The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tiger Claws III (1999)

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This is the third and final installment in the Tiger Claws saga-- and I use the term saga with all intended irony. We did Tiger Claws just to get part one out of the way so I could review Tiger Claws II, which featured blog favorite Evan Lurie. Now it was time to finish and do part three, and though I was in part reluctant because parts one and two weren't exactly awesome, the addition of Loren Avedon, who was great in King of the Kickboxers, made me more optimistic.

Tiger Claws III takes place some time after part 2. In it, Jalal Merhi and Cynthia Rothrock are police partners-- and perhaps lovers as well-- and they're on the case of someone who broke into a warehouse storing priceless Chinese artifacts. Turns out Avedon was the potential thief, and he wanted to steal three ancient assassin's suits, which he really didn't need to steal anyway, because he was able to do with them what he wanted at a party for their unveiling: cast an ancient spell and bring ancient assassins who filled the outfits back to life in the present. These supernatural Chinese assassins are wreaking havoc all over New York, they've killed Rothrock, and Merhi has no idea what to do, so he seeks help in Avedon's former master (the great Carter Wong in his final role to date), a teacher in the art of Black Tiger. Merhi, having already taken the prerequisites in regular Tiger, was able to jump right in and take the advanced Black Tiger classes, and he used that power to combat the baddies.

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I guess, if you're going to go out, you might as well do it with a bang. Or rather, do it as ridiculously as possible. Supernatural ancient assassins brought back to life? Why not, just go for it. The thing is, that ridiculousness needs to pay off with solid action, and we didn't exactly get that. We had some great martial artists, and instead of them duking it out, we were treated to bad Street Fighter II rip-off effects with guys throwing blue balls of energy that looked like Ryu's Hadoken. That might not have been so bad, if we weren't tantalized by some great pockets of good fight scenes here and there. I guess the question is: does the silliness detract enough to make the film stupid, or make it fun?

This delivers a pretty solid Cynthia Rothrock bait-and-switch, as she dies early on. Considering she's the one Hall of Famer in the film, it was quite the disappointment. I'm debating which will be her next film we cover, either No Retreat, No Surrender 2 or Martial Law (with the idea being that immediately after we'd review Martial Law 2, which I think is the better of the two). I'm getting better at getting my hands on her older catalog, and that will allow us to look at more of the movies she's known for. I'm pretty excited about that. Also, according to imdb, as of 2009 she and Richard Norton are shopping a new project around. Let's cross our fingers.

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When last we saw Loren Avedon, he was tearing it up as the hero in King of the Kickboxers. Now he's playing a baddie in Tiger Claws III, and he did an even better job, in my opinion. It was almost like, with his goatee, he was Bizarro Avedon. What's great is, if you compare his bad guy to the one of Billy Blanks in King of the Kickboxers, you'll notice that he's much more like Jack Nicholson as the Joker in Batman, and he played it well. In fact, thinking about the late Dennis Hopper, you could almost say Avedon channelled that great actor as well. He hasn't made a film since the unreleased in this country Circuit III, which was produced in 2006. I'm not as familiar with his career as our friend Kenner at Movies in the Attic is, so maybe he can shed some light on why Avedon stopped working, and why he doesn't have that many credits in general.

I love Street Fighter II and all its sequels and whatnot. We used to play it for hours in high school. I went online to find out exactly how to spell Hadoken, and saw all kinds of screen shots and drawings people did. It brought it all back for me. I just want to go to the mall, buy a collection of all the games used for my PS2, and spend the next fives days living off Doritos and Mountain Dew. Man, those were the days.

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At UMaine I majored in anthropology, and as you can imagine, at a certain level, the class sizes got pretty small, as very few people wanted to take a class on Peoples of the South Pacific Islands or Systems of Family and Kinship. The way the department managed to subsidize these upper level classes was through the enormous introductory classes, which a large percentage of students took at one time or other as a Gen Ed requirement. I was a TA for that class, and we had like 500 students in it. Anyway, in Tiger Claws III, Merhi takes a course in Black Tiger, and he's professor Carter Wong's only pupil. I have to assume the introductory Tiger courses must have many more students to allow for such personalized instruction. I think it was good, though, that Merhi, having the prerequisites from his early Tiger courses, decided to continue his studies. Maybe he'll apply for a minor in Tiger.

Somewhere this post to a left turn into Goofy-dom, so let's get it back on the main road and wrap it up. This had its moments, but overall was just too silly for words. You can get it on either DVD or VHS, but Netflix no longer carries it, so you'll have to dig if you want it. I'm not so sure you do. (Oh, and I tagged Bolo Yeung, but he's only in the film in a few flashback sequences from the first movie. Just wanted to let you know.)

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0197951/

7 comments:

  1. I can actually answer that about Loren Avedon. It turns out the reason his career stalled (He was actually signed by PM movies) was because Lorenzo Lamas badmouthed him to the studio. Seems Lamas broke Avedon's nose, Lamas started apologizing and crying profusely and Avedon said everything would be cool and stuff, however instead of visiting Avedon at the hospital, a lawyer came in and told Avedon that everything would be paid for and Avedon was disgusted by such. Also Avedon was one of those perfectionist type that worked well with Lucas Lo (who was often hard to work with because of his genius at fight sequences, see King Of The Kickboxers) anyway he told off his co-star Sherrie Rose from King Of The Kickboxers to stop complaining and just perform under the circumstances. Both Rose and Lamas coinicided to ruin Avedon's name. Indeed it's sort of a rough story, though Avedon apparently liked and got along with a lot of actors he's worked with. I think Lorenzo Lamas' hand had the most, because Avedon was hands down the best American martial artist in movies. (Easily, which you'll see in No Retreat No Surrender 2-3) indeed he's not too shabby of an actor all things considered. Lamas though ruined his career, of course there is another I suppose but Lamas is sort of weird. Indeed my myspace account was friends with both, and like within days he unfriended me. (Loren Avedon would be next to Lorenzo Lamas) In anycase who knows but this is probably the biggest reason. Not that really much would've happened as the movies we cherish wouldn't have been kept going forever. I do know though that Gary Daniels became somewhat of a star because of PM as did Jeff Wincott and Don The Dragon Wilson, so Avedon clearly had potential. But that's showbiz I guess.

    Loren Avedon is a very nice guy, I've talked to a couple times. As for Lamas, i'm a writer ergo i'm neutral, I hold no grudges I just judge what I see.

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  2. I had a feeling you knew, so thank you very much for that. It is hard to hear, considering Lamas is a Hall of Famer, but you'd think enough other guys out there wouldn't have liked Lamas enough to give Avedon a chance. Plus, we never pretend to promote Lamas as a nice guy, just someone who does a lot of great bad action, and we're more likely to laugh at him than with him, so it's not too big of a shock. It could be a lot worse, he could've had Eastern European sex slaves.

    As an aside, I had a fake Lorenzo Lamas as my friend on MySpace. I put two and two together after I really looked at his page.

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  3. Lorenzo Lamas is a woeful actor. Try as he might he just always comes off ridiculous except for in Snakeeater II. Even in his better roles he's usually the weakest link and worst of all he just looks grimy and Hippy-like. His saving grace is that he is amusing in his absurdity. None more apparent than in that breakdancing movie he did. Indeed you can always count on him to make a complete fool out of himself. Especially hysterical was Final Impact where he dressed as a cowboy a lot giving us the opportunity to chuckle at how homoerotic he looked, I mean he looked like a Village People reject. Or his appearance as a nerd in The Debt or as you mentioned the Jeff Foxworthy look, but his apex perf was in fact that breakdancing role because watching him try extremely hard to appear street is the stuff of legends. Or watching him dance and mug for the camera. Pricelessly hilarious. I recommend it (Just looked it up, Body Rock) for you.

    Unlike Loren Avedon I have respect for him because he really can kick ass and never did I see him come off as foolish. In fact Lorenzo Lamas is by far the silliest action star there is. Part of the problem is that he reminds me too much of Goose from Top Gun. Plus he's tall, lanky, unshaven and always has a ponytail which is especially mock-worthy.

    It bares repeating that while I think Gary Daniels, David Bradley, Jeff Speakman and Olivier Gruner are wooden actors, I never openly laugh at them without them being presented ridiculously. (Van Damme's dance scene, Dolph dressed as a samurai at the end of Showdown, Bradley in a fanny pack etc) But Lamas is the only action star I know that just amuses without even being put in a ridiculous suit or situation. Indeed when he was dressed as a complete nerd in The Debt, I chuckled. Indeed I actually sort of liked such because of it.

    I don't hate the guy and harbor no ill-will to him, I just can't help but laugh. He just tries too hard.

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  4. I should put...I respect Loren Avedon because he can really kick ass. Where as Lamas is really silly as an action star.

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  5. There's definitely the element of the cheeseball in all that Lamas does. The best was seeing him on Bold and the Beautiful. I'd never seen that soap before, so it was hilarious. It also had Jack Wagner and Antonio Sabato Jr. at that time. Lamas is great.

    I do have Body Rock in my queue, and have been meaning to get to it. First The Debt came up so I could get more Pare on the site, then I got my hands on the Snake Eaters, so I did those. I think the next Lamas film will be Blood Angels, though, just because I can get it on Watch Instantly.

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  6. Haven't seen any of her films yet. I might start with Rage and Honour 1 and 2 though.

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  7. I think that's a great idea, because you need to get more in touch with your Australian roots and explore the world of the great Richard Norton.

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