I finally got a round to checking out 1989’s ‘Saga of the Phoenix’, the wildly entertaining sequel to ‘The Peacock King’ from cult classic Hong Kong director Lam Ngai Kai (Riki-Oh). If you’re a fan of ‘Riki-Oh’ I highly recommend checking out the director’s other work and while ‘Saga of the Phoenix’ isn’t as shockingly violent, it’s easily just as wild and crazy as anything he’s ever done. In the sequel we follow once again, the exploits of the two magical monks Lucky Fruit and Peacock but more so this time the “Hell Virgin” Ashura who in the last movie caused some major problems, almost destroying mankind as we know it while under the enchantment of the devil. Ashura though still loves the mortal world and eventually is granted permission to live there for 7 days, only if she makes a promise to stay out of any mischief that might interfere with the human world. She gladly accepts and quickly hunts down a weird gremlin creature named “Genie” when arriving on Earth. Peacock, Lucky Fruit and 3 bad ass nuns are also then sent down to chaperone her visit, but of course the wicked “Hell Concubine” has other plans, to send her evil minions there as well to try and corrupt her once again.
Though I’ve heard many seem to think this one is more “kid friendly”, probably because the gremlin character “Genie”is focused on quite a bit. Though we follow Ashura and him running around Hong Kong in the 80’s having fun (which I totally dug), it’s still got plenty of downright bizarre scenarios to behold that I think places it in a league all of it’s own and quite a worthy sequel. There’s also the inclusion of a brother and sister human duo that befriend the main characters and the brother just happens to be a madcap inventor of an inter dimensional time machine. Go figure! There’s a few hints of romance and of course the three nun protectors all decide to go for a dip in the human’s swimming pool after their outfits get shredded in battle, donning swimsuits for the first time in their rather “sheltered” life. There’s also some pretty perplexing plot choices surrounding the character of Genie that just kind of have to be seen to be believed. The character which is a mix of puppet and stop-motion animation has got plenty to do here and is given more than his fair share of moments to shine and even scare.
Sure there’s a lot going on here in a movie with an admittedly flimsy plot, the good thing is that the majority of it all is one helluva good time. Bleeding sweet 80’s fashion & locations, outrageous characters, wild sets, puppets, stop motion animation, giant monsters and plenty of neon lasers to behold, it’s hard not to at least be enamored by all of the eye candy. There’s also a splash of martial arts action thrown in the mix to keep the action going at a steady pace from Lucky Fruit and Peacock. Sure there’s lot’s of logic issues with the plot & the dialogue (translations likely) can be a bit incoherent at times but there’s more than enough outrageous charm throughout to easily satisfy fans of directors like Steven Speilberg, Sam Raimi & Peter Jackson’s 80’s and early 90’s work.
If you’re a fan of weird 80’s fantasy, action & horror you definitely need track down The Peacock King & The Saga of the Phoenix. It’s jam packed with all the things I love so much about that era of film making. Lam Ngai Kai (aka Ngai Choi Lam) is easily the best cult director out of Hong Kong for the time, it’s a shame he completely disappeared from film making after 1992. Perhaps he decided his body work couldn’t be topped? Thankfully he’s left behind a truly unique legacy of outrageous films that have yet to be explored by a huge portion of American cinemaniacs.
I’ve been checking out a lot of 1980’s and 90’s foreign horror movies lately and the ones from Hong Kong are most definitely the most outrageous of them all. 1992’s ‘Wizard’s Curse’ is certainly proof of that, a mix of raunchy sex comedy, horror, fantasy and action all rolled into one big weird ball. A pair of “on the run” criminal lovers rumored to be practitioners of dark magic are hunted down by local police lead by a taoist priest. Using his own unique supernatural abilities he aids the cops, managing to personally slay them both. Soon after, a local cult leader resurrects their spirits into a one shared physical body, granting them superhuman powers & leaving them thirsting for human brains. They set out on a mission, to track down the priest for revenge and seeking to eat the brains of a virgin to gain ultimate powers of evil. This sets into motion a chase as the priest battles them to protect his daughter and the life of a tuff guy virgin cop who becomes entangled in the case.
Yeah it’s a weird one. It features Ching-Ying Lam better known for his role in the iconic ‘Mr. Vampire’ movies of the 1980’s as the even tempered ass kickin’ priest. The bad guy & girl share one body, change sexes at random & wear a totally 80’s leather clad outfit that’d make ‘The Terminator’ jealous. They rip though Hong Kong eating brains and murdering people with a huge glowing phallus, that’s used most of the time like a super powered snake like battering ram. There’s some really great 80’s style fx work going here, creepy moments and some frenetic action sequences keep Wizard’s curse moving at a brisk pace. Together (literally) they make a unique villain and the camera tricks utilized to make inhabit the same body are a lot of fun as well.
Ching-Ying Lam never disappoints with his kung fu either, he’s one of the best and there’s some incredibly fun supernatural kung fu battles to behold. However the movie is also entirely unsure of what it wants to be as it’s littered with sex & dick jokes when you least expect it. A lot of these Hong Kong horror movies of that era go lots of different directions and while it certainly makes things interesting this one could have really benefitted by keeping the raunchy comedy to a bare minimum. Also watching the movie with it’s rudimentary english subtitles leads me to believe the comedy may have played better if I’d have actually understood the language they’re speaking. My bad.
At the end of the day though, I definitely do recommend ‘Wizard’s Curse’, if even just for it’s sheer absurdity alone. Though it was released in 1992 it feels one hundred percent 80’s. Lots of neon, cool clothing, real stunts and a ton of 80’s FX work make it a unique little movie that never gets sleepy. It’s also filled with plenty of non PC “comedy” mostly revolving around sex yet never ends up being overly offensive some how. I liked the role of the virgin too being the wise crackin’ cop instead of the priests daughter, who regularly spends her time dodging super creepy advance & ploys from mega douchey men. The movie’s finale is pretty fun too as the Taoist Priest is forced to team up with his hilarious ex-wife who’s also a bad ass magician. And of course the movie’s final moment gag hinges on an over the top sex joke. If you’re looking for an utterly odd hybrid horror movie check this one out, it’s got a lot of weird ass shit going for it, if that’s your cup of tea!
‘White Fire’ from 1984 is one helluva bizarre movie, it’s not only filled with a ton of crazy ass action sequences but it’s also got a complete WTF plot going for it that you kinda just have to see to believe. ‘White Fire’ starts off with two siblings (Bo and Ingrid) who witness a gang of crazed soldiers sadistically murder their parents. There’s fully over the top action kicking into gear right from the very start including a bonkers attack on the kid’s dad with a flame thrower that you just gotta see to beleive. It’s one of those “rewind & watch it again” scenes as the stunt dude is completely bombarded with a flame blast with no head or face protection, and for an instant the guy is fully engulfed in flame. Anyway only the two kids manage to survive the bloodshed. Flash forward twenty years later… Bo and his beautiful sister are grown up & employed at a hi-tech diamond mineshaft operation located in the desert that looks straight out of a 1960’s sci fi flick. The inseparable pair soon stumble upon the discovery of a legendary supernaturally powered diamond, called the “White Fire.” Both are immediately pursued by a gang of evil villainous thugs who’re dead set on getting their grubby hands on the diamond themselves. Check out this radical poster/box art for the flick:
Well once the pursuit starts, things get outta hand pretty quickly and we witness the bro and sis duo’s bizarrely epic kung fu skills & brother Bo even resorts to grabbing a chainsaw to fuck up a whole gang of goons on a dock. They’re a great team and soon we get to the real weird shit, lots of his sister Ingrid fully nude at a private swimming pool and Bo comes around afterward and rips his sisters towel off her refusing to give it back. They proceed to laugh about it while she’s completely exposed in front of her brother for far far to long. Ahhh that good old innocent brotherly love! Shit gets even weirder when his sister dies soon after while kung fu fighting a whole gang of villainous goons while still sporting her towel, that now refuses to fall off.
Naturally Bo is super duper bummed out to find his sister has been murdered but the next day he runs into a random lady in a bar while greivin’ n’ drinkin’ whom he ends up approaching with an offer she just can’t refuse! 50 grand to get a face transplant from his dead sister and learn to imitate her! Naturally the woman goes for it, because for some reason I’m a bit confused about still, having his sister alive will help them get the diamond or some shit? Whatever, Bo naturally falls in love with the woman and when she gets the face transplant things get mega awkward!! Now she looks identical to his dead sister, but what’s he to do, he’s already madly in love with her!
The rest of the movie’s a blast, iconic bad ass Fred Williamson shows up as a hired bounty hunter dude to raise some hell for the duo and there’s action a plenty to behold, even a dude who gets his crotch fully mangled by a table saw! There’s a surprising amount of gore here sprinkled throughout to compliment the bonkers plot that will leave you continuously scratching your head in confusion. White Fire’s got some rad locations too, most of it takes place in Turkey and it’s a treat to see the city of Istanbul in the 1980s. Directed by Jean-Marie Pallardy, who mainly directed porno flicks, ‘White Fire’ is definitely a party flick worth a watch with a gang of rowdy cinema fiends!
I’m super duper pumped about the recent addition to the “Phase 4” of Marvel’s cinematic universe, they’ll indeed be introducing none other than Shang Chi: The Master of Kung Fu to audiences around the globe! This really did kinda catch me by surprise, I mean who’d have ever thought Shang-Chi would get his own blockbuster film? I understand the Black Panther, as he’s easily in my opinion, one of Marvel’s most iconic, at least to any real collector of superhero comics. He’s a legend. However Shang-Chi (who as a kid I was a collector of his titles) is a pretty obscure character whom I never thought got enough credit. He’s been around though since the early 70’s and was Marvel’s direct reaction to the popularity of Bruce Lee.
Now in 2018 Shang-Chi once again has an advantage, as Marvel searches for it’s next big hit, cashing in at the box office on diversity in their movies, they’re aiming at lightning striking again with a movie that features an all Asian cast & director in a similar fashion as the Black Panther. I’d have been more impressed honestly if Marvel had introduced The Black Panther movie years before it’s release in 2018, but it seemed like they waited until the right time though to make as much money as possible with diversity being a hot topic. That being said better late than never for The Black Panther and now Shang-Chi I guess.
So being a fan of the greatest martial artist in the MCU I’m hoping they do indeed pull this one off and pull the character into the A-List category! What do we want from a “Master of Kung Fu” movie? Well how about the exact opposite of what we got from the Iron Fist series? This movie needs to bring on a superhuman kung fu spectacle unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. Iron Fist was a giant disappointment, it’s terrible fight sequences/choreography, mixed with it’s ultra bland plot & unappealing lead character made for a truly tough series to sit that many hours through. Shang-Chi should be a full on action adventure movie, something like a mix up of Indiana Jones & Enter The Dragon but with the most insane martial arts battles put to screen, To pull this off they need someone who’s a true veteran to do the choreography/directing duties like Wilson Yip of the ‘Ip Man’ franchise or the legendary Sammo Hung. Continue reading
So the news just dropped that the Netflix Iron Fist series has officially been axed. I can’t say I’m sad about the news, but what I can say I’m sad about’s how badly they dropped the ball on what should have been a live action series that set a new bar for hyperactive kung fu mayhem. Not only did the series NOT deliver the impressive kung fu choreography I’d hoped for, but it was actually some of the most uninspired melee combat I’ve seen put to screen in quite some damn time. As I’ve said before, this show had the potential to feature Danny Rand as one of the best superhuman combatants (Let’s not forget about Shang Chi too) the world has ever seen. Rand should’ve been doing crazy ass stunts, breaking bones left n’ right and flexing his Iron Fist power on the bad guys like it was nobody’s goddamn business!
Instead we got a seriously weak ass plot, an annoying, whiny version of the character and some pretty pathetic action sequences. We never even got Iron Fist in his actual costume either, which in the end is a good thing cuz I don’t wanna watch some craptastic kung fu being performed by a dude wearing the classic IF duds. Add in some utterly forgettable villains and the supporting character of Colleen Wing being more bad ass and like-able than the series’ lead and you’ve got a major problem that finally caught up to leading to it’s ultimate demise. It actually blows my mind that some of these comic book adaptations can have such a hard time coming up with something fans would dig, Iron Fist should have been an easy sell. Somehow out of touch people in the industry always seem to think they know better than the fans? What gives with that these days?!
Anyway the good thing about the show being cancelled is that we don’t have to endure the torture of watching an epic character like Iron Fist being drug through the mud any more. Though it was a true utter failure, this actually frees things up somewhat for the superhero. Though it’s likely that we won’t see another season of the character, as reported we’ll maybe see Danny Rand making cameos in other Marvel Netflix shows, I think that it might eventually lead to a new Iron Fist altogether. Look how fast other properties get the reboot treatment-Spider-man, Fantastic Four, Hulk and most recently Joaquin Phoenix as The Joker. So why not Danny Rand?!
A reboot in this case, in the form of a movie would be exactly what I’d love to come to fruition, one that takes an entirely new approach. I’d love to see Iron Fist portrayed by someone who’s got the real skills and choreographed by someone who’s ready to knock kung fu fan’s socks off. I’d posted before how the Iron Fist action sequences should have been something more like Tony Jaa’s stunning performance in “The Protector”, for one second imagine Tony had a cool Iron Fist costume on in this scene:
So Yeah I’m glad Iron Fist is over for now, bummed they fucked it up so bad, but hey eventually someone who knows how to make excellent kung fu action on screen AND provide a compelling story for the character WILL indeed come along to give Rand some redemption, at least for now we can hope for that. Now at least I don’t have to sit through another 10 hours of mediocre / subpar Netflix “superhero” programming…..
Wow, I’m super duper stoked about the ‘Cobra Kai’ Youtube Red Series trailer that dropped recently! I still can’t believe that there’s a legit sequel to one of my favorite 80’s movies of all time on the way. No Jackie Chan or Jaden Smith this time folks, we’re talkin’ Ralph Macchio as “Danielson” and William Zabka as the notorious 80’s mega-D-bag-bully ‘Johnny Lawrence’ back in their iconic roles.
I had serious doubts about this but now seeing this new teaser trailer for the series I’m seriously pumped to see what these guys are up to in 2018. It appears as if their rivalry will be revved back into high gear as Johnny starts up the Cobra Kai dojo with the same f’d up ideals as Sensei had back in the 80’s “Strike first, strike hard, no mercy sir”!!!
It appears as if perhaps Daniel might have to train someone himself this time to go up against the Cobra Kai and it even appears as if Daniel & Johnny may actually face off in mortal combat once more as well? Will Martin “Sensei” Kove come back? How about a surprise appearance by Elisabeth “Ali with an I” Shue?!! You never know….I’m a bit bummed this series will be appearing on Youtube Red, but whatever, I’ll check it out! The trailer looks great and I’m eagerly awaiting a full trailer for the series which will be released sometime this year. This series could go a lot of places and hopefully will give us more of what made the original movie so beloved amongst fans. Start Practicing that crane kick, we’ll see if that hold up in 2018!
Seems to me like after the “grand finale” series of the recent shared Marvel Netflix universe show, The Defenders, that Marvel’s lost some serious steam or should I say street cred?! Yeah, final verdict here on The Defenders…weak ass shit! Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t as bad as Iron Fist. BUT seeing the character of Iron Fist in the mix with The Defenders wasn’t really so bad in comparison to his other teammates. I realized that all of the shows are a bit stale when you take a step back and look at them. They all drag on too damn long and when they hit that lull they’re incredibly tedious, every now and again they’ve got their shining moments but they’re few & far between. I was initially pumped for a lean 8 episode, no BS Defenders series, however even 8 episodes felt a bit like a chore to sit through at times!
I wasn’t very impressed with The Defenders, as a longtime comic fan I think of all the ways the show should’ve been amazing and all the ways it was a bit of a let down. I’m tiring of the whole “uninteresting drama, for the sake of drama” these shows fill themselves with. I mean, does anyone really give a flying fuck about Foggy & Karen Page while they whine & worry over Matt Murdock’s Daredevil escapades anymore?! Was anyone captivated by Elektra & Matt Murdock’s “passionate” romance in the last season of Daredevil and this new Defenders series?! We certainly don’t feel anything real for Danny Rand & Colleen Wing! What about Luke Cage and Jessica Jones’ supposed “love connection” anyone care about that? The whole “Jessica Jones is an alcoholic thing” is so by the numbers that every time she takes a drink I feel like rolling my eyes. Uggh it’s just all feeling a little plastic, this cookie cutter drama factor they keep trying to push, it’s just not very interesting. It takes up a LOT of the actual run time of these series.
Well how about the action? Aside from that hallway fight early on in the first Daredevil season I’m not feelin’ that these shows are setting any new action trends. The way I see it these shows should have really upped the ante in the way of action, especially when it comes to superhuman kung fu!! I’m thinking they should’ve been taking notes from movies like “Big Trouble in Little China” & mashing it up with say the likes of Tony Jaa’s “The Protector”. Compare The Defenders for a moment to something that is actually awesome like the movies I just mentioned. Take a moment and imagine if they would’ve slapped a blonde wig on Tony and had him do the action sequences for Iron Fist or even Daredevil, the Marvel shows should be striving to top action sequences like this one here:
Instead we get some seriously bland kung fu by people who’re supposedly superhuman heroes and villains. Heck imagine at the very least if Danny Rand was breaking bones left and right and seriously fucking people up with that iron fist? How much would that alone have changed the dynamic of things? The shows so far range from decent to barely passable, but they should be a serious spectacle to behold visually at the very least. Instead these shows are kinda lazy, no one’s willing to push the boundaries to give us something we wanna watch again and again. I enjoyed the first season of of Jessica Jones & Luke Cage….BUT…do I every really wanna revisit them? Honestly no. Do I wanna revisit say “Stranger Things”? Hell yeah!
I watched one of the latest ‘Game of Thrones’ episodes right before I started The Defenders. Not a good idea, The Defenders ended up feeling pretty cheap, the acting, action, even the sets felt very “made for TV”. Marvel’s got to make a few changes to it’s Netflix stuff. We need more inventive story telling, plot twists, better writing in general, far better action, actual interesting villains & more damn costumes!! Yeah put Iron Fist in his damn costume, that would at least make shit more fun. Give us some classic super powered villains rather than a gang of blah “bosses” and a bunch of faceless drone fighters for our heroes to do mediocre made for tv kung fu street fighting with. The time has come to start remembering where the roots of this shit came from, the comic books! Take notes on what made the last Wolverine movie “Logan” so good and give the fans what they really want!! I don’t have time to waste on more mediocre media Marvel, so get your shit together!