Monday, December 31, 2012

Year End Martial Arts Movie Mayhem Montage...

Ok. So, over the last 5 months we have watched a lot of crappy movies. And when we say "crappy", we REALLY mean crappy. These movies have been so fantastically crappy that we struggle to find balance between 5,000 word hijinx, and drawing a blank slate due to the crappiness. SO... in an attempt to bring us all up to speed on what we've been watching, how we're doing, and what's news... We, The Mavens, are heretofore writing our year end "Martial Arts Movie Mayhem Montage". Yeah. That IS a lot of "M" words. And with that, we begin...

Back in July we watched "Breathing Fire", aka Foam Pizza of Doom. Why would we call it this? Because the movie starts out with a pack a gangsters casting a GINORMOUS safe key into the back of a foam prop pizza. The key is so large that it is takes on a circus clown ridiculousness of epic and strange proportions. The film stars "that kid" from The Goonies (insert name here), and has a WEIRD scene with pool hall ruffians of minute stature. Yeah. Little People peeps. With the flying kicks and the pool stick whacking. Needless to say, this film is NOT a feather in the cap of (insert goonies kid name), and is perhaps the reason that he never developed a booming career in martial arts films... which is entirely a shame as he had some SERIOUSLY mad skills.

The purpose of the cut up foam pizza, the fighting, the karate, the... Senior bad guy steals gold. Gold is kept in safe. Safe is locked up by ginormo key. The pizza is split up amongst corroborators. Corroborators kill each other off. Goonies kid was adopted by Senior bad guy after he killed his mother in Nam. Because Goonies kid is Asian, he is NATURALLY endowed with the power of awesome martial arts. So awesome in fact that he borders on superhero-crime-fighting epic-ness, which in saves the day by the end of the film.

Did you get all of that??

We then watched "Alien vs. Ninja (2010)", as written and directed by Seiji Chiba, produced by Nikkatsu and North CKY, and starring Shuji Kashibara, Mika Hijii, and a slew of other folks who seem to have been suckered into this "Made for SyFy channel" style film. The whole story is about a clan of Ninja living in the forest. The relationships and structure of the film are complex, yet entirely odd. The action really begins when they see a meteor zoom over their heads. They think it's an invading clan and set out on a quest to capture the invader. Little do they know that the invaders are Power Ranger-esque aliens with relatively cute symbiant brain sucker babies that zombify everyone they come in contact with. The film is loaded with awkward actions scenes, ridiculous costuming, and LOOOOOOONG "bite my crotch" fight scene that has absolutely NO explanation whatsoever, other than "it's a cultural thing".

If you're looking for a hokie Alien Ninja flick... then this one's it, complete with scantily clad, leatherbound Ninja chicks and dolphin-like alien critters.

Oh man... then there was "Hard Target". And if there was ever a point in your life where you MAY have respected Van Damme, this film would immediately make you turn on your heels and retreat. From his greasy Gerry Curl mullet, to the improbable circumstances behind his thick Belgian accent (born in the Bayou... snirk), this film is non-stop, belly rolling, eye watering ridiculous. Even that part near the end where he pulls the no handed "Shark-jumping Fonz" on his motorcycle. Impossibly improbable. ENTIRELY hilarious! The entirety of the film centers around the very real issue of homeless Vets and their struggle to try to do right by their families after having been broken by war. HOWEVER, that having been said, the rest of the film involves a "human hunting" of homeless folks down on their luck, and how a foot-forward daughter and plucky boy from the Bayou bring down said crime syndicate. If you're looking for a drinking game where you take a shot every time something entirely cliche or improbable happens, then THIS is your film. You'll be wasted 30 minutes in.

Now, we have Charles (Kelly's husband) to thank for the WEIRDNESS that is "Norwegian Ninja", aka "Kommander Terholt & Ninjatroppen". This film lies somewhere between poorly made film intended to be serious, and hokey film intended to be tongue in cheek and in the style of crappy films from the 70's. It borders along the lines of "Life Aquatic". It was... well... uh. Imagine white guys training in a military style camp out on the frozen tundra, dressed entirely in black wool, sipping coffee and befriending animals. I just don't... I. Yeah. That pretty much sums it up. Essentially, it is about the TRUE STORY of how Commander Terholt led his team of Norwegian Ninja's against Russian during the cold war. And, if this film is LITERALLY what is passing for true stories in Norway, we question what Norway has been pumping into their water and air these days... 'cause this film is straight up Bill Murray weird.

The One. Oh, "The One". Oh Jet Li in your infinite, tiny, utterly deadly cuteness. You were the salvation of this film. You in your transdimensional multiplicity. (sigh) This film is about an escaped convict from another dimension, travel throughout multiple dimensions killing off his "copies" in order to ensure his sole existence... which doesn't really make a whole lot of sense when you think about. If you were a criminal and there were like 50 copies of yourself, wouldn't that give you an opportunity to hide in the crowd and not get thrown back into the clink?(shrug) And the irony of the film lies in that you have bad, criminal Jet Li trying to kill off good, police officer Jet Li. And after several flying table kicks, an MRI, several kicks to the face, some confusion, and some gunfire, you end up with the equivalent of the "Find the painted lady" game. You honestly have NO IDEA which Jet Li is which. Either way, the action sequences are good, the story line *meh*, and Jet Li's accent entirely ADORABLE!!! It's worth a $.99 rental.

Next, we have "The Raid". And, we would like to go on record as calling this one of THE most fantastically action-packed, violent Indonesian martial arts films of all time. The premise is simple. Cops go into a slum apartment building to flush out the bad guys and their drug Kingpin. Something goes awry. Cops are trapped inside and must fight their way out of the building. We've got shooting, and stabbing, and collapsing floors, and hidden passage ways. Flying knees, and broken bones and swinging neckbreakers on shards of broken doors... Yeah. It IS just that bloody and violent. This film provides minimum thinking and maximum devistation. And, for that we have to give it "10 punches" on our rating scale.

The Hebrew Hammer was our holiday pick this year. Needless to say, this is hands down one of the funniest films we've viewed in 2012. And yes, while it is more of a comedy, it was written to mirror the hokie exploitation Kung Fu films of the 70's. Loaded with funny action scenes, entirely inappropriate social and cultural jokes, and tons of kitsch, Hebrew Hammer left us in tears. Side-splitting, non-stop giggling tears.

Lastly, "Game of Death". And, we are posting this one last, not because it was the last film we watched, but rather due to the nature of the film. Our deep, indebted love for Bruce Lee is so great that we didn't want to dishonor his memory by this ridiculously pieced together mish-mash of Kung-Fu-ery. Yes, Kung-Fu-ery. See, this film has a load of real-life back story that gets tossed in the film-making blender with the fictional screenplay that was "Game of Death", resulting in a bizarre collage of colliding storylines and imagery. Long story short, Lee started making this film just prior to "Enter the Dragon" (ETD). When offered the Hollywood contract for ETD, Lee pressed pause on the Golden Harvest production of Game of Death, with the intention to return to it after filming and finish the whole thing off. Unfortunately, he died and parts of the film were lost. None-the-less, Golden Harvest had sunk money into this film and wanted to see through to release.

What we all ended up with what a strange Dada-esque collage of the life and film fantasty times of Bruce Lee, as played by Lee, non-talking paper cut outs of Lee, a crappy body double of Lee, film footage of Bruce Lee's funeral, and Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Seriously. On a weirdness scale of 1-5, this film rates a 12... and that makes us sad because Bruce Lee is every shade of awesome, and this film is absolutely not. THOUGH YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST SEE IT FOR THE WEIRDNESS THAT IT IS!!!! We only wish we had a copy of the original story/screenplay so that we could imagine Bruce Lee in all of his punchy, yellow jumpsuit glory. (sigh)


NOTE: There were many more films that we watched. But, we don't want to overkill you in this blog post. Thus, we just chose the most stand-out-ish films that we could remember.

So, as we put a wrap on 2012, we want to wish you the happiest of Happy New Year's, and hope that we can collectively punch 2013 in the face and make it awesome!


- The Mavens
(Kelly & MJ)