Tag: kung fu

MOVIE REVIEW | ***FOREIGN LANGUAGE WEEKEND*** The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “I’m not all of a sudden inspired to binge on 70s kung fu movies, but The 36th Chamber of Shaolin is more than enough to make me understand why it captured the imagination of so many people.”

The main reason I started this blog was to make me watch more movies, and to vary the kinds of movies I watched. The first part of that has been well and truly accomplished with me watching hundreds of movies for the first time, instead of falling back on old favourites over and over again.   But l’m not sure if I’ve varied my selections enough. I still watch mainly American movies, with directors, writers and actors that make them a pretty safe bet. So this year, I’m forcing myself to seek out more international movies. With Foreign Language Weekends, every weekend(ish) during 2016, I’ll review two(ish) non-English language movies.

Shaolin 1
“I wish I had learnt kung fu instead of studying.”

Being a movie lover is about more than high brow classics and the golden years.  It’s about a love of all cinema.  And even though I know that, I don’t indulge in enough B-grade, genre cinema.  A browse through Bored and Dangerous would show that while a lot of the reviews for those kinds of movies are positive when I do see them, I rarely take on horror, I’m not that big into action, and besides a brief obsession in my pre teen years, martial arts has never been hugely on my radar.  But thanks to Quentin Tarantino becoming the king of nerd cinema, and the RZA bringing the genre to hip hop, I feel like kung fu movies are an important part of being a movie lover that I need to explore more.  Which is why I watched The 36th Chamber of the Shaolin.

(Disclaimer: I have no idea when this movie is set, and Google is giving me bubkis.  so let’s just go with “Olden Days”).  In olden days Hong Kong, the oppressive Manchu government manages to supress a rebellious uprising in a small village, supported by a local school teacher.  To punish the teacher, his students and many of their friends and family are killed.  One of the few lucky enough to survive is Liu Yude (Liu Chia-Hui), who flees the village, looking for refuge at the temple of an order of Shaolin monks. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***FOREIGN LANGUAGE WEEKEND*** Fist of Fury (1972)

The main reason I started this blog was to make me watch more movies, and to vary the kinds of movies I watched. The first part of that has been well and truly accomplished with me watching hundreds of movies for the first time, instead of falling back on old favourites over and over again.   But l’m not sure if I’ve varied my selections enough. I still watch mainly American movies, with directors, writers and actors that make them a pretty safe bet. So this year, I’m forcing myself to seek out more international movies. With Foreign Language Weekends, every weekend(ish) during 2016, I’ll review two(ish) non-English language movies.

 Fist 1

“Now you listen to me. I’ll only say this once. We are not sick men.”

My experience with kung fu and martial arts movies is pretty limited. My experience with Bruce Lee movies is limited to just one, Enter the Dragon. About which I said, “This seems to be the blueprint of every rip off and piss-take I’ve ever seen.  And for all its cheesiness, I totally understand its place as genre classic.” So while I claimed to “get it”, it’s impact obviously didn’t really stick with me, because that review is two years old, and I only just got around to watching my second Bruce Lee picture, Fist of Fury.


In turn of the 20th century Shanghai, Chen (Lee) returns home to his martial arts school where the funeral for his teacher is in progress. Apparently dying from pneumonia, Chen finds that hard to believe and suspects foul play. His suspicions only grow when students from a rival Japanese martial arts school pay a visit to deliver a derogatory sign and try to pick a fight. Chen almost takes the bait, but his fellow students remind him that their deceased master taught them martial arts only for fitness, not for fighting. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | John Wick (2014)

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“People keep asking if I’m back and I haven’t really had an answer. But yeah, I’m thinking I’m back.”

A dumb action movie.  A dumb action movie starring Keanu reeves.  A dumb action movie, starring Keanu Reeves, written and directed by his stunt double from The Matrix series.  It’s like the makers of John Wick were going out of their way to make me not want to see their movie.  But then, people whose opinion I trust kept talking about John Wick and how great it was.  Then I realised, when I do watch dumb action movies, I often like them.  And Keanu Reeves may have made some shit bombs, but he’s made good stuff too.  So it was time for me to stop looking down my nose at this dumb action movie, starring Keanu Reeves, written and directed by his stunt double from The Matrix series, and just see John Wick already.


The titular Wick (Reeves) has just lost his wife to some variety of sickness.  Alone in his misery, he receives one last gift that she arranged before her death, a puppy.  One day, his fully sick muscle car attracts the attention of a young Russian gangster, Iosef (Alphie Allen).  When Wick refuses to sell the car, Iosef and his goons break into Wick’s house, kick his ass, kill his dog and take the car.  But as Iosef and the audience soon learn, John Wick isn’t a man to be messed with.  He’s a former hitman so proficient with his trade that he once killed three men with a pencil. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

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“A sword by itself rules nothing. It only comes alive in skilled hands.”

This is possibly the most recognisable foreign language film of the new millennium. It was the first to ever break $100million at the American box office and it was pretty unavoidable when it was released. Yet somehow, I found a way to avoid it. I’m not averse to subtitles, I don’t mind a bit of the old kung-fu and I had no reason to wait 14 years to see it. But for some reason I did. And I don’t know if the years of building it up in my head really helped Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.


I don’t want that to sound like I didn’t like it or didn’t think it was a pretty amazing piece of film making. I did, and it is. It’s just hard to not let the hype build something up a little too much in your head, even if you wait a decade and a half after that hype died down.
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MOVIE REVIEW | Enter the Dragon (1973)

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Ever seen a 70s martial arts movie?  Even if you haven’t, I bet you know exactly what to expect from this one.  I don’t think I’d ever watched one until now.  But Bruce Lee and everything about Enter the Dragon have been parodied and referenced so many times in the years since, that it’s hard to not feel like I’ve seen it all before.


After topping his class at ass kicking school, Lee (Bruce Lee) is deployed on a covert mission to infiltrate the island lair of Mr Han (Kien Shih).  He’s running drugs and running whores, and not the willing ones with hearts of gold either.  These chicks are straight up kidnapped and sold as sex slaves.  Every few years, Mr Han holds a tournament to help strengthen his ranks of henchmen.  Lee uses the tournament as an excuse to pop over, and there is much fighting.

As a bad guy, Mr Han is just a little too over the top.  In a movie that seems to have gone all out on sets and locations, the dodgy cheapness of his many fake hands is laughable.  The last one seriously looks like 4 steaks knives sticking out of a tissue box spray painted silver.  His henchman, Bolo Yeung, is legitimately threatening and would have made a much more menacing opponent for Lee’s final battle.  But I guess the film makers thought Mr Han and his chintzy fake bare claw were more impressive.

The story is paper thin and really doesn’t matter.  What does matter is, it keeps finding reasons to have dudes fight.  Mr Han as a couple of scary bodyguards and Lee gets some almost allies in Williams (Jim Kelley) and Roper (John Saxon).  As American fighters taking part in the tournament, they also get a couple of cool fight scenes each to add a little variety.

I know this is probably a dumb question, typical of someone new to the genre, but seriously, what’s the story with the sound effects?  How did they become a staple of this kind of movie? Did people back in the day think they were badass?  Because all I could think with every ‘crack’, ‘snap’ and ‘thonk’ was how ridiculous, cartoony and just dumb they were.

One thing about Enter the Dragon that does more than hold up though, is Bruce Lee’s fighting.  Watching, it became immediately clear why he’s still the most famous name associated with movie martial arts, even though he’s been dead for forty years.  His physicality, intensity and skill is just amazing.  It’s impossible not be blown away when he’s really going for it.

From what I can tell, Enter the Dragon is the epitome of this genre.  The sound effects, the slow motion fights, the constantly zooming camera, the bad over dubbing of voices, the awesome soundtrack.  This seems to be the blueprint of every rip off and piss-take I’ve ever seen.  And for all its cheesiness, I totally understand its place as genre classic.

Enter the Dragon
Directed By – Robert Clouse
Written By – Michael Allin