Saturday, March 31, 2012

The shrine of ultimate bliss

David Zuzelo, writer of The Blind Dead Return and Hong Kong Hell Camp Women, among other accomplishments, posted this trailer for Stoner the other day.

Seeing this, I wasted as little time as I was able in heading to Vulcan Video and renting their copy.

Honestly, I can't see what job I could have in convincing a reader to do the same that isn't done in that trailer.

First of all, let me repeat for anyone who isn't aware, I love George Lazenby!

Yeah, I used to be over on the other side with the cool kids saying how On Her Majesty's Secret Service would be the best James Bond movie, if only it had Sean Connery or one of the other Bonds, since they're actors and not an "Australian model" like Lazenby.

Fuck it! On Her Majesty's Secret Service is the best Bond movie! (At least until Casino Royale). Lazenby gives a better performance than Connery gave in either You Only Live Twice and Diamonds Are Forever, the two surrounding movies, and pisses blood on the corpse of Roger Moore's best performance, probably For Your Eyes Only.

This stands against conventional wisdom, but as is so often the case, conventional wisdom was arrived at without any thought.

So, I'm not even sure how I've not gotten around to seeing Stoner (or A Man Called Stoner or The Shrine of Ultimate Bliss) already. This Wikipedia article states that the movie was scheduled to be the next Bruce Lee movie, following Game of Death.

I'm not sure how reasonable it is to assume that Stoner would have been the follow-up. Certainly the details, such as Warner Brothers co-funding for a Bruce vs. Bond international extravaganza, and that being pulled after Lee's death, have the ring of truth. I don't wonder if it was planned to be the next movie, only if it would have succeeded at being the next movie.

Of course, I'm not sure how helpful that train of thought it anyway.

You can watch Circle of Iron (reviewed here) and piece together clues about what Lee, James Coburn and Stirling Silliphant intended with the original treatment, "The Silent Flute".

I'm unsure what you could find in this madness by Huang Feng that would inform what it would have been like with a budget ten times this size and international distribution, not to mention the influence Warner Brothers and Lee would have had on the screenplay.

Frankly, you can almost watch while the moviemakers give up hope on making a sensible, mainstream international blockbuster and just go ahead and go nuts. I think the last straw involved Lazenby and co-star Angela Mao are in a cage being prodded by spears and he's dosed with an injection of "Happy Pills" to make him crazy and horny, for reasons I'm not sure I picked up completely.

At least that's the way it appeared to me.

You see, finding out it was intended as a tent-pole for Golden Harvest, a movie with Lazenby, Lee and/or Sonny Chiba, seeing that IMDb lists the Hong Version as 25 minutes longer and the movie as being 2.35:1. That means there's at least one substantially different movie planned than got made as well as a significantly different version of this movie that I didn't get to see.

But, much as I'd like to see those other versions, both for contrast and enjoyment, I'm only given what I saw, and I liked it a lot.

It certainly doesn't compare to The Man From Hong Kong (reviewed here), for pure energy or performance. Luckily, though, I rented them both for extra Lazenby excitement.

I've fallen behind watching insano shit! I'm glad I rented this. I need to go find more.


Peter Nellhaus said...

"Insano shit" is usually more interesting than much of the current English language cinema, both mainstream and indie.

Neil Sarver said...

I completely agree!

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