Genius Products // 2008 // 88 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 9th, 2009
Adventure with a vengeance.
Great title. Disposable movie.
The immortal David Carradine (Kill Bill: Volume 2) headlines this period action film about the vengeance quest of a washed-up American kung fu disciple named White Crane who infiltrates an opium syndicate with the express purpose of punching dudes in the nose. See, these drug dealers raided Crane's gated community of kung fu nuts, killed a bunch of innocents, and brought upon themselves a half a loaf of Carradine hellfire.
In Shanghai, Crane meets up with a cabaret singer (Daryl Hannah, Blade Runner) who sings and that's about it. Crane ingratiates himself with the druglords, waiting for his time to pounce and unsheathe his sword with much fanfare.
That sword unsheathing is the highlight of what is otherwise a thoroughly mediocre made-for-TV affair. On DVD, the bloodletting has obviously been boosted, because when the violence hits, sword, fist and otherwise, there's a surprising amount of gore. Chopped off limps, stabbings, arterial sprays and an especially goopy boulder bludgeoning make for probably the bloodiest TV-turned-DVD feature I've seen.
And even though it's only been a day since I've seen this thing, the bloodshed is pretty much the only thing that sticks in my mind. The Shanghai 1929 setting is eye candy and it's a period that is custom-made for interesting storytelling, but the simple revenge plot is forgettable. There might have been something to the clash of the old world and the new and so on and so forth, but it was muddied up in a haze of needless characterization and a slow pace.
Carradine is OK, doing the same role he's done since he was five, though his character's action scenes are a jumble of close-ups and pullbacks featuring an obvious stunt double. The guy just isn't the physical powerhouse anymore. Daryl Hannah serves little other purpose than occupying the requisite female role.
I've got nothing else to add, really. The film is well done and staged with better-than-average panache and Carradine is a cool customer, but the excessive bloodshed isn't enough to rescue Kung Fu Killer from the abyss of mediocrity.
The simplest of DVDs from Genius: a clean 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and a 2.0 stereo mix are joined by zero extras.
My biggest disappointment is that we likely won't see the title "Kung Fu Killer" used again because of this movie.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Genius Products
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated