masterly master lee

a home for forgotten and famous korean pulp, its heroes, its heroines, and its pulpeteers

Bloody Mafia 붉은 마피아 review

bloodymafiaThis is the last movie directed and starred in by  action legend Wang Ho 왕호 better known as Casanova Wong 卡萨伐 from his many, many, many Hong Kong action flicks. OK, OK, not his last movie, I mean, this ex-marine also helmed the South Korean Ministry of Defense propaganda flick Soldiers Speak Even From Death 군인은 죽어서도 말한다. Anyway, a legend Casanova Wong (whose Korean birth name was Kim Yong-Ho 김용호) is (thank you, Master Yoda). He played opposite the greats of Hong Kong martial arts cinema in the 70s in Golden Harvest productions or should Master Lee say that the greats of Hong Kong martial arts cinema in the 70s played opposite him? Considered the greatest performer of the scissor kick (well, until Jean-Claude came along), Wong truly belongs in the gallery of pulp greats and if the Master is ever not too busy to update it, he gladly will.

CasanovaWongBack to Bloody Mafia: well, Wang Ho/Casanova Wong was a better martial arts actor than a director unfortunately. Hence this thoroughly predictable good gangster vs bad gangster flick featuring an actor named Kim Du-Han (the Master shits you not), a nose bitten off in the pleasurable heat of the moment, an exploding car but the explosion shown is not that of a car exploding in a parking lot but of something exploding on a grassy meadow (trying to save some money there, Mr Director?), a Korean night club singer very badly lip-syncing to Whitney Houston’s (or Dolly Parton’s) I Will Always Love You, silly gangster costumes (what’s with the hat, Kim Du-Han? And what the *$%& is with the choker?!), a soundtrack so 80s it must have sounded precisely that even in the 80s… And if you think that is enough what about: very bad sex in a dressing room, UB40 accompanying even worse sex in the back seat of a car and an embarrassing dance at a wedding.

Master Lee likes low-budget productions, but this is pushing it. Really now, did you have replace the Korean song with Withney’s crooning, Casanova, while the Korean singer’s lips are singing something so different, it doesn’t even look like lip-syncing anymore? Even Britney would have been ashamed to put this on. The action, though sped up, isn’t half bad, but it’s not very imaginative either. Nobody doubts the merits of the actors as martial artists, but a good martial arts director could have worked wonders here. And although there’s enough of bad guys, cool stares, pretty and loose women, evil villains, perky-breasted night club hostesses and high-kicking, fast-punching heroes to go around, this film has neither heart nor soul. It’s a cold, cold movie and that just doesn’t entertain. It annoys. And even Casanova Wong better pay attention when Master Lee is annoyed. It wouldn’t be the first time one of Wong’s famous scissor kicks would be cut in two…

In all, this is a rather unpleasant movie, with too much violence that comes across as somehow being ‘real’ and meant to hurt. The Master liked Casanova Wong dealing out portions of pain in his old movies, laying down the law and smacking heads, but he is not so sure he likes the violence, torture and attempted rape in his particularly dark and simplistic flick. The Master says: could and should have been better. Thumbs down, even though it stars Casanova Wong.

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