Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Three Films Make A Post: Revenge Has Never Been So Brutal

The Mysterious Mr. Wong (1935): A film from Bela Lugosi's Poverty Row phase in which the great man is enthusiastically playing the most Hungarian evil Chinese mastermind ever to grace the screen. Alas, Bela is basically the only good thing on screen. Except for the grotesque and uncomfortable fun of Lugosi in yellowface, there's not too much else to recommend the film. Expect lots of casual racism, a "funny" arsehole-reporter (Wallace Ford) as our hero, and of course not much of interest to happen on screen. It doesn't look too impoverished for a Monogram film, but there's still neither the will nor the money for anything even vaguely exciting on display.

Worse, Bela (who also disguises himself as a kindly old herb seller), just doesn't have a lot of screen time. Instead, the film prefers to torture its viewers with Wallace Ford being "funny". That's one of those "things worse than death" deals.


Chaya (2003)?: Very cheaply done Thai cross of reincarnation soap opera (and wow, does reincarnation work wonders for melodrama) and vengeance horror film. Everyone's quite pretty and quite melodramatic, but the plot is not too interesting, the direction pedestrian and there are so many better Thai films to see.

If you're a Westerner like me, you'll probably at least get some moments of delight out of how matter of factly the film treats reincarnation and all that comes with the concept; I imagine Thai viewers to have comparable feelings about films including the Catholic confessional secret.


(The) Record (2000): Last in today's trilogy of cheap but not very good movies is this South Korean attempt at ripping off I Saw What You Did Last Summer, which itself wasn't exactly a film bursting with originality. Turns out that the two directors needed to make this film hate even the thought of originality with the burning passion of twelve exploding huts and so continue to pillage every post-Scream slasher they can get their hands on for "ideas" that were already long dead when those films stole them.

This frankensteinian way of filmmaking could of course still lead to an exciting (or at least interesting) outcome, but for that to happen at least one of the directors would have needed talent, or a bit of madness, or vision, or the ability not to bore me to tears.

As it stands, I even preferred watching Wallace Ford.



Todd said...

"with the burning passion of twelve exploding huts"

Love that. Makes me thing we should implement an exploding hut rating system for low budget Asian action movies. Twelve exploding huts would be very good indeed.

houseinrlyeh said...

I could swear one of the specialists in Italian cult films does that already for jungle action movies. It's so obvious (in a good way).

Todd said...

Yeah, but I was talking about literally blowing up twelve huts. Has anyone done that before? I didn't think so.

houseinrlyeh said...

Only the unsung, nameless Cecille B. DeMille of Asian action movies has. And he's probably lost somewhere in Indonesia, hiding out with the negatives for his epochal magnum opus of exploding huts, "Raw Execution".

Todd said...

Would that be the long awaited sequel to "Naked Jungle Virgin Commando Vengeance"?