Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|EXPLOITATION CINEMA Chinese Hercules / Black Dragon|
Actor: Bolo Yeung and Ron Van Clief
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama
Chinese Hercules — Chan Wai Man flees town after accidentally killing his fiancée s brother. He turns up in a small village working on a dock for a corrupt local boss (Liang Tim) whose thugs continually cheat, abuse, and in... more »
"We Kill 'Em. Then We Dump 'Em."
J Astro | Iowa | 12/20/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"You can thank/blame the hipster-wannabe duo of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez for the resurgence of grindhouse-style double features, thanks to their eponymous 2007 "GRINDHOUSE" release. With the terms 'grindhouse' and 'exploitation' being dragged back into the dvd-buyin' public's collective consciousness, long-dead and forgotten celluloid creations have been resurrected for yet another generation. And to cater to this rekindled interest, to sate the nostalgia of older cheesy film buffs, and for the initiation of the young sleaze fan alike, there's been NO SHORTAGE of fly-by-night releasing companies ready to capitalize. It probably doesn't hurt that the rights to most of these lost "classics" are either cheap or free. Some companies, like Dark Sky Films and BCI/Navarre (producers of the disc bein' reviewed here) have put out some pretty awesome old-school product. And there's a horde of other companies putting out absolute cruddy, barely-VHS quality leftovers.
That's not to say Navarre is perfect & hasn't released a mixed bag themselves, since they do have some total stinkers out there to go along with the good items in their catalogue - and this disc is a good example - - submitted, for your consideration, my final word on EXPLOITATION CINEMA Double Feature: "CHINESE HERCULES" & "BLACK DRAGON"...
"CHINESE HERCULES" (4 Stars ****) - Bolo Yeung, who will be familiar to many as the murderous brute 'Chong Li' from the Jean Claude Van Damme 80's classic "BLOODSPORT", is the main attraction here. His gigantic, ripped physique and nasty habit of crushing opponents and stompin' 'em to death serves him well as a bodyguard/enforcer of some vaguely sinister, slimy crime syndicate. He's pitted against a lone dock worker, who once killed a man by accident and now swears never to use his mastery of the martial arts again. But as Bolo rampages through villagers, effectively squishing any idiot who gets in his path so as to secure the village pier for his syndicate employers' drug peddling, one thing becomes obvious: Our good guy will have to stop bein' so dang patient & serene, and finally get mad enough to kick Bolo's keister right the hell outta town. There's a bevy of energetic, reasonably entertaining kung-fu rumbles leading up to it, and some pretty nimble climactic fight sequences to round things out. That said, well, of COURSE all kung-fu movies should have decent fights, and this is otherwise a very standard kung-fu flick, raised above mere mediocrity only by the presence of Yeung, a truly fearsome character.
"BLACK DRAGON" (2 Stars **) - While this movie actually has better, more impressive martial arts action than "CHINESE HERCULES", it suffers everywhere else. The kicks, punches, & elbows look better here, everything else looks worse. Far worse. The story is weak (karate-kickin' country bumpkin teams up with black superstar Ron Van Clief to tangle with his brother's paltry, not-very-intimidating criminal organization). The characters (aside from Van Clief) are hideous, greasy-looking nobodies. The voice-dubbing work is atrocious, even by kung-fu flick standards. And the film opens with the dumbest, cheapest-looking title card sequence I've EVER seen, accompanied by twangin' hillbilly banjo music. Yes, I said banjo music. It just makes you kinda sick to your stomach. It's BAD. "BLACK DRAGON" does improve a little bit throughout its running time and by the end it doesn't suck as much as you think it will, and to it's credit, lemme reiterate that the fights are arguably more convincing than those in "CHINESE HERCULES". But ultimately, numerous flaws in the presentation result in it being nowhere near as satisfying as the first feature on this disc. And while the picture quality on these both o' films is -supposed- to be scratchy and reminiscent of a Nixon-era crappy drive-in screen, the pixellated, sloppy transfer on "BLACK DRAGON" is really, really annoying.
Navarre was in on the trash cinema craze before with a series of discs entitled 'WELCOME TO THE GRINDHOUSE...', and then, as now, have served up a fair variety of b-grade sex, horror, and action fare...& a few missteps aside, they've not disappointed with their new 'EXPLOITATION' line. A bit of creativity goes a long way; the new discs feature nifty little intro menus, set up like a 42nd Street theater. You can go into the theater to choose what feature you wanna see (or watch the -whole 'grindhouse' experience-, complete with previews, intermissions, etc), you can go to the "projection room" to view trailers individually, or you can go to the "concession stand" to access scene selection, and in the case of "BLACK DRAGON", audio commentary with Ron Van Clief himself.
If you're into the whole drive-in thing, Navarre does serve up some other goodies on other discs, and I'd also recommend:
Exploitation Cinema: Mausoleum/Blood Song
Welcome to the Grindhouse: Don't Answer the Phone/Prime Evil
And similarly, if you enjoy the grindhouse experience as noted above, I'd also remind you not to overlook Synapse Films' superior "42ND STREET FOREVER" discs, which are chock full of old-school, scuzzy movie previews - some of which are for flicks actually released by BCI/Navarre.
42nd Street Forever Vol. 4