Sunday, 12 July 2009

In Memory Of Sifu Linn Haynes

On my journey through the alternaverse that is the Internet I have been fortunate to meet many diverse and interesting people who share the same love of movies that I do. Amongst the cinematic crew of collectors, critics and fans there have been a few that I have truly been able to engage with beyond the veil of the world wide web. These honest and passionate folk are amongst my true friends. One such decent person stood as a shinning example of everything good in the world of sharing accumulated knowledge. Never one to refuse a fellow fan in providing an invaluable piece of rare insight into the world of movies. With an enclyclopaedic knowledge of the Shaw Brothers movies and all things Kung Fu, Mr. Linn Haynes truly was a Sifu of cinema.
Linn introduced me to the legend that is Jimmy Wang Yu. My eyes were open to the glorious Shaw Brothers films and right in time for their catalogue of movies being brought out in all their fabulous glory on DVD by Celestial. It was The One Armed Swordsman starring Jimmy Wang Yu that had me asking Linn all about his movies and also seeking further information about the great array of Shaw Brothers films. It was a great day for me, and an opportunity to pay Linn back, when in Japan the as then never properly released film The One Armed Boxer (1971) was released in a very limited run by Spike Dragon on to DVD. I picked up two editions, one for myself and one for Linn. When I sent one of the DVD's to Linn he was ecstatic, not just at receiving the movie, but in telling me that the release was now no longer available.
No sooner had the film hit the shiny format than it had completely sold out. We now were the proud owners of an extremely rare release. I will never forget the feeling of shared pleasure that time gave us, a real high point and one I could not have shared with anyone more deserving than Linn.
Sadly Linn died earlier this year in a tragic accident. He gave so much in such a short time. His goodness and generosity will stay with those that knew him for always. Thank you so very much, Sifu Bobby Linn Haynes.

For Linn

The Man From Hong Kong
(1975/Hong Kong/Australia)

Chinese superstar Jimmy Wang Yu is used to being upfront in his on screen roles, but here he’s outback in Crocodile Dundee territory and up against one time James Bond George Lazenby this time in the role of bad guy.
Fight choreographer and cameo role player Sammo Hung is an Asian go between for a drug cartel, kangarooing between Hong Kong and Sydney Australia peddling narcotics. Opening with a coach trip exploring the vast Australian landscape Sammo’s character is along for the journey, replete with Connair travel bag he’s there to put the money back in the box. Hard cash is his return package in exchange for snow white wares, but this is no Disney production as Director of infamous exploitation flick Turkey Shoot Brian Trenchard-Smith is at the helm.

The opening sequence soon establishes the motif behind proceedings to follow, but also gives early credentials to the pace and level of explosive Action to anticipate with vigour. Local operations police break months of undercover policing to apprehend Sammo and recipient dealer cohort but not without giving chase, and involving an energetic pre-credit sequence that has a car and helicopter chase of explosive quality. Federal narcotics operatives call in Jimmy Wang Yu, a top Inspector of the Hong Kong Special Branch, to travel to Australia to extradite Sammo Hung’s character. It’s not long before Wang Yu is in Sydney and attracting an Australian bird, but not of the ostrich family as he does more than just bury his head for this antipodean delight. Amongst the cultural police interaction reception committee is Mad Max bad guy Hugh Keays-Byrne, remember him as the gang leading antagonist role as The Toecutter ?, well here with his out of control Seventies grooming statement he’s more in need of The Hair Cutter !. The visual of two burly Australian characters with Jimmy Wang Yu stood between them is an interesting contrast not only in style and appearance, as Wang Yu cuts a dashing clean cut look in modern day setting suit attire, but also in stature as the Hong Kong icon truly is almost as tall as his western counterparts which is an atypical sight. Led to the police prisoner holding room Jimmy Wang Yu’s character Inspector Fang Sing Leng applies Hong Kong methods to attain information, questioning of the flying fist variety as his opening exchange unpacks with a punch. The sight of Jimmy Wang Yu going one on one in a confined space with Sammo Hung is what fans of Hong Kong cinema will revel in. Inspector Leng want’s more than just a criminal collar he expects to hang out to dry the main suit behind the drug running inter continental organisation.

News of the Asian officers arrival spreads fast and with Sammo Hung’s character now a liability it is not long before Jimmy Wang Yu is given a reason to extend his stay. He is soon leaping acrobatically around the streets of Sydney chasing after a hit man, visibly pulling off many of his own physical stunts with amazing aplomb. Jumping over and in front of moving vehicles and delivering an amazing high kick from a running start to the midriff of the motorcycle riding escapee. So consummate is Wang Yu in this role he later even gets to parallel park a sliding car to an impressive breaking stop. The chase culminates with a stand off fighting sequence starting in the kitchen of a restaurant, furiously playing out as a real crowd pleasing exchange of fury. The two men battle it out in frantic fashion , blow for blow and making full use of every available implement that comes to hand. All manner of knives, cleavers, metal hooks and a broken bottle are put to use in a brutal display of vicious intent as much blood is spilt. A deadly dish of its day and still a pick from the menu of today as the recipe hereon in is Action all the way.

Under the insidious front of an import export dealership George Lazenby is head honcho Jack Wilton, living from immoral means yet still a lean and mean fighting machine not fat from his pickings. He unwinds in his exclusive martial arts school within his private condo, showing off his own karate skills and looking supremely fit long since leaving Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Lazenby’s bad guy persona is a convincing one played with an assured arrogant strut that gives great credence to his eventual clash with Jimmy Wang Yu. Their hand to hand fight is another highly watch able moment within the film, be it all too brief yet flagrantly beefed up by the tag team presence of Lazenby’s professional hired help.

The movie is an Action roller coaster of stunt, fight and explosive entertainment value throughout its duration running time. Constant fisticuffs often employing all manner of weaponry that includes swords, spears, nunchakus and very sharp looking blades, make for a remarkably bloody outing. Even a fight atop a descending elevator goes down extremely well !. Include a stand out car chase late in the movie that is very much of Mad Max proportions and you’ll get a real feel for the Toecutter in this hair raising escapade.

Jimmy Wang Yu is a one man ‘Wrecking Fu’ and George Lazenby gets to throw everything he can at him right up to the inevitable final explosive showdown. Imagine The Man With The Golden Gun put in the mix with Enter The Dragon and given a Castlemaine Four ‘X’ Rating !. For a movie that pulls plenty of Action out of its pouch this is one highly enjoyable Australian made ‘Kanga Fu’ flick.

Review Paul Cooke / Source Australian Region 4 DVD

The Man From Hong Kong (1975)
Directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith & Jimmy Wang Yu
With Jimmy Wang Yu, George Lazenby, Peter Armstrong,
Rebecca Gilling, Hugh Keays-Byrne & Sammo Hung

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