|Title:||Snake in the Monkey's Shadow|
Other Movies Seen By This Director (0)
|04.24.06||Alamo Downtown||This Screening is part of event: Best of QT Fest|
Snake in Monkey's Shadow AKA Snake Fist vs. The Dragon. If you know Blake and talk to him at all or read Cinema Strikes Back, you'll know how crazy he is for this movie. For me personally, he's talked it up to the point where I was actually looking forward to it. I guess another geek confession is needed here.
I was just never a big Kung-Fu guy. Maybe I just rented the stupid horror and action movies instead of the stupid kung-fu flicks or maybe I was busy watching cinemax late at night instead of wherever they played the kung-fu but really the most into martial arts that I ever got was during that whole American Ninja phase, and to tell you the truth most of that was just about the cool outfit and the throwing stars. So when I watch a kung-fu movie now... I'm dazzled by the fight choreography and the photography (if they're good), but am usually never really invested in any of the characters or plot or anything and usually get pretty bored with them in the non-fight scenes. I guess there are always exceptions and when a movie is great it's great no matter what the genre is, but it's just not my favorite. I haven't seen enough of them to know the stars or the different styles or any of that, and since knowing Blake it sounds like the best ones are only out on region 2 DVD so it'd be hard for me to play catch-up... but there you go, I am not a big fan of Kung-Fu movies.
That said, there are certain aspects that I think I love more since I'm kind of an outsider to the genre. For instance, I LOVE the formality and seeming clarity in the difference of styles. Like Tiger Claw is Tiger Claw and Snake Fist is Snake Fist and if you're gonna mix the two together, you will flat-out confuse your opponents. And not only that, but you'll feel compelled to stop the fight and tell them the name of your new style so they can tell you back whether it's very good or if it sucks. You'd think a clear winner or loser would say this on its own but apparently not. If you've just gotten your Mantis Claw ass handed to you by the drunken style, you are pretty much forced to spit some blood and dirt out of your mouth and say "his drunken style beat my mantis claw." It's almost like a more-complex version of rock-paper-sissors.
-Ahh, I see your monkey style beats my snake fist, but two snake fists is no match for you.
-shit, you're right.
I also get a kick out of watching the styles themselves, and I suppose that must be the main draw for most of the kung-fu fans out there, but mostly I like the rules of it.
So obviously the best part of this movie is the footage with a real cobra going up against a real (chained up) monkey. Yes there's fight scenes with guys who use either Snake Fist or Monkey (as well as most of the movie being about Drunken style), but the real action, the real "no animals were NOT harmed in the making of this movie" moment is watching the monkey fight the snake. There's some great slow-motion (and even freeze-frame) shots of this battle... ending with the monkey full-on getting the snake's head between his fanged teeth (i call the monkey a he because of his pretty big monkey balls). it's a pretty crazy battle that had way more tension for me than any of the choreographed actor stuff... although it also acted as cool inspiration for the main dude to learn the monkey technique while watching the fight and meld it with his drunken style to create... the hook style? I was hoping for a somewhat cooler name... maybe along the lines of Orangatang style or drunken baboon style but... oh well. Apparently it works even if it has a weak name like Hook style.
This leads me to the other thing I really love about kung-fu movies. Most of them that I've seen have a ridiculously long fight scene to end the movie but when that death blow comes, the movie is OVER. No coda, no denoument, no shrink spouting psycho-babble to a room full of cops... no nothing. There's the deathblow and that's it. FIN - END - get the hell out of the theater. After such a long build-up, it's a really celebratory moment of ecstasy... and it always ends like... too early... but not really because if it went on even one frame longer then it wouldn't be as cool.
So that's it for this movie. It's relatively simple. Even QT's intro was pretty short... he was like "I don't think there's anything else you need to know about it." Sort of like Snakes on a Plane in that respect. The movie's called Snake in Monkey's Shadow, there you go. This was definitely not a bad kung-fu movie... I just couldn't help myself to not be as into it as Blake. That's taste for ya...
So several lobby conversations later I'm home writing this up. Blake told me that not only did QT leave early but he was also spotted flat-out head-back mouth-open asleep during the movie. Hey, the guy's in full pre-production... I'm not suprised. Still though, I walked out to the lobby thinking if i refused to leave they might relent and play a random midnight movie... it felt like a Tarzoon-equivalent would've capped the night perfectly, but oh well. It's still freakin almost 4am right now so I guess it's late enough... plus there's tomorrow... and the next day... and on and on till Sunday. I freakin love QT fest, man... How am I gonna sleep now?