Saturday, April 21, 2012

Dragons Forever (or Love is a Conveyor Belt of Warmth)

Three Stooges + Awesomazing Kung Fu = 
This movie!!!

So, after watching Shaolin a couple of weeks ago, we realized we hadn't yet touched on much of the super awesome greatness of Jackie Chan. Feeling entirely remiss in our tributary duties, we immediately picked the most readily available Jackie Chan movie, that was not Rush Hour, and got to work. Thus we discovered "Dragons Forever", the last film (so far) starring The Three Brothers; Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao.

Now, if you've never seen a Three Brothers movie and haven't the faintest idea what we're talking about, these three guys attended acting school together and liked it so much they decided to make some films, resulting in some pretty fabulous Kung Fu movie mojo. Hung also directed the film, which has bad-guy appearances from Yuen Wah (Kung Fu Hustle) and kickboxer Benny Urquidez. aka - He knows what he's doing.

This film is craziness filled with craziness that begins about 30 seconds after hitting the play button. So since there were practically no opening credits we're going to follow suit and just jump right in, shall we?

The players (and the first 20 minutes of the film):

Our hero is Jackie Lung (Jackie Chan, who in the subtitles of our version is called Johnny, but everything else I can find calls the character Jackie, so we're going with that), a smooth-talking lawyer (or so he thinks) who does a pretty fantastic job of defending big businessmen types who have obviously actually done something wrong. He's good at his job, but doesn't seem to think much of his clients. And he's a ladies man. Or... again, so he thinks. He represents....

Mr. Hua (Yuen Wah), one bad dude who won't think twice before having you shot. He owns Hua's Chemical Works, some kind of nondescript factory that does who knows what (give you three guesses). This factory is pumping out toxic chemicals that are poisoning the water of a nearby fish pond owned by...

Miss Yip (Miss Yeh in our version... seriously, whoever wrote these subtitles just made them up as they went along...), an unmarried 40-something trying to keep her family's fishery afloat. She refuses to settle out of court, wanting only to see the factory shut down. Miss Yip's key witness for her case against Mr. Hua's factory is...

Her fancy and beautiful geologist cousin, Nancy Lee, who has spent years abroad studying poisoned water, apparently. And who wants nothing to do with Jackie Lung and his invitations to lunch.

Jackie's friend Luke (Sammo Hung), a fight instructor turned weapons dealer who will hand you a machete, still be able to kick your assets aaaaaaand  be entirely hilarious while doing it. Jackie hires him to woo Miss Yip and get her to sell the fish pond to end the dispute with his client for a sizable monetary reward.

And Jackie's other friend Tim (Biao Yuen), who is all around a rather eccentric and shady kind of fella, being that he's some kind of criminal-for-hire who keeps fish in tubes and likes to jump over furniture in absolutely ridiculous ways. Jackie hires him to plant a bug in Miss Yip's house. Pay attention to this dude... he's got the slickest moves we've ever seen and think his own films will definitely merit some awesome future reviews. Yes... yes, I think they will.

The year is 1988 and, as anyone who grew up during that time knows, the year is OBVIOUS because the men's cell phones are almost as big as the women's shoulder pads. The music sounds like it just may have been stolen from a Charlie Chaplin film. Aaand, we're pretty sure Sammo Hung had just coined some kind of Chinese term for a booty call.

... And now we have the basis for the next 80 minutes of pure entertainment.

SO, Luke moves in next door to Miss Yip, and via super technologically advanced headgear is able to listen through the wall to spy on her for Jackie. He overhears a conversation between Miss Yip and Nancy about how badly Miss Yip needs a boyfriend.

I had to watch this move on repeat...

While he's listening in, he happens to hear Tim breaking in to plant his bug... because honestly, while his acrobatics look great, Tim is not very covert. Not that I don't wish I could dive behind a couch like that... seriously, who doesn't? Not knowing who Tim is or that Jackie hired him, Luke catches Tim in Miss Yip's apartment, and an entirely awesome exchange of Wushu sticky hands proportions ensues, ending in a vase of gladiolas meeting Tim's head. The ladies have Tim arrested and Luke is deemed a hero.

Jackie, not knowing what went down at Miss Yip's, bails Tim out of jail and sends him on his way. At the police station, he runs into the "fish ladies" and finally gets Nancy to agree to have dinner with him. And is a dork the whole time. I've never seen such an epic date-making fail.

But there's a bigger epic fail!!! 
 The actual date...

Which turns out to be entirely hysterical. Jackie has Nancy over to his apartment, where he has strategically hidden a CasioTone under the couch in permanent "demo" mode for atmosphere. While he's trying to be suave, which is not working out so hot, Tim and Luke both show up at Jackie's apartment, and he hides them in his bedroom to keep Nancy from seeing them and figuring out his plot. Of course Luke still thinks Tim is a burglar, Jackie doesn't have time to explain, and misunderstandings abound. Closets explode, beatings ensue, and Nancy is abruptly ejected from Jackie's apartment, oblivious, bewildered, and no closer to getting Jackie to help her fishy cousin's case.

After beating the stuffins out of one another, and completely disgusted, the three very bruised and sad looking men head out to the bar for what the subtitles say is tea, but looks enough like 2% milk that I am now wishing I had a bag of Oreos handy.

Again, with the flying kicking thing!
And yes, both that guy's knee
and face got it on this one.
While Jackie tries to smooth things over with his friends, Mr. Hua (who has never met Jackie despite their legal relationship) shows up at the club. One of Hua's men recognizes Jackie and insists on introducing them. Jackie pretends that Tim and Luke are his associates (because that would just be a cracker-jack legal team) and they chat about the case for a moment before a group of rival bad dudes shows up and tries to take out Hua and his posse. Jackie and friends defend Mr. Hua in epic fashion (though mostly just to save their own butts) and are immediately pegged by the rivals as some kind of dream team/elite bodyguard force.

So now that Jackie has established himself as a force to be reckoned with (pffffft... ha ha ha), Hua's enemies obviously want him out of the way. But since he's oblivious to that, he's decided to try another date with Nancy. So he sticks her in a speedboat, in which he has again strategically hidden the CasioTone, and takes her out to lunch on a cruise ship. But it's a trap! Don't ask us how, but somehow Hua's enemies know that Jackie has chartered the whole ship and have planted their own people as the ship's crew. They attack Jackie and chase him about the boat in a display of generalized Jackie Chan finery and choas and intense feats of acrobatics that include so many broken things we forgot to count. Nancy, having been in the restroom the whole time, has again missed all of the excitement and has no idea what is going on when Jackie whisks her off the boat without any lunch.

Luke is having horrible luck with Miss Yip, having asked her out again and being turned down flat. Though why I'm not entirely sure, because Sammo Hung is just too dang cute. But he tells her when and where, and she insists she won't show up. Witch. Especially since he is obviously smitten and no longer in it for the money.

Best Guy trick E-V-A-R!!!

Come time for the date, he is waiting for her at the restaurant when she shows up to spy on him, to see if he's for real. He catches her spying, and chases her down the street with a bullhorn. Which in my book is the Chinese equivalent of the final scene of 'Say Anything' and increases the cuteness factor of this film by about one hundred fold. She finally gives in, and they head off for dinner together.

And now for the Piece De Resistance...

What's an 80's movie without a montage? Here we're treated to a completely adorable love montage of Jackie/Nancy and Luke/Miss Yip dates, set to a soundtrack that we can only hope is a tragic victim of the subtitle translator. Otherwise love really is a conveyor belt of warmth... and we don't even know what to say about that. Nor do we know what any of the characters said during the montage, because someone felt the silly lyrics translation was far more important than any dialogue possibly could be.

So the couples appear to be at least pretty fond of each other now... but it doesn't seem to be helping anyone's legal case, and no one really seems to care. Luke does ask Miss Yip to sell the fishpond, but it seems more like a legitimate plea for her to run away with him, complete with a really freaking adorable song and dance that I would have said yes to in a heartbeat. And, after we stopped giggling. Miss Yip informs Luke that anyone she marries would inherit the fishpond, but he doesn't seem to care much. Ahhh... love.

Meanwhile, Jackie and Nancy are juggling produce and knives in Nancy's kitchen when Tim shows up in an off-the-wall attempt to kill Nancy so she won't sue him for breaking into her house the first time. Luke and Miss Yip return home as Jackie is throwing Tim out of the house, and Tim (being all worked up like he is) blurts out the entire plan, bug, wooing and all, in front of the ladies. Entirely pissed off, both women storm into the house and slam the door. Then Jackie, Luke and Tim do an awesome Three Stooges Kung Fu routine in the parking lot, which pretty much makes the whole film worth watching.

(We recommend fast fwd to the 8:30 minute mark to see the REALLY good stuff.)

The next day, Luke stands in front of Miss Yip's car so she'll stop and then tells her he loves her. She then proceeds to beat him in the head with a wrench (1:54 seconds in the clip below), which I guess makes her feel better, because she immediately feels bad for busting his head open in s gooshing blood manner and thus asks him to help them figure out what is going on at Hua's chemical factory.

Arriving back at Miss Yip's house, they run into stone-washed 80's Denim Jackie (3:20 in the clip below), who they blow off. They also run into Tim (3:40 in the clip below), who has broken into their house again to ask that they drop the charges from when he broke in the first time. Nancy tells him she's not going to sue him, and he and Luke (who are now best friends, having decided that Jackie is the jerk who started the whole mess) run off to investigate Hua.

Now, in addition to the couch jumping, I would also like to learn to navigate halls like Tim... very stealthy. He and Luke run around the factory in entirely conspicuous clothing taking pictures without aiming their cameras.

(Starting at 4:20 seconds in the clip shown below. And trust me... this one is entirely cool)

OK, so... despite the fact that they are able to determine that Hua is making heroine, we firmly feel that we can state without misgivings that they both suck at recon duty. They are almost immediately found out, and Luke is captured by Hua's henchman (Benny Urquidez) and shot full of heroine, only after standing in the middle of the "production catwalk" like a giant lummox. Tim escapes, utilizing his wicked moves, in order to get help.

Now, we have to take a moment here to discuss our late great discovery of Mr. Benny 'The Jet' Urquidez. He appears at the end of this scene and you will UNDBOUTEDLY say, "OOOOOOh... THAT GUY!!!" And honestly, though he may have a funny last name, and we could absolutely blow off his contributions to this film by just referring to him as "that guy with the excessive cheekbones and eyeliner" and move on... but that honestly wouldn't do this absolute tough guy ANY justice.
Oh "80's", how you could manage to take a perfectly brutal
guy and reduce him to questionable gender neutrality...

During our research we found that this man has (supposedly) earned black belts in nine different martial arts and has an impressive (if not controversial) karate record of 63-0 with 57 KO's in title defenses. How much of this is true we're not exactly sure, as different resources report different records, but one thing is for certain - this guy is a certified bad-ass. His Momma was a bad-ass... his Daddy was a bad-ass. So just accept it, he could kill you with a wink of his nearly indiscernable eyelashes, were it not for all that eyeliner.


So while Benny is pumping Luke full of drugs, Hua's hearing is underway and Nancy is testifying on Miss Yip's behalf. During his cross-examination, Jackie gets Nancy to admit on the stand that she loves him, and he withdraws from the case based on a conflict of interest. And again with the CasioTone, presumably hidden under the defendant's table.

As everyone is leaving the courthouse, Tim shows up to let them know that Luke has been captured. Jackie, Nancy and Tim rush to the factory to find their friend. Hua arrives at the factory at the same time as our heroes and hollers out a very cliche 'Get them!!' that begins an over-the-top final battle. Jackie and friends deliver some serious beatings, break at least 11 different panes of glass and 3 spines, fashion nunchucks from microphone (the 50 second mark in this film clip), and smash a ridiculous number of faces. Of course it all comes down to Jackie, Benny and Hua, during which someone went waaay overboard with the punching noises, and Jackie is almost squished by falling narcotics before quite literally ripping his shirt off and displaying the biceps of death. Mr. Hua has his moments... in a martial arts meets Groucho Marx kind of way... before Luke takes him out with a poisoned needle, causing him to invent the Zombie stance (which is an epic fail) before he dies a terrible twitchy death. And poor, misguided Benny gets creamed too. The guys get the girls, and the movie abruptly ends with police sirens and more conveyor belts of warmth.

Full of one-liners, goofiness and a whoooooole lotta punching, we couldn't help but love this film. The storyline is not very plausible, and some of the acting is less than stellar, and you really just have to forgive the 80's for being what it was... but it's so very entertaining! We couldn't believe the gem we had found! I'm still completely puzzled as to what Dragons have to do with anything, but I guess we can just forgive the title too.

Dragons Forever is currently available for instant viewing on Netflix, and can probably be found at your local brick and mortar as well. 'Til next time, may love be your conveyor belt of warmth. Whatever that means.

~The Mavens

1 comment:

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