Digital Monkey Shines

Movies, Games and Other Diversions

Will the Real Chinese Boxer Please Stand Up?

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I am a sucker for bargain-priced DVDs.

50 orphaned musicals, several of which feature Frankie Darro, for $17?  I’m in.  A $4 used DVD of a film I might have once seen a trailer from that is also in French?  Let me check my wallet.  Two Asian movies I’ve never heard of for $2.99?  Sold!

Pamida¹, my local retailer of choice for those unable to drive out of town to a real big-box discount store, routinely tempts me with diverse offerings of movie merchandise of questionable value.  It’s possible to get all of those shoddy premise knock-off films from The Asylum (2012 Doomsday, Deathracers, etc) on Blu-ray from my Pamida.  Echo Bridge and its doppelganger Mill Creek are very well represented at Pamida, hence the reason I own the first season of Lexx².

Both “the Bridge” and “the Creek” are best known for bundling collections of films that have been thrust into the public domain by company failures where the question of rights was bungled.  There are some very good films that fall into this category, like Edgar G. Ulmer’s Detour, so a serious collector will probably cross the path of one or both of these companies before too long.

Not long ago, I was killing time waiting for a prescription to be filled at Pamida and discovered a new batch of promo-priced titles, most of which still weren’t worth the ridiculously low asking price.  I did find one DVD that intrigued me:

The cover of Revenge of the Samurai

Revenge of the Samurai / Karate Gangsters

Needless to say, there is not a lot of foreign language film to be found at Pamida, and the price was only $2.99.

Last weekend I finally watched the first film, Revenge of the Samurai.  I quickly realized what I’d bought:  a late-seventies/early eighties martial arts film from Hong Kong.  You probably remember them if you’re old enough:  badly dubbed and filled with fighting sequences, often the sort of thing that a television station might use to fill-in its late night programming.  These films are actually quite entertaining if you can get past the cheese factor.

The movie was, to be honest, quite a good example of the genre.  I couldn’t really follow which side was supposed to be the good side and who was bad, but it didn’t really matter.  There are all sorts of silly gags, including one fatality via turnip-impalement, chain-bombs, zombies, fan-shaped multiple-barrel guns, and two buckets of pearl bran glue used to ground a Thai boxer.

I suppose, if you really, really know Hong Kong cinema, you have already detected what I’m about to say.

Per IMDB, I found no record of a movie by the name of Revenge of the Samurai.  I’ve never found such a dead-end on IMDB before.  Even after working through some of the cast listed on the box looking for an alternate title, I found no evidence that this film existed.  What a puzzle!

Eventually, I stumbled onto a resource which I’ve since added to my research toolkit, the Hong Kong Movie Database (relax, it’s in English!).  HKMDB said my film was actually Return of the Chinese Boxer.  Making this identification dubious, the cast listing on HKMDB was completely different, even if you allow for dodgy phonetic spellings of Chinese names.

So where was the error?  I ended up finding footage on YouTube to compare with my DVD version, which also appears to be missing the original title sequence.  What I had bought really was Return of the Chinese Boxer.  Here’s the trailer, which is easily confirmed to be from the same movie as the DVD:

I don’t think this was Echo Bridge’s mistake, even though they should have done some verification on the film before releasing it to DVD.  They dutifully copied the credits as show on the film.  The error probably occurred much earlier, perhaps when the print was edited for U.S. television (remember the missing intro and titles?).

At least it provided me with a nice mystery to solve.  And the movie is quite entertaining.  I haven’t watched Karate Gangsters yet, maybe there’s another jumble to unscramble?

1 For those readers who grew up in Laramie like me, Pamida now also owns Alco.
2. German-Canadian science fiction production featuring a Teutonic gal with blue hair.  Please don’t armchair psycho-analyze me.

Written by Bill

April 28, 2011 at 2:42 pm

Posted in Movies

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