masterly master lee

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The Kung Fu Fever 정무지보 (小師傳與大煞星) (1979)

the black dragon going at it

Another internationally coproduced product of prolific Korean martial arts flick director Kim Si-Hyun 김시현. This one stars Dragon Lee 거룡, sidekick staple Choi Min-Kyu 최민규 and the Black Dragon himself, Ron Van Clief (respect from Master Lee for the Black Dragon!). And quite rarely, Ron Van Clief is the bad guy in this movie about a lost book with the secret finger techniques of Bruce Lee (“So well-suited to a woman,” coos pretty female lead Amy Chun with what hopefully is irony). Dragon Lee was burdened with the name of Ricky Chan (supposedly Bruce Lee’s best finger technique disciple. Ladies beware) and is credited as ‘Bruce Rhee’… Oh, come on! What’s wrong with Dragon Lee? Or is it because in Kung Fu Fever, Dragon goes totally overboard with his Bruce Lee-imitations? Bruce Rhee is just like Bruce Lee, only it isn’t. Just like Dragon Lee in this movie.

Let’s start with the good things: a groovy early 70s soundtrack (although the movie was made in the last months of the decade), pilot sunglasses for Dragon Lee (pardon, I mean Bruce Rhee), nice (if overly derivative) action scenes and a pretty lady (Amy Chun). And of course, Ron Van Clief, the Black Dragon, who starts off the movie by bullying one of Bruce Lee’s students into submission. This student, by the way, shows an eerie resemblance to Lee Chang-Dong 이창동, the famed Korean director of intellectual movies (and they are pretty good, the Master must admit, despite their lack of gangsters, fights and pretty girls) and former Minister of Culture nonetheless: mmmh, something you want to tell us, Director Lee, about a past that wasn’t so literary and arty-farty perhaps?). Ron Van Clief uses Bruce Lee’s recent death to steal Bruce’s secret finger techniques, recorded in a book he promised to pretty Amy at the beginning of the movie, when real Bruce Lee footage was spliced in to make Dragon Lee look authentic (as Ricky Chan) as a student of Bruce Lee and set up the story of lost techniques (and the place they can be found).

The bad things (well, no need to be harsh, the Master guesses, the less good things will do here): the print quality is bad to the extent of not being able to recognize all faces all of the time, which is kinda annoying when you realize the story is the kind of story one can expect from a low budget Korean-Hong Kong-Taiwan martial arts coproduction (OK, there you go: the Master should have known better than to purchase a cheap 10 DVD-pack called Urban Violence, which  included The Kung Fu Fever and 5 more of Ron Van Clief movies!). Dragon Lee is a bit too enthusiastic in imitating Bruce Lee’s facial expressions and sounds, but he packs a mean punch and that’s all that matters. And then there’s the matter of the bad guy getting his ass kicked quite literally and loosing his pants… Master Lee is not sure whether this scene is a plus for the movie (respect if you kick so hard, the guy on the receiving end looses his pants) or a minus (who wants to see the pasty bum of a bad guy anyway?). Judge for yourself. As long as the low print quality and the at times incomprehensible story line don’t put you off, Dragon and Ron will entertain you in this nicely made (for its budget then), run-off-the-mill late 70s punch-and-block flick. The Master was thrilled to see two of his esteemed colleagues going at it in Kung Fu Fever: Master Dragon and Master Ron. Thumbs up from the Master (and yes, Masters Dragon and Ron, despite the praise, Master Lee could open a can of whoop-ass on you if he choose to do so. But he’s in a generous mood today).

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1 Comment»

  farid wrote @

where can i buy this movie


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