Kicking Onto DVD
Having been slain by the bride who wore yellow in part two of Quentin Tarantino's brilliant epic Kill Bill, David Carradine and Daryl Hannah are reincarnated as a Wudang martial arts master monk and Brooklyn born lounge singer respectively in this lackluster made-for-television film from director Philip Spink.
Set in 1929, China-- the film gets off to an overly violent start as heads roll like croquet balls, blood sprays like a sprinkler, and intestines spill out of stomachs like wheelbarrows full of sausage links as White Crane (Carradine) survives a brutal massacre that leaves his deeply admired Grandmaster executed. Vowing deadly vengeance, Carradine implausibly manages to sneak into Shanghai, clock a stranger who amazingly wears his exact suit size and ease his way into precisely the right nightclub. And-- suspending our disbelief even further-- sure enough, in the course of a few hours he finds himself gaining the trust of the three most important people he needs to bring down the villainous drug lord responsible for the death of his people.
Dubiously becoming a double agent and trusted ally nearly overnight, Crane finds his own destiny entwined with that a beautiful lounge singer (Hannah) who is equally invested in his plight as her brilliant chemist brother has gone missing and may have fallen into the hands of the same man that Crane is after.
Rather ridiculously simplistic fare-- Kung Fu Killer is dressed up in gorgeous period costuming and production design, yet lensed with overly dark and murky cinematography that fails to capture the exquisite beauty of the film's landscape which was shot entirely in China (and no doubt was probably a feature which greatly enticed talented stars like Carradine and Hannah to sign on the dotted line). Additionally, Killer isn't done any favors in its weak digital transfer where the sound effects and music all but drown out the dialogue throughout.
Cinematically notable for offering her fans the singing debut of Hannah as she tries her darndest to become a Michelle Pfeiffer styled Fabulous Baker Boys lounge singer, modestly crooning such classics as "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows" and "You Made Me Love You," as well as Carradine's supreme physical command of his body (which seems to make the ultimate advertisement for his line of Tai Chi DVDs since he still fights with the best of them) yet unfortunately, it's a dissatisfying and disappointing venture that'll be quickly forgotten once you hit eject.
While admittedly it may have played infinitely better in the dog days of summer on Spike TV as the film is very small-screen in its quality (despite the attempt to pass it as cinematic fare with a 16x9 widescreen aspect ratio and overly powerful Dolby Digitial Sound), martial arts devotees will do much better to watch Tarantino's Kill Bill instead or pick up any of the superb offerings from The Weinstein Company's Dragon Dynasty Collection.