Fists Of The Double K a.k.a. Chu Ba (1973): Breakdown by Kain424
A recently graduated cadet is sent undercover to oust a gang of bandits from controlling a small township and also seeks to avenge the death of his father.
At the height of Bruce Lee’s popularity, there were still a few filmmakers attempting to bring back the glory of the old school kung fu style movies. Producer Jimmy Pascual took directing reins and hired some of the newer talent available with the goal in mind of revitalizing the genre. The result is a bit of a mixed bag, and the film was ultimately unsuccessful in its intent. Pascual would never direct again, but much of the talent involved would go on to much bigger and better things.
Unlike many kung fu films of its ilk, Fists Of The Double K makes no effort to hide the fact that it’s really just a Western set in China. The story is straight out of the typical American Western myth, a gang of bandits has been terrorizing and controlling a small town and a lawman is sent undercover to investigate. Since many westerns of the time were in fact simply Westernized versions of the Samurai films of the 50s (and those themselves Easternized versions of Westerns of the 30s), it’s somewhat of a treat to see the cycle going on and on.
As its Western origins dictate, the villains are overly typical in their brutish ways. They prey on the weak, robbing in large numbers and hurting the disabled for the pleasure of it. There is even an attack and attempted rape on a blind girl and her feeble brother.
The Action scenes are all very well done, and I assume this to be the result of the combined talent involved. Much of the stuntwork was handled by Jackie Chan and Yuen Wah, who shared choreography duties with Yuen Woo-ping. Add to this potent mix of martial arts mastery the fact that second unit shooting was handled by none other than a young John Woo, and you’ll see why things seem remarkably efficient given the picture’s obvious low budget. It’s probably no surprise that the Western release of the film was handled by cheap Action movie factory The Cannon Group.
Yu Yung isn’t the best of leads. He is serviceable enough, but lacks the sort of personality or charisma that would have made him a star. His abilities as a martial artist make him seem competent, though perhaps someone else in the role might have launched the film farther. As it stands, the movie decent. It has some memorable fight scenes, great editing, and an interesting soundtrack. I still don’t know what the “Double K” is though.
[HOW BAD-ASS IS THE MAIN CHARACTER?]
Yu Yung is Jeng-ko Cheng
Cheng was the “most successful” cadet at the academy. It’s easy to see why since he has a good 15 to 20 foot vertical jump and the endurance of John McClane. He can climb mountains in minutes, ride a horse, catch throwing knives with his armpits and take on tens of opponents all at once. He was pretty much born to kick ass.
[THE BODY COUNT: 22]
The bodycount stacks pretty high in this picture, though most of the damage is caused by Yu Yung who kills 19 bad guys over the course of the film. The villains manage to score three of the good guys, but Yung absolutely wipes the floor with them. Most of the deaths are bloody ones, with every one of them being either beat to death or stabbed to death. Good stuff.
[MOST SATISFYING ASS-KICKING]
Noting how quickly and easily Cheng is able to take down his enemies, the villains trick him into walking into a trap. Cheng first falls into a sand pit and then is wrapped in ropes and held by four men. This restricts his movements and keeps him away from hurting them. From here, they are able to drag him around and bash him into rocks.
This all goes well until Cheng reveals that he is at least as strong as Steve Reeves on a bad day. He begins tossing around the guys holding the ropes, so the baddies then send in their blade expert. Still bound by the ropes, Cheng unleashes a sharpened boomerang, killing three of his foes including the blade expert. Cheng yanks the remaining rope wranglers to the ground and stomps in their chests. Looks the the bad guys better think of a new plan.
[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]
Not too much to say here except that I think Pig-Tailed Pang is actually gay. As the other members of his gang are beginning a night of decadence with alcohol and prostitutes (as is recommended of all men of their nature), Pang rolls his eyes and tries to get the boys to play dice with them. This is, of course, all just pretense for what he actually has in mind. Pang openly cheats, seeming bent on starting an altercation with his companions that will, with any luck, turn physical. That’s Pang for you.
[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]
As with most films of its type (and that includes Westerns), women are relegated to the roles kidnapped or attacked victims. And if they don’t end up there, they’re usually located in brothels. I guess cowboy hats and kung fu kicks required male genitalia.
[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]
The gang moseys on into town after hearing that Cheng has been fighting with Pig-Tailed Pang, who up to this point had been sort of their ace-in-the-hole. Upon arrival however, they find Pang hung up in the street by his own ponytail. Cheng suddenly steps out into the street, challenging them.
“I’ll be waiting for you!”
[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]
Betray someone and eventually it’s gonna catch up to you, beat you within an inch of your life, and then send you to prison for life. Play it fair, kids.
[THE GIST OF JACKIE: 1 outta 5]
[ ] Breaks Into Someplace Or Escapes By Way Of Acrobatics
[X] Has An Annoying Tag-Along Companion [3 of them]
[ ] Makes The ‘OW!’ Face And/Or Rubs A Soar Spot
[ ] Performs A Ridiculously Dangerous Stunt
[ ] Uses A Random Object To Defend Himself
[THE CHECKLIST: 13 outta 25]
[X] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[ ] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[X] Crotch Attack
[X] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[ ] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[ ] Factory/Warehouse
[ ] Giant Explosion(s)
[ ] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[X] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation [a horse?]
[X] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s) [a handkerchief while he’s riding]
[X] Manly Embrace(s)
[X] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting [Jackie Chan!]
[ ] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[X] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[X] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[X] Shoot Out(s) and/or Sword Fight(s)
[ ] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[ ] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[X] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[ ] Tis The Season
[X] Torture Sequence(s)
[ ] Unnecessary Sequel
[ ] Vehicle Chase(s)
[ ] Vigilante Justice