masterly master lee

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

An Emperor Of The Underworld 암흑가의 황제 1994 review

dragonleeAn Emperor Of The Underworld, directed by Hwang Jang Lee 황정리 (who also convincingly plays the überbaddie here) is a very solid action vehicle for Dragon Lee 거룡, his chubby and funny sidekick Yi Jin-Yeong 이진영 and the very, very pretty and voluptuous Kim Mi-Yeong 김미영. Dragon and his chubby friend are ex-commando’s, forced by the police to take on evil crime lord Hwang Jang Lee. This they do. And they do it with kicks and punches. Lots of them. This is such a solid action flick, that the details don’t really matter, but still, here they are. Dragon Lee and his chubby pal go after the evil lord, while gorgeously pretty Kim Mi-Yeong supervises their operation as the ranking police officer. Dragon Lee unfortunately still thinks he is Bruce Lee, because he still got all the mannerisms and the whipping backfist (to be fair, he did get rid of the hair-do and the nunchaku’s). Ah well, at least he is good at what he does, even if his fighting style turns this movie into a semi-bruceploitation flick. Hwang is still alive and kicking fortunately, reveling in his evil role and being pursued by our heroes. While dispensing roundhouse kicks, left and right hooks and looking menacing, the women they like/love are both killed. Then of course the proverbial feces collides with the fan and is evenly distributed among all present. Mayhem ensues, culminating in a funerary march led by our two heroes to the evil lord’s layer and a royal portion of professional butt-kicking including the use of mud as a new defensive weapon. Meanwhile, gorgeously pretty Kim Mi-Yeong has disappeared from the story, while Dragon was too much of a well-trained marine to get into the sack with the obviously willing Kim Mi-Yeong (who had had a tad too much alcohol and was wearing a woolen dress  that hugged her curves just nicely. The Master is smitten. Once again…). Dragon and Hwang slug it out in the mud in a classic old-school fight.

kimiyeongThis is a nicely done action flick. Dragon Lee intimidates  the hell out of everyone by just frowning. He never looked more like an unhappy cross between a pissed off Bruce lee and Rambo. In an endearingly futile gesture at the beginning of the movie, he even turns over a car to impress the bad guys. Hwang on the other hand is genuinely frightening as the baddest man on this part of the planet and his fighting skills were still OK. The fights are well, if predictably, choreographed and if you don’t mind the repetitious moves and gangster who refuse to crowd an opponent but attack one by one, this movie is for you. The Master certainly didn’t mind. He admires Masters Hwang and Dragon and to boot he developed an immense liking for the pretty miss Kim (who all but disappeared from cinema after this film).

Interesting fact 1: Dragon’s semi-love interest is played by Sophia 소비아 (주진옥) who rose to fame in the 80s and 90s as an actress in the then ubiquitous erotic movies. And she recently announced her comeback. This time she will keep her clothes on and return to the theater. Amazingly, this darling of the ero pulps is only 40 years old. So maybe there is going to be a nude scene on stage after all.

vlcsnap-2009-11-10-12h56m02s153Interesting fact 2: the otherwise ever so vigilant South Korean censors failed to pay attention what the very explicit American rap songs say in the night club scenes. While Dragon is looking stern, solemn and dignified, in the background we hear a rapper announcing that he’s “gonna put my dick in your behind.”

Interesting fact 3: the first meeting between Dragon and gorgeous female cop takes place when she’s trailing him and he catches her at it. The first thing he does (the dirty old man) is reaching between her legs and pulling out her pistol. Right. He was copping a feel, the Master guesses (get it?).

Despite the awkward acting (there’s more wood here than in a porn orgy) and the predictable story, this is a decent action flick with some very nice fighting and charismatic actors. Charismatic in a sleazy, B-movie kinda way, but still. Dragon Lee, Yi Jin-Yeong, Hwang Jang Lee and the delectable Kim Mi-Yeong know what they’re doing and they’re doing it well. This is a well-crafted, enjoyable gangster flick. Respect from the Master.

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