Wednesday, 29 December 2010
Trailer for the Indonesian colonial war movie DAREDEVIL COMMANDOS (1985) starring Barry Prima, from Rapi Films.
The cover scans are both Danish. The cover text reads: "An exiting 5 star action movie from the inhumane war hell of the jungle", haha. Five star film!? o_O
Tuesday, 28 December 2010
In the past, I've written about the possibility of this ever happening and now it's indeed reality!! Someone in the UK owns a mega rare 35mm print of the original English dubbed version of Bruce Lee's THE BIG BOSS and they've put it up for purchase. Not as a hardcopy but only as download.
Like I've said before, I'm not particularly interested in English dubbed versions of Hong Kong films but with this one it's a different matter. The background makes it interesting! After the original Mandarin language print was made, an English dubbed print was made for export and distributed to certain Middle Eastern territories. When Bruce Lee watched this version he completely hated the dub, and when the film was bought for American distribution the Americans (I assume) thought the dub was too crappy and had a new one made.
This new dub is the one that was distributed to the rest of the world. The original English dubbed version quickly disappeared and was never released to any home-cinema format. A few years ago VideoAsia in the US (yes, the bootleg company VideoAsia!!) announced they were going to release this rare version on DVD but it never happened! It's widely believed by fans that "someone" "asked" the company not to release it. Well, anyway, it seems it's finally here!
I've got confirmation from a fan that the uploaded version is real and not bogus (he's got a copy!) and it's finally out now. Unfortunately, con-artists who claim to have lost/rare prints in the Kung Fu community isn't an unknown phenomenon! I must admit I had my doubts as to this ever being released (altho, of course, it's not a real release but you know what I mean).
Now we just need someone to dig out THE BIG BOSS, PART 2 (the Lo Lieh film) from the realm of lost Hong Kong films, and not to mention the fully uncut Mandarin print of THE BIG BOSS (including the mystical saw-in-head scene!). How awesome would that be!!!
The original trailer with the rejected dub:
Wednesday, 13 October 2010
Thanks to my French Canadian friend Matt over in Korea I now own a remastered, uncut, and subtitled print of the legendary Filipino horror movie ZUMA!! Yay!!! I've had a dvd-r dupe of ZUMA for quite some time but the film is in Tagalog and needless to say the Japanse VHS doesn't have English subs. ZUMA has never been released in an English friendly edition anywhere so it goes without saying that this is a custom made version. I don't download from torrent sites but I'm aware that a subtitled version of the Japanese VHS has been available for a while. However, firstly the Japanese VHS is missing no less than FIVE minutes and apparently the print wasn't all that good (and out of sync too). This new print has the missing scenes re-inserted (from a TV print), and Matt has remastered the print and re-synced the audio. Oh, and he also did the way cool cover you see in the above!! Cheers, Matt.
Matt also sent me a subtitled and uncut fan edit that he did of POSSESSED II and a properly letterboxed edition of the Indo flick HUNGRY SNAKE WOMAN (starring Suzzanna). More YAY!!!
Sunday, 10 October 2010
In 1972 Chris Mitchum and Olivia Hussey both starred in Antonio Isasi-Isasmendi's Italian/Spanish/French co-production SUMMERTIME KILLER. That film has become somewhat of a cult movie but actually already in 1971 Mitchum and Hussey joined forces in the Thai/Hong Kong co-production H-BOMB. After having just watched the film it seems to me that this is a co-production where the Hong Kong part is probably just the money aspect of it. The director, P. Chalong, and most of the cast is from Thailand, the film was shot in Thailand, and everything reeks of Thai. Well, apart from the gwailo actors in the lead roles, obviously.
Edit: H-BOMB was actaully made in 1973 after SUMMERTIME KILLER!
I tried to get hold of this on video about a year ago when it was listed on eBay but lost out to another bidder. Well, good thing too cos I'm pretty sure all the old video versions are fullscreen (like the ones used for the Youtube clips) and guess what; Joy Sales just put out a fully letterboxed print!
I received my copy from DDDHOUSE in Hong Kong today and watched the movie right away. And what can I say other than it's great fun! It's a mess... but a fun mess, haha. One reviewer on IMDb writes:
[ ]...entire thing feels like it was edited by a bunch of blind chimpanzees...NO! Scratch that! DRUNK blind chimpanzees!
- and, uhh, that pretty much sums it up. LOL. However, just as that reviewer says later on in his review, H-BOMB is totally entertaining. A lot of stuff doesn't make sense but screw that; It's a fun movie! There, I've said it three times now!
The plot is about some crooks in Thailand having stolen a... wait for it... H-bomb! And they're basically up to no good. In addition to this they've bumped off the two best secret agents the US had to offer. What to do, what to do. Hmm, the US and the UN could have sent in troops, the terror squad, the local CID, the police, Scotland Yard, a whole army of secret agents. But no, they send in... Chris Mitchum. Hahaha. It's so fucken hilarious, I mean millions of lives are at stake here and they send in one single agent to solve the case (and they don't even tell the Thais so a couple of times our hero is about to get arrested!!).
Anyway, enough about the convoluted plot (which was most likely written on the back of a beer coaster). Suffice to say there's lots of action and of course Olivia Hussey is a babe. The print that Fortune Star/Joy Sales have released is as I mentioned earlier a good looking letterboxed print. Well, "good looking" in its being letterboxed but unfortunately it's an old scratched print that was used as a door-stop for 20 yrs. It's got a lot of scratches. As with so many of these releases from FS/JS's this one gets a VCD release way before we're rewarded with a DVD so that's all there is for now. But like I said earlier, even tho I haven't watched any of the old video releases this probably looks better than those due to its letterboxed status. There's only one audio track, which fortunately is the English dub (with Chinese subs in the black bar). Now, if this hadn't been so entertaining in a crappy, rough and even gritty way I might have been more annoyed by the fact that the two main actors are dubbed by someone else than themselves but it wasn't a big deal. There a bit of gore and nudity as well (one beheading and our friend Chris visits a bar with nudie dancing). Recommended!
Pretty cool fan made trailer for SUMMERTIME KILLER:
Tuesday, 5 October 2010
[click scan for full size]
Bill Barounis (of Onar Films) posted this scan on Cinehound yesterday!!! As I'm sure you realise Bill knows the ins and outs of Greek VHS releases and according to him this tape is the ONLY copy he's ever found! And as if that wasn't enough, he also states this tape is the ONLY tape this video label ever released!! How awesome. Bill, please send me this tape!!! xD
GET MY SON DEAD OR ALIVE
(Bukang Liwayway Films)
[Philippines release date 27th May 1982]
Director Jose “Pepe” Marcos Story Felix E. Dalay Screenplay Jerry Tirazona Producer Precy Mendiola Talavera Executive Producer Jerry Paz Talavera Cinematography Rey de Leon Music Gabby Castellano Editor Gervacio Santos Art Director Rolly Sto. Domingo Production Manager Celso Paz Talavera Assistant Director Dante Javier Sound Effects Editor Rodel Capule Sound Engineer Robert Tejada Color Consultant Rafael Uy Publicity and Promotions Mar F. Cornes, Rod Samson
Cast Rudy Fernandez, Eddie Garcia, Vic Vargas, Perla Bautista, Marilou Bendigo, Phillip Gamboa, Nick Aladdin, Jing Caparas, Joseph de Cordova, Renato Del Prado, Paquito Diaz, Ernie Forte, Baldo Marro, Jose Romulo, Jun Santos, Larry Silva, Vilma Vitug (Vilma) [Greek VHS cover also lists “Rechard Folk” and Joan Beck]
Monday, 13 September 2010
BURADOR, ANG BABAING SUGO (Philippines, 2000)
Check out this trailer; it's a remake of the French classic LA FEMME NIKITA from the Philippines!!! And it looks awesome! The Nikita character is played by Filipino actress January Isaac who starred in a bunch of action film from 1997 thru to 2004. EDIT (2021): I believe she lives in the US now.
I posted the trailer on my Filipino blog recently but it NEEDS to be posted here as well cos it's just too cool!! And, uh, also cos my extensive search for a copy of the film has brought me... nothing. I'm pretty sure it was only released on VHS and maybe there's a VCD in the Philippines. The trailer was uploaded by Dvdmaniacs member Robert who's located in the US and he tells me the trailer stems from a locally released tape (with a different film) that his parents rented many years ago.
Unfortunately, Robert doesn't have the film either. If any of you have a copy... well, you know in which direction to send a DVD-R (hint hint). Unfortunately, I have a feeling a copy isn't gonna turn up any day soon. Boo-hoo.
EDIT: ARRGGGGHHHHHH!!!!! The uploader closed his account and I forgot to download the trailer!!! [and yes I'm kicking myself in the head] If anybody else has the trailer could you please upload it again. Cheers.
EDIT NO. 2: Thanks (big thanks!) to a tip from an awesome reader the trailer is now here again A-N-D I even have the full film as well now (check link in comments' section)!!! xD
- And this time I've made bloody well sure to download the trailer (and film) in case it disappears again!!!
Saturday, 11 September 2010
French DVD/VHS title: LA REVANCHE DE SAMSON
How utterly awesome!! It's come to my attention (thanks to Kothar, another hardcore Indo film collector!) that Sisworo Gautama Putra's Indonesian movie SAMSON DAN DELILAH (1987) has been released on DVD in France! Actually, it seems it's been out a while and there are no less than two DVD releases and a VHS release! Gee, sometimes you think these world-weird films aren't available anywhere other than on Malay VCD and then they turn up on Euro DVD!
As I said, SAMSON DAN DELILAH is directed by Sisworo Gautama Putra who also did THE WARRIOR (aka Jaka Sembung), THE SNAKE QUEEN and SRIGALA. Check his filmography here (a much better film base for world-weird cinema than the bloody IMDb!!). I have never watched the film but I remember reading about it on Günter Müller's cool (and sadly long gone) site WEIRD ASIA. I think I might have his review on my old computer. I'll check and post it here if I do. According to the credits on CITWF the film stars none other than Indo horror queen Suzzanna! (from QUEEN OF BLACK MAGIC, SNAKE QUEEN, SUNDEL BOLONG (aka Ghost With Hole), and tons more Indo horror films).
The French title is La Revanche de Samson and you don't need fluency in French to figure out it reads "the revenge of Samson" in English. The DVD is available from eBay France and not surprisingly it's not English friendly. I don't know if it carries the original Indonesian audio.
EDIT: It doesn't.
Plot description translated by our friends at Google:
Samson, aged 11, sees his mother murdered by a soldier from the Netherlands. Now he feels an implacable hatred for the invaders in his heart. His grandfather sends him supernatural powers and makes him invulnerable. As an adult Samson is ready for revenge and no force can stop him. He survives the worst violence and the occult powers of his enemies. His actions win the sympathy of the people. Then the sumptuous Delilah decides to seduce him. Spells of love they have reason to Samson?
I tried to correct it somewhat but, uh, I think I'll just leave that last bit here. No idea what they mean. LOL.
EDIT: Holy fuck!!! Check out this clip from the film that I found on YouTube (you'll need to turn the sound down first as it's very loud):
And one more scene...
Video-cd/Malaysia/fullscreen/Indonesian audio/no subs/cut by 6 minutes!
PS. About the DVD's format and cut status: My collector friend has informed me that the DVD is both widescreen and fully uncut! In fact it runs 6 minutes longer than the Malay VCD!
Thanks to Peter (Kothar) for all the info and the VCD cover scan!
Friday, 10 September 2010
Kult Eye Bleeder went on air just over a week ago and it's already amongst the ones I check every day. And to a Filipino & Indo film aficionado it's definitely a welcome read! The writer is probably gonna include films from other territories as well but so far it's been a cool world-weird ride all the way.
What I really like about this blog writer is his ability to combine enthusiastic reviews with useful info and keeping it short! If I had a dime (or Daim if you're in Scandinavia, lol) for every time I've come across a review and the writer didn't even bother to mention who the bloody hell the director is, or who the lead actors are, or even which country the damn film was made in then... I would have a lot of dimes!
And sometimes overly enthusiastic reviewers keep going for miles on end. You'll get plot descriptions that are easily two or three times as long as the original screenplay! Please reviewers, you don't need to let us know every little detail. Godzilla took a step forward, then another one, then yet another one, and one more. He looked at King Ghidorah. King Ghidorah looked back. Then King Ghidorah also took a step forward. And another one. And one more. He looked at Godzilla. Then they began to fight. You get the point. And the Kult Eye Bleeder guy seems to know and understand this (okay, he forgets the director's name a few times but, hey, all beginnings are difficult, LOL). I hope he keeps the blog afloat, there's enough dead blogs floating in (Cyber) space already! Highly recommended. Go it out here.
[Credit where credit is due: Yes, the Godzilla example is inspired by a similar one in an ish of OC]
Tuesday, 7 September 2010
Due to a long-term relationship I lived in Melbourne (Australia) on and off from 1991-96. I had already discovered the wonders of Hong Kong cinema when I lived in London in the late 80s to '91 so I'd often go to see HK movies at the Chinese cinemas in Melbourne.
Every week the cinemas would put out cheap "two-tone" coloured flyers that you could pick up and needless to say I tried to collect them all. Unfortunately, most of mine are long gone by now but the one I probably remember the most is this one that I'm using in this post.
The funny thing is that this isn't a scan of my own copy but a scan made by someone else who also went to the same cinemas in Melbourne during the same period. The funny (i.e. funny weird) thing is that we never met. Well, actually we most likely did but I guess we never had a reason to speak to get into a conversation (other than maybe "hey mate you're a Gwilo too, ay". LOL). However we would "meet" many years later. Read on.
Mind you, we were easy to spot in those days as we would have been some of the very few white guys there. This may be hard to imagine to fans of Asian cinema in 2010 but 20 years ago these films were only beginning to get discovered by fans outside of Asia. And by "fans" I don't mean fans of mainstream or arthouse cinema but hardcore horror and splatter movie fans who would be reading photocopied fanzines and trying to seek out new movies to deliver the guts and gore. If you're 20 years old you might think I'm trying to pull your leg but believe it or not but we didn't actually have access to computers or the Internet as we do nowadays. I know, sounds wild! It was a different world back then.
The same actually goes for animé; What many people forget these days (or don't know) is that in 1990 these Japanese cartoons weren't discovered by little 13 y.o. nerdy fanboys but by fans who lived on a steady diet of RE-ANIMATOR and TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE PART II type films, and these fans kept trying to seek out new thrills. Well, they (i.e. WE) sure found them.
Many years later after I'd left Melbourne someone left a comment on my other blog in regards to a post about a John Woo film and although he didn't say who he was I recognised him right away as a reviewer named Mark Savage from an Aussie film fanzine called Fatal Visions. I used to buy the mag and remembered him clearly because he used to do a regular section on HK cinema. With each new ish I'd always flick quickly thru the pages and read (devour) that section right away! LOL. Later he also became a film director in his own right but that's not really important in this regard.
- And incidentally this was the very same guy that I never got to meet in the darkness of the Melbourne Chinatown cinemas!
It's weird to think that we could have the same hardcore interest in HK's new wave cinema, and we could go to the same movies for 6 yrs, and yet we wouldn't meet until 13 years later when he's in the US and I'm in Scandinavia and it happens on-line! Hah! I remember writing to him saying it was a pity we never met back then and he said "sure is". Life is weird sometimes, just like the films on this blog, LOL.
Go to Mark's blog for more flyers.
Monday, 6 September 2010
Brilliant news!! The last couple of days I've been asking around to see if there's a proper DVD release of Cirio H. Santiago's TNT JACKSON from 1974 available anywhere. The film is a Filipino/American co-production with Roger Corman's company, and it stars renowned Oxford trained character actress Jeannie Bell in the lead (alright-alright, her training was from being a Playboy Playmate but that's even better, lol).
Santiago liked the film so much that he later remade it not once but twice (as Firecracker aka Naked Fist in 1981, and Angelfist in '92)! There are about (at least) 10 different DVD releases of the film in the US but they're all public domain releases and they certainly look like public domain. They look like ass. My old Danish ex-rental VHS looks heaps better. The cover on this page is from the sell-thru release but they're almost identical.
Anyway, the news from today is that Cliff Mac and his cool Shout label are putting TNT JACKSON out next year on DVD with another Cirio H. Santiago film called SAVAGE!!! Great news or what! I have no idea if there's any DVD releases of SAVAGE but I wouldn't be surprised if there's only similar multo crappy public domain shit available. Obviously, I have the film on Danish ex-rental VHS, haha (thanks heaps to Diabolik/Hans-Jørgen!).
I couldn't find a trailer on YouTube so here's a bit from the film. You don't need to watch it all just check a couple of minutes. The entire film is on YouTube's film upload channel but it's the same crappy DVD version that probably would make any grindhouse cinema proud. Awful picture, awful sound, jumpy print at reel ends, the lot. Wait for the new DVD or get a copy of (or off) a video tape.
Jeannie Bell was also in Santiago's THE MUTHERS and a few more film and TV things like "Ironside" and ""Kolchak: The Night Stalker". I have no idea what she's up to these days.
Wednesday, 1 September 2010
And here's Oshima with Sammo Hung on the set of DON'T GIVE A DAMN:
On the set of FIST OF LEGEND with Jet Li:
And check the Osh doing hard work on this film set in Mainland China (again, no info on which film it is):
And finally a pretty boring segment but she's just so damn cute. xD.
NB: Jesus Manuel informed me that the third film in the "Yukari in China" video is from DRUG FIGHTERS, a movie she did with Yuen Wah. Thanks, JM.
Monday, 30 August 2010
Friday, 27 August 2010
If you have never come across any of the JAKA SEMBUNG films starring Barry Prima you have been missing out on some WILD cinema!! The Jaka Sembung series, or THE WARRIOR as it's known in English, is a series of totally awesome and highly entertaining adventure films from Indonesia. Gory adventure films I might add! In short the series deal with the historical freedom fighter Jaka Sembung who fought the Dutch imperialists when they occupied Indonesia until fairly recently. A rather amusing detail is that one of the markets where the films have been most widely distributed on video is actually Holland. Indonesia's old scurge. :-D
The first film is THE WARRIOR (original title: Jaka Sembung Sang Penakluk) from 1981. It's directed by Sisworo Gautama Putra and stars Barry Prima in the lead role as Jaka Sembung. Also Eva Arnaz and Dana Christina are featured. Just like Barry Prima they starred in tons of genre films in the 80s. Barry Prima stars as the main character thru out the whole series. Here's a trailer for THE WARRIOR:
Fortunately, THE WARRIOR is easy to get hold of as it has been released on a spiffy wee disk by those gents from Mondo Macabro, Pete Tombs and Andy Starke. The first film is also out on a handful of different video releases, both in Greece, Holland, and the UK. There are also versions dubbed into other languages such as German. Beware of the UK tape as it's cut. It's missing no less than 31 seconds!!!
Unfortunately, the Mondo Macabro release is the only DVD of any of the films in the series. :-( Mondo Macabro were considering to put out the four sequels which would have been amazing not least since the last two films have never been released outside of Indonesia/Malaysia, nor have they ever been dubbed or subtitled into English. However, unfortunately the MM's DVD hardly didn't sell at all! According to Pete Tombs (from his posts on Cinehound message board) many "fans" were happy enough with downloading the film (illegally) from torrent sites. It's terrible to think that because of this we may never see proper DVD releases of these sequels.
Here's my VHS from Holland:
The second film in the series is THE WARRIOR AGAINST THE BLIND SWORDSMAN (original title: Si Buta Lawan Jaka Sembung). Directed by Dasri Yacob, 1983. The film was released on VHS in Greece, Holland and the UK. The UK tape is cut by 5 seconds. Check out the trailer here:
As the title suggests Jaka Sembung teams up with the blind swordsman character (it's a slightly odd title as they're actually not fighting each other but teaming up against the oppression!). The blind swordsman later returned in the spin-off sequel simply entitled THE BLIND WARRIOR (more on that later).
And here's my Dutch VHS cover for the film:
The last English dubbed THE WARRIOR sequel (unless you count the spin-off as a sequel) is THE WARRIOR AND THE NINJA (original title: Bajing Ireng Dan Jaka Sembung). Directed by H. Tjut Djalil (1983) who also directed LADY TERMINATOR, MYSTICS IN BALI, and many more. Some sources claim THE WARRIOR AND THE NINJA is aka The Warrior 2 but my Dutch VHS release clearly labels THE WARRIOR AGAINST THE BLIND SWORDSMAN as films #2. But whether the two films were swapped around in some territories I don't know. But my gut feeling tells me it's merely a fuck-up by fans who didn't spend enough time on their research.
EDIT: After I wrote this article and originally posted it on my other blog it has come to my attention that there's a good chance THE WARRIOUR AND THE NINJA is indeed film #2 in the series. It doesn't matter that much tho in regards to viewing enjoyment as they're totally unrelated in their plot lines.
Here's the trailer for NINJA:
And here's my Greek VHS release which is the one to go for as it's letterboxed. There's also a letterboxed tape from Australia but finding that one is probably more rare than getting laid at a dike slumber party (to coin an old Damon Foster joke, haha). Unfortunately, all the video versions I've seen are too dark during the night scenes. The best version (during the night scenes) is actually the Malay VCD where you can see what the bloody hell is going on, LOL. Unfortunately, it's in Indonesian, it's fullscreen, and pixelates all over the place. There are als Dutch and UK releases. Amazingly enough the UK tape is uncut according to the BBFC. :-O
The last two sequels are BERGOLA IJO , dir: Arizal (1983) and JAKA SEMBUNG DAN DEWI SAMUDRA, dir: Atok Sugiarto (1990). None of them have English titles and I haven't been able to find any trailers for them, nor do I have any scans of the VCD covers. But anyway, regardless of how rare these films are (apart from #1) or that two of them aren't in English, if you enjoy wild and crazy movies then you really ought to check out the JAKA SEMBUNG / THE WARRIOR series.
And finally, the bastard 6th film in the series; the spin-off sequel THE BLIND WARRIOR (original title: Neraka perut bumi) in which the blind warrior character from THE WARRIOR AND THE BLIND SWORDSMAN makes a return. Directed by RATNO TIMOER in 1987. Timoer also did THE DEVIL'S SWORD (also released by Mondo Macabro, and highly recommended!) and many more. In contradiction to the "real" THE WARRIOR sequels this was actually released on DVD - twice even!! In the UK and Germany (both DVD's carry English and German dubs). Unfortunately both DVD's are long out of print but at least you have to chance of getting a copy from a friend. There was also a German dubbed VHS and an English dubbed VHS was released in Hong Kong (with Chinese subs). If you can find a copy of that video you're one lucky fellar cos it's very rare.
The German VHS which basically uses the same cover as for the German and UK DVD releases.
[click scan for full size]
There's no trailer for THE BLIND WARRIOR on YouTube so here's a clip from the film instead. It's... over the top - as is the entire series!!! You should try and find them.
THE WARRIOR AGAINST THE BLIND SWORDSMAN and THE WARRIOR AND THE NINJA are available from Far East Flix (yes, they are boots off Dutch video tapes). The picture quality equals VHS quality.
Friday, 13 August 2010
Go ahead and watch the above rare trailer for what seems to be a WILD Filipino snake queen movie!! There's dwarfs, flying batmen, brick monster-men, killer snakes left and right, a creepy decapitated talking head, nudity, and the lovely Maria Gil with a head full of snakes!!!
There has been some confusion between BRUKA, QUEEN OF EVIL and another film entitled DEVIL WOMAN. Both films star the same actress (Rosemarie Gil) in the lead role, and in both films she plays a similar "snake woman" character.
This has led some fans to believe they are alternative titles for the same film. This is not correct; They are two different movies. DEVIL WOMAN was released on VHS by Something Weird Video in the States and is fairly easy to get on bootleg.
Unfortunately, it seems BRUKA, QUEEN OF EVIL is a lost film! Nobody has it!! So watch the trailer and boil your eyes out cos as of now that is all you're gonna get. :-(
At one point, I got in contact with someone who said they had a friend who had a copy of the film but I was unable to get a copy from him. Did he have a copy? Does a copy exist? Does anybody have a copy? I have no idea. If anybody out there has a copy or knows of one please get in tough. Cheers.
UPDATE: Check Andrew Leavold's comment in the comments section: He has found a copy of BRUKA!!! And it is now available thru download sites (and bootleggers are creaming themselves over it, obviously).
[Mexican lobby card for DEVIL WOMAN]
I don't know if Maria Gil became typecast in snake woman roles but the fact is she starred in several other snake films as well, altho she doesn't quite play a snake queen with a head-full of writing snakes for hair. In NIGHT OF THE COBRA WOMAN she plays the servant of a snake woman. I haven't seen BLACK MAMBA. These films were all made in the Philippines and are from the early 1970s. Maria Gil is still active and I believe she is currently working in television.
Apart from the Mexican lobby card (which I'm happy to report I'm the proud owner of) all scans are from Fred Adelman, thanks mate, except for the MANDA/DEVIL WOMAN poster which came from Mads Jensen.
Friday, 6 August 2010
DVD/Thailand/Thai audio/English subs
by Andrew Leavold
Thai Spies & Ladyboys’ Thighs: *Golden Eagle* (Insee Thong, 1970)
The Seventies and Eighties saw a number of Thai genre films - mainly kung fu movies, as was the flavour du jour - exported on cinema screens in the West, via international co-productions or by deals with Hong Kong distributors. Pre-kung fu era films from Thailand are another beast altogether, from a thriving local cinema that never travelled past its own borders, and from an industry that had no real interest in preserving its own heritage. It's a miracle the film has survived at all, let alone in its current choppy, mutilated, dragged-through-the-paddy-field version. However, there are subtitles, if you can forgive the translator's tenuous grasp on the English language AND basic typing skills.
Red Eagle (or Insee Daeng) was the red-masked vigilante hero of a phenomenally popular series of post-war Thai pulp novels. The first screen adaption in 1963 starred Mitr Chaibancha, without a doubt the most popular Thai screen idol of the Sixties. A former boxer, his athleticism fared well for action roles, and he performed most of his own stunts until his premature end...but more about that later. As a result, it's estimated Chaibancha starred in between a third and half of all Thai films of the period. That's literally hundreds of Thai films, the majority of which are lost to the winds of time, including an entire series of Red Eagle adventures.
Its final instalment, Golden Eagle from 1970, was produced and directed by its star Chaibancha, and it's an ambitious actioner from an all-round auteur clearly at the top of his game. By evening Mitr is Rome, a lovable if messy drunk, fraidy-cat and frequent social embarrassment to his faithful girlfriend Oy (Chaibancha's frequent co-star Petchara Chaowarat); once the mask is donned, he's a crimefighting dynamo, a super-patriot taking on all kung-fu kicking ladyboys, arrogant young communists and wizened fakirs plotting to overthrow peace, freedom and the Thai Way of Life.
In Golden Eagle, the bumbling “lush” discovers an impostor posing as Red Eagle, a member of the dreaded Red Bamboo Gang whose leader, the Fu Manchu-like Bakin, is psychically strangling the life out of extorted businessmen via a collection of red crystal Buddhas. And right under the nose of the police and Rome, too - while having dinner with the doomed Mr Serm, a box containing the deadly Buddha is delivered to their table. Rome warns him not to open it. “Who knows,” he suggests diplomatically. “There might be dog shits inside.” Shits, no, but instant death, leading our newly rechristened, golden-masked saviour through the lair of Red Bamboo associate Jiew Tong, the venomous embrace of his niece Benja, his effeminate army of pink-suited goons (straight from an off-Broadway musical reimagining of the USS Enterprise), to rescuing the pretty if ineffectual Rachanee and her kidnapped uncle Admiral in an admittedly spectacular finale at the hideaway of the hypno-master Bakin.
Straddling Superhero Chic with the Swinging Seventies, Golden Eagle is an impressive low-budget Batman-meets-Bond undermined somewhat with a low-rent humour chortling at the weak, the portly, the ugly and the girlish - you'll lose track of how many references there are to “faggots” (or “aggots”, according to the subtitles) and will either be amused or appalled at the ladyboy antics of Jiew Tong's household cavalry. Then there's the jarring, anachronistic soundtrack taken from the film's VHS release in the Eighties with a brand new soundtrack, as the original simply didn't exist. In fact, the dialogue and sound effects to most Thai films of the period were performed “live” by actors and foley artists hidden just behind the screens.
Despite its numerous technical shortcomings, Golden Eagle will forever be remembered as the crowning glory in Chaibancha's stellar career, and not for the usual reasons. The final shot of Golden Eagle was filmed in one take, with Chaibancha dangling from a helicopter's rope ladder to the strains of Where Eagles Dare's climactic theme. As the helicopter headed towards the sea, however, Chaibancha lost his grip and plummeted several hundred feet to the beach below. Original cinema prints included the shot in full; this version respectfully closes of a freeze-frame of Red Eagle still on the ladder, with Thai text describing the circumstances of their hero's demise. He died as he lived - in one take, and with the cameras rolling almost continuously. In a way, it's a privilege to share an action hero's final moments on this earth as a big-screen spectacle. It's certainly not going to appear in a closing minutes of a Hollywood film, and considering some of our so-called action heroes, you almost wish it would happen more often.
[Golden Eagle is available on English subtitled DVD from Hkflix.com as "In-Sree Tong" and from Thaicdexpress.com as "Insee thong". Thaicdexpress also has another Red Eagle film entitled "Aowasaan In See Dang"]
Originally, Andrew sent me the the above review plus "Eye of the Condor" to post on my Filipino blog, "When the Vietnam War raged... in the Philippines". However, that blog is basically devoted to trashy Filipino Vietnam War movies so it's with much pleasure I can finally post them here where they belong; on a website entirely devoted to world-weird films! :D
Fred Anderson's (Ninja Dixon) short Swedish language documentary film about Mitr Chaibancha.
VHS/Greece/fullscreen/English dubbed/Greek subs
[click scan for proper size]
by Andrew Leavold
Most Filipino B-film exports would never have made it past Manila Customs if it weren't for the efforts of Davian International Ltd, a distribution and later production company formed by Hong Kong-born David Hung and his Philippines partner Vivian Andico (hence the “Dav-“ and “-ian” the company name) in 1986. Like Bobby A. Suarez before him, Hung had already muddied his boots in the low-budget distribution trenches as one of Joseph Lai's General Managers for Intercontinental Film Distribution Ltd, and was keen to source saleable action films for his fledgling company, primarily from his own back yard. Davian purchased the international rights to Tagalog-language films, recut them from their customary two hour running times to a more serviceable 90 minutes, and supervised the dubbing into English, more often than not in Quezon City. Hung would then set up a booth at Cannes and the American Film Market and peddle his wares directly to overseas distributors. In this way, even the most generic Tagalog action film for other local producers – such as the Dante Varona vehicle Commander Lawin (1981) and The Day They Robbed America (1985) - could be given a Davian makeover and raffled off to one of their less discerning customers.
Davian also procured a pair of Thai action films, the Sorapong Chatree-starrer Cobra Thunderbolt (dir. Tanong Srichua, 1984) and Eye Of The Condor, presumably from the same period, although Davian's version bears a 1987 copyright in its closing credit. And kudos to their impeccable taste, I should add: it's an ambitious and utterly charming crime-caper featuring a jewel thief, two cops, a bald Indian, two Caucasian baddies and a squadron of dwarves, all looking for the legendary Eye of the Condor, a precious diamond (the eighth largest in the world, we're constantly reminded, and the most beautiful). The gem disappears from its owner's exhibition on his yacht in the opening sequence: pandemonium breaks out as suave shyster Kenny Hemmings swims with the Eye to a waiting speedboat and his dwarf driver takes off, allowing Kenny to escape via the hang-glider conveniently located in the boat, thus living up to his moniker The Sky Robber! His slimy American boss tries to double-cross Kenny and his stubby sidekick, but they escape once again with the diamond, and hide out with the cherubic sidekick's miniature mates and their normal-sized sister Nancy, an odd household in which Nancy plays Snow White to their Five Dwarves. That is, if Snow White was Asian. And related to the Seven Dwarves. And if there were five... They're more like hyperactive children, running around "Uncle" Kenny's ankles and causing mayhem and structural damage while he suavely woos the suitably impressed Nancy.
A pair of cops are assigned to the case of the missing Eye. the glamorous yet humorless Lieutenant Phyllis (no-one's sure if it's her first or last name) and the more laissez-faire Captain Ben Daniel, and they manage to snare Kenny, only to befriend him (awww!) use him as bait to flush out the REAL Mr Big of the Syndicate, a silver-haired slimeball who looks and sounds like a Greek shipping magnate. The diamond goes missing several more times - once at an ice factory, once in an iced coffee, and once in one of the Five Dwarves' stomach - and the film becomes an endless cat-and-mouse game winding up on the Greek Tycoon's island lair, in a protracted, gloriously over-the-top action finale worthy of a Bobby A. Suarez film. It's here our director "Chalong" (S.T.A.B. ) pulls out every trick from his Boys' Own Book of Action Theatrics. There's an invading army on jet skis, a commando squad of Indian Thuggees looking for their temple's sacred stone, and another hang-glider causing explosions galore. There are stunts on top of other stunts, and that's on top of the rest of the film's kung fu, tuk-tuk chase, mid-air knife fight, and the cheapest, ugliest furniture and sets, unfashionable EVEN for the Eighties.
Eye Of The Condor sounds like the rest of Davian's pickups, courtesy of their Quezon City dubbing team. It's not just your regular kung fu voiceovers; Davian's team use a plethora of silly and inappropriate voices, squeaks, panting and squarks, not least the penguin sounds uttered by the five munchkins. Luckily the film plays the dwarves' antics for cheap yucks, an essential ingredient in these Thai masala movies. Whether on the receiving end of a Three Stooges-style ladder gag or trotting out the old "one dwarf on the other's shoulders under a long coat pretending to be a tall person" routine, these little guys emote their hearts out and provide an added element to what's already a preposterous crime caper. I'm not sure if it's an absurdist element or the film's missing heart, but it lifts Eye Of The Condor far above most of South East Asia's relatively one-dimensional action movies into a completely new realm. And that's a tall order (f'nar, f'nar!).
Originally, Andrew sent me the the above review plus "Golden Eagle" to post on my Filipino blog, "When the Vietnam War raged... in the Philippines". However, that blog is basically devoted to trashy Filipino Vietnam War movies so it's with much pleasure I can finally post them here where they belong; on a website entirely devoted to world-weird films! :D
"LOOSE CANNONS, DANGEROUS CURVES and LEVITATING HOLY SCRIPTURES"
On Cinehound forum Pete Tombs once made the mistake of mentioning that due to a lack of space there was a full chapter that didn't make it to the Mondo Macabro book! A chapter on Lollywood cinema (i.e. Pakistani cinema) written by none other than Omar Khan who directed HELL'S GROUND (aka Zibahkhana). It was a mistake (haha) cos it meant I've kept bugging him on Cinehound ever since to put it out on their blog or website! Unfortunately, for some reason MM hasn't wanted to do so. The chapter was actually included in the Spanish language edition of the MM book. However, ... lo and behold... Omar Khan has just put out what I believe is that chapter as an eBook (or eMag, whatever) for download! Go here. I can't comment on how good it is as I haven't read it yet (and thanks to Jared for the tip).
EDIT (Sep, 2012): Unfortunately, it seems OMAR KHAN is no longer selling his chapter on Lollywood via Lulu.com. I haven't been able to find any other outlets that stock it (or is that "e-stock"?). Maybe he's given up on selling it entirely. Too bad.
by Andrew Leavold
[originally published in Rave Magazine 03/08/10]
“First she mates…then she terminates!” the posters screamed outside New York City’s fleapit cinemas back in 1988, and for once it wasn’t just some Z film producer’s huckster hyperbole. One can only imagine the 42nd Street crowd’s reaction to bizarre Indonesian splatter-sci-fi Lady Terminator, with the plot of Arnie’s first Terminator grafted onto a supernatural horror tale of a South Seas Queen possessing an ‘American’ anthropologist.
Gorgeous, big-haired Barbara Anne Constable plays both Tania and the Queen’s unstoppable killing machine, mowing down hundreds of innocent bystanders with her AK-47, while - in an unexpected riff on the original Terminator - fornicating like a banshee. Breathtakingly surreal, hyper-sleazy and violent in equal doses, and crammed with one over-the-top action setpiece after another, the film is about as loopy as Asian exploitation gets.
London-born Barbara grew up a professional dancer in Australia whose leg injury took her to Hong Kong and into the world of modeling and fashion reporting. After a chance audition for an Indonesian film company, Barbara was offered the lead role in a local Terminator ripoff: no acting experience necessary, but physical endurance was a plus. The film’s cartoon-like Indian producer Ram Soraya “met me at the airport and held up a big wad of cash in US dollars to the customs officials when I arrived. So that set the scene.”
Without warning, Barbara was plunged into the Wild West chaos of Indonesian B-filmmaking. “Everybody were smoking joints on the set, people were off their nuts! I don’t know how they got anything done.” Barbara was expected to perform her own stunts, and as a dancer that didn’t pose a problem. Even so, her pain threshold was pushed to its limits. “I had so many near misses, like half car bodies flying and missing me by two centimetres! I nearly got killed so many times during that film…” After three grueling months of clinging onto car bonnets and being burnt by bullet squibs (“serious, second-degree burns!”), the final shot was Barbara kicking through a glass door. “The glass should have shattered into small pieces. It was a real pane of effing glass!”
Her ankle was skewered by a long shard of glass, just scraping past her Achilles tendon. Production was shut down for a month – with Barbara on full wages – while a military hospital stitched her up and she regained the ability to walk. “Then I shot that last scene, the candy glass broke the way it was supposed to, and we wrapped.
“Ram Soraya called me a couple of years later and said, ‘We want you to do a comedy.’ I said no. ‘I’ll pay you double?’ ‘No, I’m not coming back. I’ll never get out otherwise!’”
Barbara accepted her role –and her fate – as Lady Terminator, on the understanding that the film would never be screened outside Indonesia. Two years later, Ram Soraya sent Barbara a Betamax copy – and a press clipping the New York Times. “I was like, ‘You’re fucking kidding me?’ I was mortified.” Even more disturbing was the ‘possession scene’, in which a brutally primitive CGI snake slithers its way into her – ahem – bikini bottoms.
“They wanted me to fall onto a bed. I was tied up, and they wanted me to look like I was possessed. That was the scene. They didn’t say, ‘Afterwards we’re going to put this friggin’ snake thing that goes up your vagina…’!”
Is Barbara still mortified, I wanted to know. “I’ve seen it since with friends over a few drinks, and just laughed all the way through it. It’s a crack-up! People were like, ‘That’s YOU? That’s weird!’ I know!”
Barbara Anne Constable introduces Lady Terminator at Tribal Theatre on Friday 6th August, followed by a Q&A with Trash Video’s Andrew Leavold
Thanks to Andrew for letting me post this interview (and also BIG thanks for the super cool news he brought me today. News about a certain VHS. More on that later!).
For the original posting of this interview go HERE.