Friday, February 29, 2008

Return of the Kung Fu Dragon

Lately, with an extra 1.25-1.5 of other people's jobs added to my own, I feel like my personal management skills and being able to control my own time are suffering. Then I realize I watched all of Return of the Kung Fu Dragon, albeit in ten 8-minute chunks, and I come to a better understanding of why I seem short on other fronts. I think it's a quality issue...Kung Fu Dragon, or Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson. Really, look at Scarlett looking at Natalie. I don't look at my wife like that. They belong on the lower level at work.

Return of the Kung Fu Dragon (1976) takes place on mystical Phoenix Island, which is home to three generals (and an emperor) who are unchallenged because of their mastery of Sunshine Kung Fu. Sunshine Kung Fu involves looking like you're Chinese Debarge wannabes, and wearing a lot of rouge. I know, it all sounds glamorous and like they'd score a lot with geishas at the local teahouses, but Sunshine Kung Fu, even with four individuals wielding it simultaneously, is no match for a single sorcerer, a bunny rabbit, a bitchy sorcerer's beard-carrying girl with an eye-rolling habit, and a stick decorated with shower rings. That the sorcerer is carrying around his shower rod probably explains why his nappy beard gets caught in something almost every time the fighting gets thick. It's like he's a cape-wearing super hero in The Incredibles. So maybe when you're all done with this post the one thing you should walk away with is, if you want to be a powerful sorcerer, make sure you own a razor.

I know. The bunny seems out of place, almost Monty Pythonish. But if you ever see a bunny, stop, drop, roll, and try to come up facing the sorcerer wielding the dragon-headed shower rod. Bunnies are the universal sign of an attack by a sorcerer with bad aim.

And if there's any doubt that the generals deserve their accolades as wise battle leaders, despite their lame ass Sunshine style, they prove their mettle while losing the fight for Phoenix Island:
Soldier: "The Western Gate is falling!"
General: "Well. Get reinforcements!"

I posit that if the soldier can find reinforcements, he deserves to be the general. Anyone can order in imaginary reinforcements. If that's all it took, I'd just tell my projects that need more programming resources to magically order them up out of thin air, preferably not with Sunshine programming skills.

One of the generals can be distinguished by a gold breast cover dead center on his chest. I couldn't keep track of his name. So I just thought of him as Won Tit. Won Tit is the hero, as he leaves behind his own daughter and wife to the invaders while he spirits away the princess. Though Won Tit dies, he safely places the princess in the hands of another wizard - let's call him Gandalf - who is able to control storms of baby power that seal his domain off from the rest of the world for 19 years. Young women. Should an old man ever throw baby powder at you and claim he'd like to protect you for 19 years until you're of age, I suggest running the other way. I like to think I've imparted that knowledge to my daughter, and I'm pleased to share it with all of you. Having once been in a monster of a baby powder fight with five other guys in a tent with limited air (no, not last week - on a high school biking trip), I question how healthy a billowing wall of baby powder is for your lungs. I remember, as a teenager, swimming the next morning and leaving a great big oily, powdery slick on the water. I imagine the inside of my lungs looked similar.

Flash forward nineteen years to a fight. At first, I'm convinced this must be our hero. He's dressed like Captain Kirk in that episode of Star Trek where Kirk loses his memory and falls in love with a Native American babe, ironically also forgetting that there's an asteroid on the way and he f-ed up the asteroid deflector. But this possible hero doesn't help me out by screaming, "I am Kirok! I am Kirok!" So I never learn his name. I'm not even sure if he shows up again as a hero, because we're suddenly introduced to lots of heroes. Almost everyone is a hero. The sorcerer Gandalf, the sidekick of the evil sorcerer, a bevy of princesses who were generals' daughters and emperors' daughters, sons of generals with gears in the middle of their foreheads, and crazy ass Gandalf's apprentice who is creepy in a Puck, or Caliban from the Tempest, way with a painted red nose and three matted pony tails. I can't even tell if the apprentice is male or female. The leather Miller-beer style open vest with no shirt might be a give away, but I swear they just used a really ugly flat-chested woman to crank up the psychotic factor.

During this introduction to all the heroes is also where I learn a few important customs revolving around foreign cuisine and women. 1.) It is always necessary to slap a princess' steam bun. 2.) A princess can win your heart if she grabs your steam bun. 3.) It's ok if a princess touches your steam bun, as long as you get some Tael.

So our tally is a hot princess descendant of a general who everyone calls "The Little Black Girl", although she's not black, and whose primary Kung Fu style involves stomping one foot like a horse that's counting, just like Eryn did at Ring Mountain. A hot princess descendant of an emperor. A guy with an emerald in his crown (sometime a wooden gear), padded gold boots, and a skirt - very Ultraman - who says things like "Hey, I said only teenage girls!", and steam buns guy who has a British accent, a father named "Pou-ting" and doesn't hide his steam buns double entendre' so well as he keeps telling the princess to, "Take off your clothes. I want to see your behind." His dedication to steam buns is impressive. Gandalf. And Gandalf's enslaved, red-nosed sidekick who, come to think of it, is most appropriately referred to as Gollum.

It seems like they'll be more than a match for an evil, usurping emperor who talks like a Monty Python character demanding comfy cushions. But they're aware of his superior slapping skills - everyone slaps everyone in Return of the Kung Fu Dragon, so I wonder whether this is the Sunshine style they refer to - and his evil sorcerer sidekick who can use his beard as a Kung Fu weapon, performing The Claw with it until opponents pass out.

There's only one solution for the heroes. New Kung Fu skills. Stronger skills than Stamping Horse. Stronger than Sunshine style. Little Black Girl must apprentice to Gandalf and Gollum/Calliban/Puck to learn a new style that involves moves linked to some strange sort of chess metaphor and more foot stomping. Strange until you realize that Gandalf was incredibly prescient, the next fight turning out to be human chess where everyone lines up politely on a great big chessboard where the pawns are the most powerful pieces, given that they're allowed to bite and punch you in the balls.

The fight spans giant chess boards and many buildings, until it culminates near a pool of acid before a giant volcano, which is really just over a short wall in front of some painted mountains. But it's no less scary, as red-nosed Gollum, after fighting black-nosed extras, grabs the sorcerer's shower rod and falls over the edge, catching herself, but then choosing to sacrifice the volcano in a sacrifice scene that feels almost as long as all three Lord of the Rings movies put together.

With the destruction of his shower rod the sorcerer is powerless, and can be easily defeated by three people ganging up on him at once, as long as at least one of those three dies. The irony is that Little Black Girl finally defeats the wizard by kicking salt pellets at him with her Equine Kung Fu and embedding them in his skin, exacerbating a nasty hypertension problem. Which means the whole evil-emperor and evil-sorcerer interlude with Phoenix Island could have been avoided by installing water softeners or pelting the sorcerer with steam buns. If she knew real Horse Kung Fu, she'd have been carrying around a salt lick. That would have destroyed him for sure.

In the end, tranquility returns to Tranquil City on Phoenix Island and Little Black Girl and Steam Bun raise salty, hoofed children to serve in the armies of the new empress, providing eternal protection against the forces of evil who would stomp all over Sunshine Kung Fu, leaving one to wonder who was the Kung Fu Dragon, and did she/he ever return?


tonka_boy said...

I can only hope that you composed this at work...

PrincessMax said...

These kinds of movies are supposed to be watched while stoned. Your level of recall and ironic embellishment indicate that you have violated the Great Code of Kung-Fu Movies.