HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Marjorie Prime
Hotel Salvation
Mangler, The
Shiraz
Mercy, The
Kickboxer: Retaliation
Molly Maguires, The
Party, The
Dante's Peak
Housemaid, The
Vendetta
Brimstone
Boys in the Trees
Once Were Warriors
Red Planet Mars
Blade Runner 2049
Devil's Express
Belko Experiment, The
Flashback
War of the Arrows
One-Trick Pony
Cloverfield Paradox, The
Beach Rats
In Between
Flesh Feast
Gerald's Game
Crocodile Dundee II
Baaghi
Bat People, The
Kingsman: The Golden Circle
   
 
Newest Articles
They're All Messed Up: Night of the Living Dead vs Land of the Dead
The House, Black Magic and an Oily Maniac: 3 from 70s Weird Asia
80s Meet Cute: Something Wild vs Into the Night
Interview with The Unseen Director Gary Sinyor
Wrong Forgotten: Is Troll 2 Still a Thing?
Apocalypse 80s UK: Threads and When the Wind Blows
Movie Flop to Triumphant TV Revival: Twin Peaks and The League of Gentlemen
Driving Force: The Golden Age of American Car Chases
Madness in his Method: Jim Carrey and Andy Kaufman
Music, Love and Flowers: Monterey Pop on Blu-ray
   
 
  Fighting Fists of Shanghai Joe No Joe say it ain't soBuy this film here.
Year: 1972
Director: Mario Caiano
Stars: Chen Lee, Andrea Aurelli, Federico Boido, Umberto D’Orsi, Robert Hundar, Klaus Kinski, Piero Lulli, Dante Maggio, Carla Mancini, Katsutoshi Mikuriya, Gordon Mitchell, Carla Romanelli, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart, Paco Sanz, George Wang
Genre: Western, Action, Martial Arts
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: A young kung fu hero (Chen Lee) arrives in San Francisco, but has no interest in becoming a servant, washing dishes, doing laundry or any of the usual jobs foisted on Chinese immigrants. He wants to be cowboy and heads for Texas. Sadly, the hardworking hero finds little friendship or employment from the many racist tricksters and gunmen, but his lethal skills make short work of them all. Wealthy land baron, Mr. Spencer (Piero Lulli) hires him to smuggle Mexican slaves, but “Shanghai Joe” rebels when he sees their senseless slaughter. He wins the love of a sultry senorita called Christina (Carla Romanelli), but the vengeful Spencer sends four master gunfighters to bring back his head.

There is a long tradition of kung fu westerns going back much further than Shanghai Noon (2000). Jet Li battled high-kicking cowboys in Once Upon A Time in China & the West (1998), Lo Lieh teamed up with Lee Van Cleef in The Stranger and the Gunfighter (1974), and while some may recall Toshirô Mifune in Red Sun (1971), few people know that Nikkatsu studios cranked out scores of westerns featuring an all-Japanese cast. Everybody remembers David Carradine in the boring television series Kung Fu, but the two Shanghai Joe films have been forgotten.

This spaghetti western with a kung fu twist has that grungy, gory, grindhouse vibe viewers either loathe or adore, but also an unusually intelligent and sensitive script. The story musters real sympathy for its kindly, compassionate hero who is ill-treated and abused almost everywhere he goes, before bonding with similarly downtrodden folk (Mexican slaves, women, the elderly). It also features a rare interracial romance, something from which many 21st century action movies still shy away. Little is known about leading man Chen Lee. He makes for noble, unfailingly polite protagonist (never actually referred to as Shanghai Joe, but characters suddenly start calling him Chen Ho in the last ten minutes) and it’s enormously satisfying watching him kick racist ass in super-stylized slow motion. Director Mario Caiano was active in an array of Italian exploitation genres: sword and sandal pictures, cop thrillers, and gialli; and does a fine job imbuing the spaghetti western setting with martial arts mayhem. Action fans should relish the over the top heroics as Joe’s fist drives a nail through a wooden board; tumbles through the air to mount his horse; rips an eyeball out; and punches a bull unconscious!

Especially entertaining for cult movie fans are Joe’s comic book opponents. They include such outlandish characters as Pedro the Cannibal, Scalper Jack (Klaus Kinski), Tricky the Gambler (Giacomo Rossi-Stuart), and former sword and sandal star Gordon Mitchell as a ghoulish, black-clad gunfighter. Eventually, the villains send for a fighter from Joe’s own mystical martial arts temple, who inexplicably turns out to be a Japanese samurai (Katsutoshi Mikuriya). Perhaps the most likeable thing about Joe is that, in spite of all the awful people he meets, he never develops a ruthless, “kill whitey” streak and retains his idealism. “Your kind of America isn’t what I came for”, he tells Mr. Spencer. “I think there’s another kind of America, one that has no room for degenerate scum like you.” All pretence at seriousness went out the window for the comedy sequel: Return of Shanghai Joe (1974).
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 3307 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Who's the best?
Robin Askwith
Mark Wahlberg
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Darren Jones
Jason Cook
  Andrew Irvine
Ian Phillips
Paul Shrimpton
   

 

Last Updated: