Posts Tagged ‘David Carradine’

As I had already stated in my previous review (It’s Alive), we broke our promise given to ourselves that we wouldn’t watch any other movie directed by Larry Cohen. Well, this movie made us to spit on our promise. And to lick it afterwards. Really, it is not surprise, When you consider that we are suckers for trailers for 1980s trash movies, low budget giant monsters and David Carradine.

oh-i-just-cleaned-itOh I just cleaned this

The first minutes of the movie reveal to us that director was not intending to hide anything. We see a window cleaner hanging out from the Empire State Building, doing his work and stalking some woman inside. Suddenly, a huge bird shows up from nowhere and rips his head off, leaving the rest of the body spraying blood on freshly cleaned window. At the bottom detectives Shepard (played by David Carradine) and Powell (played by Richard Roundtree) is trying to resolve a mystery of missing head. He doesn’t seem very much interested in it so movie takes us to a hotel room where police finds out a body of skinned man laying in bed. They conclude it was some sort of ritual in question. Or perhaps prices of hotel room are skinning people alive. Anyway, we get to see
dramatization of skinning after which scene jumps to a big slice of pork in restaurant. Or is it a pork? Obvious mobsters are holding a meeting in there. A nervous looking wheel-man Jimmy (played by Michael Moriarty) is trying to strike a deal with mobsters for their next robbery. Meanwhile the bird has been putting the snatch on various people from New York’s rooftops. One of them is hot young chick who were getting her tan completely naked in the moment when the bird snatched her. Blood starts dripping from the sky on unsuspecting passengers and mass panic breaks out.

 

The robbery went wrong and now Jimmy is running around trying to escape the mobsters who want to knock him off. He climbs into the decrepit tower atop the Chrysler Building, stands shivering in the wind, and chuckles proudly to himself, “Hah. I’m almost afraid of almost everything but I’m not afraid of heights.” Then he stumbles on the nest and the cadavers strewn around it, a nightmarish sight. When he hobbles back to his trashy apartment his girlfriend mentions something about making bacon and eggs. “No eggs,” moans Jimmy, “I don’t ever want to see another egg ever.” Meanwhile, the bird snatches another victim. This time it was a construction worker who was trying to find his stolen lunch. Well, his days of eating are over. The only thing left of poor man is his leg which fell down on the street causing a mass panic to break out again.

someone-pass-me-a-baconSomeone please pass me a bacon

Shepard is investigating the skinning job in local museum. The curator (played by Larkin Ford) explains to him that it is sacrificing ritual of ancient Aztecs to their God which is some kind of flying serpent named Quetzalcoatl. So Shepard takes some books, puts two and two together, figures out what’s up and shows his boss a sketch of the beast. The boss says something like, “A fifty-foot wingspan! Wow. With wings like that you could fly in from New Jersey. Everybody knows New York’s a good place to eat.” (All of this is played perfectly straight) Meanwhile, at the other side of city, the mobsters finally trap Moriarty and he promises to lead them to the money they’re after. He takes them to the Chrysler Building and sends them up into the dome where they are gobbled down by Quetzalcoatl. “HAH!”, Moriarty shrieks as he scurries away — “EAT ‘EM! EAT ‘EM!”. But couple of mobsters weren’t enough to satiate beast’s hunger. It feels munches for it’s favorite food – a naked idiots who are swimming on rooftops. So it went to the nearest building and grabbed couple of them for a road.

is-it-a-birdIs it a bird? A snake?

Jimmy marches into the police station and says he knows where the bird has it’s digs. All he is asking in return is immunity from prosecuting, exclusive rights on all photographs of the bird and, of course, one million dollars. That’s a spicy meatball!  detective suggests they go into his office because there are too many reporters around. “Bring ’em in,” says Moriarty. “Bring in the cameras and the newspapers! Bring RUPERT down here!” I must say again that Moriarty does a beautiful job of creating this character. He acts stupid, with his gaping mouth, but he has a seedy kind of intelligence too, the sort of intelligence a frightened but greedy child might have. After bit of negotiating and attempted police brutality city agrees to Jimmy’s terms so he leads the cops to the secret nest where Shepard shoots the egg full of holes. And everything is filmed by movies camera. There follows an argument over whether Jimmy should get his reward. He claims he’s showed them the location, which is what he promised to do, but the police argue that just getting the egg isn’t the same as getting the bird. Seriously, where is the bird?

 

The bird is soaring magnificently over the city picking up on it’s next meal. Meanwhile, Cops are following the real culprit – Curator. He is ready to sacrifice himself for Q (since the blood for sacrificing must be given willingly). Powell interrupts ritual and chases cultists to the top of the building (where, for some reason, is located Statue of Liberty). That was a big mistake since the moment Powell stepped onto rooftop he got grabbed by Q and dropped down to street in hilariously animated scene. Needing another sacrificial lamb. Shepard saw entire encounter and gathered the squad who managed to shoot down the bird but not without casualties, in a scene which resembles the final scene from King Kong. Also, you should check up onto this masterpiece of animation and stop-motion in the video below.

 

Needing another sacrificial lamb summoner of the Q (who’s name I don’t know; he just appeared from nowhere at the end of the movie) breaks into Jimmy’s apartment trying to convince him to give willingly his body, soul and blood for the glory of Quetzalcoatl. Shepard busts in and kills the villain in a manner of the worst movie death we all know from one Turkish movie Karate Girl. It took 5 shots to kill the villain and he died 3 times. It seemed that the all loose ends were wrapped but final scene reveals to us that one egg…SURVIVED! Now we know where producers of Godzilla got their idea from.

 

Conclusion: The movie refuses to take itself seriously. I think sometimes the script tries to get solemn but it can’t help chuckling at itself. After all it’s about this big bird or reptile, an Aztec God, who has built a nest and laid an egg in the dome of New York’s Chrysler Building. One of the producers was being interviewed and the reporter remarked that the movie was nothing but schlock with a perfect method performance by Moriarty right in the middle of it. The producer beamed and said proudly “The schlock was my idea.” The less said about effects the better. Apart of Michael Moriarty no other character was even close to convincing. If you’re carrying around inside your head a schema of Michael Moriarty as Ben Stone, assistant DA on “Law and Order,” the grim, determined, rigidly moral prosecutor, this movie will shake you up. I won’t go on with badmouthing. After all, it gave us fair amount of fun and laughter. So, my humble opinion is that you should watch this movie if you want some cheap pass time.

deathrace_article

The fact that many of his much younger coworkers started dying in last one year or so, didn’t prevent Roger Corman  from continuing to make  cult movies (more cult than movies truth to be told). Unexpectedly the most prolific B- Movie producer of all times  decided to remake a remake of his own film, legendary Death Race 2000 (Stallone, David Carradine), now Death Race 2050!

The filming is underway right this moment in Peru staring surprisingly potent cast of Mannu Benett (Chronicles of Shanara, Arrow, Spartacus), Malcom McDowell (Clockwork Orange, Halloween, Class of 1999) and Yancy Butler (Kick-Ass, Hard Target, Witchblade).

Deathrace

“This is an amazing opportunity for me and millions of Death Race 2000 fans to experience the intensity, thrills and dark humor of the original, fueled by a terrific young cast, spectacular vehicles and side-splitting action, literally” said Corman.

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New York Comic-Con limited edition poster via IGN

*Black Dynamite tells it like it is

The fact of the matter is: In 1971 Bruce Lee pitched in a treatment for a series called  The Warrior,  about a martial artist (Lee himself) in the American Old West. After rejecting his idea with famous “world is not ready for an Asian lead” AKA “we are a bunch of racist fucks” they decided to blatantly steal his idea, name series Kung Fu and instead of a famed and revolutionary martial artist that was Bruce Lee  cast David Carradine who: 01. Is not Asian 02. Closest thing to martial arts he ever did was dancing.*

Without any disrespect to Carradine who proved himself to be a competent actor on  rare occasions when
he was cast in a substantial, well written role- he was catastrophic choice for the part of Kwai Chang Caine yet he built his career on that 70es martial arts show (even spawning a sequel series and a movie). So how does he pays tribute to the man he (at least indirectly) screwed over? Well… by buying his unused script for Silent Flute, putting it  into production AKA by screwing the man again (even after his death!). Classy thing to do man, for sure…

What was planed as a first Bruce Lee‘s big American movie, 20th Century Fox’s Silent Flute was to be fascinating, martial arts epic full of Lee’s unique philosophy– touching upon everything from eastern mysticism to personal liberation. Script (or more accurate a draft) was written by Bruce Lee, James Colburn (planed co- star, and a central figure of the movie) and Sterling Silliphant, veteran Hollywood writer and  Lee’s close friend (they collaborated on Silliphant penned Marlowe and Long Street series). 20th Century Fox reluctantly agreed to finance it,  providing that it had to be shot in India. Unfortunately studio and the power trio came into disagreement over the locations of filming and after unsuccessful scouting for locations in India the project fell trough. Bruce would have to wait for Enter the Dragon to see his dream of being the first Asian lead in a American production see the light of day and even that was a bittersweet victory because he died from a brain edema just days before Enter the Dragon premiere.

So, what happened to the script? It ended up in the hands of none other than David Carradine who was incredibly eager to make it a reality. So, Silliphant and  Stanley Mann dusted it off and finished the script and in the process killed some  of the  explicit and most intriguing scenes, be it incredibly brutal fight that has Lee’s character (literally) crushing opponents balls, scenes of tantric sex, fantastic ambiguous ending and even a big chunk of Zen inspired philosophy that underlines our hero’s journey. Name Silent Flute was also scrapped and replaced with bad-ass sounding but meaningful Circle of Iron.They also changed the location from real world  to “a land that never was and always will be” and decided to shoot it in Israel (decision that for a change makes sense because Israel gave the movie an exotic and mystic backdrop that it so desperately needed).

Number of people were approached for the lead role of Cord including ex- karate and kickboxing champion Joe Lewis, (who had trained under Bruce Lee for at least a year) but he declined. He eventually did show up just as they were finishing up the film…  fight scenes ended up being so idiotic that he agreed to shoot some additional martial arts scenes and double the main actor in few instances.

In this version the lead, rebel “martial artist” Cord, (Jeff Cooper – Carradine’s friend who didn’t run away from the role like all the others did) embarks on a quest for the Book of Enlightenment, kept by mysterious and possibly evil Zetan (played by none other than great Christopher Lee) and in his journey is confronted by three trials. All the trials of course educate him in Zen philosophy and he runs across a string of bizarre character including but not limited to Ah Sahm, a blind flute player, a human- monkey hybrid, Death himself and a leader of a tribe of Gypsies . All are of course played by David Carradine (including almost bare- ass monkey man). It’s always fascinating to see Carradine in action, he has no speed, no muscle and no moves… and even worse he obviously gave some lessons to Cooper because he fallows the same “style” to a T.

“Only thing about me is the way that I walk…”

Anyway, Cord’s trials strange as they are involve combat, riddles or deep conversations- like the one with
a man (Eli Walllach) who has been sitting in a barrel of oil for 10 years in an unusual attempt to remove the lower part of his body, namely his genitals. Ah Sahm helps him often by reciting different wise words (some directly lifted from the original script) but you can hear it in his voice that he doesn’t really understand one word that he’s saying and considers it nothing more than some hippie new- age mambo- jumbo.

“Dissolving in oil I see, how’s that working out for you?”

Eventually Cord passes the tests (including a stupid sex scene and a death of a said girl) and reaches the Zetan.
When he finally opens the book he discovers that each page of the book is a mirror, showing him that the secret to enlightenment was within him all the time. After that he returns to the world, maniacally laughing and credits start rolling with Carradine  playing his flute in his honor.

Remake or should we say a new interpretation, with a post- apocalyptic edge is in works for possible 2013 release date. China’s National Film Capital will co-produce it. For now the only confirmed casting is Gina Carano (ex- Muay Thai and MMA fighter and a friend of Bruce Lee Legacy foundation ) as Tara. The fact  that Tara in the original film did nothing but sleep with the main protagonist and subsequently die because of it (via crucifixion none the less)–  will probably have to be changed a bit. I’ll just have to presume that producers are not imbeciles who would waste world class fighter on a role of a bimbo.

Concept art for a new version of the film

Anyway we’ll have to wait and see will the justice FINALLY be done to the original Bruce Lee’s vision (’cause it’s about time) or is it all just wishful thinking.

(click on the picture to play)

First scene ever of a cartoon character raping a real life actress in the history of motion pictures…                       hopefully, also the last one.