Black Spot (1994)


Black Spot
(1994)- * * *

Directed by: Bruce Le 

Starring: Bruce Le, Fanny Hill, and Rossieo Badin 

Wong Lung (Le) is a living the good life as a Martial Arts instructor, and along with his girlfriend Fanny (presumably Fanny Hill in her only film role to date), the two seem to have it all. When a group of goons interrupts his all-female Kung Fu class, he knows he's in trouble. A former drug kingpin that was "in charge of Southeast Asia", Lung turned his life around. But now some baddies, including a man known only as Mark (Lo Lieh?) are forcing him to use his former expertise as it relates to a massive drug operation in the Golden Triangle. With no place left to turn and with crimefighters such as Nora Badine (likely Rossieo Badin) closing in under the banner of a joint operation called White Horse Action, Wong Lung must wage the ultimate battle for his life. But will he win? And what is this mysterious BLACK SPOT we keep hearing so much about? Tune in to find out...

Ever since we saw Challenge of the Tiger (1980), we've been big Bruce Le fans. When we first see him in Black Spot, he's working out on his home gym while his blonde girlfriend Fanny - of course her name is Fanny - is prancing around in a white one-piece bathing suit. So far, so good. Wong Lung wears a Eurogroup Film sweatshirt and we really root for the guy. There are a lot of nice 80's-style musical stings on the soundtrack, and a lot of funny yelling as well. It's mostly entertaining despite a couple of slow moments.

Apropos of nothing, suddenly Wong Lung is in a cage, facing off against a hulking brute in a Punchfighting match. While most people might drink water or Gatorade during such a contest, this particular brute drinks fresh-squeezed sheep blood. Lung is going to have to be extra resourceful to get out of this situation. Black Spot covers a lot of action bases: it starts off as more of a chop-socky-type film as you might expect from Le, but then there's some Punchfighting, and the last third of the film is more of a war situation with soldiers, tanks, machine gun fire and guard-tower falls. The more fun and ridiculous moments come towards the beginning, as the movie cycles through its changes.

Black Spot is a rare movie that we had been looking for for years. It was released in America on a Tai Seng VHS but quickly disappeared and that was the end of Black Spot for us. Thankfully, some helpful soul put it up on YouTube for the world to enjoy. If you like the Asian action boom of the 90's, and have seen a lot of the Golden Harvest-type stuff with Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Jet Li or movies directed by John Woo and the like, and you want to check out Bruce Le's addition to that canon, Black Spot would fit the bill perfectly. It has a little something for everyone, and that's basically a good thing.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


The Circuit III: The Street Monk (2006)


The Circuit III: The Street Monk
(2006)- * *

Directed by: Jalal Merhi

Starring: Olivier Gruner, Brad Milne, Cristina Rose, Jason Carter, James Lew, Jalal Merhi, and Loren Avedon 

"Mission Control: We've Found Mr. Longstreet." - Helicopter Pilot

After Circuiting it up over the past two films, our old pal Dirk Longstreet (Gruner) has renounced fighting and becomes a surfer. He lives in a van down by the ocean and just wants to be left alone to hang ten to his heart's content. Things change for Longstreet when he rescues a young girl named Cherrie Wendover (Rose) from a bunch of thugs. The baddies were after her because she knows the truth about Octavio Ventura (Carter), a man who stages illegal Punchfights to the death at a strip club called the Playpen.

When Cherrie gets kidnapped, Ventura forces Longstreet to come out of retirement in order to win her freedom. But he has to fight the current champion, Stuart "Spider" Webb (Lew), among others. Meanwhile, both Editor Bill (Merhi) and Detective Sykes (Avedon) want to figure out what's going on. Will this be the FINAL FLIGHT - or is it FIGHT - for THE STREET MONK, Dirk Longstreet?

Okay, we know that Dirk Longstreet is an awesome name, but we established that a long time ago. At this point, the whole "Circuit" thing is starting to wear a bit thin. It has an even cheaper look to it than the other installments, which wouldn't be such a bad thing in itself if the writing wasn't so monosyllabic, monotonous, and moronic. Yes, the whole thing is very, very dumb. While you shouldn't run to the Circuit series expecting intelligence, it still comes off as somehow disappointingly stupid.

There are only a couple moments when the dumbness becomes funny or entertaining, such as when one of the baddies inexplicably hires a group of surfers to beat up Dirk Longstreet. Normally not known for their violent tendencies, perhaps the choice of paying a gaggle of extra-chill California surfer dudes to assault Longstreet was the wrong move. Longstreet dispatches with them quickly by beating them up extra-stupidly with his surfboard. Oh dear.

Other funny moments occur when fights break with little or no pretext. A lot of these fights have, let's just say, choreography issues. We don't mean to nitpick, because it's probably hard to make a movie like this, but come on. A little more professionalism would have gone a long way.

In between all this, there are many scenes of Longstreet having his own Endless Summer (AKA endless surfing). While that slows things down considerably, the real problem is that Longstreet isn't that likable a character, at least for 90 percent-plus of the movie. He's kind of a jerk to Cherrie for no reason that we can see. Having likable characters is key, and The Circuit III does not deliver them. Avedon and Merhi don't add much to the mix, and James Lew doesn't say anything. This ship is sinking fast.

The many scenes at The Playpen strip club got us thinking. If men go to strip clubs to see naked women, would they be happy or disappointed to see a bunch of half-naked men grappling with each other? Would this be a net benefit for the strip club patron, or an unpleasant surprise? Nevertheless, all the fights at this one location, with its particularly annoying announcer, got repetitive fast. It's all very reminiscent, unfortunately, of Las Vegas Warrior (2002). That's probably the film that's the closest comparison to Circuit III.

While the film opens up with a truly impressive location, the top of some sort of mountain, the scenes that take place up there are face-palmingly dumb. Longstreet is at the top of the mountain wearing a Karate gi, and guys just show up there and begin fighting him in a very silly manner. It goes on for a while.

While The Circuit III was never released in America - and it is unfair that Merhi would foist this muck on the rest of the world - it can now be seen on Merhi's YouTube channel. While it all caps off with a catchy song, performed live by Cristina Rose, perhaps the best thing about the whole experience is its end credits. It's so filled with spelling and other errors, it's more entertaining than the movie itself.

However, we would only recommend this to those who have seen the other two Circuit films and are Circuit completists and need to see it out of some kind of OCD-like compulsion. Assuming you don't have this kind of medical issue, we can safely say to skip this one.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

Also check out a review from our buddy, DTVC!