Archives for September 2007 | Varied Celluloid

Archive for September, 2007

Updates From Rogue Cinema

Posted by Josh Samford On September - 30 - 2007

Herro Everyboday! Anyhoo, just added a few Rogue Cinema pieces I did for this month’s October issue. Check them out under the “Articles” section on the left, though I’m thinking about retitling that “Rogue Writings” or something – since a lot of those are going to be reviews too. Anyway, of the new stuff added: a rambling article about what I’ll supposedly be doing on Halloween night; basically just me writing a bunch of goofy stuff with the intention of being funny so that Duane can have another article to flesh out the magazine, hehe. Then there’s a review for the novel American Psycho which I liked quite a bit. The third is for two screeners I recieved from an independent filmmaker. Two shorts, Anesthesia and Repressions. Very interesting films to check out.

So I’m out of here for now people. Looking around for a web forum and will try to add one on sometime this week; as well as a few more older reviews from the “old” VC. Also going to be writing some fresh material; hopefully a review for Johnnie To’s The Mission shouldn’t be far off.

Josh/pantsman

Legends of Kung Fu

Posted by Josh Samford On September - 18 - 2007

The Legends of Old School Kung Fu – By Joshua Samford

Originally Posted on Rogue Cinema



The Legends of Kung FuEver since I first saw Enter the Dragon, much like every other red blooded American male from my age demographic or older, I have been in love with martial arts. Ever since then I have been a Kung Fu junkie and really hit my stride a few years back when I was buying up pretty much any DVD/VHS with anyone on it who even looked like they might know a little Kung Fu. So, I’ve amassed a fairly decent collection of Kung Fu flicks over time. As of recent I haven’t been picking up many newer releases, but I still like to break out my tapes and what not from the older days which are of course my favorite. I am not a strictly old school > new school kind of guy, I do appreciate wire work in martial arts cinema – but when it comes down to it, watching a guy really go out and do something versus another guy getting lifted by strings to do it; well, I’ll take the natural ability any day of the week. So with that said I’m going to go over some classic martial arts films that my fellow readers out there might not be aware of. These films are absolute must haves and I urge you, if you are a fan of HK cinema or martial arts or older action films – seek these out and enjoy. I’m not going to say this list is one of level of importance, but perhaps my level of enjoyment at this particular moment. There, did I cover my butt from any fanboys who might want to tear me a new one? Okay then, let’s move on!


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5: Snake in the Eagles Shadow The whole world, and martial art film fans in particular, pretty much owes Jackie Chan a round of applaus and thanks for everything he has done for the world of cinematic Kung Fu. The guy helped re-establish the market in the 80s and helped show that you can still use Kung Fu while making a film set in modern times. Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow was his breakout role and one of the greatest Kung Fu films of the old school, and the finest example of a new style of martial arts film that focused a lot on providing a comedic story along with breathtaking action. Jackie is as on in this film as he ever was, and his fight sequences are inventive exciting. This film helped pave the road for Drunken Master and eventually Police Story and Legend of the Drunken Master. Easily one of the top five most important Kung Fu films of all time.

4: Fist of the White Lotus Although it may not be anywhere near as popular or important in the grand scheme of things as something like Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow – Fist of the White Lotus is one of the best the genre produced. With Gordon Liu and Lo Lieh in the lead roles, FOTWL is a seminal masterpiece. Providing the film world with memorable characters like Pai Mei, the white priest who somehow has a catcher’s mitt where his testicles are pretty much. If you haven’t guess, yes, Fist of the White Lotus focuses a lot on the gimmicky side of the Kung Fu film universe – but in my opinion that can be one of the greatest things about this genre. Jimmy Wang Yu (who I am sad I don’t have a place for on this list, not today at least) pretty much built his legacy on it with films like Master of the Flying Guillotine and One Armed Boxer. The campier things get, the more fun they tend to be in my book and I think Fist of the White Lotus and the next film on this list prove that.

3: Crippled Avengers I am a big fan of the Five Venoms, which turned out to be a Kung Fu troupe that often starred together in slightly gimmicky films, but always demonstrating top level talent that couldn’t be topped. Crippled Avengers shows that same talent put to great use in a film where guys have legs and arms made of iron and retarded guys kick the most tail. Definitely a fun little movie for sure. The climatic battle at the end has to be seen to be believed, as our heroes literally jump through hoops trying to beat each other in a showdown that reminds me of the martial arts version of Hard Boiled. With characters going completely all out and with scenes of tremendous talent on display. Probably the greatest and mos acrobatic fight scene I’ve seen in any old school martial arts film ever. The kids these days with all the wire the world could provide would have a hard time topping this film in terms of excitement and entertainment.

2: The 36th Chamber Gordon Liu made his name with The 36th Chamber, and helped revolutionize martial arts cinema from there on. The 36th Chamber, or Shaolin Master Killer as I will always remember it, helped develop the Kung Fu film into something larger than it already was and cemented itself as one of the most copied films in history with it’s massive training sequence that lasts nearly the majority of the film. It seems these days that if a Kung Fu film doesn’t feature at least a five minute sequence of Rocky-esque training – then it isn’t complete, and I would say arguably the majority of that can be blamed on Master Killer. Without a doubt, Master Killer is another very important film that I have spent hours and hours trying to convince people to check out. I’m not going to say it is going to keep someone with ADD happy at all times, because much like my first choice, it is a lot more story driven than many of my other favorite Kung Fu films but regardless, you can’t be a major Kung Fu film fan without seeing it and understanding the brilliance of handeling a deep script and a great amount of action.

1: Five Deadly Venoms I’ve talked so long and hard about the film that I’m almost tired of looking up words to describe Five Deadly Venoms, not because I’m tired of the film, but because I am always convincing others. Five Deadly Venoms would probably be the first Kung Fu film I can think of that I really notice of how the script is woven and in my opinion it is one of the most deeply shapen films of the genre and time period. Bruce Lee always said he wanted his characters to have true meaning behind the reasons that they have to fight, and I think Five Deadly Venoms helps to establish such characters. It is generally a Kung Fu whodoneit, but it is infinitely more than that and features an amazing fight sequence towards the end that truly shows the grace and talents of these great men that many called the Venom clan.

I definitely recommend you run, not walk, to see any of these films if you love this genre and haven’t seen one. These are films that might just change your life and are definitely worth seeing now rather than later.

Switchblade Sisters

Posted by Josh Samford On September - 18 - 2007

Plot Outline: Lace is the leader of The Dagger Debs, one of the roughest and toughest female street gangs walking the city. When they stumble upon a tough customer in the form of Maggie, big things begin to happen between themselves, their male role models The Silver Daggers and a rival gang trying to take over. With Lace’s boyfriend, the leader of the Silver Daggers taking a liking towards Maggie, the whole group is left in a bad position. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and feeling scorned by her friend Maggie and her greatest love, Lace could be trouble.



The Review: It’s about time I took some time out to view and write some words out on Switchblade Sisters. I don’t think anyone would consider my being a fan of Quentin Tarantino a secret, and with his promotion of this film along with my general intrigue of the film work of Jack Hill – I’m surprised it took as long as it did for me to get around to checking this little diddy out. Switchblade Sisters I think is pretty deserving of all the praise it tends to get, and I don’t just say that as a Tarantino fanboy following in his footsteps or something along those lines. I’m far from that friends and neighbors. Switchblade Sisters can’t really be tagged as just one particular style of film, it’s really unlike anything I know of Hill doing in his time. The pacing, the plot advancement, the beat of the drum that follows is all Jack Hill; no denying that. It has that same malaise, laid-back feel that Coffy and Foxy Brown (though, Coffy more than Foxy) where the plot doesn’t feel so much like a “plot” as it does a day in the life of this average female street gang – who just so happens to get wrapped up in a tense situation that is resolved in the third quarter of the movie. They say every film has it’s own beat, it’s own rhythm and it’s judged by the dialogue, plot interaction and trademarks of any given writer and I think Switchblade Sisters is a testament that such a thing is true. If there’s any film that just screams Jack Hill; it is this one. Even though the out of this world costume design and bigger than life characters remind me of another Hill, Walter Hill and his film The Warriors; Jack Hill, who retired from the movie business way too early in my opinion, left us with what might speak the very loudest for his career even if he has never really felt that way. People really are their toughest critics, and if you listen to the Tarantino/Hill commentary on the DVD it becomes pretty clear that Hill is just your every day perfectionist but it’s good that he has lightened up to the film over time.

As a Tarantino fan, and you may notice this is true since I have a link to the Tarantino Archives loud and proud on my front page, I’ve had conversations with a lot of different types of movie fans. Even if we are an assorted group, the thing we have all shared in common with the man himself is that we’re all movie geeks who live and breathe this sort of stuff. Although this article isn’t about Tarantino and I don’t think it’s fair to talk that much about the man in the discussion for a film completely unrelated to him other than through distribution – I just want to point out where this film is coming from as opposed to what you might consider, being that Tarantino is so big on it and took part in getting the film re-released here in the states. Basically, I think the term “exploitation” is thrown around a lot here lately and in many cases it really isn’t deserving. Most “blaxploitation” flicks really aren’t exploiting anything anyway, and a film such as Switchblade Sisters which may be a bit crude in some areas (the un-PC way of depicting lesbian prison guards, which by the way I find to be a breath of fresh air), but in no way would I really consider it exploitive. So, take that stereotype out of your mind. The second thing you might consider since Tarantino is so heavily involved in such a film is that it might be some kind of deep allegory for some greater cause, or it might be a high concept but low budget piece of artistic brilliance. Well, I don’t think it’s that either. What Switchblade Sisters is to me, and it fits into a mold of cinema that I think is far too underrated in this day and age when every film has to either “say something” or feature an outrageous amount of money spent on it – Switchblade Sisters is just: fun. It’s a fun film, made in a time when audiences were fickle, followed dozens of trends and when things were a little more simple. A time before we the audience weren’t so demanding, when the average movie-goer pretty much lacked the ability to tell the difference in quality of the bigger studio pictures (you know, excluding the really big stuff) and the smaller independents. Putting in Switchblade Sisters is a definite throwback, and although some might be rolling your eyes and saying “sounds like an excuse”, it really isn’t. Hill’s film is as fun today as it was during it’s release and although it is of course dated by today’s standards, it still stands the test of time and offers an awesome little action picture wrapped up in some brilliantly played storytelling and one adventure-filled script. That sounds a bit “TV-Guideish” for my standards of promotion for a film, but what can I say, Switchblade Sisters really is a throwback flick.

If ever I saw a definitive “exploitation” film that defined the seventies, I’d have to say Switchblade Sisters fits incredibly well in that category. It simply is the time that it was made put down on celluloid. Seemingly taking place in a somewhat futuristic scenario (as per what the director was going for), it is an outlandish and amusing film. It has a decent amount of flaws, like any of these films are going to have but we the film audience that such a movie was intended for easily look past the budget issues and some of the acting involved. Although, to get technical, the only real problem I ever had with Switchblade Sisters would probably be a slightly disjointed mid-section within the film. Although it adds to that malaise feeling I mentioned earlier, some times you find yourself wondering where all this adventure is leading. Regardless, I am a fan of Jack Hill and Switchblade Sisters is certainly a stand-out film in his cannon. If you can get your hands on it, I hope more people out there can pick it up and enjoy its greatness.

The New Varied Celluloid

Posted by Josh Samford On September - 18 - 2007

Hey everybody,  just trying something new! Hope everybody is doing well and digging the new format. Hopefully this allows enough flexibility to really edit the site to the way I want to.

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Varied Celluloid is a film website intent on delivering views on movies from all genres. Started in 2003, the website has been steadfast in its goal and features a database of over 500 lengthy reviews. If you would like to contact us about writing for the website or sending screeners, please visit the about page located here.

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