Friday, August 29, 2008

Bruceploitation movie of the week: Iron Dragon Strikes Back

You can't beat a slice of Brucesploitation, namely those films so 'inspired' by Bruce Lee that they feature stars with a passing resemblance, and as many of Lee's mannerisms, as possible. The most blatant have stars with homonomic names, the most well known being Bruce Le, Bruce Long, Bruce Ly, and the star of this brutal little actioner, Bruce Li (who scores points for the closest homonym).

Sub-genres: Modern day (well, 1979), Brucesploitation

Plot: A group of chums on a diving trip encounter some bars of gold on the sea bed near an island. These transpire to be from Vietnam (you can tell because it says 'Vietnam' on them in English). The chums, possibly influenced by 'A simple plan' (despite it not being written for another 25 years) decide to wait and see if pirates come back for it; and if not they will spend it. Of course, the greediest of the group simply returns later and blags it all for himself, and his chums find themselves to be hunted men once the real gangsters realise the gold has gone.

There are some great plot curveballs: at one point you think an old Kung Fu film has been spliced in, but it turns out to be a working movie set. And one of the fights appears to be a random mugging with no plot impact!

Title relevance to plot: Zero. Who Iron Dragon is, or whether he is striking back at all, is never revealed.

Ludicrous dialogue: Superb, with many sit-down scenes where the cast provide a Q & A for anyone who missed something (such as family members who have ambled in and decided to watch the film with you). Favourite part: the TV news announcement at the start reveals that the pirates have been smuggling gold using the codename 'auntie' to refer to the gold. Despite the fact that the code has been rumbled, we see various shady phone calls take place with 'Where's auntie'? being the main question. Very secret squirrel!

Fights: High-energy, brutal and 'everything including the kitchen sink': as well as some well-executed combos and weapons work there are desparate scraps where each and every blunt object to hand is used. Bruce concentrates on kicks; some good pressing kicks to block followed by a swift turning kick/reverse turning kick combo is a typical combo. At points the fights look quite traditional ('courtesy kung fu') but a good pace is kep throughout. The other members of the gang rely on as many dirty tricks as they can muster against the barrage of lead pipes, machetes' butterfly knives etc.. And there's a really nasty downward kick to despatch the main baddies head at the end!

Overall: 3.5 kicks out of 5, the plot never drags for too long and the high-energy rate of the action makes up for the weak 'suspense' that the plot tries to invoke.