is more deadly, Angela Mao Ying’s hapkido or George Lazenby’s mustache? It had
better be Mao, because the one-and-done Bond eventually shaves his ‘stache to
throw off the bad guys. It is all part of the sex-and-drugs-and-martial arts
glory of Feng Huang’s Stoner (trailer here), which is
included in The Angela Mao Ying Collection now available from Shout Factory.
Stoner is an Australian cop, whose girlfriend was deliberately hooked on a new
form of sexually-charged heroin in retribution for his relentless
investigations. Sometimes they also say he is American, but that would make him
one of those Yankee coppers that drive on the left side of the road. Either
way, its not worth getting hung up on.
Li Shou-hua is also a cop, who has been sent undercover into Hong Kong from
Taiwan to investigate the mysterious syndicate that keeps buying creaky decommissioned
freighters at auction for ridiculous prices. They are both investigating the
same outfit, but drug lords have no idea the shy young immigrant selling sodas
on a desolate stretch of beach is actually a lethal martial artist.
they see Stoner coming from a mile away and put Agnes Wong Yen-yen, their
designated femme fatale, on the case. After a contrived meeting, they capture a
blackmail shot of Stoner in bed with Wong. Yet, it really doesn’t seem to
bother him because, A: it’s the 1970s and B: she’s hot.
fact, you really cannot get much more 1970s than this. Supposedly, the bare
bones of Stoner were originally
conceived as a vehicle for Bruce Lee and Sonny Chiba, but the latter dropped
out after the former’s tragic death. Frankly, it is impossible to glean much of
the initial concept from the final film that is Stoner. The irony further compounded with the casting of Betty Ting
Pei (in whose apartment Lee somewhat scandalously passed away) as the temptress
in an incredibly funky soundtrack and some wild psychedelic interludes (that go
on much longer than they should because they are designed to accommodate bare
breasts) and you have cult movie gold. Believe it or not, Stoner is not a perfect film. Huang keeps his co-leads plugging
away separately for way too long and he somewhat favors the title character
over Mao’s Li. Still, it is wildly entertaining when they take on the collected
bad guys (while Stoner fights off a dose of horndog H).
usual, Mao throws down with grace and authority, just generally commanding the
screen in all respects. It is important to remember the love-him-or-hate-him
Bond also had skills, which is why the Broccolis hired him in the first place.
Ting adds some smart, saucy smolder as Wong and you knew Sammo Hung had to be
in here as one of the chief henchmen.
This is the sort of film you can watch over and
over and over again. The normal critical standards do not apply—it just
delivers. Highly recommended for fans of Mao, Ting, Hung, and Lazenby (you know
who you are), Stoner is now available
on DVD as part of Shout Factory’s Angela
Mao Ying Collection.
Labels: Angela Mao, Betty Ting Pei, DVD, George Lazenby, Hong Kong Cinema, Martial arts cinema