Thursday, October 30, 2014
Sunday, October 5, 2014
D: Robert Parrish. After five years, ex-marine Rocky Malloy (Dick Powell), is sprung early from jail for a robbery when an alcoholic, amputee, fellow ex-marine (Richard Erdman) clears him with a fake alibi. In hopes of getting a cut of the stolen loot, the marine tags along while Rocky remains adamant about his innocence. Rocky looks up his cellmate’s deceptively wholesome wife (Rhonda Fleming) and moves into the same trailer park. He tracks down the bloated Castro (William Conrad of TV’s CANNON) to demand compensation for driving the getaway car and taking the fall for the gang. As a consolation, Castro gives him a tip on a horse that pays off big but with marked bills that only add to the ex-con ‘s anxieties. This sends Rocky goes on a wild goose chase to discover the origin of the cash and clear himself while an unrelenting detective tails him.
The film’s highlights include multiple double crosses, triple-crosses, shoot-ups, a tense game of Russian roulette, eccentric dames and some competent rear projection. Powell is ultra-smooth as the chain-smoking, black coffee guzzling Rocky, a role that fits him like a glove after playing Philip Marlowe and enough hard-boiled types. This is an excellent but lesser known RKO noir laced with dark humor and precision rapid-fire dialog that keeps the plot moving at a swift pace. The Olive blu-ray features a solid HD transfer from a well kept fine grain print.
Director Parrish was an ex-child actor, an editor and one of a few who helmed CASINO ROYALE (1967). Other directorial credits include the JOURNEY TO THE FAR SIDE OF THE SUN (1969) and 1971’s A TOWN CALLED HELL (aka A TOWN CALLED BASTARD) and some TWLIGHT ZONE episodes. The assistant to the producer is credited to Maurice Binder who went on to design the iconic main title sequences for many a classic 007 film. I’m baffled by Olive Films annoying logo that features a cyclopean buzzing bee with crackling, distorting audio. What‘s that all about? Why not an olive in a martini? Olives are nice in salads too. Previously on Republic VHS.
D: Joseph Kong (Joseph Velasco).
Lo Lieh (of FIVE FINGERS OF DEATH/KING BOXER fame) visits a sultry, shady lady named Rose, in search of Bruce Lee’s secret finger kung fu manual in the hopes of mastering the deadly finger-fu style (whatever the hell that is?}. When the highly coveted book gets into the wrong hands, Bruce Le arrives and goes into full-on, ass-whooping mode, giving Lieh‘s gang the figurative middle finger! Bruceploitaton hall of famer Bruce Le (aka Huang Jian Long/Wong kin Lung) is Bruce Wong flies in from the states only to find his mom dead with his sister missing and rumored to be a call girl! Pissed off, Wong visits an actress friend played by Nora Miao (from Bruce Lee’s FIST OF FURY, WAY OF THE DRAGON) for help as he descends into the dark, depraved depths of Hong Kong's underbelly, searching the brothels for his enslaved sister while trying to resist the many temptations and maintain his own moral standing. In one instance, Bruce persuades a hooker not to strip by offering her a grape!
Aside from the fun, quality kung fu action, you can expect a dizzying plethora of precision zoom-crazy camera work (that they don‘t teach in film school!), head-scratching dialog, nudity, gynecological torture by reptile, bell bottoms, platform shoes and other mutant mod 70’s fashions and hairstyles. You get a glimpse into a real wing chun studio where Le is offered some of Bruce Lee‘s old practice weapons as well as a training montage, a mini tribute to Yip Man, wooden dummy destruction, a gang bang in a circle of fire, eyeball dislocation, confusing editing, beer can finger fu, double nunchakus and other weaponry. At around the ninety-minute mark, this grindhouse gem culminates in a crazy, gimmicky finale.