Monday, 7 December 2015
Black Belt Jones 2 (1978)
Black Belt Jones 2 stars Jim "Enter the Dragon" Kelly and Tao-Liang "Flash Legs" Tan and is directed by Tso Nam Lee who also gave us the Brucesploitation classics Exit the Dragon, Enter the Tiger and Fist of Fury 2. This cheap flick combines a little Blaxploitation, martial arts and a basic crime thriller plot in one cheesy package. Note, however, that it has nothing at all to do with the original, Robert Clouse directed, Black Belt Jones.
My DVD came from Moonstone and seems to be transferred from a dirty film source in a pillar-boxed 4:3 ratio. The dialogue is pretty badly dubbed and it also has those wonderful "THWACK" sounding contact noises. Just the way I like 'em!
The film and the action starts immediately... I mean straight away, like the film had already been running for 10 minutes and I'd somehow missed it. No trailers, no menu, just...
Gang leader: "What do you want?"
Tin-hao: "Is that one-eyed bastard here?"
Gang leader: Who the hell are you? You dare call our boss that?
Tin-hao: You bums obviously don't know me!
Gang leader: Oh I know you! You're one of Lu's men, the one they say can kick like a mule.
Tin-hao: Well, if you know who I am, then that's the best that can come out!
Gang leader: Watch out, you're on our turf now.
Tin-hao: I couldn't give a shit who this area belongs to. Where I am always belongs to me.
Gang leader: Well then, maybe I want to find out if that's the truth? Hippy!
To be honest I wasn't sure about the "Hippy" as that part of the dialogue was a little garbled but I like the idea of someone calling a Saturday Night Fever dressed Tao-Liang Tan Hippy.
Jim Kelly's acting ability hasn't improved since Enter the Dragon and in fact it seems to have somehow gotten worse (this could possibly be due to having to dub his own voice). Then again, who gives a fuck? He's tall, black, cool and cocky as fuck, even though he does look like a tennis pro on occasion. His karate based fighting is pretty good and in the later scenes really quite impressive, but it plays second-fiddle to Tao-Liang Tan's explosive legs and ultimately it's the Asian actors who shine in this film.
Korean born Tao-Liang Tan is great as Tin-hao, your typical gangster with a sense of honour. His fighting is excellent with some terrific leg work. Interesting fact: Tan taught Bruce Lee's daughter, Shannon.
Chan Sing plays Lu the gang boss and has an impressive presence and a great moustache. I'd say he's the best actor of the lot.
Hong-Kong favourite Bolo Yeung even pops in for a few scraps and an argument with a ship's chef over some pet rabbits. The highlight however is when Yeung taunts Tin-hao with some atrocious singing!
The plot of Black Belt Jones 2 is simple enough with a few plot twists to keep thing interesting - just enough to hang 90 minutes of kung fu action onto.
The soundtrack is flute led funk with lot's of groovy percussion. There's also a couple of Suzi Quatro tracks in a strip-club scene!
The final fight scenes are really very good, with some great choreography; they're athletic, fluid, well filmed and they use the environment and props well, with Tao-Liang Tan versus Chan Sing being the stand out of the whole film, although Kelly's big fight proves he was no slouch either. Sure there's the usual problem of punches and kicks not connecting enough but overall I was really impressed!
Black Belt Jones 2 is nicely paced, has competent camera-work and editing, some ropey dialogue, strippers, boobs, a few hairy bushes, great action scenes, tattoos that appear and disappear at random, an hilarious chess analogy, a Crank 2 style drug fuelled striptease, and a bizarre rape scene with Formula One stills inserted into it.
Don't expect a restored Asian classic with 5.1 sound and lots of extras (scene selection is all you get with the Moonstone release). This is a pretty good action film with little slack that'll keep you entertained for its 90 minute runtime. Far better than I thought it would be.
"Your Chinese legs aren't bad"
"Why, thank you. How does defeat taste?"