, welcome even, if there was a shred of coherent storytelling holding the funky mish-mash together. But instead we are left scratching our heads as the film carelessly jumps from subplot to subplot like a drunken frog looking for a specific fly in a vast sea of horseshit. Hell, sometimes subplots are discarded or flat-out forgotten altogether. The viewer of course, is so batshit confused by this point that they either won’t notice or simply won’t care.

Continue reading Uncle Jasper reviews: The Eighteen Jade Arhats (1978) →

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