Yowza! So many people over the years have sited Stephen Chow’s ‘Shaolin Soccer’ as one of the zaniest Hong Kong productions ever made. I do whole heartedly agree but I think if we’re going to gush over that movie we just have to also mention its likely major influence from Brandy Yuen which came out waaaay back in 1983! Yes ‘The Champions’ starring Hong Kong lengend & shoulda’ been huge international superstar Yuen Biao sets the stage for Shaolin Soccer and is IMO an even better damn movie somehow!
It’s a wild little adventure flick that’s also focused on soccer, with a tinge of kung fu, some high stakes and some pretty well landing comedy to round its somewhat ludicrous banger of a plot out. From its opening credits, which feature Biao & his co star performing some of the wildest martial arts soccer shenanigans put to screen in front of a simple white backdrop, it’d already won me well over.
Yuen Biao stars as a kung fu country boy who flees his small village after competing in a wildly ridiculous town square annual game where he accidentally humiliates one of its powerful criminal competitors in front of the entire village. He’s forced to leave behind his poor struggling umcle and head out into the big city where he accidentally befriends a down on their luck rag tag soccer team.
<span;>He quickly finds his newest talent, fusing his martial arts skills with the game of soccer and yeah, what a sight it is to behold! Biao brings his charisma along for the ride as he quickly rises in the ranks of the game but ditches his old crew for the all the fame of his newly acquired talents as it begins to shoot him to stardom as well as begin to fill his pockets with loot. One crazy scenario after the next as his crazy kung fu style ball control gets the attention of wealthy corrupt criminal gamblers and his evil rival, the biggest soccer star in all of Asia.
Stakes rise when he’s eventually asked to throw a game and things get down right deadly when he refuses to do it. Reuniting with his old football buddy to do things legit only lands him in a game of soccer where the losers actually lose their legs by way of the blade.
The Champions is so much damn fun and delivers some truly incredible stunts on and off the soccer field. The spectacular eye candy ball play here is the main attraction, flips, kicks and near superhuman soccer moves are on full eye popping display. It’s an absolute treat to see Yuen apply his usual jaw dropping martial arts skills and stunt work to the game of soccer while predating Shaolin Soccer by nearly two decades. It surely must have pulled some influence from The Champions which must be noted though is grounded more firmly in reality which for me I actually prefer a bit more. Its also succeeds at not being an annoying slapstick comedy which can really at times be a turn off in my opinion with so many 80s Hong Kong movies relishing in poor taste potty humor and offensive gay jokes.
This one manages to cross the language barrier to provide some class A humor to its charm and beautiful locales to feast your eyes upo. It’ll make you want to travel in a time machine back to 1980s Hong Kong for a vacation you’ll likely never forget! You can score the sweet import blu ray from Panorama here and grab a few other Asian gems to your order like I do every few months! Check out The Champions, a movie more western audiences need to fall in love with!
So I recently found a copy of an 80’s monster movie I’d been trying to track down for years- Blue Monkey from 1987. One thing I totally dig is an awesome or even badly entertaining 80’s horror flick and with this one I was certain I’d found either a lost gem or at the very least a full on golden turd!! Well it turns out I was quite wrong on both guesses, after years of waiting I was quite disappointed to find out Blue Monkey is neither, but rather a total snooze fest that’s bound to put the kibosh on any movie nite party!!
The funny thing is for the first half hour this one delivers some serious promise, that’s the sad thing because after a strong opening you’re so damn sure this movie is going to deliver the goods and then some that it’s tough to give up on it! The basic premise is someone gets bit by a weird bug in an exotic greenhouse that causes big slug like parasites to emerge from the hosts mouth. When the person is taken to the hospital that’s when the “mayhem” begins and then quickly peters out into a movie that feels far, FAR longer than it’s 97 minute run time!! Yeah the first half hour has some cool gross out fx and even introduces us to a young Sarah Polley!
Aside from that there’s not much else to report, the rest of the movie features a shit ton of boring ass scenes of people walking around dark hallways and talking about a ton of shit my brain wasn’t willing to absorb. I watched this at a movie nite on a projector and as I looked around the room it was clear this movie was the fucking cure to the most intense case of insomnia!! I’d also like to add that there’s no blue monkey or anything related to a damn blue monkey in the whole damn film!!
Yeah people were nodding off and some I think got some nice zzzzz’s during most of the movies tiresome duration. When we finally get to see the monster mutant bug it’s just too little too late to give a damn. The only thing that kept this movie the least bit interesting were the two boozed up senior citizen patients at the hospital, and even the promise they showed waned pretty damn quick. The actual monster itself was actually pretty well done. If they’d have had the creature stalk people on and off during the loooong ass middle section of this movie it’d have been a helluva lot easier to sit through. Even adding a few of those “shadowy creature arm attacks and you throw some fake blood on a wall” type of scenes could have saved this one from being a full blown fucking sleep-aid!
I get really bummed out by movies like this, that with some clever editing, could have actually been a pretty fun little romp. It seems though the only thing this one succeeds at is being spectacularly boring, proving again the search for that lost 80’s horror gem is a tuff one. Every so often I’m proven wrong but usually if I haven’t heard of a movie being awesome from the 70’s or 80’s by the year 2017 there’s usually good reason! I’m glad the wait is over though with Blue Monkey, even though it was a total turd, it’s one I can happily cross off the list. This one never got a proper DVD release and now it’s finally clear why…you’ve been warned!!
So there we have it, The Evil Dead “remake” in all of it’s bloody glory! I saw it this last weekend on a Sunday afternoon matinee, with a packed theater and I am happy to say the flick exceeded my expectations! Kudos to Fede Alvarez for putting his heart and soul into a movie that I feel real horror fans can get behind. I can’t express enough how awesome it was to see a mainstream Hollywood horror movie deliver the gore the way it was meant to be. CG blood was no where in sight, the effects made me cringe and the story was simple and brutal. I enjoyed it even more so because to me this really wasn’t a remake, we got several hints through the film that these events were talking place after Ash’s experience there and if you stuck around after the credits we indeed got a message from the man himself. Alvarez swore up and down that Ash would NOT appear, even in a cameo in this one. I’m not saying the last scene promises anything to fans but the simple fact that we’re now hearing about Ash returning in Army of Darkness 2 and then both movie worlds colliding for one final flick make me just about wet my pants!
Now that’s not to say this was a perfect movie, like many reviewers have complained, I’ll agree there’s not much for character development here. But you know what, Evil Dead was never known for in depth character development! It delivered one purpose, to send chills down your spine and attempt to gross you out as much as possible. I think this flick did exactly what is was supposed to and then some. It makes me think of how rad it will be to see Ash plopped into this sick and twisted reality as the same old idiotic hero we’ve come to know and love. Older but not the least bit wiser. Finally giving us fans what we’ve wanted, one more night out with the King.
It seems the movie was a success too at the box office making over 30 Million in it’s first weekend snagging the number one spot. Things are looking good in the world of the Deadites! So let this be a lesson to all these Hollywood so called horror directors. Give people a quality movie, skip the CG blood-it looks like shit and always will, get creative without solely relying on your computer, plan your shots and make us feel and believe that we’re really there fighting for our survival! Something this latest Evil Dead succeeds at on so many levels!