Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Man from Hong Kong (1975)

"Hey! Don't give me any shit!!" - Fang Sing-Leng from "The Man from Hong Kong"

Director Brian Trenchard-Smith was in attendance for this Weird Wednesday screening of "The Man from Hong Kong," a true cinematic anomaly: an Australian set and produced Kung Fu Action movie that is also a satire of Renegade American Cop films. Would-be heir to the thrown of Bruce Lee, Jimmy Wang Yu, plays Inspector Fang Sing-Leng, a loose cannon cop from the Hong Kong Special Branch, who "learned every trick in the book, and then threw the book away." He arrives in Australia to assist a pair of local cops with the extradition of two-bit drug smuggler, Win Chan. Everything goes awry when Chan is assassinated by a killer (legendary stunt man Grant Page) hired by the extravagant crime lord, Jack Wilton (George Lazenby). Wang Yu then goes on a quest to prove Wilton is the man behind the drug smuggling ring, and destroys everything that he comes into contact with in the process, but never fear, because it's all in the name of justice.

Okay, let me just start by saying that everything about this movie is totally Badass. Even the stuff that starts out lame, like the theme song, “Sky High,” by the band, Jigsaw, is suddenly transformed into something totally Badass. Another example: Hang Gliding, usually it's really lame, but in this movie, it's totally Badass, who knew? Hell, when it combines "Sky High" and Hang Gliding, every other movie in the world should of committed suicide. I don't know how it works, but “x” plus “The Man from Hong Kong equals TOTALLY BADASS.

Other examples of Badass stuff: The opening car chase that ends with an insane car-flip and explosion that causes one of the doors to unhinge and fly towards the camera. No CGI at work, just good old fashion dangerous film-making. Hell, every car chase in this movie kicks major ass, and to me at least, it looked like Wang Yu did all of his own stunt driving. Maybe I'm wrong about that, but if am, that's even more props for the movie. There's another example of hazardous film-making later on in the film in a scene where George Lazenby is set on fire, a real fire stunt that resulted in him having to be hospitalized for burns to his hands (it also supposed resulted in Lazenby punching Trenchard-Smith). The scene looks not unlike this photo of Brian Trenchard-Smith doing a publicity stunt for the film on the rooftop of the Kerridge Odeon Building:

Another Badass thing Wang Yu definitely does his own stunt driving in the coolest fucking entrance to a date ever; he slides his car sideways, stopping just short of his rendezvous' car, which is parked on a cliff-side, she never stood a chance.

With all the great stunt driving, it surprising that the film also produces some pretty good fight scenes, the highlights being the one between and Wang Yu and Grant Page in a kitchen, and Wang Yu's climatic final fight with Lazenby, which you can watch here. I also really liked the cut effects in the movie. Even though the blood was obviously orange paint, the way cuts occurred in the film was quite convincing.

The film also sports some horribly racist, but hilarious dialogue, such as Wang Yu's love-making scene in which his mate says "This is nice," to which he responds “What did you expect, acupuncture?” Wang Yu supposedly disliked white women so much, that whenever he was preparing for his love-making scenes in the film, he would eat bugs before having to kiss them (this story was detailed in the documentary, "Not Quite Hollywood"). Lazenby also plays up the racist villain with lines like "I find Chinese make the best servants" and "I never met a Chinese yet that didn't have a yellow streak." Not to mention, one of the Australian cops off-hand remarks after Wang Yu destroys something, "Talk about the bloody yellow peril." I never thought racism was Badass until I saw "The Man from Hong Kong."

Lastly, though no one mentioned it (I totally expected Lars to since he has such a fondness for Philippine shirts), the film contains a hefty amount of colorful, crazy shirts. Considering the shirts that Brian Trenchard-Smith wore for his appearances, it's not surprising.

Here is his Q & A for the film from the Fantastic Fest screening:

"The Man from Hong Kong" screened on 9/24/08 at midnight and was presented by Weird Wednesday as part of the Not Quite Hollywood series.


Brian said...

Hi. I'm an avid Brian Trenchard-Smith memorabilia collector (living in Austin) and saw the poster image on your blog post here (great post by the way) and was wondering where you found it. Would KILL to track down that poster.

Best way to contact me if you are able to provide any info is

Popkoff said...

Hey Brian,

Unfortunately, for the life of me, I can not remember where I came across that image.

I have a bigger version of the image on my computer that I went ahead and put in a zip-folder and uploaded to my Mediafire account for you to download if like.

Take care.

Captain said...

Hey Brian,
I believe that is a press book.

Also, I collect a lot of Stunt Rock stuff and most of BTS early work...
send me a mail one day