Sunday, February 15, 2015

'ave a butchers!

Greetings dear reader(s)!

Been a busy month here at Arena Towers what with dodging angry cosplayers, actually doing some work and helping operation Yewtree with their enquiries (you're marked Ball) so I've been a wee bit worried that there wouldn't be any updates till at least 2023.

How great is it then that a loyal follower has come forward and offered to pen a review himself?

And it's written in English and everything.

Not like the normal shite I get sent.

Anyway, here's what he wrote:

Dear Dr. Lamont,

I like your writings on the films, you funny guy. I like writing on films too. You publish my writings on films and we both get along fine. You not and you be deader than Heath Ledger. When he died I said to my friend "Heath Ledger is died. Let us drink to him and his nights tail".

I say the same to you.



So ladies and gentlemen please welcome this months guest reviewer Master Jonathan Butcher, aged 16 from sunny Korea.

Not too sure if it's the good bit or bad bit he's from but hey, beggars can't be choosers.

Fearless Tiger (1991).
Dir: Ron Hulme.
Cast:  Jalal Merhi, Bolo Yeung, Monika Schnarre, Jamie Farr and Lazar Rockwood.

Fearless Tiger is Z-grade movie alchemy - it should be steaming great dollop of celluloid turd, but it’s actually a block of screen gold. It's a kung-fu action flick that is astoundingly, perhaps cosmically flawed in every way, but somehow it always manages to keep me coming back, like a scab that won't heal.

The “star” (ahem) of the show is high-kicking short-arse Jalal Merhi, "Beirut's answer to Steven Segal" according to his self-scrawled imdb biography. Mr Merhi owns "Film One Films", and had until 2008 been writing, directing, producing and starring in ultra low-budget stinkers in a quest to keep the world’s bargain buckets filled to the brim. 

 Fearless Tiger was one of his first movies, and its extreme amateurishness combined with the enthusiasm of its cast, including Jamie Farr of Mash fame doing his best “indefinable Middle Eastern” accent, are what make it such a cracking watch.
Lyle, daddy and wife-to-be. Platform shoes, perspective and a big hat help to make Lyle appear marginally less tiny.
The story follows protagonist Lyle as he struggles with both ruthless drug lords and the English language. 

To explain the entire pothole-ridden plot would take too long, but suffice to say it involves tacky-looking opium-filled Buddha statues being sold as cheap souvenirs (?), police corruption, brutal underground martial arts contests attended by kids and their cardigan-clad mothers, monks, kidnapping, backstabbing prostitutes and sensei masters with ballet dancing sidekicks. 
Lyle's opium-peddling nemesis is Salamar, who resembles a crack-smoking Asian hair-metaller and states repeatedly that his kung-fu monk drug gang “The Black Pearls” don’t use guns. 

He demonstrates this by showing how mercilessly he deals with employees who steal from him, when he and his chunky monk assistant Boh do the only thing that ruthless drug lords do to traitors: they push a thief into some shallow water. 
The many hideous faces of Salamar, the rumoured offspring of Axl Rose and a bulimic cockroach.
When Salamar and Boh fly to Canada for a martial arts contest, the lives of Lyle and his even tinier Ronnie Corbett-sized chum Detective Peng are changed forever. 

After getting mashed by Boh, Lyle buys a crappy Buddha statuette from Salamar which inexplicably turns out to be filled with Opium, thus setting him on the path towards chop-socky glory. 

However, because at this point Lyle is completely devoid of kung fu mastery, Peng invites him to Hong Kong to sharpen his piss-weak fighting skills.
It's not long before an absolute legend pops into the picture: Mr Stan Channing. 

The Chan-man plays Bailey, a straight-talking, no nonsense, badass police chief who is giving Peng a hard time about the opium-smuggling case he's been working on. 

The only trouble is, Mr Channing looks less like a psycho and more like a frail, 60-year-old maths teacher whose pupils pelt him with spitballs and lock him in cupboards. 

According to Jalal Merhi, this endearingly dithering codger is actually a black belt in real life, but sadly we never get to see him whooping anyone.

The mighty Stan Channing, masterfully chewing out Peng. Cower, mortals!

  Lyle's yuppy brother OD's on the same opium he found in his Poundland Buddha statue, a new street drug known as "fish food", which is apparently "more lethal than guns". This makes me question its long-term selling power, but regardless, it's up to Lyle to abandon his affluent job and towering, long-faced supermodel fiancé to wreak revenge on the purveyors of fish food, by learning the deadly Tiger Claws fighting style in Hong Kong.

  Lyle's first teacher is Do Man, who seems to read his script phonetically and without any grasp of its meaning. After a stretch of thoroughly dull training montages, during which Lyle throws a massive blob-strop and tosses a load of paint over the floor, Lyle decides to compete in the "Beh Moh". 

This totally irrelevant plot distraction is a dangerous underground fighting contest with competitors that include a growling fat fucker with a permed mullet, a scrawny giant with a wobble-head and a balding, unhealthy looking American who looks like he’s accidentally wandered on set while looking for an AA meeting. 

Lyle once again gets his Beirut butt pummelled by Boh, who is coincidentally fighting here too.

 After the patience-testing and totally inconsequential Beh Moh segment, Lyle, Peng, the shortass alcoholic and a cartoonishly tall black fellow team up to take Salamar’s drug-peddling monks down to cripple-town. 

Lyle finally manages to achieve the Tiger Claws technique after having a boogie on top of a mountain with mulleted legend Bolo Yeung and a leotard-clad ballet dancer. 

This sequence is a whole other level of ill-advised drivel, descending into interpretive dance before rising like a shit, inbred phoenix to a sweepingly clichéd shot of Lyle trying to grab a ball out of Bolo’s hand. This, apparently, concludes his training.

When Lyle returns to Canada, his poor bemused fiancé is kidnapped by Salamar’s giggling cronies, a crime seemingly cued by Salamar unnecessarily leaping through a thick glass patio window. 

They’re desperate for a computer disk that Lyle found in his discount Buddha which contains the recipe for Fish Food. 

In one of the most baffling film sequences I’ve ever seen, Lyle meets the drug dealers in an art gallery to exchange his vast wife-to-be for the disk. 

However, the criminals and our would-be-hero are interrupted by an elderly woman who just wants to look at the pretty pictures, and the employees of the gallery who inform them that their dodgy deal is taking place right at closing time.

Somewhere amongst the mishmash of poor editing, pointless flashbacks, over-acting, under-acting and not-at-all-acting there is the greatest "fake limb" sequence in low-budget film history (closely followed by the suicidal dummy in Zombie Holocaust/Dr Butcher MD, whose arm pops off when it hits the ground, only to be miraculously re-attached when we see the corpse in gory close-up). 
Our guest reviewer Jonathan in all his Kung Fu glory!

Not to spoil the tension-free story (oh alright, I will), but Salamar and his cronies are in a car chasing Lyle and his lady, who are balanced on the back of a slowly-moving rubbish truck. 

 Salamar foolishly clambers out of the sun roof to get a clear shot at them (using firepower for the second time in the film, despite endlessly wittering on about his gang not needing guns). 

 When the car swerves, Salamar stumbles backwards, somehow managing to land head-first into the car with his legs flailing out the top. 

 The car skids and flips spectacularly with a preposterous-looking pair of dummy-double legs poking out of the sun roof for what must be ten full seconds’ screen time.

After the explosion, Salamar’s henchman Jerome and Lyle have the clumsiest fight of a film consisting solely of clumsy fights, and somehow Jerome ends up vanishing into a pile of garbage. Boh jumps over, clobbers Lyle , grabs the disk and wobbles slowly away, ready for the movie’s mind-blowingly anticlimactic climax during which Lyle lobs a TV at Boh, fails to use any of his training and then wanders gracelessly off into the sunset.

For trash aficionados, Fearless Tiger simply has to be seen. It’s a melting pot of directorial ineptitude, horrendous acting, tension-free storytelling, ludicrous-looking cast-members, and a script with more plotholes than plot. I would encourage any and all to track it down, watch it and then never speak of it again.

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