Monthly Archives: December 2010

ZATOICHI MEETS THE ONE ARMED SWORDSMAN (1971)

Director: Kimiyashi Yasuda
Actors: Shintaro Katsu, Jimmy Wang Yu

My 2 favorite swordsmen from 2 different genres collide! A walk on water Shaw Brother character meets the blind gambling swordmaster!
Both with physical defects that would cripple the mere mortal, but these mythical legends with enhanced awareness turn their misfortunes into lethal weapons! The legendary ZATOICHI, a blind masseur with extraordinary samurai skills moves swiftly & gracefully with quick and precise slashings of doom while the ONE ARMED SWORDSMAN has mastered the technique of the iron palm coupled with sweet buttery nipple moves with his short curved stunted blade that any crocodile hunter would wish for. That, tripled with extraordinary aerial skills that even the crouching tiger-hidden dragon would have a hard time keeping up with! The end result is an amazing blend of asian fusion cinema that mashes up 2 well known characters into something called: ZATOICHI MEETS THE ONE ARMED SWORDSMAN!

The skinny of the movie without spilling the rice porridge is that Jimmy Wang Yu, who plays the one armed swordsman defects to japan in refuge to a buddhist temple to escape the enemies that have been building up in his native home of china. Jimmy Wang Yu meets a chinese family of 3 hustling on the streets of countryside japan with a Peking Opera like performance. The one armed bandit & this chinese family instantly hit it off & they all stroll to a nearby restaurant to celebrate when…hell breaks loose. The kid from the chinese family loses his kite & it flows directly in front of a procession of japanese samurai parading a bunch of expensive abalone to the yakuza. At first, I thought it was a funeral procession but, I guess those samurai’s are deeply one with seafood! Talk about giving the bouncer at a club a stink eye! The chinese father & mother both lose their lives to protect their kid because of a kite that flew into a path of a few nazi swordsmen. This left the One armed swordsman no choice but to take some lives of a few bad, bad japanese men. Wang Kang disperses when chinese cleaver meets jap flesh meanwhile the chinese kid flees & happens upon Zatoichi. The bad japanese men slaughter a few more innocent lives that witness the senseless killings of the chinese family. The “rearranged” story now is that the chinese one armed swordsman is the crazed devil that murdered the samurai & the innocent ones. A heavy reward is issued to anyone that can bring the head of the one armed chinese bandit! As far as Zatoichi knows, he thinks the chinese man is the assassin. The story takes a few twists & turns as the one armed swordsman continues on his path to this Buddhist temple in the countryside to meet his monk friend & to escape the japanese assassins looking for their scapegoat. A few more twists & turns of the story leads me off the cliff with a final end fight that pits the sloppy in appearance but, sharp in skill ZATOICHI vs the handsome looking one armed raggamuffin of a swordsman! This fight will leave both of them scarred with a bit of chinese & japanese soul lodged in between them! Suddenly, I have a craving for chino & japones food!

RIGHTING WRONGS aka ABOVE THE LAW (1986)

Director: Corey Yuen
Actors: Yuen Biao,Cynthia Rothrock,Melvin Wong,Corey Yuen

Righting Wrongs aka Above the Law is on my all time top 3 list of Hong Kong action films from the 1980’s fo-sho! I did a brief write-up of this movie in the printed version of Planet Chocko a galaxy ago, but this movie is so nice, I’m writing about it twice and maybe, thrice if you give me some more time! It stars Yuen Biao of the famed 7 little fortunes of the Peking Opera School in Hong Kong (which includes Sammo,Jackie Chan,Yuen Wah,Corey Yuen,Yuen Tak, & Yuen Bun). Cynthia Rothrock is another diamond in the rough that made a name for herself with the character that she played in this movie! Cynthia’s stuntwork, & fighting skills are 2nd to none! We’ve met Cynthia Rothrock in person at the Chiller Theatre convention in NJ some years ago & she mentioned that YUEN BIAO is one of the most talented & controlled martial artists that she has ever worked with in filmmaking! That is saying alot! Rothrock also mentioned that RIGHTING WRONGS is one of her personal favorites! It’s one of my personal favorites, too! It’s to no surprise Cynthia shined on the screen because she is a champion martial artist in real life! Corey Yuen, the director of the movie also plays a character in the film called “bad egg”. Corey Yuen & Yuen Biao were the brains & the mechanical robot that drove the energy of Righting Wrongs & let me tell you, this movie was flatout R-A-W with all the crazy stunts, the acrobatic-fighting choreography, & twisted story. Don’t worry, I won’t spill the rice & provide any spoilers for this film! Yuen Biao plays a HK prosecutor that is frustrated with the justice system & decides to take things in his own hands. Biao eventually runs into a hot shot HK police woman played by Rothrock who suspects Yuen Biao of foul play. They play a game of good cop, bad prosecutor until they both discover the twisted truth behind the injustice. There are some great fight scenes between Rothrock & Yuen Biao as well as an off the meat rack estrogen encounter between Rothrock & karate champion in real life, Karen Sheperd! Another fun fight sequence involved Rothrock & a mahjong gambling house! The action is often raw, & there are senseless killings of innocent people & family members in the movie! YESsss! The final fight scene between Melvin Wong, Cynthia Rothrock, & lastly, Yuen Biao joining the bulls on parade is entertaining to say the least! I’ve heard that Sammo Hung was the guest fight choreographer in the fight scene with Melvin & Biao! The finale scene involves Yuen Biao and an airplane! There is an alternate ending to RIGHTING WRONGS(chinese version) aka ABOVE THE LAW(american version) that caters to either the chopstick enthusiast or the knife & fork wielder. The chinese version is classic for the chopstick holder while the american version is classic for well…the Leave it to Beaver connoisseur…sort of! Luckily for you, you can see both endings with the DRAGON DYNASTY released DVD of ABOVE THE LAW! Otherwise, you might have to grab RIGHTING WRONGS in your nearby chinatown for the chinese inspired ending and somehow, find the dubbed version of RIGHTING WRONGS aka Above the Law in an old video store like in Kevin Smith’s, CLERKS or KIM’S UNDERGROUND in NYC if they still exist! I personally like the chi-neez version because it’s more of a…..Tra..tra..train wreck!

Kathleen Hanna Project at Knitting Factory

Last Saturday at Knitting Factory in Brooklyn NYC was a night to honor and appreciate Kathleen Hanna, founding member of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre, and an outspoken feminist who was instrumental in shaping the riot grrrl movement through punk rock music and ‘zines since the early 90’s. The sold out show was also being filmed by Sini Anderson for an upcoming documentary about Kathleen. It was a great night of music, spoken word and dance and every band on the bill performed awesome Kathleen Hanna covers. There were so many highlights and early in the night Kaia Wilson (Team Dresch and The Butchies) rocked us with a slow song, “pretty is” by Kathleen’s old band Suture. I think it’s only available on 7″ vinyl and has been long out of print. Toshi Reagon just blew us all away with a passionate, acoustic version of Le Tigre’s “keep on living” which got the crowd singing along. The young, all-girl punk band, Care Bears on Fire, did a helluva job on Le Tigre’s “my my metrocard” and made it look so damn easy. Bridget Everett rocked the house in her bra and panties with “after dark” with the help of Kathleen’s husband, Adam Horovitz a.k.a. Ad Rock of the Beastie Boys on the bass. Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth) read from Kathleen Hanna’s riot grrrl manifesto while her husband and fellow band mate Thurston Moore watched from the crowd of people which also included Joan Jett. Men, featuring Le Tigre’s JD Samson, performed a Bikini Kill tune titled “double dare ya.”

The night came to a close with Murray Hill introducing the world premiere of Kathleen Hanna’s new band Julie Ruin which features another Bikini Kill member-Kathi Wilcox! There was a Julie Ruin album out on Kill Rock Stars Records in 1997, but the band never performed live. Kathleen looked and sounded great. She sang a few songs and started up right off the bat with Bikini Kill’s “this is not a test” followed by two Julie Ruin songs: “V.G.I.” and “radical or pro-parental” and ending it off with the Le Tigre song “hot topic.” For an encore she played a brand new song titled, “cookie road.”  It was a memorable night of music which we won’t forget about for a long time.  Keep your eyes open for the documentary, Kathleen Hanna Project which is in production.  Kathleen did mention that a new Julie Ruin album was in the works too. Does that mean more shows?  I hope so!




HEROINE SUSAN: SISTER OF THE SHANTUNG BOXER (1973)

Director: Wong Hung Cheung
Actors: Wong Ping, Charlie Chin Chiang Lin, Jack Long

This movie was an unofficial sequel to the famed BOXER FROM SHANTUNG that was released by Shaw Brother Studios. HEROINE SUSAN: SISTER OF THE BOXER FROM SHANTUNG was directed by Wong Hung Cheung & produced by a film company from Taiwan. It stars kickass chick Wong Ping, Charlie Chin Chiang Lin, & old school fave actor of many wutang kung fu cult fans: Jack Long. Wong Ping plays Ma Su Chen, the sister of Ma Yong Cheng who was ambushed & killed by the Axe Gang from Shanghai in the 1st movie, Boxer from Shantung. Charlie Chin plays a devout friend of Ma Yong Cheng looking to seek blood in honor of his friend. Charlie Chin was famous for playing comedic roles in Jackie Chan movies like “Twinkle Twinkle Luck Stars”, “My Lucky Stars”, & “Winners and Sinners” amongst his vast filmography. He was often cast as a smooth talking ladies man , I’m a “lover not a fighter” type of character. To my amazement, this 1973 directed film displayed Charlie Chin as a serious brotherman with extraordinary kung fu mojo who swats the bad guys around like some dirty lint on your triple fat goose down jacket. Wong Ping shows why she might give Angela Mao Ying a dirty cat fight if they ever tangoed fist to fist. Jack Long who is famous for playing movie roles opposite of the Ghost-Faced Killer(Mark Long) is the Japanese Samurai hired by the Axe Gang in order to erradicate Ma Su Cheng & Charlie Chin’s character since the gang proves no match for this blood thirsty duo of the chinese version of the “six million dollar man” & “bionic woman” of kung fu proportions! Revenge for Ma Yong Cheng is the main bullet point of this movie as the Tan Gang & the Sister of the Boxer from Shantung team up to issue a can of chopsocky whoopass on anything named AXE GANG! The fighting choreography was pretty crisp considering the basher style mentality during that era. Charlie Chin surprised the hell out of me with his flying jump kicks & throwdowns with the gang! I’m accustomed to Chin playing characters that sweet talk the chics into his love shack while Jackie Chan shows his action muscles! The fight scene in the casino was one of the highlights of the film as was the fight at the Teahouse with the Japanese killers at the end with Jack Long. With all these axes, & empty handed fists/kicks of mass destruction flying around, it still comes down to a tale of the firearm that would determine the victor!

Big ups to “FU-Subs” who are a conglomerate of all stars from the Kung Fu Cinema forum that provide us fans with rare movies that are hard to find. FUsubs translates the movies into english subtitles & restores the movie for our viewing pleasures!

brooklyn street art

BRUCE LEE: THE MAN, THE MYTH (1976)

Director: Ng See Yuen
Actor: Bruce Li, Chu Chi Ling, Linda Hirst

BRUCE LEE: THE MAN, THE MYTH was a frankenstein mashup of a movie gem labeled as a Bruce-sploitation film from 1976 that was loosely based on Bruce Lee’s life starting from when he moved to Seattle from Hong Kong to attend the University of Washington leading up to his untimely death on July 20th, 1973. Bruce Li was one of many Bruce Lee imitators that would surface to the screen. Li did a bang up job portraying the role of the “Little Dragon”. This movie is one of the better Bruce-sploitation films ever created in my opinion. Obviously, no one can move like the real Bruce can, but Bruce Li didn’t sweat the technique in faking the funk with recreating signature moves of the Little Dragon. The film starts out with Bruce in a training session with the wooden dummy which segways into a friendly “chi sao” aka “sticky hands” sparring session with his gung fu teacher, Yip Man. Shortly thereafter, Bruce leaves HK for Seattle to attend the University. Bruce develops a following of students who crave with thirst for chinese kung fu & the little dragon obliges. There are a few encounters with a karate badass played by brother man CARL SCOTT which leads up to a challenge by his Japanese teacher on the ballfield. These Karate technicians are not too happy when Bruce proclaims the superiority of kung fu & that kung fu is the mother of karate. Seattle was a great start for Bruce as his kung fu seeds were planted & his reputation would slowly snowball into a giant martial art movie monster! This film skimmed the surface of his experiences in Seattle to San Francisco to the Long Beach tournament which created a portfolio for him to get a break into hollywood & into the GREEN HORNET series. The filming of THE BIG BOSS aka FISTS OF FURY in Thailand was a breakthrough for Hong Kong’s own, LITTLE DRAGON. There were many entertaining fight sequences including all the impromptu challenges on the film set that Bruce would partake in. One of the best fight scenes involved real life HUNG GA kung fu master, CHU CHI LING & Bruce Li ! Chu Chi Ling was breathing the fire of the TIGER & the sharp quirky techniques of the CRANE while Bruce lashed out with quick cobra like attacks! Another great scene was when a Thai boxer challenged Bruce on the set of The Big Boss. Other rumbles include the challenge on the set of Return of the Dragon in the roman coliseum & on the set of Enter the Dragon. The film also chronicles Bruce Lee’s obsessive training habits especially with electrolysis to tense up the muscles. The final scene of Bruce Lee on his death bed at Betty Ting Pei’s apartment in Hong Kong opened up the flood gates for interpretation. The movie briefly showed real life clips of Bruce Lee’s funeral & his gravestone. The film faded away into a few conspiracy theories on the death of Bruce ranging from a triad killing to a chinese witch doctor proclaiming that he will die a young death to Bruce Lee faking his death to disappear into anonymity before resurfacing again in 10 years (1983). BRUCE LEE: THE MAN, THE MYTH has many flaws & I’m sure many of the stories were greatly exaggerated if not inaccurate , but this film was surely entertaining especially for a low budget movie. I would love to get a hold of this movie with or without english subs in it’s native tongue of cantonese instead of dubbing in english. The dubbing on my VHS & DVD copy were definitely class A butchered frankenstein grade. The english translation was amusing & cute, but I would still love to see this film someday in it’s native tongue. Let out those Bruce Lee yells, y’all! This movie had me kickin’ like Sammo Hung in ENTER THE FAT DRAGON!

Butts

So, there I was diggin’ in da crates at the WFMU record fair, when all of a sudden this band starts playing songs about booze, weed all sorts of crazy stuff. I dropped my stack of vinyl and checked out the two pretty ladies banging out punk tunes on a guitar and drums and was blown away. Their music was fast (some tunes lasted less than a minute!) and they were both funny and smart. I was hooked. The band’s name is Butts and they’re from Seattle, Washington. Rachel is on the guitars, Shannon plays the drums. Their music will make you rock out, laugh out loud and pee your pants. I’m now a huge fan. You should be too!

How did you two meet each other and form the band?
Rachel: We’ve been friends for years. I was a fan of Shannon’s first band Dalmatians, and then our other bands Katharine Hepburn’s Voice (KHV) and Partman Parthorse had played a bunch of shows together. Butts formed at about 3am in Sept of 2009 after 37 beers.
Shannon:…And probably a bunch of marijuana.

Who came up for the name for the band and why Butts?
Rachel: Butts is what we sound like. But I can’t remember who came up with it
Shannon: I came up with it at band practice one day. We both looked at each other like, “We shouldn’t.” But we did. Maybe all those beers helped Rachel forget this happening.

How would you describe the music you play?
Rachel: post comedy.
Shannon: Punk Abbott and Costello

Were you both in bands before Butts?
Rachel: Yes, see answer #1
Shannon: Our other band-names are unparalleled. Between the two of us we have Dalmatians, Partman Parthorse, and Katharine Hepburn’s Voice. Now Butts. At age 30.

I think you girls are really funny and I was wondering if either of you had a background in comedy or acting?
Rachel: No, but I played a tree in Little Red Riding Hood in kindergarten. I didn’t have any lines.
Shannon: Rach, I didn’t know that about you! I played a Mother Goose impostor in 4th grade… I think being funny is (almost) the most important thing.

How is the music scene over by you?
Rachel: Really great. Lots of creative stuff going on, and tons of amazing bands.
Shannon: Seriously! Seattle’s been really cool the last few years. My favorite new band in Seattle is Wet Paint DMM. Every time I see them I compulsively tell their lead singer, Jamey Braden, that they are the best. They do some crazy, awesome, arty shit. Can I say “shit”? Also, the Flexions rule. I’m trying to get them to let me be in their band, even though they don’t need me.

What do you like doing when you’re not playing music?
Rachel: Cook weird foods, work on The Seattle Band Map Project and make JokeBot Podcasts
Shannon: I’m in the process of painting 50 or so watercolor portraits of people I love and respect from Seattle’s music and creative community. I just started painting, and it rules. I plan to paint from now on. Like, for a job, so if any of you want to commission a portrait, get in touch with me. I’m way better at painting than drums! I love playing drums though.

What are some of your favorite bands at the moment?
Rachel: Devo, Ty Segall, SPURM, Grave Babies, Wire, Consignment, Ovens, Shannon and the Clams, Hobocop,The Kinks, The Intelligence, Guantanemo Baywatch
Shannon: Rachel is good at staying abreast of newer music. (Actually, I just wanted to say “Rachel” near a word containing “breast”.) Wet Paint, as I mentioned, rules. As far as newer stuff goes, I’m pretty mainstream, like Ariel Pink, The Dirty Projectors, The Oh Sees, Kurt Vile, Beach House, Animal Collective, etc. I like a little bit of everything, though. I have a ton of old music, like Mississippi John Hurt, and a lot of old rocksteady.Yes, and Ty Segall rules. And Hobocop… Hobocop should be famous.

Favorite alcoholic beverage?
Rachel: Butts Soda
Shannon: I probably spent a year or more each with red wine, dirty Grey Goose Martinis, Friexinet champagne, chardonnay, whiskey, and then I went straight to Ranier tall-boys. I haven’t drank in 2 1/2 months. Not sure if I’m done with it for good, but for now, I’m loving not drinking. I love marijuana and cigarettes, so if you could make a rad drink out of that, I’d probably drink it. Or O’Douls.

Where are some places you like to hang out in Seattle? (we promise not to stalk you!)
Rachel: Cairo art gallery and The Funhouse for shows, Than Bros Pho for food and Cal Anderson Park for public drinking
Shannon: Rachel’s right about all of those. My bedroom is probably the best, though. I frequently have guests over for indoor BB-gun target practice, and I smoke cigarettes in my room, which hardly ever loses its novelty. I think if I’m not at my house, I’m probably at the Funhouse or Cairo. But I’m probably at my house, painting.

How’s the touring and shows been lately?
Rachel: Great. We just played a 6 year old’s birthday party. There was a Darth Vader pinata and a Butts cake. We may have just peaked as a band.
Shannon: Yeah. It’s all downhill from there.

Any plans to record more music?
Rachel: Just released Butts: Number 2 on ggnzla RECORDS and we have a 7″ brewing.
Shannon: It’s called “Number Two” because it’s our second album. We sat down and focused on what we wanted Butts to make. It took some work, but we made Number Two.

When are you coming back to NYC and the East Coast?
Rachel: Not soon enough!
Shannon: I love New York, and can’t wait to go back. Last time we were there I met a hot babe named Jon. I’ve since convinced him to move to Seattle and be my boyfriend. He arrives in Seattle in January. The Butts shows were awesome too!

Any closing comments?
Rachel: We’re on the internet. Visit us at www.buttsontheinternet.com.
Shannon: I love my mom! (Hi, mom!)




Exit Through The Gift Shop

Directed by Banksy
Edited by Tom Fulford and Chris King
Produced by Holly Cushing, Jamie D’Cruz and James Gay-Rees
Narrator Rhys Ifans

The film starts by introducing Thierry Guetta, a crazy French dude who emigrated to Los Angeles in the 80’s and owned a vintage clothing shop. He carried a video camera everywhere he went and filmed everything. While on a vacation in France, Thierry films his cousin, Space Invader, an artist who made space invader mosaics. He develops an obsession to document Invader and his artist friends as they spray paint and sticker bomb the city at night. Back in L.A., Thierry eventually meets Shepard Fairey and other major players in the new underground graffiti movement known as street art, tagging along with them in the alleys and on top of buildings and billboards. He was filming everyone in the scene….Swoon, Neckface, Buffmonster. He documented so many artists but the elusive British stencil artist named Banksy was the one subject he wanted and needed to film. Thierry pretty much gave up, but fate was on his side and after a chance encounter in Los Angeles, he gains the trust of the secretive Banksy and they become friends. Worlds collide, Banksy turns the tables on the amateur film-maker, and the absurdity that happens next will surprise you.
The movie is an excellent observation of the world of art. It will make you laugh and it’s full of unexpected twists and turns. The DVD is out on Oscilloscope Laboratories and contains special features including a short film about the ‘art’ of Banksy and an edited version of Thierry’s unwatchable and insane street art documentary titled, “Life Remote Control.” The eco-friendly packaging looks great and it comes with some stickers and postcards featuring art from the film. Check it out!

The Kenny Scharf Mural in NYC


Kenny Scharf’s latest project is complete and located on the graffiti wall at East Houston Street and the Bowery. The mural features a cast of bright and colorful psychedelic cartoon faces. He claims that nothing was sketched out before hand…just starting with the big red nose and then freestyling and going with the flow. Scharf is a New York pop artist who became well known in the 80’s painting images influenced by cartoons such as the Jetsons and the Flintstones.

A MOMENT OF ROMANCE (1990)

Director: Benny Chan
Producer: Johnny To
Actors: Andy Lau, Tommy Wong

A MOMENT OF ROMANCE is a classic 1990’s triad film entangled with a dash of romance. It stars the Brad Pitt of Hong Kong, ANDY LAU TAK WAH. Andy plays a cool hand luke triad member who loves the need for speed on his crotch rocket. The chinese Rob Lowe & his triad members find themselves in the middle of jewelry heist when getting away from the HK five-0 proves to be eventful. The brad pitt of HK has to kidnap a 17 year old rich girl in order to make his getaway. The other triad members take wind & they want the girl to be killed for fear of identifying them to the police. Morality gets the better of Brad Pitt when he stands by her innocent lady which adds fuel to the fire of his fellow gang members. An internal gang war erupts when powers start to shift sides. The preferred format for murder is through machete like ginsu knives with a hint of puerto rican flow. Lives are lost & a romance starts to brew as the theme of revenge starts to stew, too! Classic slow motion & canto-pop rule the scene of this triad infested flick! Who can resist Andy Lau riding his crotch rocket in a white tuxedo with his lady in the back with a bridal dress riding with no helmet of course! The ending is classic Hong Kong cinema! Pay respects to A MOMENT OF ROMANCE as this paved the niche for other HK triad movies in the 1990’s, including the YOUNG AND DANGEROUS movie series! Canto-pop, anyone?