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. 

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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.

New Battles Without Honor and Humanity The Boss's Head.jpg
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.

Movie A Day!: Vinegar Syndromed

I was hoping to post this last night but getting back to work and having to work in the warehouse really laid me out. So I’m a day late. One day this blog might get back to it’s regular weekly posts. I know you are all worrying about it. Welcome, let’s have a look.

As promised last blog, I spent my staycation catching up on Vinegar Syndrome smut and sleaze. So it’s a mixed bag for those of you who hate this stuff. For those with a taste for the bad, it’s a real treasure trove.


247 08/11 A Touch of Genie (1974) 3.5/5   One of sexploitation legend Joe Sarno’s early hardcore efforts ends up being something that porno rarely is: adorable. It’s a skid-row version of I Dream Of Genie as seen through the eyes of Woody Allan with tons of Jewish humour and a self awareness to the porn industry at the time it was made. To the point where the humour ends up overshadowing the hardcore. A fun little film that won’t be for everyone but for fans of the genre is a bit of fresh air.


248 08/12 Matinee Idol (1984) 3.5/5   This one finds exploitation legend David F. Friedman writing a story about the trials and tribulations of producing adult films. It’s got a great cast but what sets it apart from standard hardcore fair is there’s a sense of fun to this that’s more in tone with the softcore features he used to make. The story comes first, and it mostly works.


249 08/14 My Chauffeur (1986) 2.5/5   It’s the 80’s and sex-romp comedies are still all the rage! Only this one isn’t really a sex-romp, it doesn’t seem to quite know what it is. A hip Valley Girl type gets the call to be a chauffeur and really sticks it to the patriarchy of old men at the Chauffeur club. Each job is an excuse for wacky shenanigans. There’s boobs. Penn & Teller get a chance to do some business that never really works. None of it really works. Maybe I’m too fussy. Or I’m jealous that she’s all hot over the rich jock asshole. 


250 08/14 Afternoon Delights (1980) 3.5/5   Early hardcore feature from Shaun Costello about a group of guys at poker night sharing stories about their ex-wives. It’s all an excuse for vignettes, but what elevates it from the usual is the vignettes are wonderfully sleazy and there’s a bitter-sweetness to the scripting. It doesn’t hurt that the cast is packed with all stars.


251 08/15 Snapshot (1979) 3/5   A nice little suspense thriller from Australia finds a young hairdresser swept up into the modelling world all while being stalked. It’s never knocks your socks off, but isn’t a bad film to spend your time with and a not bad example of a more straight film from the Ozploitation scene.


252 08/15 The Wire Season 2 (2003) 4/5   The second season picks up where the first left off with the unit in tatters and a new focus: corruption on the docks. The expansion of scope while continuing the story started in season 1 is really striking and well done. The politics are maddening and will change your worldview. It really is the best crime show in the history of television


253 08/16 Slave of Pleasure (1978) 4/5   This one is a sleazy gem of a film about a private eye investigating the disappearance of a housewife that got swept up by white slavers. It’s the kind of cheap, grimy hardcore that scared everyone back in the day, and it’s entertaining as hell since they really go for it. It doesn’t hurt that it has legendary sleazeballs like Jamie Gillis in it.


254 08/18 My Master My Love (1975) 2/5   Sometimes low rent sleaze is simply sleaze, which is the case here. Darby Lloyd Rains stars as a Mistress who’s business is interrupted by the arrival of her little brother. Aside from an appearance of Annie Sprinkle there’s nothing much of note to this one and it manages to be a bit of a chore.


255 08/19 Teenage Masseuse (1975) 2.5/5   From the same filmmaker as My Master My Love and just as cheap and low rent. I give it half a star more mainly due to Bobby Astyr being so hilariously over the top as the abusing dominant. The story works better too, a bored housewife gets swept up into a massage parlour. It’s good for what it is but nothing to recommend.


256 08/21 Red Roses of Passion (1966) 4/5   Vinegar Syndrome’s Sexploitation series kicks off with this Joe Sarno stunner. A woman relies on a psychic who is more witch priestess than flim-flam to get back at her stuffy relatives that she lives with. It plays more like a nightmare than a sex film, with that odd feeling more associated with David Lynch as opposed to David Friedman. It plays very strange, and if this is setting the tone of this series, it’s going to be a real knockout.

There it is. Back to normal for me and my movie watching. I’m going back to the subtitled films. Try to clear the docks since October is coming, and you know what that means.

Movie A Day!: New Cops & Doberman Battles

No, I did not forget to post this on Sunday August 6th. As you will see, I had not much to post. Instead of watching a film an evening we’ve decided to run with THE WIRE. It’s my second go through the series and it’s nice to see it as rewarding as it was the first time. Maybe more so. So aside from it I have only watch a couple more Yakuza films. there should be more, but I put these on when I go to bed and I find that subtitles put me to sleep. It’s really annoying!

As a result, there are only four titles. I was going to wait until I had ten, but I’m starting staycation tonight, and plan to take a pause on the foreign films and catch up with my Vinegar Syndrome subscription. As such the next blog will mostly be old porno and another season of The Wire, you have been warned.


242 08/02 Cops Vs. Thugs (1975) 3/5   Kinji Fukasaku does another Yakuza picture. This one has the same feel as his epic Battles Without Honor Or Humanity series, only I found it not as interesting despite a neat story. A cop and yakuza gangsters are friends, and their roles blur as Yakuza gangs start fighting. Bunta Sugawara was good in the lead, as always, the film just never connected with me. Maybe due to thinking the title mean cop/yakuza fights as opposed to comparing the two similarities? That said, you could do worse.


243 08/04 Vinegar Syndrome Spring Catalogue of Film (2017) 4/5   This one is a trailer compilation of every single Vinegar Syndrome release from the start of the company until the end of May (I think May). Spanning three DVDs, one with all the non-porn, 2 DVD’s of porn trailers, I have to admit it was fun reliving all these releases. For films were trailers are not available, VS has cut their own and it’s really interesting to see their take on hardcore titles that push elements other than sex, as opposed to the period trailers which are all sex. Anyways, it’s a fun set and cheap if you’re curious about the house of VS.


243 08/07 The Wire Season 1 (2002) 4/5   It would be easy to drone on and on about how good this series is, as everybody does. This is my second go round and it’s crazy how good it holds up, in fact, it’s even better on the second watch since there is so much going on in the episodes. It really is one of the all time crime greats.


244 08/07 Doberman Cop (1977) 2.5/5   The great Sonny Chiba stars in this manga adaptation directed by Kinji Fukasaku, the man behind the acclaimed Battles Without Honor Or Humanity series. It has a convoluted plot about a Yakuza gangster trying to create a pop-idol while a serial killer is on the loose and Chiba is a tough bumpkin detective from the sticks looking for a girl who ran away from her town. None of it really works, especially the humour.


245 08/11 New Battles Without Honor Or Humanity (1974) 3/5   I have mixed feelings with this one. It’s not a bad film so much as it is a retread of things already dealt with in the initial series, only featuring actors recast that had appeared in previous installments. Bunta Sugawara is great in this in the new yet similar role as a yakuza trying to find his place after a prison stint. Chipmunk-cheeked Jo Shishido has a fun bit that’s practically a cameo as a syphilis suffering ex-killer, and aside from that it’s business as usual. The nice thing is this is  a stand alone film so no prior knowledge of the previous films is required.

That’s it, I’ll be back in a week or so with possibly a monster sized staycation post.

Movie A Day: Death Heat

The week began with literal murder threats on loved ones and ended with the heat making it impossible to sleep in a house designed to have winters not kill you. Here’s hoping you all had more fun than me.

A mixed bag. I’m on a documentary/bio-pic jag with diversions into classic films and porno. So pretty typical, I guess.


187 06/25 The Snake Pit (1948) 3.5/5  Olivia de Havilland stars in this one about a woman sent to a mental hospital with no recollection of how she got there. A doctor helps her piece together her story and it’s a little hokey. The main reason to watch this is de Havilland is absolutely amazing in it.

188 06/26 Bill Cosby: Fall of an American Icon (2017) 3/5   A good recap of his history of abuse. It’s horrible to listen to the stories, of course, but valuable and not as exploitative as it could have been.


189 06/26 Bettie Page Reveals All (2012) 4/5   A really well done documentary with Page (via voice over interview clips) telling her own story. There will never be a more iconic pin-up model and the doc does a great job of not only telling her story but packing in tons of pictures and footage. That said, the blu-ray disc is an abomination with one of the worst sound designs that I have ever heard. The music (which isn’t great to begins with) is mixed way too hot and often drowns out the people speaking, only to get even louder when they are not. I’m tempted to knock a star off the review but I’m guessing it’s a mix on the blu-ray and not on the film proper if viewed elsewhere. I’m hoping anyways, since it really is terrible.


190 06/27 Michael Jackson: Searching For Neverland (2017) 2/5   A made for TV biopic on the pop star’s final years as told by his bodyguards. It avoids all talk of child molestation and paints the bodyguards as saints. That’s really the problem with this one, it’s hard to root for Jackson to get back on his feet when you know he’s molested children, so fuck him and his money problems, right? Chad C. Coleman from The Wire is the main lead bodyguard and he’s great. Navi is shockingly, creepily good as Jackson, but it’s just not enough to make me care about a child molester.


191 06/28 In A Lonely Place (1950) 3.5/5   Bogart stars as a down on his luck screenwriter who gets wrapped up in a murder he may or may not have committed. Bogart is great in the role, getting to play a not as nice guy as he typically did at this point in his career and Gloria Grahame more than holds her own as the inspired love interest. It’s a good film but I didn’t find myself wrapped up in it.


192 06/29 Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds (2016) 3/5   This one was in the works just prior to both of the stars passing, so it’s a bittersweet affair that I wanted to like more. It shows their eccentric current life, but doesn’t go too deep in what brought them to this point. So if you go in not knowing too much about them, you’re going to be a little lost since they come off kooky. That said, what it does deliver, it delivers well.


193 06/29 I Always Said Yes: The Many Lives of Wakefield Poole (2013) 4/5   Really interesting documentary on dancer, choreographer, pornographer and chef Wakefield Poole. I know him from the porn, he’s arguably the greatest gay adult filmmaker of all time (with his “Bijou” easily one of the greatest adult films of all time.) It was interesting to see how close he was to the front lines of gay rights though, with numerous stories and encounters with Harvey Milk and other political heros. A really well done picture, and Poole seems like the sweetest man in the world despite having a bittersweet history.


194 06/30 The Times Of Harvey Milk (1984) 4/5   Great documentary on the first gay man to hold public office in California. I was familiar with him through Gus Van Sant’s film Milk, but it was great to see the real story. A bittersweet film considering how it all ends, you get a really great sense of who Harvey was and why it was such a tragedy.


195 06/30 Pleasure Maze (1986) 2.5/5   A rather workmanlike effort of an adult film about robot hookers and their testers which is all an excuse for 80’s futuristic costumes and run of the mill sex scenes one would expect of the era. The fantastic cast helps to elevate it, but it’s no classic.


196 07/01 Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau (2014) 4/5
Ends up the story behind the picture is as bonkers as rumoured. I’m not convinced that Stanley would of pulled the film off if he stayed on, but it is fun to think about. Sadly missing is Ron Perlman’s fantastic Brando story which can be found on Marc Maron’s podcast WTF. At any rate, this is one of the better documentaries on filmmaking and worth checking out.


197 07/01 Love & Mercy (2014) 3.5/5  Bio-pic on Beach Boy genius Brian Wilson uses the trick of casting Paul Dano as young 60’s Brian and John Cusack as 1980’s Brian trying to get his life together with the help of Dr. Eugene Landy. It sounds weird, but if you have ever seen a documentary on Brian, it makes sense. This one was well done, it goes pretty deep into both the music and Wilson’s troubles, though I could see a non-fan getting a little lost and wondering what the big deal is.

198 07/01 Lovers Lane (1986) 2.5/5   The second feature on the Peekarama disc from Vinegar Syndrome that featured Pleasure Maze is less inspired and even more workmanlike. Director Duck Dumont knows how to shoot, it’s too bad he doesn’t push himself in these two features. Then again, it could be the sign of competing with  SOV 80’s wall to wall porn. At any rate, the cast helps this one, but not enough to put it ahead of any other of its like.


199 07/02 A Band Called Death (2012) 4/5   Back in the early 70’s three black brothers were inspired to move on from their funk band and start a rock group. They called it DEATH, and they were punk as fuck before there was a proper name for punk. Not the cool New York punk either, but the edgy hardcore sounds that came out in the late 70’s early 80’s. Anyway, they were completely ignored, never got their record out and finally are getting their due. This documentary is really quite fantastic as despite their name, they are such positive people and seeing them finally get some of their due is wonderfully inspiring. It’s as much a family story as it is a music doc and really worth checking out.


200 07/02 Heat (1995) 4/5   Nice revisiting this one, my first time watching the “Director’s Definitive Edition”. One of the best heist crime movies ever made, I have to admit that Pacino is as scenery chewing in this one as he is in SCARFACE. All acting sins are forgiven with the incredible LA shootout sequence that is one of the most perfectly shot action scenes you will see. It all holds up just fine and the cast listing is absolutely bonkers.