Monday, March 28, 2011

Foreign Flicks: Mr. Hercules Against Karate

That's what killed Vaudeville!  If you hate comedy and hate good fight scenes, I have a movie for you!  This obscure, import comedy features bad jokes, bad dubbing, bad fight scenes and an amazing lack of logic.  In one regard, it is a sight to behold.  Of course, the sight of, say, a man having sex with a goat is something strange too, but I don't recommend looking at it!  What is this bizarre movie?  Brought to us by the usually-good Antonio Margheriti (aka the guy who's name is referenced in Inglorious Basterds), this Italian comedy starts out in Australia and eventually moves to China & claims that it's characters are American.  In other words, it finds a way to offend at least four nationalities in one fell swoop!  The plot is simple- an inexplicably-strong guy and his lanky friend get hired to rescue a kid in China.  'Comedy' and 'hijinx' ensue.  In a bizarre move, the film's comedy is terrible, but everything else is a riot.  Prepare to not laugh as we see the challenge of...
The film begins with a bearded man and his friend working at a Construction Site.  Well, one of them is working.  The other one- the never-called-that-Mr. Hercules- is defying the laws of Gravity by carrying the beam from one end and somehow keeping it straight.  For being stupid and illogical, the pair of fired by their boss, an even-fatter Blofeld.  We cut to the pair eating lunch at the Site...even though they were fired.  The boss even asks about this, but his second-in-command explains things.  Who's in charge again?  In the next scene, we see the work again.  When a film manages to make the idea of 'whether or not the two main characters are fired or not' confusing as all hell, what hope is there for the actual plot?  Mr. Hercules pulls on a cord, managing to pull down an oil rig.  The firing actually sticks this time- thank God- and the two contemplate splitting up.  They don't and instead go to a Chinese Australia.  I don't know- just go with it.  Hercules does a 'wacky' gag where he makes a giant bologna sandwich.  Ugh.  A random group of athletes show up and a fight ensues.  Despite showing Superman-level strength earlier, he doesn't instantly kill these guys.  The pair end up being hired by the owner to bring back his son from his ex-wife.  Off to China!
More terrible comedy and inconsistency ensue.  For example, Hercules tries to open the window on a plane.  Note the word 'tries' there, people!  He can pull down an oil rig, but that's too much for him?!?  They wander around the city, running across a random group of feuding martial artists on the ferry.  The guys get out of their vans, fight and just kind of leave when the thing stops- odd!  We get a romance sub-plot, which is just nauseating.  Hercules randomly-alternates between being an idiot (using chopsticks as toothpicks) and smart (referencing Shakespeare), all of which his new lady eats up.  We meet the villain of the movie, a generic Chinese businessman who has a Geisha wife with an ungodly amount of make-up on her face.  Seriously, she makes the lady from Vamp look toned down.  The guy finds out that the Restaurant owner sent our heroes over, so he sends his one-eyed henchman and some thugs.  Yeah, that doesn't work.  While we get more 'humor,' we see the villain sends in for a new guy- a Samurai.  You guys got the major Asian countries mixed up, guys!  He also doesn't use a sword, wear armor or put on shoes.  Good grief!
The good news: the film throws in some action.  The bad news: the film throws in stupid action.  We get a long sequence where the pair get split up, leading to the lanky guy doing all of the fighting.  Yes, let's see the guy without alternating levels of super-strength.  After that, they get picked up by the Police and asked to help find the villain.  Yeah, they were already doing that.  This plot thread goes pretty much nowhere, save for resolving the very end.  The romance sub-plot ends in the women being captured and the two guys going to save them.  They must face off with the villain's two henchman: the Samurai and...a Sumo Wrestler.  Wrong Asian country...again!  In a random moment, the lanky guy breaks a stool over Hercules' head, leading him to say this obtuse 'joke'" "That's what killed Vaudeville."  HUH?!?!?  Our heroes win, but the villain and his overly-made-up lady flee with the kid in tow.  They try to flee in a small plane, but Hercules holds it back with his bare hands!  Consistency for crying out loud!  The lanky guy has to land the plane in a five-minute filler scene as Hercules eats some cherries with the kid.  Uh-oh, there are jewels in there.  Insert bathroom joke here.  The quartet leave with some jewels- I hope you washed them!- as a Buddha statue randomly talks to them.  The End.
Is anyone really laughing?  The plot of this movie is a mess, mixing an overly-simple plot with bad execution that makes even that hard to follow.  A lot of this is not helped by the dubbing, but I doubt that this film was Rashomon in Italian!  The humor, as I mentioned, is either overly-broad or just plain terrible.  The best humor of the film is when it can't agree on how strong 'Hercules' is.  In the Lunchroom scene, he gently sets his hands down on a table, flipping it forward.  In a later scene, he does the same thing and nothing happens.  Oh, I forgot that most places keep springs under their tables!  There is a bizarre, train-wreck quality to this film that cannot be explained.  I'm not necessarily sorry that I watched this movie, as I have seen worse.  After all, it wasn't made by the Polonia Brothers!  If you want to see a bizarre culmination of non-sequitur ideas, this is your movie!  If you want to watch a clever comedy, this is not.  I will say this: it is on streaming (as of this writing), so at least you aren't wasting a rental on it.  Remember, 'that's what killed Vaudeville.'
Next up, I cover my first Russian film.  This one is a fantasy epic that is long, bizarre and a bit confusing.  Stay tuned...

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