Bruce And Shaolin Kung Fu
Damn those imperial Japanese war-mongers! If it wasn't bad enough that they've disbanded all of the martial arts school's in
in fear of any rebellious reprisals. Worst still, is that they've also killed the
brother of Kung-fu practitioner, Ching-Lung (Bruce Le).
OK, I'm sure you'll agree with me when I say that this is a pretty harsh turn up for the history books. However, is it as harsh as when Ching challenges a Japanese Lieutenant to a death match, and beats him in the process? Or what about when a group of hired Japanese goons (including Bolo Yuen), beats the living daylights out of Ching's master (Chan Xing), in retaliation of this defiant deed?
Of course, the 'goons' carry out this brutal task before trailing Ching all the way to
where he is being taught Taekwondo by another master over there, (James Nam). Still,
that does not necessarily mean that these Japanese fiends get their hand on him straight
First: they have to figure out exactly where he is staying within this rustic province. Then: they have to see if they can beat-up Ching's Korean master, just like they did his Chinese master. And let's not forget they have to do all this -- whilst getting their hand on Ching -- prior to the Japanese head-honcho arriving at this location, in time for him to distribute his 'death list' of Chinese rebels.
Ha! No chance. And that is most probably why what next transpires all kicks off when Ching and his Korean master's daughter fight back with a vengeance. As goons get hung - lists are no fun - battles are hard - and at the end of the day, family, unity, and pay-back, have to run the longest yard.
Now I think the best way for me to tell you about this rather bi-polar kung-fu flick, is to paraphrase a conversation I once had with my good friend, Randal. OK?
RANDAL: It's called what?
ME: Bruce and Shaolin Kung-Fu.
RANDAL: And is he in it? Bruce Lee I mean?
ME: No. In fact 'Shaolin Kung Fu' isn't in it either. Just one of the Bruce clones -- Bruce Le -- and Bolo from 'Enter the Dragon'.
RANDAL: Bruce Le? Is he French or something? Or maybe you mean Bruce Li, right?
ME: No. Bruce Le. Just think of him as a lukewarm version of Bruce Lee and Markey Mark, if they were both generically spliced together by vegetarians.
RANDAL: Oh! That does not sound very good.
ME: But he was good in it, Randal. I thought that Le was quite skillful in this movie; and came across as a very brutal fighter within the scheme of things.
RANDAL: Brutal? This film was brutal?
ME: Yeah. It was. Some of the choreographed fight scenes were a real treat to watch, and had an almost innovative approach about them too. In one scene -- with Le not in it -- Le's teacher fought Bolo and some funny looking hoods, using all manner of weapons and techniques that made me stand up and really pay attention. Also, there was some cute oriental chick who really knew how to move her body, kicking and punching with the best of them. Plus Bolo did a good job as well. A bit mannered. But good nonetheless.
RANDAL: Yeah, But you don't mind all those long-winded battles do you? Heck, you don't even mind if the dubbing is crap!
ME: OK. You're right. Some of the fight where very long-winded -- especially the final one with Le and two chaps that looked like Father Christmases nephews. And I have to admit, the dubbing on this movie was silly too -- as if James Steward and the Teletubbies did it. Oh! And I have to mention some of the music as well I suppose. Parts of it was ripped out of 'Enter the Dragon', Fist of Fury', and an episode of 'Bonanza' or something.
RANDAL: Ha! You're having a laugh, aren't you? Bonanza? The television western?
ME: Well, I think it was 'Bonanza'. If not, it was something like that anyway. Plus a couple of disco jingles thrown into the mix for good measure.
RANDAL: Boy-oh-boy! You are not selling me this movie, pal. It sounds terrible!
ME: But it's not. Half-good / half-bad I'd say. The fights were fairly decent. The story-line is formulaic and all over the place. The sound is... errr... no comment. Plus the whole package is kind of bi-polar in hindsight.
All in all 'Bruce and Shaolin Kung Fu' is a 50 / 50 affair. If you like innovative takes on movies where they try to take on Bruce Lee's battle with armed Japanese forces -- you'd like it. If you hate bad-dubbing, long-winded fight scenes, and Markey Mark -- you won't. And if you are my mate Randal, I suggest counselling or some other form of relaxation.
So-so film. Not bad. But not great either.
THE RATING: B