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Warriors Art, The

BCI Eclipse // Unrated // October 22, 2002
List Price: $9.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by J. Doyle Wallis | posted May 9, 2003 | E-mail the Author
Another Brentwood cheapie collection you'll probably find in the "bargain" section of your local video store.

Lightning Kung Fu:(1980 aka. Killer Constable, Karate Exterminator, Karate Warrior) : After a large sum is stolen from the royal court, the Empress assigns the feared Constable Ling (Chen Kuan Tai- 3 Evil Masters, Crippled Avengers, Human Lanterns) to track down the thieves. The merciless Constable Ling leads his posse leaving a blood-soaked trial behind them. As they get closer to the gang leader, they are attacked left and right, their numbers dwindle, and Ling discovers that the leader of the gang is a powerful court official he will have to confront alone.

Moody atmosphere and almost biblical bloodshed mark this great martial film. In contrast to many kung fu films, it is devoid of a traditional hero. Ling is a man who has lost all compassion, hard-hearted and bloodthirsty in his pursuit of justice. Throughout, the action has beheading a-plenty, poisoning, dismemberment, crucifixion, burning, and general carnage. The tone is dark, about as bleak as a martial film can get. While the plot is slim and clumsy, director Chin Hung Kuei (Bamboo House of Dolls, Boxer's Omen) delivers some great visuals, effective mood lighting, imaginative action, gets some scope from his limited budget, and a delivers great sequence in a rain swept, misty bog that is fantastic. Movie 3.5/5 stars Replay 4/5

Macho Man: The gangsters on White Wolf Hill are in possession of the kings seal. One day three different people arrive in the area, a recently released criminal, a girl following a clue from her dead father, and a mysterious hard fighting young man, and they each have the same objective: to obtain the seal... Confusing set-up and pretty manic. I was half-paying attention to the film and really had a hard time keeping track of just who was who and what their shifting motivations were. It was a fun enough cheapie. None of the fights or stars were really very impressive, but it had that old school chessiness that made it worthwhile. Most of all, it has a showdown in a junkyard where out hero is attacked with a forklift. I am a simple man sometimes, and such things delight the kid in me. Movie 2.5/5 stars Replay 2.5/5

Swordsman with an Umbrella: A mysterious fighter named Iron Umbrella arrives in Dragon Town with the intent of finding the scarred killer that murdered his parents when he was a child. He quickly offends the local martial school by killing a few of its bullying members. The school sets up a plan to ruin his name, attacking their marital rivals and linking Iron Umbrella to the crimes, making him a wanted man in the martial world.

Absolutely terrible. So cheap and poorly performed it cannot even be recommended as a good b- movie. Iron Umbrella, the Mary Poppins of kung fu, gets bailed out of fights by chicks throughout most of the film. The scarred villain he is searching for is clearly the hooded leader of the bad martial clan. The story is just plain dull and drags. Completely incompetent and unconvincing fight choreography. Horrible direction and editing includes mismatched scenes of conversations that go from indoors to outdoors and, most ridiculously, slow motion where they were too unskilled to do it correctly, so they just have the actors 'moving slow'. Complete amateur trash on all fronts. This is the kind of crud that gives chop socky films a bad name. Movie 0/5 stars Replay 0/5

Monkey Fist, Floating Snake: Ah Tung (Chan Muk Chuen Iron Monkey 77') is a petty waiter who longs to become a skilled martial artist. He doesn't learn much because the local martial school uses him for punching practice. The locale barber, who is secretly a wanted revolutionary, notices some hidden talent in Ah Tung anmd after some "oh-so-wacky" testing, he begins to train him. A deadly fighter (Chang Yi, Shaolin Kung Fu Mystagogue, Lady Whirlwind, Fatal Needles Vs. Fatal Fists) and his henchman (Eddy Ko, Avenging Eagle, Thundering Mantis, Miracle Fighters) come into town and bully all of the martial schools until Ah Tung and the barber trounce them. The baddies return with improved "snake style" skills and it will take some deft "monkey style" from Ah Tung to defeat it.

One of the most often imitated kung fu genres, what we have here is a really bland animal style action comedy. Basically rehashes all of the stereotypes of the genre (loser hero, training scenes, reluctant scruffy master), though in less impressive ways all around, from fighting, to comedy, to character. I found it to be a real snoozer and while I watched it I kept thinking of dozens of superior animal style/comedy kung fu films I could have been viewing instead, from Jade Claw, to Snake in the Eagles Shadow, Stroke of Death, or Mad Monkey Kung Fu. On top of everything else, the animal styles stunk and aren't really used until the finale, which negates the whole point of being a worthy animal style film. Movie 2/5 stars Replay 1.5/5

The DVD: Brentwood

Picture: All are cropped full-screen and show quite a bit of wear and tear. Speckles. Spots. Haze. Sections that are too dark. Pretty much the expected from a bargain bin DVD transfer of a public domain kung fu film. I know Monkey can be found in widescreen from a rival company.

Sound: Mono. Once again, same as above. Hiss. Pops. Bad dubbing. Swordsman has some burned in subs that are cut off due to the cropping, but they provide a further clue that the films dubbing is one of the most terrible ones I've heard. And believe me, I've heard plenty.

Extras: Chapter Selection and a forgettable "About Kung Fu" text feature.

Conclusion: You get what you pay for. It would be an okay set if the films were decent, but really with two big time stinkers, one fair distraction, and only one film being at all recommendable, you are far better off skipping this set. All of the films can be found in Brentwoods 10-disc Fists of Fire set, which is probably a better value if you are curious about he films (with it you get ten films for $20, instead of four for $10).

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