Hot Dayum! Here’s a rad ass kung fu movie I recently checked out that deserves some serious love yet remains all but forgotten by most here in the USA. If you dig comic books and kung fu I say you gotta take a moment to check out…
Operation Scorpio, aka The Scorpion King (1991)
This unique Hong Kong kung Fu movie from 1991 is barrel of zany fun. It’s jam packed with some truly stunning action and hyper-crazy early 1990’s Kung Fu mayhem!! This one’s got a ton of heart and a cool ass story about a comic book artist, Yu Shu, who’s got a wild ass imagination and spends his time daydreaming of being a real life superhero. It opens with a great sequence that perfectly sets the stage for the frantic charming martial arts extravaganza. His wild imagination gets the best of him when his ‘in class cartooning’ soon gets him expelled from medical school leaving him to help his Uncle’s buddy, Master Yat around his popular noodle restaurant. But Yu soon finds himself fully wrapped up in the evil web of a criminal prostitution ring, when going out on a limb, he helps a woman escape from their stronghold late one evening while walking about town. Now the duo are on the run and take shelter hiding out in Master Yat’s noodle house, they’ll eventually find a lot more than noodle’s in his bustling restaurant.
Shit gets pretty awesome as the movie constantly introduces us to a colorful cast of unique characters and the villain’s seemingly superhuman fighting abilities inspire our main character to take a stab at kung fu himself. He secretly heads off to local martial arts school that’s taught by one of the most bad ass, muscle bound kung fu experts I’ve ever seen in cinema. This dude rivals Bolo Yueng! The movie plays out a bit like a comic book version of “My Bodyguard” & “The Karate Kid” and it’s filled with comedy, romance and downright incredible martial arts sequences. Sonny, (The Scorpion King), the lanky villain of the movie, shows that size clearly doesn’t matter when it comes to superhuman kung fu and proves himself to be quite a cinematic threat to anyone who stands in his way. His “scorpion” style of fighting is a treat to see in action as well and one of the best action scenes is when Yu’s Hulking kung fu teacher decides to try and put an end to his problems himself. This truly epic and a bit of a heartbreaking confrontation is definitely not to be missed..
We’ve got a ton of cool shit going on in this one & one of the most entertainingly cheezy sequences of the movie involves the rigorous kung fu training endured by Yu as he masters martial arts through a full on noodle making work out. We’ve got some great twists and turns in the plot as well and just about everything in this movie is quirky enough to elevate this one to a level of it’s own in the ranks of late 80’s early 90’s martial arts movies. Cool sets, ultra colorful characters, superhuman kung fu, heart and unique little story drive this movie into territory I wasn’t even aware existed in the genre. Operation Scorpio, aka ‘The Scorpion King’ is a total treat for any comic book fan and it’s no wonder the flick was produced by the legendary Sammo Hung. It stands on it’s own and really deserves a lot more attention and notoriety for it’s pure charm and ultra endearing cheez factor it delivers. Seek this one out, as it really is a forgotten gem…
Here’s yet another entry for all you folks out there who STILL get dvds in the mail from Netflix! I know there aren’t all that many of us left these days, but I’m the type of guy who still thinks dvds are the bees knees! Yeah!! So what of it?!! Don’t get me wrong, I still stream stuff on the online Neflix site but let’s be honest most of that shit SUCKS – Hence why I’ve been combing the dvd Neflix library for lost gems!
Good news folks, I found another gem in their vast sea of aging dvds, this time we’re looking at a movie from Hong Kong from way back in 1987: EVIL CAT. I’m not quite sure how I stumbled upon this cool ass little Chinese horror movie but I’m glad I did cuz it was a ton o’ fun! This crazy ass little movie is jam packed with quirk, 80’s electricity and frantic action sequences, basically everything I dig about the 80’s. Director Dennis Yu brings the fun and amps up some seriously ridiculous shit as we follow the exploits of an evil cat spirit (who’da thunk huh?) that’s released from it’s ancient sealed tomb by a construction crew & unleashed upon Hong Kong in the late 80’s.
The movie moves at brisk pace too, the evil cat spirit moves from body to body kinda like that Denzel Washington movie ‘Fallen’ if it was more of a spastic colorful horror romp. It’s actually pretty damn funny when the spirit possesses people, they start acting like wild feral cats growling and scratching like maniacs. It’s pretty cool to see these actors go for it and go pretty far over the top with their possessions.
The evil cat spirit however has problems of it’s own though as we learn over centuries one family has been hunting it and keeping it in check over generations. In the 1980’s there’s an old badass dude from that bloodline who’s dying from cancer who pulls out the old magic bow & arrows from storage to put a stop to the feline madness himself. There’s some sweet plot twists here, crazy characters & some surprising gore that pops in out of nowhere from time to time. The movie never really drags and wears it’s 80’s influences firmly on it’s sleeve. You get a pretty damn fine representation of what Hong Kong was like in the 1980’s, filled with neon and great 80’s fashion. It’s clear if you’re looking for more great crazy cinema from that era, there’s a treasure trove of movies waiting to be discovered from Hong Kong studios.
Evil Cat is definitely worth tracking down and the finale is pretty cool especially when the evil cat possesses a woman who’s nearly as unstoppable as the Terminator! The actual cat spirit is portrayed several times as cool hand drawn animation & then as basically a female cat “creature” pulled from the broadway musical “Cats”.
So while there were several aspects of the movie that could have been done better it was still an incredibly inspired 80’s effort to witness for the first time with no expectations. Also if you’re a fan of kung fu there’s some cool crazy showdowns and plenty of humor thrown into the mix. Some if it being likely being due to some shoddy subtitles and translations that just add more charm to the viewing experience. Track down EVIL CAT or if you still have a Netflix dvd account then throw it into you’re queue!!
It’s a hot topic here the past couple days surrounding the upcoming Netflix series ‘Iron Fist’ online. The series starring Finn Jones as the legendary kung fu playboy vigilante has come under fire for it’s supposed racist roots and just plain shitty all around reviews. It’s been slammed pretty hard by the critics calling it “boring” and “racially uncomfortable” with it’s white male lead. Apparently Finn Jones shut down his Twitter because of the online backlash from people who’re calling him out personally as part of the problem.
Now I’m not sure whether the show really sucks or not, I haven’t seen it. I’m curious to see if it’s indeed as bad as critics are saying or if perhaps this racial controversy is really the root of all the negative reviews. I thought the previews looked ok but the whole set up looks a bit too familiar. The problem seems that people are upset that the character, who is a white male in the original comic books, should have been recast and played by an Asian actor in the new series. Then it was stated that many were against the idea of a recast because having an Asian actor in the role of the “martial arts guy” played too strongly into racial stereotypes. A bit of a double edged sword it seems. Continue reading
Do you remember The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu?! Well I thought it’d be cool mention this old comic book magazine put out by Magazine Management Company, which was a part of Marvel Comics way back in the mid to late 1970’s primarily because of how amazing their covers were! Back during this time comic book magazines were quite popular and I was a big fan of The Rampaging Hulk magazine as well. Well The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu gathered Marvel’s most fierce martial arts superheroes in some crazy adventures as well as Kung Fu movie reviews and often time interviews with real life martial artists. Man looking at these incredible covers really makes me want to see a Shang Chi flick sometime soon! Check these out and imagine these on news stands during a time when the kung fu craze was in full effect!
I’m super excited to get this brand spankin’ new collected version of ‘Video Tonfa’ just released by Floating World Comics here in Portland Oregon. I’ve posted here before about indie comic artist, writer & publisher Tim Goodyear’s incredibly inventive & honest movie reviews which can be read regularly in Pork Magazine – But now movie maniacs can get a collected version of over 600 pages worth of them.
Goodyear not only reviews them in his own words but also recreated each movie’s classic and not so classic VHS covers. Any fan of cult, weirdo, horror, action and the like is bound to dig the creativity and time put into this project. Also reviewed are probably a truckload of flicks you’ve never heard of and that alone can lead you to some pretty excellent film finds if you’re willing to take the time to track em’ down for yourself!
Luckily Goodyear has put in the long hours to weed through it all for for you and give you his own take of what’s been overlooked in the vast sea of lost VHS treasures and turds. So yeah, if you’re like me and just can’t seem to get enough of the largely forgotten cinema of yesteryear then this is a book you’ll wanna reference quite often! Check it out here!
I just recently started reading The Shaolin Cowboy from Dark Horse Comics and so far it’s a blast. I’ve been familiar with the title and years ago browsed through the comic thinking that for the art alone, that it looked like something that I’d love to read. Well about six years ago was when the seventh and at that time the last issue was released. I forgot about the book, and honestly with comic books being around four bucks a pop it sometimes isn’t a matter of wanting to read a title, but choosing what I can afford. If it were up to me I’d be reading or trying out dozens of titles weekly.
Well last month I saw The Shaolin Cowboy was back in a new mini series and this time I decided to give it a shot as honestly I’ve had a hard time getting into my favorite superhero books lately for whatever reason. Well I’m happy to say the book is delivering on a different level than I’m used to. Shaolin Cowboy doesn’t really seem to have a real plot, I could tell this by the weird “the story so far” section that preceded issue #1. The comic book is a strange dream like tale that is a real feast for the eyes! It’s artist Geoff Darrow is hands down one of the best, if not the best in the industry.
Issue #2 was a surreal treat, it featured thirty three straight pages of zombie carnage as the Shaolin Cowboy hacks, slashes, punches and kicks his way through a horde of undead, swinging a bo staff rigged with two chainsaws on each end. It’s a beautiful massacre and not a word is spoken in all thirty three pages. Darrow has claimed this book is his excuse to “draw whatever he wants” and the character “does whatever he wants”, I say that’s more than ok with me, I’ll be back for issue 3 and hopefully the last seven issues will be released in a trade soon.
Lastly, while reading the recent issue I’ve decided that they should consider making a movie based on this book. It’s clearly evident that The Shaolin Cowboy should be played by Sammo Hung. He’s the perfect age and look for the part, and I can only imagine him choreographing these bizarre fight scenes. From Sammo’s back catalog of weird ass movies I’d say he’d be perfect for the part and hell maybe even as director. I said it here first!
It’s pretty much common fact this day and age that ‘Big Trouble in Little China’ is one of the coolest movies ever made. Anyone wanna disagree with me here? It pretty much stands alone as one of the best, most original movies that John Carpenter has ever done and defies any real genre. Carpenter must be a genius right?!
Most likely that’s true, but even genius minds get inspired to create awesome things often from some other source. Sometimes though these brilliant minds can unintentionally take full credit for something great. So I wanted to take a quick minute to address just what movie was indeed the inspiration behind ‘Big Trouble’. Ever heard of “Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain“? I didn’t think so!
This rad Hong Kong flick from from 1983 was indeed the inspiration for Carpenter’s masterpiece! John Carpenter has gone on record several times citing this movie as his inspiration for his 1986 feature film. Yep this little known special effects driven flick was what got Carpenter’s mind reelin’ to eventually compose “Big Trouble in Little China”. This one is an unknown gem, at least here in the United States where it’s extremely hard to find. Director Tsui Hark, who was attempting to break out a s a superstar, attempted to mix the kind of mythological adventures that were popular at the time, with a more Hollywood approach and more western stylized special effects work.
Even more impressive was that he brought in the people behind Star Wars for technical special effects assistance. Add in my favorite chinese actor Sammo Hung and you’ve got quite a stellar movie! So go check it for yourself but keep in mind that there was a remake (which wasn’t nearly as enjoyable as the original) and if you loved ‘Big Trouble’ eat your heart out with this one! Hong Kong cinema in the 1980’s was a ton of fun!
Here is the FULL movie uploaded to Youtube!!