Sunday, November 24, 2013

Honourable Mention: The Dragon Lives Again

Also known as The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu, released in 1977 and directed by Kei Law, to say that the Dragon Lives Again is most definitely an understatement.

This is an example of a Bruceploitation movie – one of a series of films that were made with Bruce Lee look-a-likes to cash in following the great martial artist’s untimely death. This is perhaps more of a homage than many given that it actually features Bruce Lee (Siu-Lung Leung) as a full on character. It is also a weird, psychedelic mess of a film with Kung Fu.

Bruce as Kato
Essentially Bruce Lee has died and his body appears in the afterlife. The King of the Underworld (Tang Ching) sees something strange with the body (looking, for the world, like Bruce has an erection under the sheet that covers him). The concubines of the king certainly seem interested and through their conversation we discover that the faces and bodies of those who have died change and this explains much that we will see through the film I guess and is, of course, awfully convenient. The protruding article is actually his nunchaku and when it is taken he awakens. The king shows why he is the king (he can cause earthquakes) but Bruce is allowed to keep his weapon and go and live peaceably in the afterlife.

Eric Tsang as Popeye
Unfortunately the afterlife is not particularly peaceful. The triad own a lot of the action, led by the Godfather (Ie Lung Shen). He has minions in the form of James Bond (Alexander Grand), Emmanuelle (Jenny), Clint Eastwood (Bobby Canavarro) in the guise as the Man with No Name and Zaitoichi (Mei Wong). He is working with the Exorcist (Fong Yau) in order that they might depose the King. From our point of view their alliance with Dracula (Hsi Chang) and his army of zombies is the important part of the film. Incidentally Bruce gains allies on the form of Caine (from the Kung Fu series), Popeye (Eric Tsang) and the one-armed swordsman (Lik Cheung).

Hsi Chang as Dracula
During the film Bruce decides to take it to the bad guys, as it were. For some reason he does this dressed as Kato – which, of course, was the character that Bruce Lee played in the Green Hornet – and goes after Dracula. He fights the vampire and his zombie minions (who are guys masked and dressed in onesies with prints of skeletons on them). The fight is shorter than many in the film and Dracula is very quickly defeated with a boot into the face.

mummies assemble
Later in the film we do get a horde of mummies fighting Bruce, but they have nothing to do with Dracula. With some saucy nudity, fighting, crazy characters and interludes where people talk about Bruce Lee’s manhood this is a crazy, crazy film. The presence of Dracula gets it a honourable mention but be warned it is probably one of the most surreal martial arts films you’ll ever see.

The imdb page is here.

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