July 17, 2002
Arts and Entertainment
By Patrick Macias
THIS SUMMER'S MOST infectious case of sequel-itis need not emanate from the Star Wars stable or come with dictatorial orders to "nod ya head" à la Men In Black II. Nope. Humble in conception but hypnotically kaleidoscopic in execution, Junk Film 2 is a batch of tasty nuggets from Four Star Theater owner Frank Lee's personal cache of films. The catch is, the whole shebang is fiendishly stuck on shuffle play. In the tradition of the first Junk Film (which played at the Four Star scant months ago), the follow-up is composed of 9 or 10 final reels of various kung fu and Mandarin swordplay films, randomly stitched together. This Burroughs-ian cut-up works both ways, showcasing seldom-seen films and also revealing the inner workings (and funny subtitle semiotics) of the cinema of ass kicking. Junk Film 2 might even be stronger than its predecessor, boasting slightly more in the way of star power and even rarer titles. The show begins with the finale of Hong Kong Tokyo Macao, a mid-'60s Japanese spy film that features a proto-John Woo shoot-out involving a speedboat chase and 50-odd participants, two of them top yakuza stars Tetsuro Tanba and Koji Tsuruta. Next up: Avenger, and with it comes a hail of blows from toothy Yasuaki Kurata, who wields a pair of tonfa against a guy with a bald spot and a bow tie for control of the lucrative woodpile trade. Lines like "I must perish you!" and "It's you silly chit" populate Filial Son, a mad dash through dusty gravel pits in search of missing treasure. Fairy Fox and Ghost is the mandatory surrealist mind wrecker, featuring a bucktoothed albino woman who projects steam out of her mouth and turns into a giant rubber snake before being religiously defeated by an emissary of the Buddha. Swallow Knight Howl, from 1966, is the eldest of the bunch and one of the oldest martial arts films you're likely to see on a big screen, complete with pre-Bruce Lee sped-up fight scenes. No question about it. This is the kung fu equivalent of a pub crawl or eating only the Crunch Berries out of the box. "Are you people tired of living?" a character in one violet-tinged rarity asks. Not so long as the tantalizing possibility of a Junk Film 3 exists.
'Junk Film 2' plays Thurs/11, Four Star. See Movie Clock for show times.
Patrick Macias is the author of TokyoScope: The Japanese Cult Film Companion.