Sunday, April 6, 2014

Old Movie Review - Shaolin Mantis

I honestly can't tell you when this one was made.

Like many of the old martial arts flicks from the 70's and 80's, when only the asians were making them, I simply cannot find this movie title on IMDB.com.  It's probably called something else, and Shaolin mantis was only the rough translation, but either way, I have no idea what the proper name for this film was.  I'm guessing from the style that it was made in the late 70's or early 80's, and i saw it on El Rey network, which has a love affair with the early martial arts flicks.  That's right, I #RideWithElRey.  And I don't even have a twitter account.  That's right.  Why?  because how the HELL do I squeeze a movie review into 140 characters or whatever the limit is?  Duh.  Shit, some of my titles are longer than 140 characters.

Now before I get into Shaolin Mantis, let me talk about the El Rey network.  I like it.  That have commercials, but they show nudity.  They have sports events, but also martial arts flicks and grindhouse films on friday nights, when all good geeks stay home and flog the bishop.  I mean, their martial arts double features are on thursdays, and they call them "Flying Five-Finger One-Armed Eight-Pole Shaolin Exploding Death Touch Thursdays."  I had to memorize the sequence of words several times just to make sure I could say it right.  God knows how many takes it took for the announcer to spew it so eloquently on command on the advertisements for it.  I can barely type it out correctly, let alone say it.  If that doesn't drag your kung-fu ass in to check out the network, I don't know what will.  Plus, I hear Godzilla rides with El Rey.  Though I haven't seen him.  AND they have a series based on the movie Dusk til Dawn.  Yea, vampires and shit.  Not those sparkly-ass ones, either.  Snake-wearing, large-breasted, tequila-swilling mexican vampires.  Damn skippy.

On to the movie review.  Shaolin Mantis is probably the most mis-named martial Arts movie I have ever seen.  Let's sum up the movie, and since the movie is like 30 years old, don't even bother with the spoilers.  You'll never see the damn thing anyway if you haven't already.  First off, there are no Shaolin in the movie.  No priests, no monks, no temples, no Kwai Chang Caine, not even Michael Caine.  Nobody in this movie was even trained at a shaolin temple.  How Shaolin got into the title is an interesting story.  Or it probably would be, if I knew the story.  But I don't.  Supposedly the movie is a "showcase" of the mantis style.  I'm not really sure how that could be sine the style only pops up in the last 20 minutes.

Enter our hero, the plucky son of a chinese official who has failed to uncover this one family's involvement in the rebellion.  His father disgraced, Hung Long Wang (I'm guessing here, that's not really his name, or at least, i don't think it is, and I apologize in advance to any asian readers for picking on their much more colorful and ancient heritage) agrees to uncover the leaders of the rebellion on behalf of his father.  The local chinese magistrate is so upset at Hung's father's performance that he gives Hung 3 months to find out what's going on.  At the end of that time, Hung's father will be stripped of his imperial title and office.  After 6 months, Hung's family estate and wealth will be seized.  And after one year without results, Hung's entire family will be put to the sword.  So.  I guess Hung's dad really fucked shit up.

Hung sets out to infiltrate the enemy family that is suspected of being instrumental in the rebellion against the rightful Ming dynasty.  He pretends to be a simple teacher, not even a martial arts teacher but of words and letters, which fits in well with his imperial training.  As luck would have it, the youngest daughter of the Grand Pah Pah family (not their real name either, I only call them that because they are led by some old white bearded guy) has recently fired her ancient teacher and has need of a replacement.  Grand Pah Pah's youngest granddaughter falls madly in love with Hung Long Wang (why do you think I named him that?  duh), and after only three months alone with him, wants to marry him.  Infiltration successful!

However, the Grand Pah Pah family has uncovered Hung Long Wang's secret.  No, not that he's hung like a rhino, get your mind out of the gutter.  That he's a government spy!  OH NOES MR. BILL!  The youngest granddaughter pleads with her grandfather to allow her to marry the guy, not believing he's an agent, and she promises that he will stay on their family land forever with her.  Grandpa agrees.  in the meantime, Hung's dad is stripped of his office as titles, as the three months is up.  Hung spends several more months placidly boning the granddaughter, pretending to be some meek schoolmarm who doesn't know kung fu, while he manages to steal a secret list of names of the rebels most recent recruits.  Mission accomplished, he sets out to ask permission to "visit his family," so that he can report back to the government.  Grand pah Pah agrees, knowing he'll have to kill the young scallywag in the morning to prevent him from reporting back on the Grand pah Pah's family's involvement in rebel activities.

The granddaughter, knowing her grandfather will kill her husband, packs his bags and they decide to flee the old homestead by night, before Grand pah can kill her beloved.  Since Grand pah Pah is a master of something called Shadow style (that is the actual name they used), she knows her useless wuss of a schoolmarm husband can't possibly defeat him, or escape, without her help.  Being a trained martial artist in her own right, she helps Hung battle his way out of the family estate, and hung reveals he is, in fact, a kung fu expert, but still wouldn't manage to have escaped without the help of the granddaughter, her mother, her grandmother, and one of her brothers.  The granddaughter sacrifices her own life to help her husband escape, though he is wounded in the battle.  At least, I think he was wounded.  His pretty shirt was all torn and there were red splotches on it.  That usually means death is near.  Running through the woods on his way to the capital, Hung is despairing of his inability to fight the Shadow Style.  Chancing upon a preying mantis, he studies it for all of 5 minutes (real time, probably not movie-time), learns all it's secrets, develops Mantis style kung fu, and can tear wooden trees apart with one finger.  I was amazed.  I tried lifting a small rock with one finger once, and broke it.  My finger, not the rock.  Martial arts, is there anything it can't do?

Hung Long Wang, armed with his deadly new mantis skill, returns to the Grand Pah Pah estate, slaughters everyone there (and why the HELL are there a hundred guys wandering the grounds whose only job is to hold up a lantern so people can watch the kung fu fight?  honestly?), disposes of the Grandfather, and returns to the imperial city a hero!  However, upon learning that Hung has succeeded in his mission, his father poisons his celebratory cup of wine because the father is a rebel sympathizer, and Hung dies a horrible poisonous death along with his family, who are now penniless and landless since it's been over 6 months since Hung set out upon his mission.  Of course, knowing that his father was a rebel sympathizer, Hung tries to kill the Ming Magistrate, but i think he dies of poison before he ever gets there.  The movie ends with Hung's dad dead, Hung spitting up poisoned blood, and guards attacking the shit out of Hung with big pointy sword-spear things.

So.  There you have it.  No shaolin, a few mantids near the end of the movie, and 20 minutes of Mantis style kung fu that rips entrails out of human beings with a flick of a wrist.  Everybody dies but the really bad guy.  Hmmm.  Odd movie.

I know, you're disappointed.  So was I.  To help you out, here's a bonus game review.  Elder Scrolls Online was released friday to thunderous applause!  Actually, the appluase may have just been my enormously fat ass cheeks flapping in the breeze of my flatulence as I farted in Elder Scrolls Online's general direction.  $60 for the game, $15 a month for the subscription, and I played it for two days before the game even officially opened, in an early access granted by pre-ordering it, and the game blows chunks.  Everyone loves Skyrim, made by bethesda, set in the same game world, but ESO plays NOTHING like Skyrim.  Skyrim is fun.  ESO is like shaving your ballsack with a jagged rusty razor and no lube, which, if you've ever done that, is no picnic, let me tell you.  I stopped playing after two days and honestly haven't even felt the need to go back to it, which normally I play the SHIT out of my new games until I get bored of them.  Frankly, I was bored of this one before I got out of the tutorial.  Standard MMO crap, level treadmill, nothing fun, reasonable graphics.  Blah de blah blah.  Don't waste your hard-earend moneys.  Buy a new razor and some lube instead, and shave your balls with that.

In other news, I haven't reviewed any movies lately because my uncle died, I had the flu, and winter eventually did start to harsh my mellow.  But it's spring now, I'm 44 years old and I look like I'm 172, and who gives a flying five-fingered fuck?  Bring on the summer, bitches!  I'm so ready!  My abs are like, okay not a six pack, more like a giant keg, but if I could, i'd put a tap in that baby and dispense alcohol straight from my liver to all the college coeds!  Actually that's the most disgusting thing I have ever heard in my life.  Why did that even pop into my head?  I feel so disgusted now.  I may throw up.

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