Shaolin Intruders (1983)

Shaolin Intruders [三闯少林] (1983)
AKA Battle for Shaolin

Starring Yee Tung-Sing (Derek Yee), Jason Pai Piao, Liu Yu-Po, Phillip Ko, Chan Shen, Ku Feng, Lee Hoi Sang

Directed by Tang Chia

Expectations: High. Love Shaw Bros. films and this came highly recommended.


I watched this movie because my friend and colleague, Uncle Jasper, recommended this as a Shaw Brothers movie that featured some of the best fight choreography he had ever seen. As a huge fan of such things, I had to see for myself what he spoke of. Uncle Jasper was not pulling a fast one. This is hands-down, one of the best Shaw Brothers movies I’ve ever seen.

Directed by Tang Chia, longtime fight choreographer at Shaw Bros., the film exudes kung-fu energy. The opening titles run over a group of Shaolin monks going through their training exercises. There is a fight scene towards the end of the opening credits where all the monks use wooden benches as their weapons. It was so well choreographed and exciting to watch, a fantastic fight sequence, and we’re still in the opening credits! Director Tang Chia was fight choreographer on countless other Shaw pictures. His credits list goes on for days, culminating in his three directorial efforts: Shaolin Prince, Shaolin Intruders, and Opium and the Kung-Fu Master. If the other two are anything close to the awesomeness that is Shaolin Intruders, then they are also among the best the Shaw Studio has to offer.

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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.

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The Neverending Story (1984)

Starring Noah Hathaway, Barret Oliver, Tami Stronach, Moses Gunn, Thomas Hill

Directed by Wolfgang Petersen

Expectations: High, this was one of my movies growing up.


Some movies should stay in your childhood. Today I found out that The Neverending Story is firmly in that category. I still enjoyed it, it just didn’t have the same power that it used to. The main character, a book-loving boy who reads The Neverending Story, reminds me of myself at that age so it’s obvious why I connected to it and enjoyed it back then. Unfortunately, viewing the film as an adult, there just wasn’t enough to keep me interested.

Bastian runs away from some school bullies and finds refuge in an old, dusty bookstore. He acquires a copy of The Neverending Story from the man there and proceeds to his school’s attic to read the book. Reading is much more fun than a math test! He finds himself absorbed in the world of Fantasia and the quest of Atreyu to save the dying princess. For the most part, the film still holds up visually. The rock biter still looks fantastic and was still able to get an emotional response from me during his dialogue about not being able to save his friends. I was always touched by that moment and it’s still very powerful. The sphinx gate scene remains very exciting as well.

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Mini-Review: Seasons (1987)

Narrated by William Shatner

Directed by Ben Shedd


An IMAX movie on the small screen is always going to be a downgrade, but sometimes the film is good enough to transcend the transition and remain entertaining. Seasons is one such film. It features beautiful nature sequences intermixed with human activities during each season. There’s also some killer vector graphics of the Sun and the Earth. You can’t go wrong with vector graphics in my opinion and these are top-notch. It also features a few sequences of time-lapse photography. William Shatner’s narration is perfect and matches the images well. The script might be a little over-the-top but who better to handle overly serious dialogue than Shatner? Also, the film only runs thirty minutes so it makes for a quick viewing.

All of these elements add up to a film that plays out similar to a narrated version of Koyaanisqatsi. Can’t say that I learned anything, but I was definitely entertained.

Check it out if you like both Shatner and the seasons, as I’ve heard a lot of negative feedback from people who don’t like Shatner.

Uncle Jasper reviews: My Young Auntie (1981)

600full-my-young-auntie-posterMy Young Auntie [長輩] (1981)
AKA Fangs of the Tigress, The Senior, Lady Kung Fu

Starring Lau Kar-Leung, Kara Hui, Wang Lung-Wei, Hsiao Ho, Gordon Liu Chia-Hui

Directed By Lau Kar-Leung


Criticizing a film like My Young Auntie is, I’m afraid, beyond my ability. The film is so unabashedly all over the place that any attempt to lasso it all together and rationalize it is something akin to stacking grains of sand on top of each other in an attempt to reach the moon. It is one of those train wrecks so beyond the scope of rational thought, that the only way to experience it is by surrendering yourself to the notion that for the next two hours this film will have its way with you and you will take it like the fresh young piece of meat you are. With all that said, if you have ever thought that square dancing by grown men in pink wigs and guys dressed up like Robin Hood was criminally underrepresented in Shaw Bros. kung fu films, then this may be the movie for you.

Kara Hui plays Cheng Tai-Nun, a young girl of about twenty who marries a wealthy old man in an attempt to keep his estate from falling into the greedy hands of his third brother. She is instructed to hand the deed over to the man’s younger nephew, who is coincidentally about 30 years her senior. She also has to deal with his completely batshit son, Charlie, who has been studying in Hong Kong and is now westernized beyond any hope of redemption. Charlie and his buddies speak an unholy union of profane Chinese and sloppy English, that is actually extremely amusing. (This may be the only time you will hear the English word “fuck” uttered in a subtitled Shaw Bros. film.) Anyway Charlie harasses the shit out of his new, young great-auntie (?) and belittles her with his newfound knowledge of things like basketball, Shakespeare, folk music, boxing, and Christianity. (I’m not making this up.)

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