Silver Emulsion

Film Reviews

Uncle Jasper reviews: Bruce Lee vs. Gay Power (1975)

Bruce Lee vs. Gay Power [Kung Fu Contra as Bonecas] (1975)

Starring Adriano Stuart, Dionísio Azevedo, Maurício do Valle, Nadir Fernandes, Edgard Franco, Célia Froes, David Neto, Armando Paschoallin, Helena Ramos

Directed by Adriano Stuart


Wow. So it’s really come to this? Going into Bruce Lee vs. Gay Power I knew two things. One… it is infeasible that this film could possibly live up to its legendary title, and two, there is no way a lack of subtitles would keep me from reviewing a film titled Bruce Lee vs. Gay Power. Talk of this extremely rare and elusive movie had been kicked around for years in cult film circles, gaining an almost mythic status along the way. Every now and then, some rabid fan would dish out a sketchy eyewitness account about spotting it in some dingy Brazilian flea market or something, while others doubted its existence altogether. Indeed, Bruce Lee vs. Gay Power became chalked up as a product of obscure lore, much like a Bigfoot or Loch Ness Monster, a mystery that perhaps would never be solved.

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December 16, 2010 Posted by | 1970s, Comedy, Foreign, Martial Arts, Movie Reviews, Uncle Jasper Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Uncle Jasper reviews: Executioners from Shaolin (1977)

Executioners from Shaolin [洪熙官] (1977)

Starring Chen Kuan-Tai, Lily Li Li-Li, Lo Lieh, Wong Yu, Kong Do, Cheng Hong-Yip, Gordon Liu Chia-Hui

Directed by Lau Kar-Leung


Another month, another film from the Shaw Bros Shaolin cycle… Except this time we have Shaw’s other prolific director at the helm. While many associate the Shaolin cycle with Chang Cheh, Lau Kar-Leung inherited the mantle in this stellar 1977 effort, which further chronicles the life of Chinese folk hero Hung Si-Kwan, played as usual by the magnificent Chen Kuan-Tai. But this film differs greatly from the concise, historical-based efforts of Chang Cheh, who placed the focus on patriotism and brotherhood against the occupying Manchu forces. Lau Kar-Leung, ever the cinematic ambassador of Chinese martial arts, instead shifts the focus to Hung Si-Kwan’s development of his renowned style, Hung Gar kung fu.

Let’s face it. Lau Kar-Leung made films for kung fu nerds. (This review will also be geared towards that crowd, so don’t feel too bad if a lot of this technical / historical gibberish leaves you scratching your head.) Don’t get me wrong, the classic revenge tale that this film tells can be appreciated by even your most casual movie fan, but to really reap the benefits of what Executioners has to offer it helps to understand some of the finer points of kung fu styles and martial technique. Hung Gar is comprised of both tiger and crane techniques. The tiger being a powerful external style based primarily on brute strength while the crane relies more on deft movements and pinpoint accuracy. Executioners from Shaolin tells what I’m assuming is a mostly fictional tale of how the tiger and crane styles became united under one banner.

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December 13, 2010 Posted by | 1970s, Foreign, Martial Arts, Movie Reviews, Uncle Jasper Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Uncle Jasper reviews: Death Dimension (1978)

Death Dimension (1978)

Starring Jim Kelly, Harold Sakata, George Lazenby, Myron Lee, Terry Moore, Aldo Ray, Bob Minor, Patch Mackenzie

Directed By Al Adamson


On paper, Death Dimension comes off as a film that could do no wrong. Take everybody’s favorite afro sporting karate legend, Jim Kelly. Put him up against ice bomb wielding loose cannon, Harold “Odd Job” Sakata (of Goldfinger fame). Throw in a copious amount of boobs, car chases, and repeated karate punches to the balls. Just to make things interesting, toss another struggling James Bond dropout in need of a paycheck (George Lazenby) into the mix. Sounds fucking fantastic! I’d practically be begging those guys at the ticket stand to take my money away.

Yes sir. You’d have to have a sadistic, mad lust for disaster to fuck something this awesome up. But the minds behind Death Dimension manage to do just that against all odds. What should end up being a karate fighting, titty groping, asphalt burning good time instead winds up a boring lesson of what not to do in the editor’s chair. Scenes drag on much longer than necessary, while others should have been excised from the very beginning. An extended sequence at a Nevada whore-ranch serves no real purpose other than to fit a few more seconds of boob time on screen. How hard is it to just flash a pair of breasts on the screen if that’s what you want? Do you really have to show Jim pulling up to the building, walking up to the establishment, greeting the woman up front, selecting a prostitute and taking her to a room for a mere five seconds of boobage?  I know Jim Kelly probably didn’t mind shooting the scene, but it only takes the viewer that much further away from the already jumbled narrative.

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December 9, 2010 Posted by | 1970s, Action, Blaxploitation, Martial Arts, Movie Reviews, Uncle Jasper Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Uncle Jasper reviews: Chopping Mall (1986)

Chopping Mall (1986)

Starring Kelli Maroney, Tony O’Dell, John Terlesky, Russell Todd, Karrie Emerson, Barbara Crampton, Suzee Slater, Dick Miller

Directed by Jim Wynorski


As much as I’d like to tell you that Chopping Mall contains some great subtext about rabid consumerism, it really doesn’t. Search deep and you may drag out a few sketchy hints at social commentary, but apart from a short opening credit montage featuring fast food trays, bikini clad models, and other rudimentary symbols of American tawdriness and convenience-worship, it’s really just a fantastic little movie about a bunch of (mostly) unlikable young store workers being hunted down by killer robots. And by golly, that’s all you really need. A lot of potentially great films have been ruined by ambition. Chopping Mall takes ambition and shoots it in the back of the fucking neck with a mini harpoon claw.

Whereas some films come off as slaves to convention, Chopping Mall seems to revel in it. This is a veritable masterpiece of contrived cinema right here folks, and because of this it soars. Who gives a fuck if the plot is more or less directly ripped off from Dawn of the Dead? Who cares if the mall’s sporting goods store seems to only be stocked with high-powered assault rifles and tactical-edge 12 gauge shotguns? The lesson here is a simple one, people trapped in shopping malls fighting shit that wants to kill them is awesome. No need to shy away from that fact. There really is no end to the zany fun to be had here. Testosterone-addled characters spit out goofy one-liners like “Let’s go send those fuckers a Rambogram” while posturing all macho and shit. A pursued heroine has nowhere to hide except for an ill-lighted pet shop… Trying hard to remain silent, escaped snakes and hairy tarantulas climb all over her. About two-thirds of the way through, with the odds stacked against our survivors and no escape in sight, one of them conveniently gets an idea about shutting down “the main computer”. Oh man, THE MAIN COMPUTER! …of course!! Why didn’t we think about that sooner?!

Why the hell not? Allow yourself to be whisked away by convention here. This is the world of Chopping Mall. A world where a few gallons of spilled paint and a road flare can level an entire hardware store. A world where antiquated security drones vaporize a screaming woman’s head into red watermelon spray, raw hamburger, and bone splinters within the blink of an eye. I don’t even think they mention why the robots go apeshit and begin indiscriminately killing people in the first place. I don’t care. I love this movie.

December 6, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Horror, Mini-Reviews, Movie Reviews, Science Fiction, Uncle Jasper Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Uncle Jasper reviews: Virgins of the Seven Seas (1974)

Virgins of the Seven Seas [洋妓] (1974)
AKA “The Bod Squad” & “Enter the Seven Virgins” & “Karate, Küsse, Blonde Katzen

Starring Sonja Jeanine, Diana Drube, Tamara Elliot, Gillian Bray, Deborah Ralls Yueh Hua, Liu Hui-Ling, Wang Hsieh, Helen Ko, Li Ming

Directed by Kuei Chi-Hung and Ernst Hofbauer


This must be bare breasted kung fu fighting week over here at Silver Emulsion because both of my reviews this week feature sexy ladies doing exactly that. But whereas T.N.T. Jackson relegated it to a single action scene, Virgins of the Seven Seas took that classy concept and built an entire film around it. Now if I were to choose potential filmmakers to direct a movie about topless European sex slaves kicking the shit out of Chinese pirates I’m pretty sure Shaw Bros degenerate Kuei Chi-Hung would factor into it somehow, if not at the very top. And guess what? Lo and behold he’s here along with German softcore porn legend Ernst Hofbauer to bring us this tasteful tale of war, love, and vagina training on the high seas.

This two-pronged approach is what really makes this film work at a base level. As each director was allowed to focus on their own specialties, it makes for a thoroughly entertaining experience all the way through. I can’t vouch for Ernst Hofbauer, as I know very little about his work, other than the fact he directed a series of films called Schoolgirl Report (which makes him an instant winner in my book), but Kuei Chi-Hung’s indelible stamp is evident right from the start when a live eel is fished from the water and skinned alive on camera (“The white vixens will get the bowels” one crewman exclaims). His unhealthy obsession with weird misogynistic fantasies and perverse torture sequences once again rears its ugly head here as our scantily-clad heroines are put through their paces. Over the course of the film our ladies are fed raw animal offal, tied to giant spinning wheels, chained to a wall as their nipples are mercilessly lashed and finally, spread-eagle and intimately examined in order to make sure they’re “still sealed”.

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December 2, 2010 Posted by | 1970s, Action, Foreign, Martial Arts, Movie Reviews, Uncle Jasper Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Uncle Jasper reviews: T.N.T. Jackson (1975)

T.N.T. Jackson (1975)

Starring Jeannie Bell, Stan Shaw, Chiquito, Pat Anderson, Ken Metcalfe, Imelda Ilanan, Leo Martinez

Directed by Cirio Santiago


T.N.T. Jackson may well be the most generic exploitation film of any genre that I have ever seen. Far from a negative criticism, this movie actually seems to benefit from touching on virtually every genre cliché and fleeting convention in the vernacular of grindhouse cinema. From bouncy afros, bouncy boobs, and lines of guys in white uniforms practicing karate punches, this film has you covered.

It’s also a lesson in bang for your buck economy, as T.N.T. manages to cram it all into a wonderfully slim, 71 minute running time, making this essentially one of the prime, go-to films for those hungry blaxploitation fiends in dire need of a quick fix. You want heroin dealers, kung fu fights, and titties? Then by golly, T.N.T. Jackson is set to deliver.

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November 29, 2010 Posted by | 1970s, Action, Blaxploitation, Martial Arts, Movie Reviews, Uncle Jasper Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Uncle Jasper reviews: ThanksKilling (2009)

ThanksKilling (2009)

Starring Lindsey Anderson, General Bastard, Natasha Cordova, Ryan Francis, Chuck Lamb, Lance Predmore, Aaron Ringhiser-Carlson

Directed By Jordan Downey


WOO HOO!! LOOK AT ME, I’M A KILLER TURKEY WITH A ‘TUDE!!!!! AW FUCK BITCH!! NICE TITS BITCH!! YOU JUST GOT STUFFED BITCH!!! GOBBLE GOBBLE MOTHERFUCKER!!!

Watching a film like Thankskilling is about as subtle as being mercilessly kicked in the balls by a screaming dwarf amped up on amphetamines with laserbeam eyes and rusty carpenter nails for teeth. We get it, we get it!! It’s a fucking killer turkey… and he curses!! I’m no dunce, and I know what this film is trying to be, but it fails… over and over and over again. This is the cinematic equivalent to watching a screaming lobster boiled alive, what should be a quick and painless process seems to drag on for an eternity until the sheer agony of it all becomes unbearable.

After opening on an almost Troma-worthy high note, this movie goes to pieces faster than a thanksgiving turkey stuffed with napalm. When you hear the same joke uttered three times within 30 minutes you can’t help but feel like these guys are just desperately grabbing for straws here. It’s embarrassing. From top to bottom this unfunny pile of shit literally had me cringing at moments. You can’t help but feel physical discomfort at the sheer awkwardness of it all. At one point a college student is fooled by the killer turkey wearing her dad’s skin as a mask, ala Leatherface. Not only is it stupid but the scene drags on about three minutes longer than is necessary. That awkward and uncouth spirit runs itself through the course of the entire film. What you essentially have is a silly joke run into the ground until it’s almost begging you to put it out of its misery. It’s almost as if the “Jeez you got a big pussy, Jeez you got a big pussy” guy from Predator made his own feature-length film.

Anybody can come up with an amusing concept, but not just anybody should take said concept and turn it into a 70 minute long motion picture. I can say that a kung fu priest would be funny (and it is, in the right hands), but that doesn’t mean that I’m gonna go out and make a feature-length film about it. Save that shtick for those who are capable, the Lloyd Kaufmans or Peter Jacksons of the world.

Maybe this shit would be funny if I was sparking a massive doobie or suffering from catatonic schizophrenia or something. I just don’t know. Whatever you do this Thanksgiving, enjoy yourself and be thankful that you didn’t have the heinous task of sitting through Thankskilling for review.

November 25, 2010 Posted by | 2000s, Comedy, Horror, Mini-Reviews, Movie Reviews, Trash, Uncle Jasper Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Uncle Jasper reviews: Witchboard (1986)

Witchboard (1986)

Starring Todd Allen, Tawny Kitaen, Stephen Nichols, Clare Bristol, Burke Byrnes, Kathleen Wilhoite

Directed By Kevin S. Tenny


Before Kevin Tenny brought us Night of the Demons he gave us Witchboard, the first film of the semi-famed second-tier horror franchise. Witchboard is a surprisingly solid horror film (and unexpected homoerotic soap opera) that succeeds without resorting to much gore. I usually carry pretty high expectations in terms of gratuitous blood and guts in horror films of the era. The fact that Witchboard gets a pass in spite of its splatter deficit says a lot I think.

I think one of the most amazing things however, is that the film manages to carry itself with enough dignity and well crafted scares despite being completely riddled from top to bottom with unlikable characters. Honestly, I don’t think anybody in this film is exempt from being a front-runner for 1986’s Asshole of the Year™ award (which ultimately went to Oliver North). You have the moody drunk carpenter, the-know-it-all elitist douche, the hormonal junkie sexpot, and the obnoxious hermaphrodite psychic. I suppose the film wants you to identify with one of these characters, but to me the only one worth rooting for was the axe murdering spirit, who at least had the common decency to put the business end of a giant hatchet in a few of these miserable bastards.

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November 22, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Horror, Movie Reviews, Uncle Jasper Reviews | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Uncle Jasper reviews: Chinatown Kid (1977)

Chinatown Kid [唐人街功夫小子] (1977)

Starring Alexander Fu Sheng, Sun Chien, Shirley Yu, Susan Shaw Yin-Yin, Kuo Chui, Lo Meng, Wang Lung-Wei, Jenny Tseng

Directed By Chang Cheh


 

I’m afraid that this review was a little bungled from the start. This is what happens when you wind up with a bad copy of a film slated for review and are left with no alternatives but to move ahead…

Any true old school kung fu movie fan has no doubt been in sustained elation since the Shaw Bros catalog had been obtained and dramatically restored by those fine folks over at Celestial Pictures almost ten years ago now. It’s been a nice decade of film viewing for fans of the legendary studio, no longer forced to waddle through 7th generation muddy pan & scan copies of their favorite martial arts classics. It’s a win-win situation for all parties involved, as I think nobody can complain about the work done on preserving the integrity and beauty of these fine films.

Then we have Chinatown Kid, which proves to be the proverbial one that got away when this whole deal went down. Not to say that the film doesn’t look amazing, the restoration here is every bit as beautiful as Celestial’s other remastering efforts. The problem is that Celestial went through its arduous, painstaking lengths only to wind up remastering THE WRONG FILM!

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November 18, 2010 Posted by | 1970s, Action, Foreign, Martial Arts, Movie Reviews, Uncle Jasper Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Uncle Jasper reviews: Vamp (1986)

Vamp (1986)

Starring Chris Makepeace, Sandy Baron, Robert Rusler, Dedee Pfeiffer, Gedde Watanabe, Grace Jones, Billy Drago

Directed By Richard Wenk


 

Let me get this out of the way. Vamp is a fucking hoot. It’s a genuinely superb horror comedy in the same vein as Fright Night and Night of the Creeps, but it oozes enough style and a quirky tongue-in-cheek swagger to really set itself apart from the pack. There are a lot of vampire films out there, and a lot of those were made in the 80s, but only one of them features the 9 foot tall, Manute Bol lookalike Grace Jones as a freaky vampire stripper who partakes in jugular snacks from young frat boys and rips the hearts out from insolent servants.

Indeed, Vamp strikes its campy tone right off the bat and runs with it. From the clever first scene you know exactly what you’re getting into. The action follows Keith and AJ, a couple of college dregs doing what they can to enter some freaky, high-brow fraternity. With their hope almost lost, they pledge to bring in booze and strippers in a last ditch attempt to gain acceptance. With the help of uber-prep Duncan (played by Gedde Watanabe of Sixteen Candles fame) the trio embark on a trip to the big city in search of the alluring “After Hours Club”. Yeah yeah, I know what you’re thinking… this is no different from the goofy college boy antics I’ve seen before in Animal House and Revenge of the Nerds. Can’t argue with that, but it’s during Vamp’s second act that things take a turn for the better.

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November 15, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Comedy, Horror, Movie Reviews, Uncle Jasper Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments