Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Chinese Hercules

Directed by Choy Tak.
1973. Rated R, 90 minutes.
Chen Hui Min
Bolo Yeung
Liang Tin
Wang Chung Tsung
Yeh Fang
Yuan Feng
Fan Chiang

As a child of the seventies and eighties, I’ve learned some interesting things. One of them is if I ever see Bolo Yeung coming towards me I should run screaming in the other direction. If I somehow wind up in a position where I have no choice but to engage him I’ll simply scan the area for any sign of Bruce Lee or John Saxson before resigning myself to a bloody and painful fate. Not the machismo of my full-blown masculinity nor the passage of time has quelled my cowardice in regards to Mr. Yeung.

Such fear, rational or otherwise is what brought me to Chinese Hercules. The brief blurb on the back of the DVD doesn’t say much but seems to suggest something I’ve never seen: Bolo as the hero. That and the slum-friendly $1 price tag were too much to resist. Buying this movie wasn’t a choice, but the fulfilling of a destiny.

Alas, such a lofty buildup can only lead to disappointment. For starters, Bolo is not the hero. Once again, he plays the monosyllabic hulk of a henchman. Given that, I have no problem with anything he does. Do you hear that Mr. Yeung? If you’re reading this I want the record to show I think this and every other performance you’ve ever given is perfect. As for the rest of you, don’t judge me.

The movie’s problems really are elsewhere. As low-budget kung-fu flicks go the story is solid. Our hero Kang (Chan) is dedicated to studying kung-fu. He also subscribes to the action of living the disciplined, honorable life of a martial artist. However, when trouble finds him he makes the mistake of killing the man he’s fighting. So distraught is he over his failure as a person he leaves town without his girl, vows never to fight again and takes a job by a pier, loading and unloading ships. To make a long story short, Bolo’s boss takes over the pier, has all the workers fired and bada-boom, bada-bing Kang’s gotta do some fighting.

Sadly, this is that odd martial arts movie in which the action is the problem. This includes the way things are shot and/or were transferred from their previous format onto DVD. The fight choreography is often bland and poorly filmed. Too many missed blows are clearly visible and the camera is often too close and at bad angles. It becomes a chore to watch. Again, at least a portion of that is due to the shoddy manner in which it was transferred. It looks haphazardly done and subtracts from what may have been somewhat enjoyable. Was it worth my dollar? Well…if you’re reading this Mr. Yeung, it was indeed worth all 100 of those pennies. In fact, I tried to give the clerk two dollars but he wouldn’t hear of it. Wink.

MY SCORE: 2/10

No comments:

Post a Comment