QT4: Kung Fu Triple Feature: DRAGON VS SNAKEFIST, DRAGON VS NEEDLES OF DEATH & SNAKE FIST IN EAGLE SHADOW
Now... at long last... I have reached the last super fantastic night of the Fourth Annual Quentin Tarantino Film Festival.... And how does the master programmer figure on winding up this... the best of his fests thus far?
A KUNG FU TRIPLE BILL
At long last.... I get to watch a triple feature of kung fu films... with Quentin somewhere in the room....
For fans of Tarantino... for me at least... the Kung Fu Triple Feature holds a special... sacred place in the soul of geekdom.
First off... a triple feature of Kung Fu films is simply... one of the true three answers to the “What is good in life Conan?” question.
A triple feature of Kung Fu flicks.. well, it has only one purpose.. to take the viewer to a transcendental state of glee. A location where you leave the theater filled with superhuman powers.... Talking in broken dubbed English with exaggerated lip movements.... It is where you make fun animal noises and spar with your friends in the white man poser stance.
Second... for me, the first time I learned Quentin’s name was when my sister forced me to take her to see TRUE ROMANCE... and it was at the moment where Clarence went to the triple feature Sonny Chiba Kung Fu bill where I first thought... “This is great!”
The Kung Fu film is the pure joy of cinema.
I couldn’t wait.
Quentin took the stage and the theater erupted into applause... the crowd packed to the sides of the theater. Literally... the aisles were packed with extra seats... filled. There were no empty seats... and there was standing going on.
There was a fire in Quentin’s eye when he stood on that stage... you could tell... he was ready for this night. He was saving the best for last. He grabbed the mike... swung it around briefly, and then went into an excited rap about how THIS WAS THE NIGHT HE WAS WAITING FOR.
Quentin’s favorite type of kung fu films are the animal style flicks... the kung fu where you move like an animal... and then... Quentin dazzled the audience with his full grasp of animal style kung fu.
Suddenly the microphone was on the ground... Quentin assumed the position of a nearly kneeling man... one arm cocked like an Egyptian... and the other way above his head with the hand at a pointed right angle to the arm.... He began swaying to and fro... as though studying his prey... hissing as his flat serpentine claws struck out as his invisible opponent striking them dead. He screams out... SNAKE STYLE...
He begins to stand like an exhausted man... tired and stumbling... his neck muscles loose.. head swirling around like a carousel... as he shuffled to his right while striking to his left, he suddenly switched direction in a drunken stupor... the noises escaping him.. like those of a belching god.... DRUNKEN STYLE he proclaims...
He crouches down... arms waving above his head as he waddles back and forth... He scratches an arm pit and the underside of a leg that juts out, as the fist flies down upon the head of his invisible opponent... the entire time he gives the impression of a passive aggressive Cheetah (Tarzan’s best friend) and as he begins making simian sounds, you can tell... it’s MONKEY STYLE...
He strikes the classic Crane stances... flying whooping style kicks, arms for balance out to the side... striking on the way back down.... picking his transparent opponent apart like a fish in a stagnant bay. He decrees.... CRANE STYLE...
As he grabs the mike back, the audience erupts into applause.... Watching Quentin go about the classic animal style martial arts... making all the appropriate noises.. and fighting in a precise facsimile and studied fervor of a Kung Fu Flick Fan....
Quentin is already in a gleeful state.
He tells us that the film we were about to see was called DRAGON VS SNAKEFIST, but... it’s real title is SNAKE IN THE MONKEY’S SHADOW... In the seventies... everybody was throwing DRAGON in the titles of Kung Fu films because of ENTER THE DRAGON...
Now... I can’t tell you much about this film. Not because I don’t want to... but in a credit style... I just do not know the names. It stars John Cheung and was directed by Sum Cheung. According to IMDB... this movie is available on Video..... BUY IT NOW!
I’m serious... Go and take the money out of your wallet and buy this fucking movie now. When it arrives... don’t watch it. Gather together 3 of your friends (at least) put on your two favorite kung fu flicks and then put this thing on third.... IT WILL KICK YOU IN THE NOSE AND LEAVE YOU BLEEDING WITH A BLOOD RED SMILE.
By the time you get to... what you will get... ah fuck it... the last hour is simply some of the best balletic animal style kung fu you’ll ever see. Each fighter stays in their style, and fights... you will see one scene that I guarantee will keep you shitting bricks for a week afterwards. This movie should be a treasure in every kung fu fans’ collection.
This is a pure jewel. At least 5 times during the movie, the film’s soundtrack didn’t exist to my ears because of the applause in the room... and as this film moves it begins to pick up a momentum that... is just stunning... The movie thrilled the audience.... sending them into an orgiastic gleeful lobby state where EVERYONE was bearing a crescent moon of shining ivories.
Quentin hit the lobby... and was making the tours soaking up the buzz...
When we returned to the theater.... and he hit the stage... Quentin brought me to tears.
“You know, I get asked in interviews... ‘Quentin, why do you do this festival every year?’ And that reaction... that charge you just gave me while watching this movie... That’s why. I’ve seen that last film 3 times at home... with one or two others. And ya know... at home with friends, it seems like a pretty good movie, but you can sometimes fool yourself into thinking something is great in close company... but can go on to see it fall flat in front of an audience. Well... what just happened... that feeling I just got from watching this movie with you... That’s rare... If I’m lucky... I’ll get that just once a year.... The last time was at THE MATRIX. You could just feel the audience completely hand themselves over to that movie. And it became something bigger than the theater. And you just gave me that feeling for the first time in a year and a half. That was a great screening... one of the very best I’ve experienced... and that was all you folks reacting to this great film and just being here and feeling that... that’s what film is about... it’s about going on a journey with a whole audience and just going with it. Thank you. Thank you.”
Now... You all know me, I get... decidedly weepy eyed at a flag being raised and such.... But Quentin was quite emotionally charged... you could see it on his face... this wasn’t Quentin being cool... or being on show.... This was the movie fan that loves the theatrical experience talking... and if you are a movie fan.... then you know this feeling.
Next weekend, you’ll get a chance to see EXORCIST on the big screen for the first time... many of you. When you see that film.... whoever you go with.. however you see it... You’ll realize... THIS IS HOW I’M SUPPOSED TO SEE IT... and for Quentin... on this print... THIS WAS HOW YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO WATCH THIS FILM... and it was a perfect experience for all involved.
Next up... Quentin introduced DRAGON VS NEEDLES OF DEATH.
“This is a completely different style of kung fu film. Where that last one is grace and style and movement... this one is brutal. When somebody gets hit you go...” And Quentin made an OOMPH sound while buckling his entire body, “...and it hurts ya know?”
This film was shocking and entertaining on entirely different levels... The fight scenes seemed to last days, and cover continents and time periods without so much as a blink.
The story is basically that of two best friends in love with the same girl... pitted against one another by circumstance (which is wildly improbable, but entertaining all the same), however before they can fight and settle their histories... they must first destroy a common enemy and save their mutual damsel in distress.
One guy is an expert martial artist.... the other can throw nails with pin (ha ha) point accuracy and deadliness.
When the guy begins unleashing his nails onto other folks... I was just delighted... and so was the audience... It was so.... how can I say this.... so, Super-heroesque... I suppose.
The film was fun... but just not the perfection of the earlier film. This isn’t bad... just not ‘ONE OF THE BEST KUNG FU FILMS I’VE EVER SEEN’ if ya get my point.
Now next was an extended break where Quentin announced and worked through the awards process for the fest.... Hopefully Moriarty will report on that, as I wasn’t taking notes during the nomination and award process....
But next up... Quentin was introducing his immaculate print of SNAKE FIST IN EAGLE SHADOW...
That’s right... the Jackie Chan film to begin the coming of the Jackie Chan we know and love... The comedic adventurer that should in noway win... but somehow... against all odds... manages to pull it off.
First off, the director of the film is Woo-Ping Yuen.... the same man responsible for the fights in THE MATRIX and the upcoming CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON. The one commonality of Woo-Ping’s work is AMAZING FIGHT SCENES. Here... he had young Jackie Chan, who saw this as his last chance... Jackie was a has been in Hong Kong kung fu... his movies all bombed... he wasn’t pulling in audiences.... and this was the first comedic kung fu flick out there.
This is... simply one of the great kung fu films... both for history of the genre as well as just pure entertainment and fight choreography and... the humorous aspects are great.
Woo-Ping’s father... Siu Tien Yuen is a marvel to behold as the old grand master kung fu beggar in hiding. His martial arts are a thing of awe in the film... He seems all at once powerful and fragile... humored by the world around him.
Jackie Chan.... going from complete numbskull clumsy oaf to... well, basically jedi knight asskicker beyond words... I have to say was a complete and thorough delight, you can see the birth of every Jackie character he's played since... right here in this film... the origin of it all.
When you see his Snakefist mixed with Kitty fu.... you’ll die a happy death... It’s a thing of bliss. I’ve seen this film on video... but on the big screen it’s just fantastic.... on the big screen with a packed audience.... BLISS.
This night was electrified. And for all the weariness you would expect at the end of a 10 day film festival... I felt complete and total relaxation. I wanted more... and technically... I’ve gotten just that. The day immediately following the QT fest was filled with 4 movies in theaters... followed by the next day’s course of 3.
Quentin’s film fests are the recharge for my film geek batteries. Some of you had noticed my ‘lack of perkiness’ with the last 3 (prior to the ALMOST FAMOUS reviews) reviews that I had a seeming... despondent feel to the reviews... an unusual sense of doom and foreboding.... Well, that’s because those movies had ZERO energy... no life or vitality.
These films that Quentin shows... these are not BAD movies... they are simply movies that were never seen... Go through the fests’ coverage... luck the titles up at IMDB... in lots of cases... you will find no user comments, no external reviews, no voting, no Leonard Maltin summary.... these are movies that simply... HAVE NOT BEEN SEEN.... or written about.
They were great plays performed off broadway to a house of 5.
If one of these reviews gets you out to see these films... get out there... track them down... Search E-Bay.... look in the newsgroups and in newspapers like BIG REEL. They are all worth a look.
Enjoy the hunt, and until next year’s fest and from this the final night of QT QUATTRO... I say...
Chiga chiga chaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!
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Sept. 17, 2000, 9:34 p.m. CST
"A fart for the stick king!"
Sept. 17, 2000, 10:03 p.m. CST
Every Tekken fan should know that Lie-Wulong's ending in Tekken 3 was inspired from the Jackie's traning scenes in Snake in Eagle's Shadow.
Sept. 17, 2000, 10:16 p.m. CST
by Cassius the Evil
I need to have that thing framed... dear lord... it's so... *perfect*!
Sept. 17, 2000, 10:53 p.m. CST
Seriously, think about it: "Snake Fist in Eagle Shadow" and "Throwing Rocks at Monkeys." Or "Dragon vs. Needles of Death" and "Smelling the Hairy Monkey on Captain Jim's Balls." Dude, I need some sleep.
Sept. 17, 2000, 11:37 p.m. CST
by Wesley Snipes
Yeah we all know that taken as a whole, Drunken Master 2 bitch-slaps all other martial arts movies. And we're all aware of Fist of Legend, Once Upon a Time in China, Iron Monkey, Crouching Tiger and the other big ones (though few ever mention the Yuen Woo Ping/Jet Li production, Tai Chi Master, which I believe has hands-down the coolest 90s HK kung fu music and is really good at conveying the "power" of kung fu). But what about Hollywood films? Which have great martial arts and more significantly, SHOOT the action in a way that is effective yet keeping a Hollywood flavour? Matrix is great, but the directing/editing style basically aped the early 90s HK films. Ditto on "Drive", by Steve Wang and featuring Mark Dascascos. The fights ROCKED (go rent it at Blockbuster NOW!), but it still just felt like classic HK filming style, a mix of Jackie Chan and OUATIC-era Tsui Hark philosophy. Blade was definitely Hollywood philosophy when it came to the angles and editing. Crazy MTV style. It's good and the impact and style were great, but the fights were too obscured by the editing. Anybody could've been fighting much of the time. IMHO, the best example of combining USA & HK approaches is DRagon: The Bruce Lee Story. You can SEE all or most of the choreography, but it's got the flair, speed, and hard-hitting energy that is so Hollywood. I love it and I'm sorry to see that it hasn't been emulated at all, at least to my knowledge. Can anyone recommend other US-made martial arts flicks? How are Bloodmoon or Superfights? And what the heck is Steve Wang doing now?
Sept. 18, 2000, 12:24 a.m. CST
To the poster that asked what director, Steve Wang, was up to; the last I heard was that he was directing a movie with Steven Segal(ugh.). Anyway, you can always check out Guyver 2: Dark Hero for some bio boosted HK style action by Wang. Stay away from the first Guyver movie with Mark Hamill, that one doesn't have very good fights. And dare I say it? The first Mighty Morphin Power Rangers movie was also directed by Steve Wang and if I remember corectly, actually has some decently choreographed stuff.
Sept. 18, 2000, 1:30 a.m. CST
by Buzz Maverik
This first one showed with FISTS OF SNAKES starring Cyrill Wing and Yolanda Chen. The second one showed with CHIMPANZEE VS. HOOVER UPRIGHT: man you should have seen Quentin imitating those styles ... I think we all feel a little bad about giving him the business after actually seeing the movies, don't we? I don't remember the title of the last movie, but those four pizza loving dragons who live in the Hong Kong subway and use their martial arts to battle evil sure were cool.
Sept. 18, 2000, 7:49 a.m. CST
by ol' painless
It is the best Kung Fu film ever made. Another one that I saw at the same festival a few years ago was "the Blade" by Tsui Hark. Anyone else seen that? It ROCKED. But, Harry, I have to say, you were probably at the greatest film night of your life here: Quentin Tarantino, Kung Fu triple feature, Jackie Chan, and a theatre full of hyped up film geeks. Tell me: would it get any better than that?
Sept. 18, 2000, 9:43 a.m. CST
The action was a bit slower in Snake in the Eagle's Shadow because the fight scenes weren't sped up, like in 99.9 % of Jackie's movies. Oh, and I've seen BLOODMOON w/ Gary Daniels, which is a pretty cool little american made martial arts flick. Gary Daniels also starred in that shit live-action version of Fist of the Northstar, but there were a few well-choreographed fights thrown in there. And I agree with you guys about Drunken Master 2; one of the best Gung Fu films ever. Speaking of DM 2, the dude who played Henry (the main villian's bodyguard) is the same dude who tehy motion captured for the part of Liu Kang in the original Mortal Kombat arcade game. Now, if only Ang Lee, Yuen Woo-Ping, Jet Li & Jackie Chan could all hook up to make the ultimate HK flick, our geek fantasies would be satisfied (well, mine would be anyway), but I'm sure CTHD will do it for me. ...end of rant
Sept. 18, 2000, 2:31 p.m. CST
that was such an aweful movie but it had great fight scenes! ...FIGHT ME! DAMNT!!
Sept. 18, 2000, 6:24 p.m. CST
by Wesley Snipes
Thanks for the info re: Steve Wang, guys. Actually, Wang isn't working with Seagal anymore. Wang was supposed to direct the Seagal/Joel Silver comeback movie (I forget the name), but now they have the Romeo Must Die director doing it. It worked out for the best if he's going to do another flick with the Drive team!
July 15, 2001, 2:16 a.m. CST
by femme fatale
the Steve Wang / Segal film never made it. a good thing "Blood on the moon?" was the title. Steve Wang deserves better than that, he should do a film with Mark Dacascos and Darren Shahlavi from bloodmoon, who was also in the great Yuen Woo Ping's "Tai Chi 2" and the forthcoming Olaf Ittenbach horror film "Legion of the dead" Seasonal should use Darren Shahlavi again with Gary Daniels and Mark Dacascos with Wang directing......
July 15, 2001, 3:07 a.m. CST
by femme fatale
Koichi Sakamoto should be the fight director, his work is cool, he Dacascos and Shahlavi would rock big time
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