The Silver Emulsion Podcast: Ep. 25 – Chungking Express

Episode 25! This episode I’m talkin’ about Wong Kar-Wai’s Chungking Express!

Also on the show:

  • Sammo Hung’s Winners and Sinners
  • Hal Roach’s The Devil’s Brother starring Laurel and Hardy
  • Luigi Bazzoni’s Man, Pride and Vengeance
Music Notes

Intro:

  • Metallica – Enter Sandman

Incidentals:

  • Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited (Take 7, False Start)
    • The Cutting Edge 1965-1966: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 12 (iTunes, Amazon)

Outro:

  • Pat Boone – Enter Sandman

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.

Blood Money (1975)

Blood Money [龍虎走天涯, Là dove non batte il sole] (1975)
AKA The Stranger and the Gunfighter, La brute, Le Colt et le Karaté

Starring Lee Van Cleef, Lo Lieh, Patty Shepard, Femi Benussi, Karen Yip Leng-Chi, Julián Ugarte, Erika Blanc, Wang Hsieh, Chan Shen, Cheng Miu

Directed by Antonio Margheriti

Expectations: High. I love Spaghetti Westerns and Kung Fu! This sould be a slam dunk, right?


On paper, Blood Money is the kind of movie I should love. A Spaghetti Western starring Lee Van Cleef, co-produced by Shaw Brothers and co-starring Lo Lieh. When I first heard about this movie a few years back, I imagined it as something similar to My Name is Shanghai Joe, only better since it had a great cast and the power of the Shaw Studio’s martial arts behind it. But man… that honestly couldn’t be further from the truth. Blood Money isn’t a horrible movie, but it’s definitely not taking full advantage of all the greatness at its disposal.

Dakota (Lee Van Cleef) comes to town with one thing on his mind: cracking the safe of Wang, a man said to have his fortune stored within. Dakota gets right to work, finding a sequence of locked doors within, each containing a picture of a prostitute who works for Wang. The safe’s final door requires some dynamite, and the blast not only opens the door but mistakenly kills Wang. Dakota retrieves the contents (another photo… and a fortune cookie), but he is arrested before he can get away. Word of Wang’s death reaches China, so Wang’s nephew Wang Ho Chien (Lo Lieh) is sent to investigate and find the missing fortune. His first stop is to question Dakota in jail, but this is just the beginning of the hunt for Wang’s treasure!

Continue reading Blood Money (1975) →

Top 10 Film Discoveries of 2016

As always, over the course of the year I run into a number of fantastic older films that I had previously never seen. In 2016 there were more than usual because I watched a TON of stuff, more than I had in many years, and I dug hard into my favorites genres of martial arts and horror. I figured if I was going to focus on watching movies in my limited free time, I might as well further explore the genres that truly excite me. You gotta do what feels right, and nothing feels more right to me than Hong Kong movies and horror.

So here ya go: my top 10 films I saw in 2016 that were new to me. Maybe you like them, too?


#10 Navajo Joe (1966)
Directed by Sergio Corbucci

Sergio Leone is the most well-known director of Spaghetti Westerns, but everyone should know about Sergio Corbucci, too. He made Navajo Joe just a few months after releasing the genre classic Django, and Navajo Joe just might be the better and more entertaining film. Burt Reynolds stars as Navajo Joe, a Native American out for revenge. The film is taut, lean and action-packed; if you’re a fan of westerns, this is a must-see film. And it might even make a non-believer think twice about the genre’s possibilities.

#9 The Grandmaster (2013) – HK Version
Directed by Wong Kar-Wai

In any obsession or addiction, there is always a feeling of chasing that initial high achieved during the discovery phase. When I was first getting into Hong Kong movies in the mid/late ’90s, I watched all of Wong Kar-Wai’s then-released films and really enjoyed them (even though I don’t think I ever really “got” them). I was so excited to watch The Grandmaster when it was first released that I ordered the Hong Kong Blu-ray as soon as it was available. But it sat on my shelf for something like three years because I had heard middling things about it and I couldn’t muster the desire to watch it. But then I did, and not only did I love The Grandmaster, it made me once again feel the rare, sweet bliss that defined my discovery of Hong Kong film. It’s not a martial arts film by the traditional definition, but it is a beautiful film about the martial arts, the philosophies at their foundations, and the difficult pursuit of reaching the pinnacle in a skilled art.
Continue reading Top 10 Film Discoveries of 2016 →

The Great Silence (1968)

greatsilence_6The Great Silence [Il grande silenzio] (1968)
AKA The Big Silence

Starring Jean-Louis Trintignant, Klaus Kinski, Frank Wolff, Luigi Pistilli, Vonetta McGee, Mario Brega, Carlo D’Angelo, Marisa Merlini

Directed by Sergio Corbucci

Expectations: Low.

threehalfstar


The Great Silence must be pretty high on the list of the bleakest films in existence. So if you’re not going to be OK with a movie that doesn’t contain a single shred of hope, optimism or happiness, then The Great Silence is one to avoid. But for those willing to take the plunge into this snow-covered land of darkness ruled by ruthless bounty killers and their greed, then you are in for one of the greatest Italian westerns of all time.

The Great Silence opens by introducing us to Silence (Jean-Louis Trintignant), a mute gunman who lives by a strict code of only firing on a man in self-defense. He is a good man living in a cutthroat world, but his quickness on the draw and his code allow him to stay within the bounds of the law. On the other side of the proverbial coin is Loco (Klaus Kinski), a bounty killer who will kill anyone, anywhere without a second thought… as long as there’s a reward to be collected. He is an evil man, but like Silence he is also technically operating within the confines of the law. The film inevitably puts these two men against one another, but to describe the film in such simple terms makes it sound a lot more average and unremarkable than it actually is.

Continue reading The Great Silence (1968) →

Shoot, Gringo… Shoot! (1968)

shootgringoshoot_1Shoot, Gringo… Shoot! [Spara, Gringo, spara] (1968)
AKA The Longest Hunt, Rainbow, Tire Django, tire (France)

Starring Brian Kelly, Keenan Wynn, Erika Blanc, Folco Lulli, Fabrizio Moroni, Linda Sini, Rik Battaglia, Giovanni Pallavicino, Luigi Bonos, Furio Meniconi, Robert Beaumont, Lina Franchi

Directed by Bruno Corbucci

Expectations: Low. You never know what you’re getting with these.

On the general scale:
twostar

On the B-movie scale:
threestar


Shoot, Gringo… Shoot! was directed by Bruno Corbucci, younger brother of famed spaghetti western director Sergio Corbucci who was responsible for such classics as Django, The Great Silence and Navajo Joe. But within the western genre, the younger Corbucci only made one spaghetti western comedy, The Three Musketeers of the West, and one straight western. Unfortunately, Shoot, Gringo… Shoot! is definitely not up to the same class of film as his brother’s legacy. That’s OK, though, as it’s unfair to expect brothers to make films of a similar caliber, or even of a similar style. For what it is — a second-tier spaghetti western — Shoot, Gringo… Shoot! is one of the better ones I’ve seen and it remains quite entertaining throughout.

Shoot, Gringo… Shoot! is about Stark, a lone badass who begins the film rotting away in a basement jail cell. He quickly escapes and seeks revenge on some guy for some reason, which leads him to killing a few guards and then getting himself recaptured. These men take him to their leader, who initially wants to hang him for his transgressions, but then decides to strike up a deal instead. If Stark can bring back the leader’s son, who’s absconded with a band of outlaws, then they will let him go free. Stark agrees with nothing to lose, and the game is afoot.

Continue reading Shoot, Gringo… Shoot! (1968) →

Charge! (1973)

Charge! [Campa carogna… la taglia cresce] (1973)
AKA Those Dirty Dogs, Los cuatro de Fort Apache

Starring Gianni Garko, Stephen Boyd, Howard Ross, Simón Andreu, Harry Baird, Teresa Gimpera, Alfredo Mayo, Helga Liné, Mirella Dogan, Enzo Fiermonte

Directed by Giuseppe Rosati

Expectations: Low. You never know what you’re getting with these.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


Charge! reminds me of my teenage years watching 6th generation bootleg prints of Hong Kong movies, the only real way to see those movies at the time. Not in any thematic way, instead it’s the “quality” of the print. This print of Charge! is so blasted out that blue skies are now blinding white, and rolling desert hills of brown look like the white-hot center of a nuclear blast. If you can get past some poor quality, though, Charge! is a fun western with loads of exciting action. Its story is meandering and somewhat disjointed, but it always keeps its eye on the prize: pure entertainment.

We begin our story as many westerns do, with a raid on an Army caravan carrying a shitload of rifles, ammunition and explosives. A bunch of Mexican bandits steal the supplies, kidnap the doctor’s daughter and ride off into the desert. The Army doesn’t take too kindly to this so they send out three men and a bounty hunter to take out the bandit leader/rescue the girl/recover the stolen goods. I don’t specifically remember if they were tasked with one of those or all three, and that should give you a good idea both of my interest level in the movie at that point and of the quality of storytelling on display.

Continue reading Charge! (1973) →

The Return of Shanghai Joe (1975)

The Return of Shanghai Joe [Il ritorno di Shanghai Joe] (1975)
AKA Che botte, ragazzi! & Zwei durch dick und dünn

Starring Klaus Kinski, Cheen Lie, Tommy Polgár, Karin Field, Claudio Giorgi, Tom Felleghy, Paolo Casella, Fortunato Arena

Directed by Bitto Albertini

Expectations: Low. It can’t live up to the first one.

On the general scale:
(NO STARS)

On the B-Movie scale:


For those expecting a film on the level of My Name is Shanghai Joe, you should look elsewhere. If, on the other hand, you’re in the mood for a total and utter piece of shit, then The Return of Shanghai Joe is the movie for you! It’s offensive in its sheer audacity to take boredom to new heights. And to think I had some expectations that this would only be half as good a movie as the original. It’s not even fit to be in the same state as that film; it’s literally so boring and pointless that I’m having a hard time staying focused enough to get my thoughts down.

The plot, if you could call it that, involves a tonic salesman who falls into a bad crowd when a dying bandit hides out in his wagon. I honestly can’t remember what happened next, because there’s literally no reason to. The plot moves from point to point alright, but without any sense of what a story is or should be, so it’s incredibly hard to re-tell. I forget exactly how, but at some point the salesman gets duped out into the wilderness where some evil fuckers are planning to rob and hang him. Shanghai Joe happens to be taking a nap behind a tree and saves the salesman’s life, so now they’re pretty much buddies for the rest of the film. That might sound like it has potential or is perhaps vaguely intriguing. It’s not, and lest you be fooled by the title, Shanghai Joe is barely in the film.

Continue reading The Return of Shanghai Joe (1975) →

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