Sunday, August 9, 2015

Bloodmoon (1997)

A rather talkative serial killing martial artist (Darren Shahlavi in a performance that becomes increasingly silly in all the right action movie villain ways the longer the film goes on) goes around murdering champions of random martial arts in surprise duels, mocking the police with his superior powers of 90s action movie computer hacking. Chuck Baker (Chuck Jeffreys) the martial artist leader – and seemingly only member – of the local police force’s serial murder beat is clueless as to the how and why and who, perhaps because he’s an idiot, or just because he’s too distracted performing magic tricks next to dead bodies.

Baker’s supremely shouty boss (Frank Gorshin) has just about had enough of the guy’s shit, so he attempts to rope in retired former serial killer department boss and profiler Ken O’Hara (Gary Daniels – yes, that’s Gary “what’s line delivery?” Daniels as a profiler) to do the job. As an aside, Baker – you know, the leader of the one man serial murder department – doesn’t seem to know what a profiler is and does (or the name of his predecessor, for that matter); but then, the movie isn’t much clearer about that point either.

Anyway, O’Hara at first doesn’t want to help – because Baker’s an obnoxious ass, and the darkness in serial killer heads (mate) has ruined his marriage – yet changes his tune once the next victim of the killer turns out to be his former martial arts sensei. Now the cops only need to get over their differences, find the killer – with the help of the sensei’s adoptive – and of course also martial artist - daughter (Brandie Sylfae) – and beat the crap out of him. Alas, the bad guy might always be one step in front of them (and babbling).

When Hong Kong talent went to Hollywood it weren’t of course only the John Woos and Tsui Harks of this world but also rather lower profile guys like Bloodmoon’s director (whose main achievements rather seem to be in the realm of action choreography) Tony Leung Siu-hung, or its main baddie Darren Shahlavi. Watching Bloodmoon, I couldn’t help but conclude the rather more low budget world reserved for people like Leung to be more amenable to the actual talents they developed working in Hong Kong, what with their experience at making spectacular action with little money, and working with actors and screen fighters whose talents went from “brilliant” to “wooden manikin”, making them all look competent.

At least, this works out pretty fine for Bloodmoon, a film chock-full of cheap yet awesomely choreographed diverse martial arts fights and stunts (sure helped along by the fact that Daniels, Jeffreys and Shahlavi are all very fine screen fighters, as are the guys playing Shahlavi’s victims), stupid yet funny dialogue, and much glowering in the direction of the camera. It is, of course, pretty easy to make fun of the plot but it is a perfect structure to hang the film’s fast and furious action on while adding the always popular profiler mythology beloved by everyone and their daughters.

Additionally, Leung and/or screenwriter Keith W. Strandberg put in quite a bit of the random nonsense of the sort that just seems to accrue in low budget action films, particularly those made in the USA, things that make no sense but open up so many interesting questions. Like, why does our serial killer dress up like the Phantom of the Opera (and why isn’t the abominable soundtrack at least quoting Andrew Lloyd Webber?)? Is Baker’s obnoxious magic trick crap really only in the film to set up the hilariously awful ending? Do computers really work that way? Or the police, for that matter? Does really everyone in the US know martial arts apart from strip joint visitors, for with the direction the film was going in, I was only waiting for Frank Gorshin to pull some fancy moves too? And so forth, and so on, until no brain stays dry. Which, of course, is absolutely how I like it.

No comments: