Uncle Jasper reviews: Exit the Dragon, Enter the Tiger (1976)

Exit the Dragon, Enter the Tiger [天皇巨星] (1976)
AKA Bruce Lee – The Star of All Stars, Find Bruce Lee!

Starring Bruce Li, Chang Yi, Ma Chi Chiang, Lu Chi, Tsao Shao Jung, Kang Kam

Directed By Lee Tso-Nam


Of all the Bruceploitation films, I don’t think any makes a more audacious attempt to validate itself than Exit the Dragon, Enter the Tiger. The film opens up with Tiger (Bruce Li) visiting Bruce Lee on the set of his latest film. Lee seems very troubled by strange phone calls he has been receiving recently and names Tiger his successor in case anything is to happen to him. So there you have it, Bruce Li hand picked by the little dragon himself. It’s a pretty shameless act of self-promotion, but it’s fun as hell to watch Bruce Li and Bruce Lee (also played by Li… confused yet?) having a conversation across the screen from each other.

In any case, Bruce Lee dies the next day and we are treated to stock footage of his funeral. Tiger meanwhile is back in his homeland of Singapore honoring the life of his idol when he suddenly has an epiphany and quickly dismisses anything as boring as a cerebral edema as being the cause of his hero’s death. He takes it upon himself to investigate further and is swept into a ridiculously sensationalized conspiracy involving triads and drugs.

Continue reading Uncle Jasper reviews: Exit the Dragon, Enter the Tiger (1976) →

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.

Continue reading Shaolin Intruders (1983) →

Broken Embraces (2009)

Broken Embraces [Los abrazos rotos] (2009)

Starring Penélope Cruz, Blanca Portillo, Lluís Homar, Lola Dueñas, Ángela Molina, Rossy de Palma

Directed by Pedro Almodóvar

Expectations: Very high.


Pedro Almodovar is quickly becoming one of my favorite writer/directors. This is the third film I’ve seen from him and he continues to amaze me. There is a power in his words and images that is hard to find in modern cinema. The story of Broken Embraces deals primarily with a retired film director (Lluís Homar) who has gone blind. The film also flashes back 14 years to the character of Lena (Penelope Cruz), a secretary for a wealthy businessman who aspires to be an actress. The film unfolds at a slow but interesting pace, gradually intertwining the two stories with skill.

The acting all around is excellent with Penelope Cruz and Lluís Homar leading the charge. The characters they play feel like real people, full of emotions and desire. The film jumps around in time a lot, but thanks to the wonderful performances this is never a problem. The acting reflects the subtle passage of time and you can quickly grasp where the character is at the current moment in relation to what you know of the character prior. This kind of free time structure can so easily work against a film, but Almodovar plays it with skill and it helps him tell a more interesting story.

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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.

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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) →

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