My first introduction to the wonderful world of Martial Arts film was due to a marathon of Bruce Lee films playing at the 62 Drive-In, I only was able to stay awake through two of the features but I strongly recall being enthralled by The Chinese Connection (Fist of Fury) and Enter the Dragon. Any aspirations I was harboring in my nine year old mind of becoming a martial arts master were quickly dashed when a week later while we were visiting a friend of my Father, I spied a pair of nunchaku and tried to imitate Bruce Lee…and almost broke my front teeth.
Still…I like Martial Arts films and our friends over at Shout! Factory were kind enough to let me review their upcoming double feature release of 1972’s Hapkido and Lady Whirlwind, each film starring the beautiful Angela Mao Ying (Enter the Dragon, The Invincible Eight). The films are on a single disc and feature Theatrical Trailers and English Opening Titles for Lady Whirlwind and TV Spot and Trailers plus interviews with Angela Mao Ying, Carter Wong, Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao for Hapkido. The release date is for this Tuesday, April 22.
Lady Whirlwind stars Angela Mao Ying as Miss Tien, a mysterious woman who when we first meet her walks into a casino and earns a large amount of money on a game of dice, even with the house using loaded dice…so there seems to be something of a supernatural element…or so we are first lead to believe. We learn she is seeking a scoundrel named Ling Shih-hua, in fact she will trade all of her earned fortune if the casino operators turn him over but what happens is a whole lot of awesome kicking butt from Angela as she defends herself from the numerous thugs. We find out later that Ling Shih-hua (Chang Yi) who is presumed dead, we assume this as well since we see what looks to be his death at the beginning of the movie, actually had gotten Miss Tien’s sister pregnant and left her…which sadly caused the young woman to commit suicide. Miss Tien is now in town for revenge, sworn to kill Ling for his walking out on her sister but the young man begs her to spare his life just long for enough for him to destroy the leader of the gambling and opium syndicate. So Miss Tien and Ling grudgingly become allies as they take on the Japanese mobsters.
Hapkido takes place in 1934 and has Angela Mao Ying playing Yu Ying, a recent graduate of the school of Hapkido. She and her two friends, Fan Wei (Sammo Hung), and Kao Chang (Carter Wong) are sitting and talking in a park when some Japanese thugs show up and cause trouble. By the way, this is the first time I have had the pleasure of seeing these films and when Kao Chang is shown I almost did a double take, it IS Carter Wong…THE Carter Wong from Big Trouble In Little China!
Anyway, the trio are quick to prove they won’t be pushed around…thanks to a little bit of hot-headiness from Fan Wei. They have returned to China in hopes of setting up a Hapkido school of their very own. The problem is the Japanese consider this a lesser style of Martial Arts and do everything they can to throw a monkey wrench into their plans, especially the Black Bear Gang. That temper of Fan’s ends up getting him into some very deep trouble forcing his friends to do their best to calm the situation but being a Martial Arts film you can probably already guess there is going to be only one way to stop such harassment.
Lady Whirlwind and Hapkido are two very fun Martial Arts films, the kind you would certainly see at Drive-In theaters in the 1970s or maybe late night on cable television. Of the two, Hapkido is definitely my favorite…and not just because of the awesome Carter Wong. You can follow the link provided up top to pre-order your copy of the DVD or pick it up on store shelves this Tuesday!