Sunday, January 20, 2008

Kill or be Killed

Okay. This is going to require some setup.

When I was a youth, I was very fond of a movie callde Kill and Kill Again, which is a South African karate movie. You can read my recap here, and you might also want to see what Chris's Invincible Super-Blog says about it, because his screenshots are better than mine. It's a crazy movie full of bizarre characters (Hot Dog!) and a plot lifted directly from Enter the Dragon. And it's a sequel. For the longest time, I hadn't seen the original, which ou will have realized by now was Kill or be Killed.

I eventually saw it, on a crappy VHS, and was somewhat disappointed. Where's Hot Dog? Where's Gypsy Billy? How come The Fly is someone else? How come Steve Chase is called Steve Hunt? This doesn't make sense! I was blinded by my expectations and didn't fully appreciate the foolishness of Kill or be Killed on its own.

Enter the Grand Illusion, a tiny non-profit Seattle theater, which somehow decided to show Kill or be Killed Friday and Saturday nights this week. They're essentially midnight movies, except that they're actually airing at 11:00, which is nice.

So! I got to see an extremely obscure movie (seriously, Kill and Kill Again at least has a DVD release!) in a real theater, on film. Crappy film, as it turns out -- it was all scratched up, and a couple of the reels had faded to where there was almost no color in them and all the whites were a light red. It was exactly how a movie like this should be seen.

The movie itself is not without its charms. It's got a Nazi named Von Rudloff who has a dwarf called Chico and a burning lust for revenge because of what he feels was a rigged karate tournament in the 1936 Olympics. That's a little odd, right? So he has this plan where he challenges the guy who actually won (a Japanese gentleman named Miyagi, so you've got a choide between the WWII-era Germans and Japanese, not that anyone in the movie shows the slightest tinge of uneasiness working for a Nazi -- and he's the kind of Nazi with Swastikas everywhere). After he challenges Miyagi, he sends Chico around the world to hire the Greatest Karate Fighters in the World, but most of them turn out to have just signed up with Miyagi. I think Von Rudloff should probably have assembled his team before the challenge. I also think its weird that of the forty Greatest Karate Fighters in the World (twenty on Von Rudloff's team and twenty on Miyagi's), none of them are Japanese. Doesn't that seem unlikely? In fact, all forty of them appear to be South African. What a coincidence!

Anyway, there's a competition which people keep telling us is To The Death but isn't really, some shenanigans with attempted rape, Chico running around trying to calm everyone down, and a first-person suicide to end the movie. It was good fun!

By the way, I don't know why this would come as a surprise, but karate wasn't even an event at the 1936 Olympics. The whole premise of this movie is flawed!

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