Thursday, September 25, 2008

The yellow peril

Had I not known that I'd be seeing last night, for Weird Wednesday, my first since arriving in town, The Man From Hong Kong would have certainly made my Twelve, the 12 hard-to-see movies that I've personally never viewed before.

The movie stars Wang Yu and George Lazenby, which is all I ever needed to know. Both of these actors are underappreciated talents and personalities, bringing them together for an Australian martial arts movie, well, that's just too much.

And that's not even getting Sammo Hung in a small role as well as being the martial arts choreographer.

Unfortunately, it's about damn impossible to get one's hands on.

Adding the appearance of writer/director Brian Trenchard-Smith to the showing was unnecessary in getting my to the theater, but certainly made the experience all the more enjoyable. I confess to not having been terribly aware of the specifics of his career previously.

In fact, at one point he was going on about the movie Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! and the era of Australian cinema it covers, and I was tempted to shout out "Dead End Drive-In!" before thinking better of it, but not realizing until I got home that he was in fact the director of this longtime favorite of mine.

I had seen Turkey Shoot (aka Escape 2000) just weeks ago. Literally just before my move.

Wearing a loud Australian Jesus shirt and having a solid sense of humor about himself and his body of work, which gave a perfect introduction to the movie itself, which should be enjoyed but not taken too seriously. Ideally with an excitable crowd that's prepared to follow the movie's rhythm and sense of humor.

It would have been enough to get me to his other appearances today, including a Terror Thursday showing of Turkey Shoot, if I hadn't had other things going on.

He revived my interest in Megiddo: The Omega Code 2. I've always been impressed with the titular reference to Megiddo, from which the word Armageddon comes, but was afraid of the whole Christian message crap. But a guy who proudly wears Australian Jesus shirts may bring exactly the kind of attitude I'd like to that.

I also notice, scanning over pages about him, that he writes a blog, The Genre Director, that I will indeed have to follow from here on out.

The movie was much more beautiful than I expected. Russell Boyd was the cinematographer and John Seale was assistant cameraman. But it was also a remarkably sharp and colorful print.

Aside from there being less sleazy Lazenby than I would have preferred, I have no serious complaints about the movie itself. It's a blast! It's a heavy action, big explosion, kung fu rockin', smashin' cars kind of drive-in movie that understands what its supposed to deliver and delivers it with a smile. The title of this post is what Trenchard-Smith said he wanted to call the movie. Apparently producer Raymond Chow was less amused by it, but it would indeed have tipped the movie's hand somewhat better than The Man From Hong Kong, although that does work.

The thing that most excited me, however, and can be seen briefly in the trailer:

That's actually George Lazenby on fire!

For anyone who was there, yes, I was the jackass who asked if it was and then blissfully stated that was "awesome".

It is!

I was then told that he apparently did sustain a painful burn from the experience, which did very little to dissuade me from thinking it's awesome.

As I state above, I love Lazenby and would have been first in line to get him something to salve a burn in the moment. I'd also completely understand his pain and frustration in receiving a burn in the moment.

It happens I grew up around blacksmiths and even worked as one for nearly five years. My ability to feel too bad about a non-scarring burn one received thirty years ago is next to nil... and when compared with the image of James Bond on fire, even that fades into nothing...

I remain terribly excited that Trenchard-Smith talked him into doing the stunt, and pleased with Lazenby for ultimately having the balls to do it. That's moviemaking!


Kimberly said...

Great clip! I haven't seen this movie but now I want to. It sounds like it was a fun showing.

Neil Sarver said...

Thanks! It was fun.

I don't know why a movie like this isn't on DVD frankly, but frankly I never do understand these things...

Marty McKee said...

The fight with Grant Page in the restaurant is incredible...and apparently shot in sequence, when you notice Page split his trousers in the kitchen. But, really, everything about this movie is incredible. Jimmy Wang Yu's mojo with the ladies...Sammo running up that bigass rock...Jigsaw cranking "Sky High". It is on DVD, but not R1. I don't recall which region.

Neil, don't tell me you haven't seen STUNT ROCK!!!!

Neil Sarver said...

It is a blast of a movie. I'm with you all the way!

I saw that it was available on an off-region DVD when I was working on this review - Interesting that Scarecrow didn't have a copy! I'll have to look into picking one up once I get myself situated.

And, no, I haven't seen Stunt Rock, but they did show the trailer the other night, and I must rectify that... SOON!

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