Sunday, 20 September 2009

Bruce Le Black Spot

Hei Se Zou Lang
aka Black Spot
(1991/Hong Kong)

Kin Lung Huang, better known as Bruce Le, gets to step away from the countless Bruce Lee impersonator kung fu flicks and turn his attention to a serious portion of big budgetary Action. Here he plays Wong Lung, a former problem solver for an international organisation responsible for the manufacture and trafficking of drugs worldwide. He is a former criminal with a moral conscience, but once you are embroiled in the organisation they never let you go. The head of the trans national cartel wants Wong Lung to take out one of their Asian bosses and is not prepared to take no for an answer. Now settled in Paris France, and leading a comfortable lifestyle untroubled by anyone, word is leaked to the police and Wong Lung is picked up by them. They too offer him a deal, work with them to infiltrate the organisation and earn his freedom as a world citizen, with all past illegal activities stricken from his record. Lung has little choice but to take the deal but the passage back to Hong Kong has to be earned, and the organisation set him a mighty task in order to prove his worth and loyalty to them. He must fight a seven foot monster of a man in a barbed wire steel cage, last man standing walks free !.
One of the highlights of the movie is the fight scene in the cage match. A brutal and barbaric environment in a den of iniquity where the cage is the centre piece, surrounded by a ravenous crowd baying for the blood of the warring occupants fighting for their very lives. The king of the ring is an Asian ox of a man, with the mind of a simpleton but the strength of a bull. Able to pummel expert fighters to death with his relentless hammer like arms, and never shy to rip chunks of flesh from their battered bodies with his very teeth. He rips open a living sheep thrown to him as sustenance between bouts, tearing the creature apart and feeding off its entrails, and drinking of its gushing blood. Hung enters the ring like the mindless behemoths next lamb to the slaughter, but this is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Years of martial arts training, guile and cunning have served Hung well, and prepared him for even the most seemingly insurmountable. This is a classic Eighties styled bloody mismatch of grand proportions. Rules simply do not apply and in order to walk free Hung immediately has to resort to evasive manoeuvres, close quarter quick body attacks and eye gouging !. Blood splays the fevered crowd as Hung ferociously chops the man elk down to a twitching stump, leaving him a bloody pulp relieved of his unbeaten crown.
The organisation are satisfied that in Hung they still have the best man for the job in hand. He is given a briefcase of money for expenses and a ticket to Taiwan. His assignment to kill boss Tai Chin, and re-establish secure trade links across the infamous Golden Triangle to ensure that the organisations Opium trade continues to thrive.

Bruce Le clearly is afforded a great deal of influence in the production of this international extravaganza. The countries involved must have delighted in getting recognition on a global scale as no obvious regional embargo’s towards the film makers seems at all evident. The grand scale of the army resources providing a vast cast of real soldiers, replete with full uniforms and weaponry, along with the full military might of heavy machinery such as tanks and helicopters is staggering to behold up on the screen.

As Director and likely aware of his star stature Bruce Le even affords a degree of thought provoking ethic, in a strong message for the audience to ponder upon long after the movie finishes. He shows both sides of the drug trade, not just the addictive evil that envelopes the planet but startlingly the naivety of those involved in its early stages of productivity. Midway through the movie Wong Lung gets to witness how an entire village of hard labouring poor farmers grow the crop for the production of the opium. They truly believe they are cultivating a medicine that helps the outside world, and what they work for in exchange for food and bare essentials to live on is their duty. Their innocence tears at Lung’s ideals and causes him to contemplate on what will happen to these people when their community is destroyed. The principal of cause and effect here is powerfully touched upon.

Along with several showcase fight sequences, that display Bruce Le as a very fine martial artist in his own right, the grand scale sets are also an impressive part of the whole. The mass production facility for the heroin / opium is purified and packaged in a massive natural cave. It is very well lit to highlight its structure and the base level is bedecked with big machinery, productivity vats and electrical machinery, all just waiting to explode upon the arrival of the armed forces come the big finale.

Sure enough the ending plays out on a tumultuous Action high as Bruce Le takes down the Asian cartel, whilst outside two armies collide in spectacular fashion. The stunt coordinators earn triple time with the shear volume of explosions and bodies flying about. With the Thai army providing the real deal on the heavy artillery this really is a barn storming end event highlight. Throw in international agents of the female babes with guns variety, and Black Spot proves to be a destination for die hard Action seekers the world over.

Even when Bruce Le runs out of bullets he just fires up his fists and shoots from the hip with lethal kicks to opponents. The cataclysmic finale delivers a damning indictment on all fighting both for and against the production of drugs. A message for the masses and a real body punch conclusion to a grand scale Action epic.
Review by Paul Cooke / Source NTSC US VHS
NB: Original Language English Subtitled and
Semi Wide Screen, Likely Taken From An
Original Source Aprox 1:85:1 Ratio

Black Spot (1991)
Director Bruce Le
With Bruce Le, Rossieo Badin, Yu-Man Cheng,
Tao Chiang, Elizabeth Gordon, James Ha,
Fanny Hill & Lo Lieh

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Room At The Asylum For Monster Brawl

Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus
''He's an equal opportunities eating machine''

From the deepest depths comes the greatest threat as two of the oceans prehistoric titans are unwittingly released from their frozen incarceration. Free to wreak havoc on the modern world where fish are now just an entrĂ©e to man made morsels. It’s deep see monster mayhem as only the low budget production house The Asylum can muster as their catch of the day.
When a secret government operative illegally deposit’s a low frequency active sonar (LFAS) device , from his helicopter into the ocean off the Alaskan coast, the result sets in action a very disruptive chain of events. Directly below the surface of the water marine oceanographer Emma MacNeil (Deborah Gibson) is studying the migration pattern of a number of whales. When the LFAS is operative it triggers a highly disruptive vibratory sound wave that unsettles the sea mammals. MacNeil and her mini sub co-pilot have to skilfully navigate a path to safety through the panicked whales. During the scramble she half glimpses something that she dismisses as unfathomable in the adrenalin pumping moment. What she later comes to realise is that what she caught site of in the murky depths is the re-emergence of creatures from millions of years past, seen only in the pages of today’s historical text books.
The sonic boom from the LFAS creates a fissure within the solid ice, causing a chain reaction of splintering. Within the structure of the cacophonous casing lay two perfectly preserved examples of prehistoric deep sea behemoths. Suspended in frozen animation, now set free and reawakened by the life giving natural ocean. Behold Mega Shark and Giant Octopus !.
Emancipated from their icy tomb the naturally warring creatures, programmed by nature to feast on whatever is placed before them, find their way to two of Sci Fi cinema’s most recognised battle grounds for gigantic beasts. Giant Octopus’ favoured stomping ground is of course Japan, and soon Tokyo bay is terrorised by eight grappling tentacles, enough to keep the sushi bars in business for the foreseeable future. Mega Shark hit’s the shipping lanes on route to America, choosing San Francisco bay as his tourist attraction, and somewhere to stop over for a bite to eat. First on the menu for this mighty shark, with more teeth than the Bee Gees combined and a razor blade smirk that observers don’t stop to admire, nor hang around long enough to become tooth picks !.

Silly highlights of this dumb, but highly entertaining giant monster movie, include the juggernaut like massive shark torpedoing itself out of the ocean upwards to take down a passenger plane !. Not to be outdone Giant Octopus embroils itself around an offshore Japanese drilling station, having no taste for the black gold but picking off enough human nuggets, well worth a few ‘squid’ !.
It’s down to one time teen pop singing starlet Deborah Gibson to team up with an old university professor, and a Japanese oceanographer expert, to piece together what is terrorising the oceans. When they uncover the insidious government experiment, and receive video confirmation of the gigantic prehistoric creatures being freed, due to the intervention of the LFAS device, they set about planning a way to stop the carnage and the giant threat to mankind.
Lorenzo Lamas enters the fray as government agent Allan Baxter, initially to detain the trio, but soon realises that without their combined expertise the planet is in severe threat of enormous magnitude. Agent Baxter is a bit of a Lorenzo ‘lame ass’ but Deborah Gibson turns in a pretty good performance for her movie debut. It’s refreshing to see that as a pretty new actress Deborah Gibson doesn’t have to get her ‘hits’ out to make the transition from pop star to film star !.
Emma MacNeil and her three cohorts get their heads together to come up with the plan to bring to a halt the tumultuous tirade of the two sea titans. The marine experts come upon the idea of primordial pheromone attraction. All creatures use them to seek out and sense each other. The idea behind this particular attraction is hoped to be of the fatal kind, as both of these prehistoric deep sea dwellers are attuned to killing one another. Bringing them together to do battle is what the movies titular headline grabber is after all what this is all about. It’s the fight of the century, Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus, in The Rumble In The Ocean !. Mega George Foreman XXXXXL grill free with each family ticket purchase.
The silliness goes overboard pretty much from the off, but what else can you expect from such an outlandishly titled movie !?. For an Asylum flick this is a more neutered affair in so far as the usual outlandish gore and more adult themes are toned down to deliver essentially a PG13 rated matinee monster movie. Doubtlessly aiming for a more broader audience, and a greater revenue return targeting the family patronage. The film is still Fun though and worthy of at least a rental before resigning to the bottom of the video ocean.

Any movie that shows a Megalodon leaping out of San Francisco bay to sink its mighty jaws into the Golden Gate Bridge, like its snacking down on a McDonald’s swim through restaurant, has to have you ‘lovin’ it’.
Review Paul Cooke / Source PAL Region 2 UK DVD

Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus (2009)
Director Jack Perez
With Lorenzo Lams, Deborah Gibson,
Vic Chao & Sean Lawlor