J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Fists of Fury: Kung Fu Clips of Death

In the 1970s and early 1980s, the Kung Fu movies were almost as deadly as the fashions. You will indeed see feathered hair, particularly during a clip for our hostess with the mostess, marital arts legend Cynthia Rothrock. However, her timing and delivery are clearly better suited to action than comedy. Still, there is nostalgia to be found in Charles Band’s Kung Fu clip compilation film Fists of Fury (trailer here) which is now available on DVD from Full Moon Features.

You can’t even call Fists the That’s Entertainment of Kung Fu, because it doesn’t cherry-pick iconic scenes. It merely stitches together vintage coming attractions, sort of in the tradition of Drafthouse’s Trailer War, but some of these films are no particularly obscure. For one thing, there is a lot of love for Angela Mao Ying, but that is understandable, because we have a lot of love for her too. It also makes us think Nora Miao is way overdue for a retrospective of her own.

Not to sound grouchy, but Full Moon really could have at least digitally removed the grainy European subtitles half-visible in some trailers. Yet, the awesomeness still shines through for a number of these films. Frankly, it is nice to see Kao Pao-shu get her due as a pioneering woman director in the trailer for Bandits, Prostitutes, and Silver, starring Mao. It is also cool to see Pan Pan Yeung get the A Star is Born treatment in the trailer for The Story of Drunken Master, which appears to be the only collected teaser that featured original footage.

Fists will definitely make you want to watch many of the films teased by the trailers. For instance, Hammer’s Shatter, co-starring Peter Cushing and Lily Li looks like it would make a dynamite double feature paired with Stoner (not included, but too good not to plug). It is also know before Debbie Allen was directing episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and A Different World, she appeared in more reputable projects, like Ebony, Ivory, and Jade, a martial arts thriller about Olympic athletes sold into white slavery.

However, many of these trailers are probably already available on YouTube, like the one for Wonder Women, in which Nancy Kwan’s Dr. Tsu tells Ross Hagen: “it is possible for me to transplant any body part.” You can insert your own joke when he replies: “any body part?” In fact, you will have to, because there is no MST3K style running commentary and the comedy bits in between are excruciatingly painful. All you’re really getting with Fists is curation and compilation. Still, some of these films are just a blast no matter how chopped and diced up they are. Fists of Fury is not really recommended per se, but once you start watching, it is hard to stop, sort of like the infomercials for 1980s one-hit-wonder compilations on late night television. It is now available on Amazon, so there you have it.

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