Deadly Kick (1976)
'sup, peeps, Nate here with another little ditty about Dae-Ho and Wangryang. Who the hell are they, you ask? Well, they are, of course, former friends who attended the same karate school in South Korea in the 1970s. Then they had a falling out, Wangryang raped and blinded the karate school teacher's daughter and then joined the mob, Dae-Ho went to prison for something and his wife turned into a hooker and his mom disowned him, and the two of them became mortal enemies. But then they were friends again, because there was money at stake, specifically mob money that they teamed up to steal. Along the way there were snakes and helicopters and naked girls and safecrackers and terrible pan-and-scan digital transfers and polyester suits and shitty Toyota sedans and cheesy mustaches and snow boots and in the end there was much death and destruction. Oh, and some chick gets her vagina stabbed with a fencing epee and some guy is choked to death with intestines that were pulled out of the stomach of another guy, because it's also that kind of movie.
Dae-Ho! Wait, no, yes, that's him. I think.
Wangryang! Yes? I'm 82.5% sure.
And some old lady!
Why did I review this? Mostly because it was a martial arts movie made in South Korea, which is extremely rare, 99% of what you find in this genre comes from Hong Kong or Japan or Taiwan. Is there anything uniquely Korean about the film? Um, no. Unfortunately, the director seems to have learned his craft by studiously watching every Hong Kong chop-socky movie he could find and Deadly Kick really looks just like every other generic Shaw Brothers kick-and-punch-and-pose movie from this era. So, sadly, not much to review, but I would like to mention a few things that struck me while watching this one...
Must be Korean, left-driver cars.
This is quite possibly the most 1976 movie ever made. The music, the cars, the hair, the clothes, ohmygod the clothes, did you all really dress like this in 1976? I was just a child then, I get a free pass. One wonders (fears) that in 40 years time our future generations will look back on the movies of 2015 and laugh at our hipster beards and our skinny jeans. And rightfully they should, I laugh at them now.
Damn, brah, you look ridiculous.
It's possible that this movie contains chunks of several different films mixed in to pad out the running time. You see that a lot in 1970s kung fu movies, often one movie will be chopped up into bite-sized action bits to reappear for years (decades, even) in other films by the same company. In Deadly Kick, the mob actually watches an 8mm film clip of some dudes fighting as they look for new assassins, allowing them to slip in a few minutes from a different movie in the most painfully obvious way possible.
The mob watches home movies.
Were there really that many karate schools with wise old masters in the 1970s? And I mean the kind of “movie school” where the students live there full-time and do nothing but study how to beat people up and leap over trees and other ninja stuff, all under the tutelage of some grizzled old man with white hair and mad kung-fu skills. Did such a thing ever exist? Did they, but only hundreds of years ago before industrialization and indoor plumbing and Playstation 4s made it uncool to stay locked up in some musty male-only dormitory for 30 years learning how to break boards with your forehead?
Three times characters have sex and each time most of what we get are extreme soft-focus close-ups of their faces while they are doing the deed. Probably the least sexy part of anyone's anatomy when having sex is the O-face, especially when it's a overly-acted fake O-face on the seventeenth take this morning and my god can we just get this shot over with so I can go back to my trailer? You can film a sex scene without anything R-rated (though, why???) and you can do so without the blurry close-ups, please.
Nostrils are seldom sexy.
Let's say that you are being chased on foot by a helicopter. Yes, you are. Do you dodge-and-weave until you can get to cover, perhaps by running into that thick treeline just over there? Or do you run in a straight line out in the open (next to the treeline), continually looking over your shoulder at the approaching helicopter gunship and only diving to the ground once it's past you, guns blazing? Yes, the second one. But that's ok, because in the movies it's next to impossible for anyone to be shot dead by a helicopter's weapons, despite the fact that a hovering or slow-moving helicopter is an extremely stable aiming platform. And you are jogging along in front of it like a fool. Now let's imagine that you are flying that helicopter, chasing that idiot who is slowly shambling along that open road below you. He's unarmed, you know, why don't you just hover in front of him and blow him to pieces? Or maybe just ram into him, a five ton helo will hurt a lot when all you have for protection is an open-neck silk shirt and a faux-suede sport coat with extra wide lapels.
Nice Bell 47.
Now let's have a quick class on explosives. In today's Grenades 101 lesson, if some henchman tosses a fragmentation grenade at you and it lands 6 inches away from your feet, when it goes off you are going to die. Unless, of course, it's a “movie grenade”, then it will just produce a little puff of dirt and smoke that you can easily just jump away from with nary a scratch. Also see every rocket launcher in every James Bond movie ever made.
Wow, she should be in this movie more.
There's a fight about halfway in between a blind woman and her daughter on one side, and the scoundrel who blinded her on the other. The little girl uses bells and a chain to warn her mom when the bad guy is getting close (maybe via mental radar?). It doesn't work, however, because the dude masks his approach by calling upon the spirits of the hawk and gila monster to make screeching noises. I wish I was making that up, but I'm not. There's also a nice four-on-one fight in a snow bank near the end, which is special. The thing about the uncounted masses of cheap kung fu movies from the 1970s is that the “good” ones knew you had to have at least one truly unique fight scene to set yourself apart from the rest. Be it setting or choreography or whatever, give the audience something to remember your film for (because it sure won't be the plot or the script or any of that).
Blind chicks are always tough.
If you're a two-bit actor in a crappy movie and your sole job is to “play dead” after the hero stabs you a hundred times with his Fingers-of-Iron, then, please, try and hold your breath for the few seconds the camera is on your corpse. Your chest moving up and down as you obviously breathe normally is not selling the illusion of death. If they're going to all the effort to splash fake stage blood all over you, then the least you can do is play dead better than just closing your eyes. Also, if your other only job is to fall down when the hero's swinging Elbow-of-Doom “hits” you, please don't wait until two seconds after (or before) the moment of contact to react and fall down. You do want to get paid, don't you?
Ninja Knitting Needles!
If you and your fellow lackey henchman are faced with a karate master and decide your only option is to fire your submachine guns in a small enclosed area, it's going to hurt your ears. Like, a lot. Like, permanent hearing loss, bleeding from the ears, punctured ear drums, that sort of thing. That also goes for inside cars and in narrow tunnels, guns are loud, really loud. And not just long rifles, even hand guns in confined spaces are detrimental to your long-term hearing. Just thought I'd let you know that because apparently no one told you.
Wear ear protection!
The mob money stash that Dae-Ho and Wangryang end up stealing (and killing each other for in the end) is shown a couple of times and it's all in stacks of sweet, sweet non-sequential American dollars. Not sure what that says about the international currency of crime, corruption, shady arms deals, and drug pay-offs, but fuckyeahAmerica!
Don't be these goons.
And finally, while there are indeed many kicks to be seen in this movie, no one kick is more awesome than the others. Which is weird because the title is Deadly Kick, which presupposes that there's going to be some sort of special, deadly (if you will) kick that perhaps the hero will use as his final kill-stroke, foot-slamming the Big Bad Boss through a wall and into a tornado where he will be bitten by a cobra, that sort of thing. Not happening. Almost like the title was picked at random by some studio executive from a list of “kung fu sounding names”. Huh.
Should have been Deadly Fingers!
So, anyway, Deadly Kick is sorta worth a watch, if you're really bored this afternoon and have no friends. I'm sure it's on youtube.
Written in August 2015 by Nathan Decker.
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