Movie A Day! Snowden Beach-Fu

A full week for this post. Got in some newer films. Caught up on Beach pictures and took in most of Bruce Lee’s catalogue. Very satisfying despite being busy at work and catching another cold that wants to destroy my sinus cavities. Just read that North Korea is taking Trumps tweets as a declaration of war. Here’s hoping I get to have a horror movie challenge in October instead of Fallout 4: The Reality Show.

Here’s everything I watched.


277 09/17 Snowden (2016) 3.5/5   A bio-pic on epic whistle-blower Edward Snowden by Oliver Stone could have been a complete disaster. Stone plays it pretty straight considering the politics and it ends up being really good. On par with the Stone classics at any rate. I am a mark for Stone, jumping on and following his work since Platoon so I could be a little biased. Superb performances make this one a winner (Nicolas Cage in a character role!) It also helps that Stone presents the technical stuff in such a way that simpleton’s like me can understand it. I don’t know enough about the Snowden story to recognize if he’s as much of a perfect hero that Stone seems to be depicting, but the only real issue with this film is that there is simply no way to make computer stuff look exciting. You can juice up the soundtrack and use CGI all you want, but some twat typing on a PC is always going to look like a twat.


278 09/18 The Big Boss (1971) 3/5   Bruce Lee makes his starring debut in this one as a bumpkin that arrives at a slightly better town to work with some relatives. Seems he’s been getting into fighting trouble. Ends up the ice factory he works at is a front for heroin dealings. It’s almost frustrating how long they tease out Lee, I don’t think he throws a punch until nearly halfway through. When he does leap into action, he’s truly amazing. The difference between his style and those of the other actors, it’s apparent he’s the real deal. Which isn’t a knock on the other players. Golden Harvest mainstay James Tien does most of the heavy lifting in the first half, and he’s great. That said, the films a little rough around the edges. Directed by Wei Lo, he also did a few of the Jimmy Wang Yu films I reviewed the last couple of blogs, it’s pretty standard Golden Harvest stuff plotwise and the fights on the whole are no great shakes choreography wise. Lee makes everyone look better, including the direction, and the ample blood doesn’t hurt either to keep you interested. Ends up the minor Lee film is still well worth your time.


279 09/19 Muscle Beach Party (1964) 2.5/5   The second Frankie and Annette surf picture is plain terrible, and better than the first one. It’s terrible because Frankie and Annette are annoying. Frankie is a total douche-bag trying to play it cool and Annette is the most high maintenance girl friend I’ve ever see. It all smacks of Jersey Shore instead of California fun in the sun. It’s better than the last one because of the supporting cast. Don Rickles as a muscle man handler and Buddy Hackett as a countess’s business handler completely steal the movie from the main cast. Throw in a number from Little Stevie Wonder, and you forget how shit Frankie, Annette and their moronic friends are. Dick Dale deserved better.


280 09/20 Surf Party (1964) 2/5   Fox decided to get in on the Frankie and Annette craze by getting Bobby Vinton on a surfboard. The result is even worse than the other pictures. This is despite having actual surf instrumental music, better surfing scenes and an evil surf gang to contend with.


281 09/21 The Unfaithful (1947) 3/5   This one is a well done noir-ish tale about a woman who kills an attacker in self defense… or was it something more? Ann Sheridan stars and shows a quiet dignity in the type of role were actresses usually try to chew the scenery. Add in Lew Ayres as his typically high moral self as the lawyer/friends helping her and it’s a pretty casual film. It makes for a tight thriller and serviceable thriller.


282 09/22 Fist of Fury (The Chinese Connection) (1972) 4/5   The first great Bruce Lee picture finds the star returning to China to attend his Master’s funeral only to get mixed up in a feud with the Japanese government and systematic racism. Lee is simply fantastic in this one, starting with an epic fight at a rival Dojo to ever escalating fights throughout. Watch it.


283 09/23 Way Of The Dragon (Return of the Dragon) (1972) 4.5/5   For my money, this is the best picture Bruce Lee did, and one of the best Kung Fu films ever made. Lee steps in to write and direct as well as choreograph the fights and it all shows. Surprisingly, the first 20 minutes are played as a comedy, with Lee himself being the brunt of a series of what are essentially fart jokes. It all helps to add to the fights, and not a single scene is wasted. The climax against Chuck Norris is a classic and it all holds up perfectly.


284 09/24 X-Men Apocalypse (2016) 2.5/5   My rating feels low since when this is good, it’s really good. I just found it hard to connect to. Too much CGI spectacle distracted from this one. Which is a shame since the entire cast in this are great in every way. The constant need to up the ante in every superhero film is starting to kill the genre.


285 09/24 Enter The Dragon (1973) 4/5   Lee made all his movies in a two year period, which is insane. This one was his one Hollywood co-production, and it shows in its slickness. It gives Bruce a chance to be a bit more James Bond than he has been, and the fights for the most part are pretty good depending on who’s fighting. It reaches too high and is saddled with some non-martial artists that while they are made to look mostly good, just can’t compete against Lee and it shows. Despite that, still a fine action picture.

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Movie A Day!: Kung Fu Scoundrels

I read this earlier today. Read it.

https://www.theguardian.com/global/2017/sep/17/choosing-to-be-on-your-own

This one is bigger than I was expecting. Wrapped up The Wire, which left me a little short to post when I usually do. Now it’s a long read. In a couple weeks I start the Scary Movie Challenge. there will be too many posts. Not that I have any idea if anyone actually subscribes to this.

Kung Fu, porno, and classic Hollywood. Pretty typical.


265 09/05 Whiplash (1974) 3/5   Pei-Pei Cheng is back this time capturing a gang of bandits and forcing them to show her where they found some items of her father. It’s a kung fu adventure flick in the mountains with a hidden treasure, played for laughs with a song about boners. It’s one of those awful films that end up being kind of unbelievable and likeable. Hard to recommend, but I’d be tempted to force it on friends.

266 09/08 Sunny (1979) 3.5/5   Candida Royalle takes the title role in this one about a young woman hired to influence a young man but sets out to get his money for herself. It’s classy adult fare from Shaun Costello who manages to slowly add in some sleazy aspects as it goes on to keep the Time’s Square crowd interested. It runs short, which means it never tests your patience and works better than most from the era.


267 09/09 The Wire Season 5 (2008) 4/5   The series wraps up with season, and it’s great. This one shifts focus once again, this time including the media in the tangled web of politics, police works and what not and how the least of anyone’s worries is the people the civil servants are supposed to serve. It also finds McNulty fully succumbing to his obsessions. It’s great stuff, and a perfect ending to the series. I give the whole series a 5/5. Highly recommended.


268 09/09 One-Armed Boxer (1972) 4/5   Jimmy Wang Yu writes, directs and stars in this one, about a boxer who’s master and group is pretty much wiped out by the evil Iron Claw Gang and the evil gangs hired martial arts masters of different disciplines. It’s near non-stop fights, and the whole gang war thing starts over a dudes pet finch. It’s shithouse bonkers, with the one-armed boxers training being the most bonkers of many bonkers moments. It makes for an absolute gem of a kung fu film that has everything you are looking for in an Golden Harvest oldie.    

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269 09/10 The Tattooed Dragon (1973) 2.5/5   This Kung Fu flick can best be described as “serviceable”. Jimmy Wang Yu is back, this time as the Tattooed Dragon, a Robin Hood like character who keeps the thugs at bay. It’s starts off strong, but then does a hard right dealing with a duck farmer and a town’s gambling problems that features far too little fighting to hold any interest. When Wang is kicking the shit out of folks, it’s great! There’s just not enough of it.


270 09/13 Beach Party (1963) 3/5   After all these years, I have finally seen a proper Frankie & Annette Beach Party movie. (I’m not counting the classic Back To The Beach as proper.) It wasn’t really worth it. A bunch of teens are hanging out at the beach, surfing, with an anthropologist studying their habits being the excuse for the whole thing. It’s not a good movie, but it is charming in it’s own way which never makes it super annoying or anything. Dick Dale is sadly wasted, but the self awareness that this film is pandering to teenagers keeps it going. It’s goofy enough that I’ll watch more of these.


271 09/13 Beach of the War Gods (1973) 3/5   Jimmy Wang Yu is back writing, directing and starring in this one about a Chinese town fighting to keep marauding Japanese at bay. For the most part it works, it’s a little draggy in the middle but the last third of non-stop bananas action makes up for it.


272 09/14 Alias Nick Beal (1949) 3/5   An interesting twist on a political corruption story with Thomas Mitchell taking the lead as a crime fighting D.A. that gets a push to being a Governor. Ray Milland is the pusher, and he may be the devil. Lots of noir touches in this one, but it I found dragged bit in the latter half despite how great the leads (and Audrey Totter in a showy support role) are.   


273 09/15 The Man Called Tiger (1973) 3/5   Jimmy Wang Yu is back in the final film in the set I have. This time he’s in a contemporary setting and playing a kind of cool “Steve McQueen” type, only he’s not up to the part like Bruce Lee was. It mostly drags until once again, things go bonkers in the last half with near nonstop fighting.


274 09/15 More Than Sisters (1979) 3/5   The second feature on the Shaun Costello disc that also featured Sunny, this one is the exact opposite. All the glossy style of Sunny is gone, replaced by an incredibly dark and seed psychological thriller that is closer to horror that porno usual gets. It makes for a nice surprise and speaks to Costello’s talent for using any budget to his advantage.

275 09/16 Farm Aid 2017 3.5/5   Spent the day watching this one. Margo Price continues to be a new favourite, but the real attraction for me is seeing what Neil Young is going to do. Young did a set with Promise of the Real and it was simply okay. Young didn’t seem to be into like he typically is. I’m hoping it’s road rust and not age. Willie Nelson wrapped the night up and it’s just a joy to see him out there.

276 09/16 Scoundrels (1982) 4/5   Since unexpectedly getting into porno chic thanks to the fiends at Vinegar Syndrome, Cecil Howard has been a name mentioned in the VS circles as one of the master of the genre. This is the first of his films that I have seen, and I have to say, they’re right. This one stars Ron Jeremy as a successful psychiatrist whose family is coming apart at the seams. Everyone knows Ron Jeremy, he’s a goof. In here he plays it pretty straight, and the film is quite serious in tone, and Jeremy is legit fantastic in this. Especially in the surreal clown bits. And it all works with the near constant sex scenes. A strong film that’s easy to recommend. The Blu-ray put out from Command Cinema with the help of Distribpix is a beauty. 

Movie A Day!: Wired Asian Action

Once again, I did not forget to post this or abandon the blog. I just flat out didn’t get much watch the week before last, so rather than post a 2 film blog, I held off. My blog my rules! So while the world burns, floods and possibly nuclear rains (if we have a nuclear war before I finish FALLOUT 4, I’m going to be pissed off. I’m really close!), here’s what I watch the past couple week. After the Vinegar Syndrome catch up, I’m back with subtitled foreign films to catch up with before the Scary Movie Challenge. “Subtitled Foreign Films” sounds fancier than “Yakuza/Kung Fu action films”.

Also impacting my movie numbers is my binge viewing of:


257 08/24 The Wire Season 3 (2004) 4.5/5   After the focus on the larger crime world in Season 2, Season 3 gets to what the series is really about: an indictment on the war on drugs. A west division major sets up a safe zone for the drug trade. It’s in the realm of fantasy, but damn if it doesn’t make for some thought provoking television. I’m not even getting into the stories of the cops and drug dealers that started in Season 1 are doing. It’s arguably the best season of the best crime show in television history.

258 08/25 More (1975) 2/5   Another low rent hardcore feature from Ralph Eli, this one manages to be more game to run a detective plot with Harry Reems investigating a murder and the widow basically fucking everyone involved. It’s so poorly made that it’s actually fun to watch, and has a stolen Led Zep soundtrack to boot. I can’t really recommend the triple feature that this is on, but it was kind of a fun watch regardless.

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259 08/26 The Boss’s Head (1975) 3/5   Second film in the New Battles Without Honor And Humanity series is more of the same. Bunta Sugawara is back, this time as a stray dog Yakuza that is fresh out of a seven year prison bit for doing a hit and getting caught up in Yakuza politics. It’s good for what it is, but failed to knock my socks off.


260 08/28 Last Days of the Boss (1976) 3.5/5   This one wraps up the New Battles Without Honor or Humanity series and I liked it best. It starts off sleazy before settling into one of the more action packed installments which helps it to stand out from the rest. Aside from the action, it’s the usual Yakuza intrigue. The New Battles trilogy of stand alone stories never reach the heights of the original, and end up being more of a tonal tribute. Good for what they are, but didn’t wow me.


261 08/30 The Killer (1989) 4.5/5   Revisited the film that put John Woo on the map and it holds up remarkably well. It’s corny as heck, but damn, those action scenes are still completely bonkers and it’s clear that it’s influence is still reverberating around THE RAID and JOHN WICK twenty plus years later. Chow Yun-Fat is the suavest mother fucker since Cary Grant and the only knock you can have against this film is that Woo followed it up with HARD BOILED which might be the greatest action film of all time.


262 09/01 Kung Fu Girl (1973) 2.5/5   When the DVD cover calls the film “Kung Fu Girl” and the film on the disc is called “None But The Brave” (imdb has it as “Tie Wa”), you know you may be in trouble. Ends up that this one wasn’t too bad. A country kung fu girl heads off to the city to confront the evil Japanese imperials that killed an adopted sister. It’s over long and the fights are clunky. What helps set it apart is the casting. Jackie Chan makes an unimpressive appearance in a small role early on, and Diamond Guy Jo Shishido plays the Japanese baddy which helps to make this one a little more interesting. Star Pei-Pei Cheng Manages to be both engaging and disappointing in that her kung fu is a little to dance-y/staged compared to other leading actresses like Angela Mao. So it all adds up to being mostly a miss.


263 09/02 Throat… 12 Years After (1984) 3/5   Gerard Damiano returns to Deep Throat, only not really. The tag line is “A Reflection NOT A Sequel”, only it has nothing to do with the original film. Which is probably a good thing since despite it’s fame, it’s actually pretty terrible. This one is basically an episodic film about a couple of couples figuring out their relationships. A great cast but it never really stands out as anything too special. (That said, the extra feature interviews on the Vinegar Syndrome disc make it worth picking up as they are more interesting than the feature.)


264 0/03 The Wire Season 4 (2006) 4.5/5   One of the joys of this series is wondering where it can go after the conclusion of a season. This one finds the focus shifting to the war on drugs impact on the school system. It’s the kind of thing I typically don’t like since it follow a group of kids. It’s handled so good, and with none of the fake emotional manipulation that these topics usually have. While this is going on, it the story continues to push forward with the political/police stories that are the base of the series. It might be the best season.