Monday, July 23, 2012

Valley of the Double Dragon (aka Kung Fu of Tai Kwan Do) (aka Fist Fighter)

                                              Director: Ulysses Au Yeung
                    Starring: Kim Jin Pai, William Shiela, Robert Baker, Lin Chen Chi

This unusual film takes place during Japan's occupation of China during WW2. A downed U.S. fighter pilot (William Shiela) forms an uneasy alliance with a small group of Chinese freedom fighters as they oppose the Japanese soldiers who have been pillaging the countryside along with help from a sadistic Nazi (Robert Baker).

A choppy, uneven, yet fairly entertaining affair, Valley of the Double Dragon marks the directorial debut of one Ulysses Au Yeung. The ubiquitous Ulysses had directed everything from straight kung fu fare (Thou Shall Not Kill... But Once, Ming Patriots) to classic wuxia (Big Land Flying Eagles which may be his masterpiece), to slapsticky fu comedy (Three Shaolin Musketeers) and even dabbled in Brucesploitation (Bruce Lee, We Miss You). VOTDD displays the same energetic, swift paced, rough and ready style of filmmaking that seems to be the director's forte.

Ultimately, the film is probably most notable for it's cast. Star Kim Jin Pai is a real life 10th degree Hap Ki Do black belt who starred in several films during the early '70s, most noteably the hard to find (dubbed in Englsh, at any rate) cult favorite, 'The Mandarin' (aka Godfathers of Hong Kong). Easily the best martial artist in the film, Kim throws a mean screen kick and his battles tend to generate most of the movie's excitment. This I believe is the one and only film appearance by William Shiela. Very unusual to see a black actor in a Chinese production of this vintage. He appears to be a real life martial artist (from what I can tell, anyway) and does a competent enough job in the action scenes. The role also allows (or possibly forces, depending on your point of view) him to be all over the place in the thesping department. Starting off as angry, viscious and distrustful of his soon to be Guerilla allies, he soon enough finds himself in disguise as Guan Yu (!) as the team attempts to infiltrate the Japanese HQ. Robert Baker's claim to fame was playing the Russian 'Petrov' in Bruce Lee's Fist of Fury. This film marks Baker's second and apparently last film role. This bit of casting alone is enough to spark interest for genre fans. Unfortunately, Baker's 'acting' as the ruthless, sadistic Nazi is just as stiff as it was in the Lee film. Not that much was actually required of him for the role; his familiar appearance alone seemed to do the job. This film also marks the debut of the beautiful and talented Lin Chen Chi. An intense actress with a perpetually wild look in her eyes, I first took notice of Lin's work in Tsui Hark's 1980 rage filled masterpiece, 'Dangerous Encounters of the First Kind'. Sadly she's underutilized in this film as her character is relegated mostly to onlooker status (not a fighter, it seems). Still she manages to stand out in every scene she's in.

All in all Valley of the Double Dragon is certainly no Eastern Condors (what is?), but it is a worthwhile low budget 70s style war-fu oddity. I'll admit I went into this one thinking it's sole interest would be it's cast, but I came away enjoying it a bit more than I thought I would. Worth tracking down.

                                                               **1/2 / ****


  1. Hello!!! My Name is Evelin and i´ve been looking for this movie for a while now. At first i didn´t remember exactly the title of this movie, now i just can´t seem to get this movie. Where i´m currently living is in South America (Argentina). And in this country movies like Valley of the Double Dragon is just extremely impossible to find it here. So i want to know where in the internet can i watch this film. I never seen the entire film before and there are only two videos on Youtube of this movie but it´s not complete at all. I hope somehow you can help me, I know this was the second and last film of Robert Baker and i want to watch just for that. So if you could please tell me where can i watch this film over the internet i tried everything but nothing seem to work, there are no links of this movie that would let me watch it on the internet. I hope you can reply me soon, i will be extremely happy if you can help me. Thanks.

    This is my e mail if you want to contact me:

    1. Hi Evelin,

      I wish I can help you out on this, but I don't think the entire film has ever been uploaded to youtube. Just the same clip that you're familiar with and that I shared here. If I ever do come accross the entire thing, I'll be sure to post it here and let you know (before it gets erased!).

      Personally, I just broke down and bought the dvd for cheap on Amazon. To each his own...

  2. so...for now you don´t have the complete film? you bought this movie on Amazon?? this is quiet funny because somehow i want to watch this movie so bad!! hahaha but can´t seem to find it. I really want to thank you so, so much for your reply!.

    I have a few questions so am sorry if i´m wasting your time.
    In this movie does Robert appears in the entire movie or just in some scenes?

    another question is: what is his name on the movie??

    Thank you so much!!.