June 6, 2012

FURIOUS (1984/DVD/LA Entertainment) Review


Amongst the thousands of physical copies of films I've accumulated and will likely be buried underneath, I have a short but steadily growing list that I set aside just for the purpose of eventually watching for this site. The criteria for inclusion is admittedly pretty loose, but one of the more recent guidelines I've tried to adhere to is this: the fewer references I can find to a film on the internet or in books, the higher up the list it goes. It did cross my mind that maybe the reason no one's written about certain movies is because they're so impenetrable, so beyond rational explanation as to exist in a place where they cannot be touched by words. I also knew that, eventually, I would come face to face with and be challenged by one of those movies. The day has come. Furious is calling me out.

Howdeedooit
At first, all I could remember were fur and rocks and, for some reason, I couldn't get the theme to SCTV's "Great White North" out of my head, so I wrote it down. Then it was spinning tusks and mysterious boxes, so I wrote that down too. Then, nunchuck deaths and killer chefs, sudden chickens and doggie kickin', beach dismission and pork exposition, skeleton flames and astral planes -- I wrote everything down. Out of six attempted viewings, I had successfully seen the entire thing once, written twenty paragraphs over four and a half pages and I'd fallen asleep five times. That's not just math; that's Furious math.

Jan and Dean and Simon and Tennille
Lest there be any misconception that I was bored to sleep by Furious, this was not the case -- it's just that trying to mentally organize this much nonsense is exhausting and emergency shutdown was the only option my brain gave me. I may never know how to accurately describe this film, but because we're friends, I'll take a stab at a plot synopsis: Mourning the death of his sister at the hands of a white Mongol who's as much a fan of Bob & Doug McKenzie as he is of killing ladies, Simon (played by Simon Rhee) and his red sweatshirt (raglan cut, tucked into the pants) are summoned to an office building populated by screwfaced martial arts students and new wave security guards, where he's given a gift shop medallion and a very esoteric set of instructions by his elderly, estranged tae kwon do teacher (Simon Rhee's younger brother Phillip). Seeking retribution, he soon finds himself beating the will to live out of dudes in exotic locales such as the middle of a field, the top of a cliff and a restaurant with a floor show that features a man spinning swords within five feet of a baby's face to a sparse audience of old ladies messily eating baked chicken. Occasionally aided by Hawaiian shirt aficionados with butt-cuts, a troop of scrappy karate kids and a gossipy Buddha statue, Simon eventually gets his revenge on his sister's murderer, but to defeat the true source of ultimate evil, he's gonna have to get FUURRRIIIOOUS! Or something like that.

Easy spirit
If it wasn't clear enough already, this is not your standard martial arts revenge flick, something that's immediately signified by the closeups of flubbed sleight-of-hand card tricks in the opening credits, accompanied by the exasperated sighs of the performer. So is it a farce? We've got death incurred by a butt-ful of throwing stars, an Eastern European sorcerer who shoots chickens out of his fingers and a Devo-esque synth trio breaking up band practice to go join a fight, but as to whether or not this is intentional comedy or just willful weirdness, the movie's keeping its mouth zipped shut. Dialogue is kept to a bare minimum throughout, with the first spoken line ("All riiiight!") arriving at the twelve-and-a-half minute mark. In fact, only two characters in the film have significant speaking parts; neither are Simon Rhee, but one is a dying pig. Fight sequences are underscored by too-quiet background music seemingly lifted from Republic Pictures serials with sound effects provided by firecrackers and drum machines and are directed with such laconic detachment that they almost don't qualify as action scenes.

Whitey Cleanshoes and the Milktones
I can't remember when I've been so stymied by a film, and, in keeping in tradition with everything else I don't understand about Furious, I really liked it, even though I couldn't begin to tell you why. That said, I'm still not sure if it was a real film or a particularly screwy feature-length sizzle reel for Simon Rhee's kickfighting prowess. It's also entirely possible that I just dreamed the whole thing. I hope so. Maybe if I go back to sleep right now, there'll be a sequel.

4 comments:

  1. Nice review, is there any possibilty to buy the movie ?

    Greetings and keep up the good work !

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  2. As far as I can tell, it's never been released anywhere but Australia, once on VHS (by Platinum Video) and again on a 10-Movie "Mega Action Pack" by LA Entertainment, which is the copy I watched. It's available to buy here.

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    Replies
    1. I was wrong, thankfully! Evidently the VCII label put it out on VHS in America as well. Those three releases are the only ones I know of. If anyone else uncovers others, let us know!

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  3. Great to see this marvellous film finally getting some recognition. It screened here in Melbourne, Australia as part of the Tape Delay film festival in 2009...
    http://s57.photobucket.com/albums/g235/videotherapist/?action=view&current=poster001.gif

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