Posted on August 1st, 2009 in Brick Prior, Movies, SHAW-A-DAY-A-THON by Brick Prior

Well, if there was ever a film to end things with… this is it.

THE TRAILER

 

THE OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS (so awesome that it is officially in ALL CAPS as mandated by the Office of Official Synopsis’ For America)

“WHEN WEN BIAO DISCOVERS THAT HIS BROTHER HAS BEEN USING THEIR SECURITY COMPANY FOR ILLEGAL ACTIVITIES. A CONFRONTATION BETWEEN THEM LEAVES WEN BIAO MISSING & PRESUMED DEAD. BUT WEN BIAO HAS NOT LEFT THIS WORLD & WHEN THE BROTHERS ARE REUNITED, FINAL BATTLE LINES ARE DRAWN, LEAVING THEM TO FIGHT ONE LAST TIME.”

THIS IS WHAT I THOUGHT HAPPENED SINCE I HAD TO WATCH ACTION AND READ SUBTITLES AT THE SAME TIME, HAR HAR HAR

Times sure have changed.  Gone is the official Shaw Brothers opening with the fanfare and the logo- replacing it are snippets of the films’ stars showing off the various martial arts forms and styles seen in the film.  From there, we get into the actual film itself- it’s the story of Bill (Lau Kar-Leung) and his brother Pao; Bill is the head of a courier service and Pao works under him.  It turns out that there’s a constable (Gordon Liu with actual, real hair) on the hunt for an opium smuggling ring.  Bill’s able to convince him that his company isn’t responsible for it… but ends up finding some damning evidence that points to Pao being the culprit.  This leads to a dustup at home, where Bill demands that Pao turn himself in for his crimes.  Pao, bolstered in his resolve by his weeping family, says that he’ll go straight, so Bill lets him off the hook.

The crew heads out for another delivery, and end up on a sketchy section of the trek, so Pao scouts ahead.  A couple of minutes pass, and Pao’s horse comes back without him, so Bill goes to investigate.  He sees a body on the ground, fearing the worst.

It’s Pao.

And it does get worse, due to the fact that Pao, faking it, stabs him.

We then hit a twenty minute fight sequence as Bill, betrayed by his brother, has to fend off the opium dealing thugs that his sibling his now in cahoots with.  It’s a stunning display with the then sixty-plus year old Kar-Leung pulling off an action performance for the ages.  The bad guys get the upper hand, and Bill takes an unwarranted dip into the river, sealing his fate… until a young girl named Mandy drifts upon his half-lifeless body.

Cut!

To!

A goofy ass family partaking in some crazy comedy antics that don’t translate well to subtitles.

Let me explain.

There’s a fairly well-off family that, due to some odd marriage deal or what not, one of the younger kids is the “elder” of the unit- again, due to subtitles, it wasn’t all that clear.  Anyway, one of the kids (we will call him Yip) wants to be an artist, so they string the “Great Uncle” (Tak, who is around high school age in this film) up on ropes and he does odd Monkey Fist poses so Yip can draw them in order to publish a handbook that will send him on his way to fame and fortune.

Needless to say, the actual elder of the house shows up, and that shit gets shut down quick.

Our boys head to school, where Yip is promptly picked on at the basketball court, leading Tak to save him, and he inadvertently hits a baseball right into a priest’s head.

Needless to say, they are expelled.

So, they head to Canton High School- scratch that, they head to another town where it’s been rumored that the Monkey Fist has been used in.  This is the final form that Yip needs for his book, and they’re all over that shit, and they have a lead with Mandy, who’s busy practicing her kung-fu in public when she shouldn’t be.  Yip tries to talk to her but gets tossed off a walkway, only to be saved by the Constable, who is intrigued by this new duo.  Tak follows Mandy, and ends up finding out that she’s been taking care of Bill.  Both promptly get rid of him, and Tak reports his finding to his brother.  The duo is horsing around the next day when Constable Gordon Liu notices that the poor stance Tak is using is a reminder of Bill’s stance… so he promptly lets Pao and the traitors know what’s going down, even though he doesn’t know that they’re the cause of all this.  The brothers go back to Mandy and Bill (with the Constable in tow secretly), wanting to be trained…  but they’ve been followed!  While the Constable and Bill get caught up, Mandy gets kidnapped and the brothers get the shit beat out of them.  It’s up to Bill and the Constable to get Mandy back, so they go after Pao in an abandoned building, and find out that Mandy’s been doped up with opium water.

Goddamn opium water.

Pao shows up, and it’s a shitty reunion for Bill and Pao as the latter threatens to rape Mandy if the Constable won’t kill or arrest Bill.  Bill pleads for the Constable to kill him so that Mandy will be free, and the two reluctantly fight… it’s one hell of a battle to say the least.  Bill’s wound starts giving him trouble, and the Constable demands that he drinks some wine to counteract the pain, so Bill downs a whole jug of wine, and there’s a SWERVE~! as the two smash a coffin through the barred wall in order to get after Pao and save Mandy.  Pao’s boys arrive, and the Constable sacrifices himself in order to make sure that Bill can get away with Mandy.

His last words?

“Heroes are never afraid of death!”

Way to go out, Constable Gordon Liu.

The dumb ass family takes Bill in as he tries to nurse Mandy back to health.  For a few moments, all goofiness with these fucking people is put aside as the focus is on Bill and his plight.  Once Mandy wakes up and they all go to pay their respects at the Constable’s grave that it goes all out the window.

Seriously.

Let me pull a Zack Morris and call a TIME OUT.

Granted, cultural humor is hard to translate- but remember what I said about how good humor is universal?  No?  It was in the last SHAW-A-DAY-A-THON piece, so you might need to catch up.  You okay now? Yeah?  Okay, so if good humor is universal, then in that case, fault me for not laughing when this shitass family starts falling all over themselves in happiness due to the fact that they’re now being taught under Bill AT THE CONSTABLE’S GRAVE DURING A PERIOD OF MOURNING.  That’s just as bad as going to a burial at, UHHHHHH, Quantico National Cemetery and being told by a family member that you “look just like Osama”.

Not that that’s ever happened to me- no, no, why would I write that?

TIME IN.

Anyway, Bill takes the two sons in, and they’re training and whatnot and their mom is getting all into it because IT’S GODDAMN FUNNY AND IT’S SUPPOSED TO EVOKE FEELINGS OF ANITA MUI IN DRUNKEN MASTER 2 (see what I did there? do some research, reader of mine!)  BUT I’M SORRY, IT DOES NOT.  Tak’s training with Bill, and Bill introduces him to the properties of wine- like any good spirit, it makes you fee invincible.  Bill and the brothers chug, and everyone fights, and Bill ends up overexerting himself and reopening his wound, much to the brothers’ chagrin.

So, it is to them to finish things off.

They head to the trading company that Pao and company sold their souls for with a completely shitty plan.  Number one, randomly show up at the place shoddily dressed demanding that you have a delivery for the man in charge.  Number two, openly talk about the plan in a sketchy hallway while all the bad guys’ minions are there in the hallway with you.  And, of course, number three: DON’T BE SO FUCKNG GODDAMNED STUPID.

Seriously!

They get caught and swarmed by the baddies, and Mandy and Bill jump in to save them.  This is, admittedly, the coolest part of the movie when all four are fighting together, but when you have one and a half worthless characters, well… as the Brass Knuckled Priest would say, “THAT DON’T MEAN SHIT.”

You’ll see.

Needless to say, our heroes win, and end up rebuilding the courier service before Pao fucked it up.

Hooray!

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS MOVIE

It was completely bittersweet.  I missed the old school logo at the beginning.  Lau Kar-Leung is amazing in every way- seriously, most sixty year old folks (at the time of this film) I know don’t have that kind of athletic presence and command of themselves and their surroundings when it comes to fighting.  Gordon Liu was awesome in his small role as well, and Shannon Yao (Mandy) was quite impressive also.

My main fault with this film comes with the comedic aspects of the two brothers (Jacky Wu as “Tak” and Wing King-lau as “Yip”).  They’re unnecessary- that’s not to take away from the actors’ performances,  but it’s just to say that their characters weren’t needed, I think.  Perhaps if their arc was more serious besides all the antics with their mom living vicariously through them- her miming all the Monkey Fist stances and shit like that.

Whatever.

Anyway- there’s a lot of history in this film- not only is it directed and starred by Lau Kar-Leung, but it’s the last Shaw Brothers film to be produced in (as of this writing) seven years.  You have an old star (Gordon Liu) with a new star (Jacky Wu) with an indomitable presence (Lau Kar-Leung) , so it’s a nice passing of the torch for what it was.

And that’s it.

Pics:

YOU GOTTA KEEP THAT DIRT OFF YOUR SHOULDERS

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IDIOT

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YEAH, YOU WANT A DRINK, JUST A LITTLE, JUST A LITTLE…

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GORDON LIU WITH AN ODD HAT ON

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THEY ARE READY TO FIGHT

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POSTSCRIPT ON THE MONTH (AND OF THE FUTURE)

Another AbG month long marathon from yours truly is in the books.  This one hit some snags due to Otakon happening early and me being sick for the better part of two weeks, but I still enjoyed it.  While I’ve always been a bit of a martial arts enthusiast, it was only during this month that I started to read/see various styles used in movies as emotional factors in the narrative of film as well (i.e. the power of a move isn’t just from a person’s arms, it comes from their whole body.  Keep an eye out next time you go to the movies).  Since I’m a very visual person when it comes to my writing outside of AbG (yes, I cut videos for songs in my head all the time, and I do write outside of AbG), it was a good feeling to have everything coalesce and gel together while embarking on this personal cinematic journey over the past month.

There is something about an old school Shaw Brothers film that is slightly heartwarming- you know that you’re in for something very old school and something that a younger version of yourself would have been in front of the TV for it all, not to mention laughing about all of the bad dubbing.

A note:  I am a very selfish person, because I did this marathon for myself.  I did not rent any movies for this ordeal- I own all of them.  I bought eleven movies strictly for this month, and there are six movies that I never watched outside of the marathon.  Yes Virginia, I do love this shit and I wanted to share my love of this genre with all of you, but not in a way that will be on the internet in video form…  because that would be bad.

To clarify, I did this for you- the reader.  I know we don’t talk much, and when we do, it’s sporadic and not relating to anything we’re actually… you know, talking about.  That’s okay; we can work past this and move on and make the future better for both of us. 

So, since I’m “That Guy” of this site, what’s next from me?

Well, I’m going to take a bit of a break before MORROR, which is AbG’s next event.  If you don’t know what MORROR is, then I’ll tell you:  it’s “A Horror A Day 2: More Horror”- for the uninitiated, I watch a horror movie a day during the month of October and destroy my liver on Halloween all in the sake of… uh, something that someone would deem to be important. 

The link to the first one is over on your left.

So, that’s it.  I’ll be back before MORROR kicks off with a little Boogity Boogity Boogity action, and after this past month… you know what?

I think I need to watch Kill Bill again.

…you’ll see what I mean in a few weeks.

Thanks for reading, folks.  I and the rest of my cohorts appreciate it.  Hit us up via the forums or the podcast email as always.

Bye.

Brick Prior is done with it all… only until you summon him again.