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The only good thing about suffering through the flu for an entire week is having an excuse to lounge around in your underwear and watch bad martial arts movies for hours on end. And while I’d much rather be a fully functioning member of society than a snotty, feverish, and generally pathetic human being, catching up on mind-numbingly awful kung fu isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Below you will find three capsule-length examinations of a trio of films that have lingered in my demented mindscape for much longer than I had originally anticipated. Unless you’re stuffed to overflowing with a temporarily debilitating viral infection, ingesting any of the following movies might be detrimental to your physical and emotional health. You have been warned, my friends.
Here’s what’s on the menu this week:
Drunken Wu Tang (1984)
Also known in certain circles as “Drunken Arts and Crippled Fist”, this deliberately wacky action-packed farce is a perfect example of bad pepperoni kung fu in motion. Despite valiant efforts, I don’t think I ever really had a firm grasp on what passes for a plot in director Cheung-Yan Yuen’s deliriously enjoyable outing, though this didn’t derail the picture’s entertainment value in the least. In fact, the utter lunacy and unapologetic incoherence only added to unbridled mirth I experienced during my feverish late night screening. The only logic I could ascertain from the entire story is that watermelon monsters often guard important tomes which contain unimaginable secrets, cherry boys are in high demand by those who are seeking to make peace with the Gods, and dummies are fine substitutes when stuntmen are nowhere to be found. The fight scenes are numerous and suitably frantic; trying to distinguish who’s fighting who and why quickly becomes a losing battle. Martial arts purists will probably hate the bad dubbing, the weak wire work, and the lame jokes, but the rest of us will be quietly awestruck for the duration.
Ninja Hunter (1983)
This zany Taiwanese martial arts extravaganza has more madcap action than any kung fu fan could possibly consume within the span of 90 minutes. The story itself might seem fairly routine — a nefarious white-haired villain teams up with a clan of upwardly mobile ninjas in order to take down the Shaolin Temple — but the film is far from pedestrian. In addition to a script that’s so serious it’s downright silly, the prospective viewer is treated to an abundance of bright disco-colored costumes, a handful of helpless women writhing in pleasure as a kung fu wizard sexually molests them, and several heaping helpings of evil laughter. Trying to wrap your tiny mind around the plot is an exercise in cinematic sadomasochism, so just sit back, relax, and let the numerous over-the-top fight sequences wash over you in a cool, sticky wave. After all, it’s hard to dislike a motion picture that combines acid zombies and Hitler mustaches in such an amusing and delectable manner. In short, it’s B-movie bliss. I can’t wait to watch the sequel.
King Kung Fu (1976)
Although calling this mid-70’s comedy a martial arts picture might be a disservice to the entire genre, it does feature a gorilla engaging in a few wonky moments of kung fu tomfoolery. Questionably billed as a family feature, this podunk adventure chronicles the exploits of the titular beast as it ventures from the mountains of China into the dangerous world of downtown Wichita. Unintentional hilarity quickly ensues. Sandwiched in-between the uncomfortable sex jokes and the frequent Pizza Hut endorsements is quite possibly one of the strangest motion pictures I’ve encountered in quite some time. Watching a guy in a gorilla suit — complete with a wonderfully dopey voice over — battle John Wayne impersonators and a variety of wimpy bad guys is definitely a peculiar way to spend an afternoon, especially when other, more accomplished motion pictures are at your disposable. However, bad movie aficionados will openly squeal at the numerous slow-motion fight sequences, the skimpy outfits, and the impossibly goofy adventures of two would-be journalists as they attempt to unleash the beast onto the unsuspecting public. I can’t believe this thing actually exists. Kansas should be proud.