Silver Emulsion

Film Reviews

The Sword and the Lute (1967)

The Sword and the Lute [琴劍恩仇] (1967)

Starring Petrina Fung Bo Bo, Lo Lieh, Chin Ping,  Jimmy Wang Yu, Ivy Ling Po, Yueh Hua, Cheng Miu, Lily Ho Li Li, Margaret Hsing Hui, Wu Ma, Ku Feng, Lee Wan Chung, Lau Leung Wa, Kao Pao Shu

Directed by Sui Jang Hung

Expectations: High, after how much I enjoyed The Twin Swords.


The Red Lotus Temple has been burned to the ground and the twin swords of Chin Ping and Jimmy Wang Yu have been entrusted with the beautiful but lethal Phoenix Lute. The lute is more than a simple musical instrument, it is capable of shooting hundreds of needles at once; crippling, killing and maiming anyone in its path. They must take it back to the Jin family, where it is to be destroyed by the Fish Intestine Sword (or the less-fun translation, Invincible Sword).

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December 15, 2010 Posted by | 1960s, Action, Drama, Foreign, Martial Arts, Movie Reviews, Rating: 2 Stars | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Verboten! (1959)

Verboten! (1959)

Starring James Best, Susan Cummings, Tom Pittman, Paul Dubov, Harold Daye, Dick Kallman, Stuart Randall, Steven Geray, Anna Hope, Robert Boon, Sasha Harden, Paul Busch, Neyle Morrow, Joe Turkel

Directed by Samuel Fuller

Expectations: High, it’s Sam Fuller.


Verboten! is notable for a few reasons. It is Sam Fuller’s first World War II movie, it was the last picture produced by RKO and it’s a damn fine piece of 1950s cinema. Opening with a bang as all Fuller pictures do, we are thrust into the action as a pair of soldiers are under assault from some Germans hiding behind a jeep. After a well-placed grenade they take a moment’s rest under a road sign that reads Trinken Verboten!, but their rest is short as they have orders to enter the town of Rothbach and clear out a sniper nested there. Queue Beethoven’s Fifth and run for cover!

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December 10, 2010 Posted by | 1950s, Action, Documentary, Drama, Movie Reviews, Rating: 3 & 1/2 Stars, War | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

The Twin Swords (1965)

The Twin Swords [鴛鴦劍俠] (1965)

Starring Chin Ping, Jimmy Wang Yu, Ivy Ling Po, Petrina Fung Bo Bo, Lo Lieh, Tien Feng, Cheng Miu, Wu Ma, Ku Feng, Lau Leung Wa, Chen Hung Lieh, Chiu Ming, Feng Yi, Kao Pao Shu, Lam Jing, Lee Wan Chung, Wong Ching Ho, Wong Yeuk Ping

Directed by Sui Jang Hung

Expectations: Low. The first film was OK, I don’t expect this will be too much different. I have heard it is better though.


This is more like it. I hope you like martial arts fantasy movies, because The Twin Swords packs lots of imaginative fun into its compact runtime. Starting off with the final scene from Temple of the Red Lotus, our heroes Jimmy Wang Yu and Chin Ping battle through the villainous scoundrels of the Red Lotus clan. They are once again saved by the quick darts of the Scarlet Maid, but the forces of evil are not known for resting on their laurels. They quickly concoct a plan to lure our heroes and their twin swords straight into the Red Lotus temple, which has been newly retrofitted with tons of lethal traps!

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December 8, 2010 Posted by | 1960s, Action, Fantasy, Foreign, Martial Arts, Movie Reviews, Rating: 3 Stars | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Temple of the Red Lotus (1965)

Temple of the Red Lotus [江湖奇俠] (1965)
AKA “The Red Lotus Monastery”

Starring Jimmy Wang Yu, Chin Ping, Ivy Ling Po, Lo Lieh, Petrina Fung Bo Bo, Tien Feng, Ku Feng, Wu Ma, Kao Pao Shu, Lau Leung Wa, Chen Hung Lieh, Chiu Ming, Feng Yi, Ko Lo Chuen, Kok Lee Yan, Lam Jing

Directed by Sui Jang-Hung

Expectations: Moderate, as this is such an early Shaw and it’s bound to be rough, but I’ve been building a lot of mind-hype for this over the past few months.


It all had to start someplace, and for the Shaw Studios, this is evidently the first of their films to include martial arts sequences. It fared very well at the box office, spawned two sequels (which I will be looking at in the coming weeks), and launched an entire genre. While Come Drink With Me and The One-Armed Swordsman may be more well-known films from this early period in Shaw history, Temple of the Red Lotus was their first color martial arts film and is notable for that if nothing else.

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December 3, 2010 Posted by | 1960s, Action, Drama, Foreign, Martial Arts, Movie Reviews, Rating: 2 Stars | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

Mini-Review: Iron Man 2 (2010)

Iron Man 2 (2010)

Starring Robert Downey Jr., Don Cheadle, Mickey Rourke, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Jon Favreau

Directed by Jon Favreau

Expectations: Low.


 

I’ve tried to write something about Iron Man 2 for the past week or so and every time I get a couple of paragraphs in I lose interest. This is an adequate analogy for the film as it’s fun while you’re watching it, but there’s absolutely no substance backing it up. It’s a blockbuster, so I don’t necessarily need substance but Iron Man 2 fails to make it up with the killer action sequences and mind-numbing explosions that you expect. It has its share to be sure, but none of them are all that great. Probably my favorite moment of the film was watching Robert Downey Jr. work with his holographic hand-controlled computer interface, which was a fun advancement on the tech seen in Minority Report.

Overall, I liked the cotton candy of Iron Man 2 though. Mickey Rourke, despite a poor accent, is a great addition to the cast. It’s unfortunate that his part in the film is rather minor, as he has to share the villain limelight with Stark’s failing heart. As much as I love Don Cheadle, he is a step down from Terence Howard for this role. Cheadle seems much too soft, but does come into his own by the end of the film, when both Downey and him are suited up and ready to go. Scarlet Johansson is another wasted person, completely superfluous to the film and the story. It’s nice to lay the seeds of The Avengers movie within this film, but for me the S.H.I.E.L.D. stuff was pretty forced. Fuck it though, Sam Jackson as Nick Fury was fairly fulfilling and promises good things to come.

If you liked Iron Man, give this one a go with your brain set to mild indifference. If you go in riding high, you will only be disappointed with this sequel. It fulfills the childhood dreams of watching dudes in robot suits shoot lasers and shit, but not much else. The character relationships are incredibly shallow here and seem to marginally move past what was laid out in the first film. It’s fun and I enjoyed it quite a bit, but it definitely leaves you wanting.

November 19, 2010 Posted by | 2010s, Action, Mini-Reviews, Movie Reviews, Rating: 2 Stars | , , , , , , , , , | 8 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

The Girl Who Played With Fire (2009)

The Girl Who Played With Fire [Flickan som lekte med elden] (2009)

Starring Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace, Tehilla Blad, Lena Endre, Peter Andersson, Per Oscarsson, Sofia Ledarp, Yasmine Garbi, Georgi Staykov, Annika Hallin

Directed by Daniel Alfredson

Expectations: Low. I didn’t really like the first one that much, but just enough to give this a shot.


 

I wasn’t shy about my indifference to the first film in this series, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but despite that I had an urge to see the follow-up. The character of Lisbeth Salander is an intriguing one and I hoped that with a different story surrounding her, I might connect more with the film. This is essentially exactly what happened with The Girl Who Played With Fire and I’m glad I took the plunge.

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November 17, 2010 Posted by | 2000s, Action, Drama, Foreign, Movie Reviews, Rating: 2 & 1/2 Stars, Thriller | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment