Opinion - Scorsese and Coppola Vs. the MCU: Are we focusing on the wrong argument?
October 25, 2019
Nuking The Cat
Last Refuge of the Sensible Nerd
Kung Fu Concussion Discussion - Kung Fu Arts
July 27, 2016
It’s really the only thing I remember vividly from Kung Fu Arts…aside from being utterly confused. Let’s see if the official description provided by Mill Creek Entertainment helps:
A loyal follower of the Emperor, who is engaged to his daughter, overhears a plot to assassinate him by the Emperor’s aide. The aide wishes to make himself Emperor once he’s disposed of the royal family but the soon to be son-in-law foils the assassination attempt. Unfortunately, the evil aide frames the young man for the assassination attempt and it forces him to escape from the palace and go into hiding. While in hiding, the loyal follower practices his martial arts in the hopes of returning on day to clear his name and marry his princess.
Well, I can tell you that aside from sounding like it’s been run through Google Translate [Or, given some of your reviews, you…just sayin’. – Ed.], this description tells you nothing of the insanity that this movie spawns. Yes, I know, I might run into Interstellar territory here, but I’m pretty sure I’ll stop once I feel the aneurysm kick in. You know…because I’ll be dead. Because my head blew up…Scanners-style. Again.
The film opens with a fight scene that sounds impressive…with the sound effects we all love kung fu films for…except that it’s too damn dark to see a single thing. I applaud the director for wanting to shoot at night instead of this day-for-night thing that almost always NEVER works…just as much as I’d like to shoot the cinematographer. If they’re the same person…then…yeah, shoot him. The mere fact he unleashed this madness into the world deserves a bullet. Anyway, to refer back to our description, the only way our hero overheard the plot was if he listens with his hands and feet.
This fight finds its way into the chamber of the Emperor where our conspirator, let’s call him Tigerman…so named for the tiger on his chest for much of the film [Yes, there was a Tigerman in Shaolin Temple also. No, I don’t know if they’re related, nor do I know if they were played by the same actor. The only thing I know for sure is that thanks to Tigerman, I’m convinced these movies are like a long nightmare…with one bleeding into the other. – Ed.]…points the finger at our prince-to-be saying he’s the conspirator. Now, at this point, I’m not sure who threw a poisoned dart at the princess, it damn sure looked like it was the prince-to-be (yeah, I think I’m calling him PTB from here on out)…because it looked like he was aiming for Tigerman and missed…hitting his betrothed. Well, as one would imagine, this pisses the Emperor right off. PTB flees for fear of death and Tigerman is in the Emperor’s good graces.
Here’s where things get soap-opera-y. Okay…the Emperor’s Queen (thus…his wife) is the aunt of the princess…so we’ve got some Hamlet style shit up in here. Ish. Auntie was the one that recommended Tigerman to serve as the Emperor’s right hand…especially after this seeming betrayal. So, as one would expect, Auntie is working in cahoots with Tigerman so that he can take the Emperor’s place. Why? We’re never told…and, given where this movie goes…I think that perhaps it’s for the best.
A royal decree is announced: anyone who is able to cure the princess of her poisoning will win the girl’s hand in marriage. Oh…because the doctor attending her said she’s only got 3 days unless she’s cured because, you know, drama and stuff. Well, PTB sneaks into town disguised as a doctor…since he knows the poison he used and thus, knows the antidote…which AGAIN would speak to him throwing the poisoned dart/knife/whatever. When one of the villagers informs him that whoever cures her gets to marry her, he panics and starts to flee. As villagers tug at him to lead him to the palace, well, his disguise falls off and in come the guards…insert Yakkety Sax here. Next, we cut to a monkey climbing along with a bottle and a note. When he’s found, the note is read to say that he’s a doctor and the contents of the bottle will cure the princess…so, naturally, he’s led to the palace. Now…take notice of the monkey as he walks…one hand is carrying the bottle…the other is holding his junk…which leads me to one of two extremes: either the monkey has been trained to hide his privates in public (and if so, is probably the most modest monkey ever) or that the monkey is multitasking by walking, carrying the bottle and jerking off at the same time (which, I’m sad to say, seems a bit more monkey-like…and rather impressive). I bring this up because throughout the movie, that’s how the monkey walks, which again brings up dichotomous thoughts…either ‘Aw, he’s so cute being so modest!’ or ‘Dammit monkey! You’ve got to AT LEAST give it a break once in a while OR IT WILL FALL OFF!!!’
Of course, all of that is shot down if the monkey is female. But since…oh God, we’ve got to get into why it later becomes called Uncle Monkey, don’t we? Just the thought of having to go back there is starting to make my brain feel like the two hemispheres are rubbing together and that somet
hing bad is going to result from it. Right…Uncle Monkey…let’s do this. So, sure enough, the monkey’s potion works. [Could you possibly try to choose your words carefully? Especially given what you were just talking about? – Ed.] And the Emperor decrees that, yup, his daughter has got to get hitched to the monkey. Oh, and get exiled. Off they go in a boat to an island and during the journey…she has a child.
Insert record scratch here.
Yeah…I was just as shocked. Now, if we go with the theory that the monkey’s been jerking off this whole time…well, we come dangerously close to bestiality, don’t we? If we go with modest monkey…then we’ve got Chinese Jesus. Turns out it’s neither…it’s shitty storytelling, as it’s PTB’s son. Sure, it’s easy enough to infer that princess and PTB likely got down pre-marital style…but you have to kinda put something in there! I’m not calling for a straight up love scene or anything like that, hell, put in a goddamn baby-bump or morning sickness or SOMETHING. Instead, no, we’re shown a perfectly normal not-preggers princess and then BOOM…kid. And yes, to be technically correct, it should be Step-Father Monkey, not Uncle Monkey…but honestly, they’re equally traumatic and my head’s starting to hurt, so let’s move on.
The description makes mention of PTB working on his kung fu…but we really don’t see that here. Tigerman kills off Auntie…because who wants to rule with a known traitor…then kills off the Emperor and gets his wish to wear the crown. The rest of the movie works out about how you’d expect, PTB and princess get back together after short fight about the whole poison dagger thing, bad guys learn where the princess is, Uncle Monkey dies and PTB eventually takes out the evil Tigerman, marries the princess and blah blah blah.
While not as bad as Shaolin Temple…as there was a bit more action here…I will say that Kung Fu Arts will plunge you down into a special kind of madness where you will really wonder over the span of 90-so minutes whether or not you’ve been watching a monkey jerk off for the bulk of the movie.
And that’s when the blood will start to trickle out your nose.
All in all, this movie does have the hallmarks of a movie so bad that it’s not bad (I can’t use the term ‘good’ about this movie and keep a clean conscience)…poor cinematography (be it lighting or framing the scene), bad storytelling (thin air pregnancy anyone?) and so on…very ripe for the MST3K treatment. It’s worth it if you’ve got some friends, some booze and some riffing to be done…but for the love of all that you hold holy…DO NOT watch this by yourself. It will hurt you…as it did me. Now, if you don’t mind, I have a therapy session.
She keeps telling me to stop thinking about the monkey…but I can’t…I CAN’T! Is he modest? Is he jerking off??? I DON’T KNOW!
[You know…I think we might have overworked him this month…naaaaaaah! – Ed.]