aka Gekitotsu! Satsujin Ken/“Sudden Attack: The Killing Fist”
Director Shigehiro Ozawa Writers Kôji Takada, Motohiro Torii
Tarantino’s obsession with the king of Japanese pulp cinema knows no bounds - from having Christian Slater’s character in True Romance attend a Street Fighter triple bill to casting him as swordmaker supreme Hattori Hanzo in Kill Bill Volume 1 (2003). But still the name Sonny Chiba is not a household name like Bruce Lee, and like
With The Street Fighter from 1974, Japanese pulp cinema comes full circle. The samurai films of Kurosawa, with their innate nihilism, extreme notions of honour and stark contrasts of beauty and violence, influenced Sergio Leone, who, by reworking Kurosawa’s Yojimbo into A Fistful Of Dollars, defined the spaghetti western genre. The Seventies Japanese martial arts explosion is a logical extension of both the spaghetti western and the yakuza film, a genuinely Japanese artform updating film noir conventions and filled with murky morality and complex characterizations, through which Sonny Chiba worked his way through the ranks from supporting player to leading man.
In contrast, most
The film was a smash hit, not just in
Champ Against Champ
aka Champ Vs Champ
Director Godfrey Ho
Cast Dragon Lee [aka Bruce Lei], Charlie Han, Doris Tsui, Mark Wong, Antonio Sieou
We use a lot of adjectives here at Schlock Treatment - blaxploitation, sexploitation, drusploitation, DWARFsploitation... but there is also the term “Brucesploitation” describing any film cashing in on the Bruce Lee legend. In the wake of Bruce Lee’s death in 1973 came scores of films claiming to be the REAL story of Bruce’s death, each one starring the next Bruce Lee. The most ludicrous of all is the 1977 Clones Of Bruce Lee, in which a scientist makes carbon copies from Lee’s DNA. One of the Clones, along with Bruce Le, Bruce Lai and Bruce Thai, is perhaps the daggiest of all Bruce imersonators, Dragon Lee.
If you remember Ninja The Protector from a few weeks back, we told you the story of Godfrey Ho, the Ed Wood of kung fu cinema. Before his disastrous and seemingly limitless “Ninja” series, Ho and producer Joseph Lai had jumped on the Brucesploitation bandwagon with a string of chop sockeys starring their protoge Dragon Lee. Champ Against Champ from 1983 is a classic example of Ho and Lai’s mad, BAD kung fu with Dragon as Lee Wong, an innocent who runs foul of baddie Master Kai. Kai is obsessed with a list of traitors plotting against him, and targets old man Tai, whose daughter Sing is promised to Dragon Lee, as the ringleader.
Tai is captured and tortured by Kai, and Dragon Lee cops a poisoned arrow through the thigh, forcing him to get his leg amputated. This causes him great unhappiness and sexual insecurity, and he hooks up with Master Wai (not to be confused with Master Kai or Tai). The old man with flowing white robe and mustache inspires him with the story of “Steel Leg, the Great Master of the 18 Kicks” - a man who just happens to be Sing’s grandfather! Incredibly, she still has the key to his one-legged training room and fake limb instruction manual. At one point during a disco-driven montage, Dragon pulls his new metal leg out of a bucket of water and asks Sing her opinion. “Ooooh. It’s really good,” she replies in a schoolgirl voice.
One of the Ten Commandments of Bad Kung Fu requires insane dubbing to go with the insane plot machinations. For Champ Against Champ, it seems cheapskates Ho and Lai used a dubbing studio in
As the plot spirals out of control, Dragon fights a guy who breathes fire, teams up with a guy who’s the spitting image of Garry Glitter, and faces a squad of ninja she-bitches with voices like backpackers from Peckham, who can turn invisible or shape-shift into evil looking clowns. In the