|Title:||The Man from Hong Kong|
|01.04.23||Internet|| Tonight's double feature is a couple from director Brian Trenchard-Smith. A while back, Fantastic Fest ran a documentary about the Ozploitation era of 70s and 80s Australian filmmaking that enjoyed worldwide success. In conjunction, they brought BTS in since he was a huge part of that movement and they showed this double feature. I watched the doc but for some reason skipped the double feature (I think it was because these were at the Paramount or something? they did that for a few years). Since then, my friend Micah went on a BTS tear and really liked most of what he saw but I think the only things I've watched were Stunt Rock and BMX Bandits. Well, tonight i'm recreating that double feature so I can finally get another taste of his sensibility as a director.|
This first one is a kung-fu co-production between Australia and Hong Kong, and according to imdb it was supposed to start Bruce Lee. Sammo Hung provides the fight choreography as well has having a chase/fight sequence up the side of Ayers Rock(!), and Immortan Joe from Mad Max Fury Road plays a cop while George Lazenby is the heavy.
While I'm picking kung-fu as the genre, it really feels like it's trying to be a Bond film to me. There's not just fight scenes but also car chases, foot chases, hang gliding, and some love scenes thrown in for good measure. All shot in what looks like a more slipshod and dangerous method than Hollywood fare.
This movie is like 90% action. The story is minimal to say the least. Once the titular man from Hong Kong gets to Sydney (we get some cool location photography of the opera house and the bay in general at the end when there's... more hang gliding), he's basically kicking ass the entire time. I must confess I was fatigued by the end (a phenomena I often experience with kung fu movies), but have to give it credit. Lazenby himself gets set on fire and it shows him struggling to take his jacket off which looks like real panic. The car chase in particular is pretty massive. Dude gets his van exploded by a bomb which kills this woman he just fell in love with, drives through a house, rams a car in half, pushes a car into a ditch so hard it explodes, and launches a motorcycle into a river. There's one shot in particular where one of the cars bangs into the hero's car and you see the glass of his windshield completely shatter. Another shot shows a car rolling while the driver is flopping around inside. That seems like something that's way cheaper and faster to do for real than set up an elaborate stunt. And the scene has a perfect button where we see him driving back to town with the car completely beat to shit. Impressive stuff.
Really the only thing I didn't love about the movie was the lead. I mean, I can't imagine what this movie would've been with Bruce Lee as the star since I'm not sure he would've let shit get this fast and loose, but he would've delivered a much better and more charismatic performance on the acting side. This dude Wang Yu has been in a bunch of other hong kong kung-fu movies so maybe it's just me but I don't really feel him here. Some of the fight choreography is also a little sloppy where you see some hits not connect and things like that, but there's just sooo much of it that you can forgive little nitpicks here and there. Really, seeing the illusion crack during some of the fights just makes all the other stuff feel more real and thrilling.
Also, the dude from Stunt Rock popped up as an assassin here and had an intense chase/fight. Makes me think that's also him on the hang glider and the zip line when it's supposed to be Wang Yu, but I'm not sure. The action here definitely had a Stunt Rock vibe for sure, just with less Rock.