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: 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

Laserblast (1978)

Laserblast (1978)

Starring Kim Milford, Cheryl Smith, Gianni Russo, Ron Masak, Dennis Burkley, Barry Cutler, Mike Bobenko, Eddie Deezen, Keenan Wynn, Roddy McDowall

Directed by Michael Rae

Expectations: Low. The boring pace of End of the World leaves a bad taste in my mouth.


Laserblast reportedly had a budget of $280,000, and producer Charles Band knew just where to spend it. Virtually every penny was sunk straight into entertainment and a finale that delivers slow-motion explosion after slow-motion explosion, further proving that the worth of a movie can exist on explosions alone. Add in some killer stop-motion aliens and a giant laserblaster as cherries on top and we’ve got ourselves a movie!

Laserblast opens as a crazed freak with a giant laserblaster on his arm jumps around in the desert. An alien ship lands and two upright-walking turtles without shells get out and pull their own, smaller laser guns. A short fight ensues, but the aliens are too clever and end up singeing the dude into fine black ash. They board their ship and set out for the far-reaches of the galaxy, but they forgot one thing. The human’s giant laserblaster!

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November 30, 2010 Posted by | 1970s, Good Trash, Movie Reviews, Rating: 2 Stars, Science Fiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 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

End of the World (1977)

End of the World (1977)

Starring Christopher Lee, Sue Lyon, Kirk Scott, Dean Jagger, Lew Ayres, Macdonald Carey, Liz Ross

Directed by John Hayes

Expectations: Low, but it has Christopher Lee so that’s something.


Plainly put, End of the World is awful. Just wanted to get that out-of-the-way. It’s awful in one of the worst ways a movie can be awful too. It’s excruciatingly boring. So boring that the entire film is summed up within the Netflix summary paragraph, leaving out only minor occurrences. Next to nothing happens in this one, but surprisingly the movie ends on such a high note that I can’t help but think back fondly on the experience. This is the other 1977 film about first contact with alien lifeforms, and actually was released a few months before the more famous film.

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November 23, 2010 Posted by | 1970s, Movie Reviews, Rating: 1/2 Star, Science Fiction, Trash | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Starring Richard Dreyfuss, François Truffaut, Teri Garr, Melinda Dillon, Bob Balaban, J. Patrick McNamara, Warren J. Kemmerling, Roberts Blossom, Philip Dodds, Cary Guffey

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Expectations: Love it. Haven’t seen it in a while.


 

Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind is a masterful film, bursting at the seams with a wealth of beautifully composed shots, wonderful John Williams music and a great sense of wonder. This is the kind of film only a budding filmmaker could have made, a true love letter to the dreamer fueled on passion and heart. This is made all the more interesting by the fact that in this case, the dream itself is implanted into our hero’s mind by the extraterrestrials. Much in the same way, Spielberg has inserted his own vision of first contact into millions of minds, forever changing the way we look at aliens.

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November 13, 2010 Posted by | 1970s, Drama, Movie Reviews, Rating: 4 Stars, Science Fiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Uncle Jasper reviews: Challenge of the Masters (1976)

Challenge of the Masters [陸阿采與黃飛鴻] (1976)

Starring Gordon Liu Chia-Hui, Chen Kuan-Tai, Lau Kar-Leung, Kong Yeung, Wong Yu, Lau Kar Wing, Lily Li Li-Li, Fung Hak-On

Directed By Lau Kar-Leung


 

I was a little nervous on revisiting Challenge of the Masters after such a long time in-between viewings of it. It’s a film that I have a long history with since copying it off of a well-worn VHS copy back during the infancy of Blockbuster Video. Yeah, that’s how we did shit back in the days before digital distribution, instant streaming, and the rise of the World Wide Web. Back then, I had no idea what the deal with the Shaw Brothers was. I recognized Gordon Liu in a couple of other films, but directors, actors, and choreographers meant very little to me at the time. I just knew that when I saw that big, fat SB shield accompanied by the thundering fanfare, it was going to be a higher grade kung fu film than I was used to getting. Challenge of the Masters wound up becoming my favorite martial arts film of the Shaw Bros studios. Now revisiting it 17 years later, I can safely say that is an accolade which still stands.

The film is an “origin story” of sorts to the character of Wong Fei-Hung, whom Gordon Liu plays masterfully here. Jet Li did such a good job of making him seem like a righteous and invincible badass in the Once Upon a Time in China series, that it may come as a shock here to find the character portrayed as a clumsy, unsophisticated, buffoon of sorts, prone to bouts of self-pity and frequent temper tantrums. This is all for the sake of the film however, as Challenge of the Masters presents the ultimate journey in martial arts cinema by taking the “unteachable” teenage Fei-Hung and details his transformation into China’s most well-known folk hero.

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