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Sun Dragon

Crash Cinema // Unrated // May 11, 2004
List Price: $14.95 [Buy now and save at Hkflix]

Review by J. Doyle Wallis | posted July 26, 2004 | E-mail the Author
I don't know how many movies you watch in a week. Me, between reviewing, Netflix rentals, my expanding collection, and having every pay movie channel... plus factor in that given the choice, I'd rather stay in and watch movies than go out for a nice meal or spend time hiking or something... Well, I watch a movie a night, with a couple of two/three movie nights thrown in there on a weekly basis.

The reason I bring all of this up is, I watched Sun Dragon (1979, aka. Hard Way to Die) a very long time ago, and I just completely forgot. I had it sitting there waiting to reviewed, but somehow after watching the film, my brain refused to acknowledge it. So, Sun Dragon has become this anomaly in my viewing habit, somehow so unremarkable, it got lost in the flood of films I saw after it and became this buried memory, like a childhood trauma, that I couldn't recall.

Anyway, it is a very b-kung fu film, a real cheapie. The setting, we're supposed to assume, is the Old West, only this is the kung fu version of the Old West where Chinese guys play Indians, a group of Japanese swordsman are camped out in the desert, and a pair of jeans makes a white dude a cowboy despite the fact they are wearing tinted sunglasses, tank top t-shirts, and have 70's medallions around their necks.

A trio of robbers looking for a hideout happens upon a farm and wipes out the family, save for the son, Tim (Carl Scott- Kung Fu Executioner), who is badly wounded in his escape. Billy Chong (Jade Claw, Kung Fu Zombie) and his pal find Tim and take the battered kid to their doctor uncle, who heals Tim by using Chinese remedies. Naturally, Tim wants revenge on the gang that murdered his family (though the gang guys have normal names, I dubbed them Scar, Baldy, and Hasselhoff-hairdo). After some martial training from the doc, Tim sets out with Billy for some good ol' fashioned vengeance.

Again, this is another Billy Chong/director Wa Wat Wang pairing, the two also delivering the likes of Kung Fu Zombie and Jade Claw. This is a bottom rung kung fu film and your level of enjoyment hinges on how big of a b-fan you are. There is fighting a-plenty and both Chong and Carl Scott (who is a very good black fighter, though he lacks the Jim Kelly afro coolness) are good leads. Being budget minded, the locations are spare and the fighting is strictly ground kung fu, no trickery or outlandishness.

The DVD: Crash Cinema

Picture: Wide-screen, non-anamorphic. Wow. This a very worn and aged print. My standards are pretty lax when it comes to kung fu cheapies and their print qualities, but this one even had me grimacing. This print is very soft, but the worst wear and tear comes in the form of its ugly tint. The print is so yellowed, one imagines the film stock was peed on and then left in the desert for a decade. This is going to look unbearably bad on larger televisions.

Sound: Mono English dub. Once again, aged material, tinny sound, but that is the norm with these films. Okay, hands down, this is one of the worst dubs I've ever heard. This is a serious detriment to the film. Now, I'm not kidding when I say that the dubbers were probably men who suffered form head injuries. Their delivery is so flat, wimpy, and terrible, the only excuse can be that they had some form of brain damage. I refuse to believe otherwise and, for my own sanity, must assume they were allowed to dub the film out of some charity case, like the Make -A-Wish foundation.

Extras: Crash Preview trailers for Sting of the Dragon Masters, The Master Strikes and Taoism Drunkard.

Conclusion: While it isnt terrible and there is some good talent on hand, there just isnt much that is inspired about this film. Even if you are a fringe/b-film kung fu fan, I doubt this print and especially the dub will sit well with you. Gotta' say, skip it.


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