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  Slaughter in San Francisco Meet The Hong Kong Dirty HarryBuy this film here.
Year: 1974
Director: Lo Wei
Stars: Don Wong, Chuck Norris, Sylvia Chang, Dan Ivan, Robert Jones, Chuck Boyd, Chin Yuet Sang, James Econmonides, Robert J. Hercuth, Lam Ching-Ying, Bob Talbert
Genre: Thriller, Martial Arts
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: Officer Don Wong (Don Wong) and his partner Officer John Sumner (Robert Jones) patrol San Francisco in their car looking to assist the public and prevent crimes, but every so often they stumble across a crime in progress. Today, they catch sight of a pair of legs lying in a hedge and stop to investigate, convinced it is a dead body, but on approaching for a closer look they discover a couple in an amorous embrace and retreat, abashed. However, a little time later in the same park they hear cries for help and rush to the aid of a woman almost being raped: the two assailants flee so the cops give chase, and get into a brief fight with them before slapping on the handcuffs.

However, again all is not as it seems, for the woman denies there was any assault taking place once Wong and Sumner escort them to the station, and their boss Captain Newman (Dan Ivan) has to let them go. Quite what the reason for the victim changing her mind was thematically rather murky, but you could observe this was about duplicity in many forms, with Officer Wong the paragon of virtue in a world full of corruption and lies, or something like that. Although that message was forgotten when Slaughter in San Francisco comes up in discussion, and this was down to the biggest star in the cast, step forward one Chuck Norris, fresh from his classic battle with Bruce Lee in Way of the Dragon.

Tellingly, you could not expect much classic about this, which saw the prolific Lo Wei yet again try to find someone who would be as famous a martial artist as Bruce was, and with Wong he... failed again. Not that this also-ran was untalented, he had some decent moves and didn't embarrass himself particularly, it was just circumstances saw to it that what could have been a big break back in the mid-seventies went largely unnoticed until the early eighties and Norris found himself quite the celebrity thanks to some American-made movies that cemented his image as one of the faces of United States action flicks. On the other hand, he rarely, if ever, had quite the workout that the Hong Kong gang would provide.

Even in this little item, albeit Chuck was very much in a supporting role with little to do until he appeared in the final fifteen minutes to play the big boss part for Wong to prove himself against, basically posited as the sole worthy opponent he had for the whole plot. Something else deemed essential when mentioning Norris in this, perhaps even more so than Way of the Dragon since there were other distractions in that, was his luxuriant rug of chest hair that spread over his shoulders and down his back, prompting many to ponder where all that went once Chuck hit the big time as a film star. When that was upstaging you, Wong might have wished for a different actor playing his main villain, but then maybe nobody much would have recalled him at all if that had been the case.

As for that plot, it saw Officer Wong (apparently playing himself, were we supposed to believe the San Francisco Police Department was recruiting actors now?) uncovering such widespread corruption that despite the happy ending if this was in any way accurate your faith in society would be well and truly rattled. Poor old Officer Sumner, carefully depicted as a nice family man, didn't last long and Wong had to track down his killers, which included a subplot where an innocent Chinese family saw their father arrested on spurious murder charges and was stuck in a cell to be occasionally roughed up by one of the detectives. Oh the injustice! Luckily our hero cop, who has been discharged to become a waiter yet still acts as if he were on the force, won't back down, battling a host of henchmen including the world's most athletic junkie who no matter that he's just injected himself with heroin manages to hold his own in hand to hand combat and sprinting across rooftops, not to mention his baffling Edward G. Robinson voice (the dubbing was... interesting). Very cheap, then, and the laughs were the same. Energetic music by Joseph Koo.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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