By James Kenney
Growing up in the 1970s in New York, you could watch all kind of glorious crap on TV on the weekends. Channel 9 had Benny Hill, Dr. Who, wrestling and all sorts of eurohorror films (Deep Red, The Bell from Hell, Baron Blood, The Night Evelyn Came Out of Her Grave, etc.) in the morning, channel 11 provided Abbott and Costello every Sunday morning, and channel 5 had kung-fu films at 3pm on Saturday afternoons. THE THREE AVENGERS is my favorite, I would watch it and then practicing Bruce Li’s karate moves in my overgrown backyard with friends.
So I am partial to things like Dark Force Entertainment’s Drive-in Series’ most recent release, a double-feature of CHINESE HERCULES starring the Bolo Yeung from ENTER THE DRAGON and DOUBLE IMPACT and Joseph Kong’s BRUCE’S NINJA SECRET starring the immortal Bruce Le (not to be confused with Bruce Lee or Bruce Li). I enjoyed watching this so much it didn’t even make me upset when after 10 minutes I realized it’s the same film as BRUCE’S LAST BATTLE which I’d previously bought on DVD from Code Red on a double bill with THE GODFATHER SQUAD. You can watch the films separately or in “Drive-in Mode” as a double-feature with a full intermission of coming attractions; the prints are quite watchable but still scratchy and featuring some damage, like what you’d find at the real drive in back in ’79, or on channel 5, but uncensored and in the proper aspect ratio. So good times!
I am particularly partial to the kung-fu films that don’t take place in the ancient days of the Wu Tang and the Shaolin warriors, but instead show off the now long-gone modern Hong Kong and mainland China of the 70s, where the heroes wear blue-jeans, wife-beater shirts and sunglasses. Lawrence Chan’s disco-beat soundtrack for BRUCE’S NINJA SECRET, where for no apparent reason Bruce is sent off to find the “other half of a golden coin” by his sensei (or whoever), sounds like Dave Grusin’s chase-scene music from Redford’s ELECTRIC HORSEMAN, and, who knows, it probably is. It has lots of comedy and action and is apparently a bunch of scenes from different “Bruce Le” films strung together, so I don’t know who to credit for the scene of little people attacking Le with sickles.
CHINESE HERCULES is, alas, not a Chinese variation on the Hercules legend; Bolo Yeung is just a very big guy. He’s also not the lead, as Wei-Man/Michael Chan is the actual protagonist, and Young doesn’t even show up until the second half. Oh, well. It’s typical stuff, with villains hitting girls, good guys feeling guilt over killing bad guys who really probably deserved it, and Bolo taking charge in the final third to satisfy the ENTER THE DRAGON fans drawn in by the advertising.
If you’re me, you’ll get what you want and eagerly await the next release. If the screen caps and little people with sickles didn’t perk your interest, well, then move along, nothing to see here.
You can order the CHINESE HERCULES/BRUCE’S NINJA SECRET Blu-ray direct from Dark Force Entertainment.