2/2/09

The Grab Bag: The Man From Hong Kong (1975)

When I heard of this movie a few months back, I just knew it had all the earmarks of the kind of film that I would love. The problem was that I couldn't get it. I stayed awake nights thinking about how bad ass it would be, how much action, how many sideburns, how many jokes about going into the bush. It drove me mad as I passed over VHS copies from $30.00 or more, and then there came a light at the end of the tunnel. I've got to hand it to the folks at Cinema De Bizzare. When I found their site it was the first thing I was looking for, and there it was. So anyone looking for a hard to find film that you want or one you don't know you want yet, go over and check them out. Tell them the Bug sent you, and if you check out The Gentlemen's Guide to Midnite Cinema podcast for this week (The S&M Hunter episode which you can get on their site or via iTunes.), you'll hear about a special discount code for your purchase that will get you an extra 10% off their great price. So what did they do to get me to plug them like this, did they bribe The Bug or get incriminating photos of me, well, not yet, all they did was sell me quality films like this one. A story  that unfolds Down Under when they get a visit from...

The Man From Hong Kong. (1975) starring Jimmy Wang Yu, George Lazenby, Hugh Keyes-Byrne, Roger Ward, and Sammo Hung. Directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith.

When the Australian police get their hands on a runner for a major drug ring (Sammo Hung), they contact Hong Kong to get someone to extradite the criminal. Enter Inspector Fang Sing Leng, "Special Branch" (Wang Yu) to get what he can from the prisoner. After a rough interrogation, the Inspector begins to wonder about local big wig, Jack Wilton (Lazenby). After the stool pigeon gets whacked by one of Wilton's employees, Fang knows he's on the right track.

With the help of a glider obsessed journalist and two of Australia's finest (Keys-Byrne and Ward), Fang begins to put the pieces together to take down the boss. When the girl Fang falls in love with is killed by Wilton's thugs, the mission becomes personal and Fang wont stop until he's brought the organization and Wilton to their knees. 

Film Facts

--Hugh Keys-Byrne is rumored to have landed the role of the Martian Manhunter in the purposed Justice League of America film.

--The stunt choreography was done by Sammo Hung, perhaps most know Stateside as the star of the Walker, Texas Ranger spinoff Martial Law. 

--This is the screen debut of stuntman/actor Grant Page who would go on to work on the films Mad Max, Mad Man Beyond Thunderdome, and Son of the Mask.

--Theme song "Sky High" by British band Jigsaw made the UK Top 10, and would become very popular in Japan as the theme song used by Mexican wrestler Mil Mascaras. 

The Bug Speaks

Usually when I get myself excited for a film, I end up getting let down. This was not the case with TMFHK; it was everything I thought it would be. Perhaps it was even a little too much of what I thought it would be. This flick is nearly wall to wall, well choreographed, fist smacking action. From the first 5 minutes, we're thrown into one of two Sammo Hung fights, this one with an Australian cop atop a giant rock formation. Later as Jimmy Wang Yu makes the scene we get the other Sammo Hung scene, a killer kitchen throw-down, Jimmy taking on whole rooms full of dudes, and a serious dose of Lazenby 'stache.

Seeing George Lazenby, a.k.a. The Man Who Was Once Bond, as the mustachioed, mutton chopped, ascot sporting, karate master bad guy, was worth the price of admission alone. Lazenby, who was much better in On Her Majesty's Secret Service than he gets credit for, chews up the scenery here. The only drawback to his performance is the limited screen time that he gets, and I could have easily watched a movie of just George as that character. His foil, Yu's Inspector Fang, is quite the opposite from the larger than life baddie. Wang Yu, a veteran actor of such films as Master of the Flying Guillotine and The One Armed Swordsman, plays the Inspector with basically two emotions, pissed off and horny. Inspector Fang is never one to turn down an offer to show the ladies why he belongs to the "Special Branch".

The other characters I loved watching were the two Australian cops, Bob and Morrie. The two actors have a great chemistry and played well off each other. One of my favorite quotes in the film is when long haired hippy cop Bob begs off an assignment by stating that Wilton "likes his coppers clean". Outstanding! This guy lit up the screen every time he was on it.

The story to the flick is thin at best, but this is not the kind of flick you put on to get swept away by a masterful tale. This is the kind of movie you put in when you want to relax with a serious '70's action fix. This film is directed with great style in both the fight scenes and the set pieces. Cinematographer Russell Boyd, who has ended up working in the same capacity in big budget films such as Ghost Rider and White Men Can't Jump, got some wonderful shots of the cities of Hong Kong and Sydney, but more importantly gave the film a very Australian feel in some of the naturalistic shots. Part of the credit has to go to Director Trenchard-Smith who not only made those shots come together, but pulled off a fairly pacey script with a ton of great action. Trenchard-Smith also was behind the camera for the unfortunate Leprechaun 4 and the '80's cheese classic BMX Bandits.

The main drawback to the film is that it almost has too much action. Some of the fight scenes called out for a defter hand in editing, and after a while they start to blend together. That being said, the dramatic parts in the film come off very enjoyable. Anyone who loves '70's film needs to see this one. It longs to be put up there with some of the great action titles of the era. 

Bug Rating

3 comments:

  1. Yes! Thanx for the link to Cinema De Bizzare as I've been on the hunt for this one as well. I'm glad to see it lives up to the hype.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Glad you liked the review. Check out Cinema De Bizarre they're some kick ass folks with an amazing selection of films.

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  3. This one kicked ass,my freind, it kicked ass.

    ReplyDelete

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