Balance of Power (Hidden Tiger) (1996)

Balance of power was a bit of an unexpected hit for me in all honesty. I really wasnt expecting much in the way of this being any good (In fact I was quite frankly dragging my heels about reviewing this one because I really wasnt in the mood to review a generic martial arts movie) and yet Billy Blanks surpassed my expectations with this very overly macho but somehow slightly self aware martial arts action movie.

There was a turning point for me with this one. At first I thought my fears were all but confirmed as the film opened with a slouch into a generic “Bad guy” style affair, however by the time of the 2nd act training montage it was like a switch had been hit on this film and it very quickly upped the pace and quality of the production with a sweeping 2nd and 3rd act that were really quite enjoyable to sit through.

I’d struggle to say that this one was an out and out classic. Its still quite a generic affair. But I distinctly remember at the time coming away surprised that it wasnt absolutely awful (Not that thats a glowing endorsement exactly, saying somethings “Not awful” is completely different from saying “Is bloody amazing”

It does what it does rather well. Since this review I’ve managed to get my hands on quite a few of Billy Blanks films (Which will slowly be covered as I *Hopefully* go on) but the immediate thought thats struck me with his works is that it would be really helpful and general beneficial to everyone if they assembled some kind of “Best of Blanks” thin boxset…maybe 2-3 discs with 2 movies per disc on them. nothing fancy just something that collects some of his movies in a thin set so that people dont have to try and find them in dribs and drabs. I think he’d probably build up quite a cult following internationally if they were to do something like that.

In the US Im told both Blanks and his son are quite well known and run a line of fitness programmes. In the UK I dont think they’re quite that well known but im sure if your into your martial arts films that you’ll probably be aware of him…as for me? Well I’ve seen a few of his films but im always open to seeing more…

 

(I should also probably add that this film is off the scale in terms of being ludicrously cheesy)

Crazy Guy with Super Kung-fu (1979)

Well, I can honestly say It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a film quite like “Crazy Guy with Super Kung-fu” (Also known as “Yu tou dai lao ben tu di” in its original language) The closest film I can compare this to would be “The Dragon lives again” and I first watched that film in 2009. So it was a very welcome change to watch a martial arts film that didnt take itself seriously, played more for comedy than it did the action pieces, and didnt fall flat on its face in the way “Descendants of wing chun” did…

But this film isnt all prat-falls and bad jokes. Theres actually some really well choreographed fight scenes thrown into the mix and it appears that the same company who dubbed “Wing chun” also dubbed this film as several voices and styles of delivery are painfully present here…in particular theres one voice actor in many of these films who sounds to me like a spot on “Carry on” era Kenneth Williams…

This voice acting cant be serious. I know it cant be serious. because if they genuinely thought that giving these films the voice styles they did would make the movie look and sound cool then they’re viewing a different version of reality to my own.

There are moments in this film that are just downright surreal. See the scene in my review with the homless person dancing around the restraunt singing about how the buildings condemned. its not completely out of place with the rest of the film tonally, but I do have to wonder what on earth was going on in the film makers minds when they stitched this one together.

Though weird and suffering from the effects of combining two genres that shouldnt go together (Super serious kung fu action and Campy “Carry on” comedy) I actually quite enjoyed this one. So much so that it actually earned a place on my “Do not chuck” shelf. Which is home to my blu-rays, DVD’s and tapes and contains all the classics and rarities that I simply will never even consider throwing away. I think this would be a good b-picture to “The Dragon lives again” in many ways…something to warm the audience up and give them a good kicking into the kind of mindset that would get on with the likes of “Dracula vs Popeye” It’s dirt cheap on amazon and I’d say go and check it out if you can. I dont recall it being groundbreaking, but its still an enjoyable picture.

As a final note. This is another review I wasnt 100% happy with. I had to record it in a different place to where I normally record my audio, it was the middle of the night, and I had to be quiet; So I dont really¬† feel like I got the best out of the recording that I could have…equally there are a few structuring issues with this one that I feel had I given it a bit more time I’d probably have been able to rectify…Still, you live and learn! I still pretty much say everything about the film that I wanted to in this, but I may come back to it some day just to tidy it up a bit…

(“LOOK AT THIS OLD CHICKEN!, YOU COULD SEE IT’S A GRANDFATHER!” – Crazy homeless man with clackers – 2017)

The Descendents of Wing Chun (Fo Shan Zan xian sheng) (1978)

This was one of the biggest fake out’s I think i’ve had on my channel to date. I picked this movie up expecting basically a very straight laced Kung-fu movie. And in many ways I think in its original dub this film probably was a lot more straight played than the english dubbed version is. Popping the disc in however I felt like the floor had dropped out from under me. It became very clear very quickly that all the mysticism, philosphy and general profoundness found in the original dub had been completely binned in favour of funny voice acting and playing the film down. Im not saying that this film was intended to be completely without humour; there are moments here that defiantely have that vibe both physically and in the dub. But here it makes “On the Busses” look like “The Kings Speech” rediculously over the top but one I can ultimately reccommend in terms of just how weird tonally it is.

(My only regret is that the character “Fatty the Kung-fu Yorkshireman” never made it into another movie #Sadtimes)