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)

American Ninja 2: The Confrontation (1987)

American Ninja 2 (Often released with the subtitle “The Confrontation”) was a sequal to the original American ninja movie which came out in 1985. This is one of the few times I’ve spoken about a films sequel before I’ve delt with the original and there are a few reasons for that that were fairly tedious but basically boiled down to “When I started this channel I was only going to talk about Janky B-movies and experimental/erotic films” and the first American ninja movie is actually pretty good. its a bit slow in places but its fun enough…this film was a bit more unusual and weird and I thought at the time it would fit my channels tone a bit better. It may have also been down to the fact that i’d watched the first one only a week or 2 before I decided to start my channel in the first place and I really didnt feel up to rewatching a film like this so soon after i’d watched it for the first time. This was also the first episode I recorded for the second ever group of episodes I made 🙂

(I’ll be honest; im a sucker for a ninja film that features genetically modified super ninjas)

EDIT [22/01/21]:

So At some point around 18 months ago, for reasons youtube cant fully explain to me, a glitch happened on my youtube channel scrubbing approximately 8 minutes of footage from the Above American Ninja review. I worked with them over a couple of days to try and retrieve it. But as far as they were concerned it has sadly been lost. So! I decided to try and put this right. In part because I plan to cover more American Ninja films on my channel in future, and in part because I actually kind of like this review. Im not massively fond of my early work (As most youtubers will atest after a certain period your ‘early works’ come with a healthy dose of cringe at what you could have done better/differently.

So I decided to rebuild the review! I luckily keep the original isolated vocals of every review I make and, while doing some frame matching for the review itself I sourced better quality copies of the footage, I worked on the layout, processed the audio and generally tidied the whole thing up to make it look and feel a lot more in line with my current reviews. I wouldnt say it was a ground up remake. more that this is a 2.5D reimagining of a 2D review. it’s just a bit more polished. AND it brings the review back from near obscurity! So I hope you enjoy this; it didnt take a particularly long time to put together, but I felt it needed doing! 🙂

The Dragon Lives again! (The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu) (1977)

Well it’s usually good with these things to start at the beginning! and starting my youtube channel off all that time ago was this movie: 1977’s “The Dragon Lives again” also known as “The Deadly Hands of Kung fu”. I love this movie. like; I both love it and im In love with it. its my favourite martial arts film of all time just for how surreal and bizarre it is. Though the only downside of this being my first review is that because its the first one I didnt really get my style down properly. I talk too fast and I dont feel I said everything I could say about this awesome movie. consider this a pilot episode. I’ll need to revisit it at some point in the future but for now please enjoy one of the strangest (And most copyright infringiest!) movies I’ve ever seen…

(Seriously…I bloody love this film)