* * *1\2
AKA: Gymkata Killer
Directed by: Bruce Le
Starring: Bruce Le, Bolo Yeung, and Richard Harrison
When a super-secret new drug hits the market that will kill all the sperm in the male body, bad guys the world over want to get their hands on the formula so they can use it to take over the world. Unluckily for them, two of the best CIA agents in human history are prepared to go to any lengths to stop them: Huang Lung (Le), who, naturally, is a great Martial Arts master, and Richard Cannon (Harrison), who is the ultimate ladies man. But he’s going to have to put his rampant womanizing on hold so he can join Lung. Traveling from Spain to Hong Kong to get justice and prevent the formula from getting into the wrong hands, can this odd couple do it?
We’re big fans of Ninja Strikes Back (1982), which is kind of like a companion film to Challenge of the Tiger, in the sense that they are both Dick Randall productions, both star Bruce Le, and are both clinically insane. While we happen to prefer NSB a little more, there’s plenty of pleasure to behold within COTT. You’ve got to love the 80’s, a time when if you weren’t an Asian gentleman with a Johnny Ramone haircut doing Martial Arts moves wearing tight flared jeans and a white sportcoat or Lacoste jacket, you just weren’t cool. By those standards, Bruce Le is the height of awesomeness, doing what he does best, and even co-directing the movie.
And lest we forget Richard Harrison stretching his acting chops as Richard Cannon. At least this movie is relatively coherent as opposed to his Godfrey Ho appearances. As the last word in suavitude, Cannon, inexplicably for a CIA agent, has a compound filled with topless chicks that do activities with him such as play tennis and go swimming. This guy puts Hugh Hefner to shame. Well, even more shame. Also in the cast is one Brad Harris, who plays a bodyguard named Leopard. He resembles The Stabilizer’s Peter O’Brian, and has some killer shades. Bolo Yeung is also on board, playing a character named Comrade Ban, but every time he’s addressed in the movie, it sounds like they’re calling him “Conrad Bain”. Wouldn’t Bolo acting as the father on Diff’rent Strokes be amazing? Now that really would be a different stroke. Also there’s some seemingly stolen footage of Jack Klugman and Jane Seymour thrown in. Klugman is seen talking to Bruce Le. What could they have been talking about? Even though he didn’t seem to be aware that he was being filmed, Klugman should have had a bigger role in Challenge of the Tiger.
The music is excellent, a winning kind of soul-funk that complements the onscreen action well. There are even unabashed ripoffs of Bobby Bloom’s “Montego Bay” and Isaac Hayes’ “Hung Up On My Baby”. The fact that there was no legal action that we know of is a testament to the freedom of the run-and-gun 80’s. The 80’s were just better than now. They just were. Anyone who thinks otherwise is wrong. Exhibit A in our court case: Challenge of the Tiger. (Exhibit B would be all the 80’s slasher movies). Richard Cannon’s lovin’ the ladies would probably be classified as “sex addiction” today. Need we go on?
This movie is just fun, funny enjoyable fun. Repetitive? Yes. Fun? Undoubtedly. Just check out the scene that gives TRUE meaning to the word “Bullfighting”. Seeing as the Mondo Macabro DVD is paired with the legendary Weng Weng vehicle For Your Height Only (1981), there’s no reason not to own that fine disc.
Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett