• Craig Hunter

PT - Movie - 031 - The Films of Brandon Lee






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Brandon Lee 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brandon_Lee

  • born feb 1st, 1965 in Oakland California

  • dies March 31st, 1993 while filming The Crow

  • was to be married to his fiance Eliza Hutton on April 17th, 1993 after filming completed.

  • after his death his mother and fiance gave their blessing for director Alex Proyas to complete the film.

Legacy of Rage (1986)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legacy_of_Rage

Director/Producer:

Actors:

Production/Distribution:

Release Date:

  • Dec 20th, 2=1986

Budget:

Running time:

  • 86 minutes (dubbed)

Plot Summary:

from wikipedia

Brandon Ma (Brandon Lee) is a regular guy with a job and a girlfriend May (Regina Kent). He has two jobs, so he can support his girlfriend and his dream of owning a motorcycle. Brandon's best friend is Michael Wan (Michael Wong), an ambitious and murderous drug dealer. Michael also loves May and so he comes up with a plan using a corrupt police officer named Sharky (Lam Chung) that will win her for himself and get Brandon out of his way. It seems that the corrupt cop has been using his police connections to dominate the local cocaine trade, so Michael has him killed and uses Brandon as the fall guy. Brandon goes to jail and meets Hoi (Mang Hoi), although he thinks that he will be released soon thanks to the efforts of his good buddy Michael. However, after 8 long years, Brandon finally gets out of jail and vows revenge on Michael for betraying their friendship and stealing the love of his life.

Whilst out of prison he learns that May has had his son. With the help of Hoi, Brandon tracks down Michael. Whilst engaging his guards he learns that May is dead. After killing Michael's guards, Brandon confronts and kills his former friend Michael. The movie ends with Brandon bidding farewell to his friend Hoi (who aided him in fighting Michael's guards) and leaving with his son.

Executive Producer "Dickson Poon". Almost seems fake. Reminds me of the prank played on the newscasters at KTVU (a Fox affiliate) in San Francisco with the fake names of pilots in the crash  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjUPb4J_MGo - (although it's in poor taste, you could play the audio from the video clip.  Maybe from the angle of how sad it is that this white Christian republican stereotype is so ignorant of any culture that is non-white, Christian and Republican to the point where the names of these pilots seemed plausible.)

My Thoughts:

  • themes and/or social commentary

  • any really good scenes

  • what did i like / not like

Opening 10 minutes was a really good intro what each of the characters is about.  

Themes of betrayal and revenge.

Michael is being groomed to take over as kingpin of his father's illegal drug business.  His father wants him to kill longtime business partner and corrupt cop Sharky who has outlived his usefulness.  Simultaneously, Michael also wants May, the girlfriend of his longtime buddy Brandon, so he figures out a scheme to kill Sharky and frame Brandon for it, killing two birds with one stone.

For Michael, it's not just that he wants May, he also wants to take her away from Brandon.  In once scene, Michael flashes back to when he and Brandon first met May. Michael tried to ask May out but was rejected and she choose Brandon over him.  Michael was emasculated and this scheme to kill Sharky while framing Brandon and stealing May may allow Michael to redeem himself. 

The first part of the plan works when Sharky is killed and Brandon is sent to prison. But when Michael moves in on May, she rejects him, so he tries to rape her and then to kill her, and she flees Hong Kong to marry an old man admirer of hers. After Brandon gets out of prison, he tries to go on with his life but he encounters Michael through his job at a gas station. Brandon treats Michael like a stranger because he just wants to move on from the past, but Michael can't let it go. He needs to redeem himself so he has May and Brandon's son kidnapped so as to lure Brandon into a final showdown. Brandon and his prison friend "Four Eyes" mount an attack on Michael in the final action sequence of the film.  

ending music 1:24:40 to 1:25:20 fade out

interesting facts

features a cameo appearance by Bolo Yeung who appeared in Brandon's father, Bruce Lee's, last film Enter the Dragon.

In the US the film was released directly to Home media in 1998 after the passing Lee its leading star

Laser Mission (1989)  

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laser_Mission

Director/Producer:

  • BJ Davis

Actors:

Production/Distribution:

  • Turner Home Entertainment

Release Date:

  • Aug 22nd, 1990

Budget:

Running time:

  • 84 minutes

Plot Summary:

The plot concerns a mercenary named Michael Gold (Lee) who is sent to convince Dr. Braun (Borgnine), a Laser specialist, to defect to the United States before the KGB acquire him and use both his talent and a stolen diamond to create a nuclear weapon. Dr. Braun is captured by the KGB and Gold is sent on a mission to rescue both him and the diamond. He has to enlist the help of Dr. Braun's daughter Alissa (Debi A. Monahan), whom he eventually falls for. The pair confront Col. Kalishnakov (Graham Clarke), whom they kill by hitting him with a truck in the climax of this story.

My Thoughts:

  • themes and/or social commentary

  • any really good scenes

  • what did i like / not like

  • interesting facts

A couple of thoughts

  • plot, script, and acting were all bad

  • video quality was very poor

  • name of the film was bad. there was no laser. 

  • ernest borgnine was not convincing as a brilliant scientist. He seems more like the mentally deteriorating Joe Biden of scientists

Cold war from the American perspective 

  • so communism as the boogyman; evil Soviet puppetmasters controlling bumbling Cubans; corrupt fbi/cia doing what it takes to "get the job done"

  • Here is a scene where a hotel desk clerk implies that communism is holding him back from making zillions 19:00 - 19:20 "ill take your best room...when you are gone, maybe we can make some money"

  • In the very next scene, two Cuban military are portrayed as bumbling subservient "yes men" for the evil Soviet army guy 19:22 - 19:44 

some oddoties

  • Brandon Lee puts on "Cuban face" in order to disguise himself as a high ranking Cuban soldier so that he can steal a jeep from the bumbling Cuban military. I wonder if this is an homage to the scene in "A View to a Kill" where Roger Moore as 007 employs this technique to infiltrate and steal some documents from a Cuban airplane hanger. After he is captured, he is rescued by a sexy woman driving a truck with a fake horse's ass sticking out the back.

  • There is a VW bus car chase scene where Brandon and his blond accomplice (who is posing as works at a zoo for some reason) engage in a running shootout with dozens of Cuban military personel in foot, in jeeps, and bunkers

end credits music 1:21:15 to 1:22:15 fade out

Cuba United States relations  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuba%E2%80%93United_States_relations#:~:text=Cuba%E2%80%93United%20States%20relations%20are,1961%20during%20the%20Cold%20War.

talkfilmsociety.com provides a thorough review  https://talkfilmsociety.com/columns/schlock-value-laser-mission-1989

Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991)  

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Showdown_in_Little_Tokyo

Director/Producer:

Actors:

Production/Distribution:

Release Date:

  • Aug 23rd, 1991

Budget:

  • $8 million / box office $2.3 million

Running time:

  • 79 minutes

Plot Summary:

Los Angeles cop Chris Kenner (Dolph Lundgren) is an American who was raised in Japan. He is given a new partner, Johnny Murata (Brandon Lee), an American of partial Japanese descent. Kenner does not appreciate American culture, while Johnny does not like Japanese culture a lot. One thing they both enjoy are the martial arts, of which they are both experts. The two are assigned to L.A.'s Little Tokyo, where they break up some criminal activity in a Japanese restaurant, and an arrest is made.

While Kenner and Johnny are questioning the suspect, Kenner loses his temper and rips the suspect's shirt, and the tattoos that Kenner sees on the suspect remind Kenner of when he was 9 years old, a time when he witnessed his parents being killed by a member of the Yakuza. The tattoos are the trademark of the Iron Claw Yakuza clan. Before Kenner or Murata can interrogate the suspect further, he kills himself in the interrogation room by breaking his own neck.

The leader of the Iron Claw clean, Yoshida (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), kills the owner of a popular downtown nightclub called the Bonsai Club by crushing the owner, Tanaka (Philip Tan), in a car compactor. To celebrate gaining ownership of the Bonsai Club, Yoshida throws a party at his house with all of the club staff. One of the girls at the party, named Angel (Renee Griffin), is revealed to have warned Tanaka about Yoshida behind his back, and this infuriates Yoshida who then questions Angel about her loyalty. She attempts to appease Yoshida by offering her body to him but Yoshida instead drugs Angel and strips off her clothes, and then fondles her from behind before beheading her.

When the coroner runs an analysis on Angel's body, it is revealed that the methamphetamines in her system which would have led to her death anyway. This discovery of drugs, together with the suspect having Yakuza tattoos, prompts Kenner and Johnny to go to the Bonsai Club in search of information. There they meet lounge singer Minako Okeya (Tia Carrere), who was a good friend of Angel's. Before they can get any useful information out of her, they are ambushed and taken to see the nightclub's owner and Kenner recognizes Yoshida as the man who killed his parents. Yoshida is now a drug manufacturer using a local brewery as his distribution center. He uses smaller gangs such as the Hells AngelsCrips and Sureños to peddle the drugs for him, in return for a percentage of the profit.

Kenner and Johnny escape from the nightclub. Later that night, Yoshida rapes and kidnaps Minako and holds her hostage in his home and vows to kill Kenner. Kenner and Johnny set out for Yoshida's heavily guarded home, where they rescue Minako. His pride wounded, Yoshida sends his men out to get Minako back. He has Kenner and Johnny stripped, captured and tortured, but Kenner and Johnny manage to escape, leading to a protracted battle in which Kenner and Johnny emerge victorious.

My Thoughts:

  • themes and/or social commentary

  • any really good scenes

  • what did i like / not like

  • interesting facts

Heavily edited by Warner Bros! who did not like the cut

straight to video in most countries

i think it was a body double for Tia Carrere in the nude scenes.

Angel (Renee Griffin) gets beheaded. She is super hot. see her in The Stoned Age (1994)

Youtube channel Renegade Cut did a great video "Queer Theory in 80's and 90's Action Movies"

Tia Carrere in another singing role. 21:28 to 21:40

Buddy Cop film

A buddy cop film is a film with plots involving two people of very different and conflicting personalities who are forced to work together to solve a crime and/or defeat criminals, sometimes learning from each other in the process. The two are normally either police officers (cops) or secret agents, but some films that are not about two officers may still be referred to as buddy cop films. It is a subgenre of buddy films. They can be either comedies or thrillers.

Frequently, although not always, the two heroes are of different ethnicity or cultures. However, regardless of ethnicity, the central difference is normally that one is "wilder" than the other: a hot-tempered iconoclast is paired with a more even-tempered partner. Often the "wilder" partner is the younger of the two, with the even-tempered partner having more patience and experience. These films sometimes also contain a variation on the good cop/bad cop motif, in which one partner is kinder and law-abiding, while the other is a streetwise, "old school" police officer who tends to break (or at least bend) the rules. Another frequent plot device of this genre is placing one of the partners in an unfamiliar setting (like a different city or foreign country) or role (like requiring police field work of a non-cop, rookie, or office-bound "desk jockey"). In these cases, they are usually guided by the other partner.

points

act I: 

  • bad guy Yakuza is a ruthless killer and has strong drugs

  • Dolf and Brandon are buddy cops

  • brandon is asian but grew up white

  • dolf is white but grew up asian

  • dolf relizes that the yakuza bad guy is the same guy that killed his parents when he was a child. They vow to kill each other. this spins the plot into a revenge quest for dolf/finish the job quest for the Yakuza guy. 25:25 to 25:48

  • dolf tells brandon and brandon commits to help dolf in his revenge quest but wants him to "keep it clean" he's the good cop and dolf is the wilder partner

act II:

  • yakuza guy is trying to build a drug distribution network with the black gang and the white motorcycle gang.

  • Yakuza guy is interested in dolf's love interest (tia carrere).

  • Dolf rescues her and takes her to his loft in little Tokyo

  • Midpoint, the guy who was in charge of guarding Tia Carerre and allowed her to escape is killed by the Yakuza guy who says to bring him the head of the blond cop

  • Dolf and Brandon go to a bath house to arrest the Yakuza guy. There is a big fight and they escape.

  • Dolf and Brandon take Tia to Dolf's cabin in the woods.

  • Dolf and Tia bang, bad guys attack, capture them, and burn down the cabin.

  • Bad guys hook Brandon and Dolf up to racks to torture them. They escape and then the bad guys think that they have killed them in a car crusher.

act III

  • short training montage to prepare for final showdown. this scene shows us dolf's motivation pictures of his now deceased parents 1:02:25 background 1:03:10

  • attack Red Dragon warehouse where drugs are stored. Big shootout. Brandon faces off with number 2 bad guy and dolf faces off with number 1 bad guy in a sword fight, kills him and gets Tia Carrere back.

1:15:18 credits fade out

Rapid Fire (1992)  

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rapid_Fire_(1992_film)

Director/Producer:

Actors:

Production/Distribution:

Release Date:

  • Aug 21st, 1992

Budget:

  • box office $14.4 million

Running time:

  • 95 minutes

Plot Summary:

The film opens in Thailand, with Antonio Serrano, a mafia drug distributor visiting long-time associate Kinman Tau, a drug kingpin. Serrano is having troubles and wants them to work together, but his request is not reciprocated.

Turned off from politics after witnessing the death of his father at Tiananmen Square in ChinaLos Angeles art student Jake Lo is lured to a party of Chinese pro-democracy activists. While there, he witnesses Serrano killing party sponsor Carl Chang, who was an associate of Tau. When Serrano and his men attempt to kill Jake, he swiftly disarms them using martial arts techniques. Jake is placed under protective custody by federal agents, who coerce him into coming to Chicago and testifying against Serrano.

When the agents at the safe house are revealed to be corrupt, Jake escapes through the window and encounters a young police detective named Karla Withers, with whom he develops an immediate bond. Withers' partner, Lieutenant Mace Ryan, helps Jake evade his pursuers and reveals that he had been pursuing Tau for 10 years.

Jake is persuaded by Ryan to help him exploit Serrano's FBI ties and obtain information about Tau's next shipment. Though the sting operation is successful, Jake is nearly killed in a barrage of gunfire and assaults Ryan after he reveals his involvement wasn't necessary. Later that night, Jake and Karla begin a romance and have sex in her apartment, while Ryan and his team lead a raid at the revealed location of the next shipment: Tau's laundry factory. Both the lovemaking and the events of the raid are shown alternately as they occur in actual time, culminating with Serrano being murdered in his cell by one of Tau's henchman.

Jake, Ryan and Withers subsequently team up to bring down Tau once more. Though Ryan and Withers are captured by Tau's men, Jake rescues them and eventually kills Tau at a train platform. He and Karla then evacuate Ryan from the burning factory and ride to the hospital together in an ambulance.

My Thoughts:

  • themes and/or social commentary

  • any really good scenes

  • what did i like / not like

  • interesting facts

Corruption and Betrayal

  • Thailand based drug producer is working with the American Italian mob to distribute drugs in America.

  • Italian mob wants more money, start a war with the Thailand drug producer.

  • FBI and cops are pursuing the Italian mob but some FBI agents are actually working for the Italian mob as double agents.

  • The FBI double agents try to kill a witness who can put the Italian mob boss away.

  • Cops discover this and take possession of the witness to protect him. These cops are apparently under-accountable to the regular police department since their club house is a converted bowling alley and they have been at this for 10 years, they are routinely using illegal wire taps and they all seem to answer to LT. Mace Ryan who has squandered his personal relationships with his wife and family through the many years he has been a "24-hour cop" in pursuit of criminals in the drug trade.

  • In an operation to capture the Italian mob boss Mace betrays Jake and recklessly puts his life in danger. Despite the bumbling and miscalculating of the cops Jake (a civilian) captures the Italian mob boss and kills several mob henchmen during the operation

Here is a clip from early on in the film when Jake is being held and the FBI shows up. This clip illustrates the landscape of corruption 21:37 to 23:53

random Powers Booth clip 37:30 to 37:48

theme 

it's worth dying for something that you believe in

1:03:58 to 1:04:52

i liked the metaphor of Powers Booth bowling and there is a single pin that he just can't knock over and at the beginning of act III, he misses the bowling pin again so he shots it. it's like, he just can't get his man but this time he WILL, even if he has to break all the rules. Did this scene mean that Mace Ryan was willing to become corrupt (like everyone else in the criminal justice system) to achieve his goal? 

Throughout the film Mace Ryan (Powers Booth) bowls in the cop club house. Each time he tries to knock over a single pin but misses.  At the beginning of act III, he misses again but this time he takes out his gun and shots the pin. This could mean that Mace is willing to embrace corruption and rule breaking to achieve his final goal (sort of a "the ends justify the means" kind of thing). This is in the context of Ryan and his crew packing up their clubhouse so i think they have been taken off the assignment. 

In the resolution in Act III, Ryan leads an operation into the laundry business where the Thailand boss has taken over drug distribution. This is Ryan's final chance to knock over the bowling pin while he fights for what he believes in. This final operation also provides Jake a chance to redeem himself by saving Mace from dying while fighting for something that he believes in, like he couldn't save his father when he died fighting for something he believed in.

1:30:22 (talk over fade in to 1:30:50) to 1:32:00 (fade out)    

The Crow (1994)  

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Crow_(1994_film)

Director/Producer:

Actors:

Distribution:

Release Date:

  • May 13, 1994

Budget:

  • 23 million

Running time:

  • 101 minutes

Plot Summary: (from Wikipedia)

On October 30, Devil's Night in Detroit, Sergeant Albrecht is at the scene of a crime where Shelly Webster has been beaten and raped, and her fiancé, Eric Draven, lies dead on the street after having been stabbed, shot, and thrown out the window. The couple had planned on getting married the following day, Halloween. As he leaves for the hospital with Shelly, Albrecht meets a young girl, Sarah, who says that she is their friend, and that they take care of her. Albrecht tells her that Shelly is dying.

One year later, a crow taps on the grave stone of Eric Draven; Eric awakens and climbs out of his grave. Meanwhile, a low level street gang, headed by T-Bird, is setting fires in the city. Eric goes to his old apartment and finds it derelict. He has flashbacks of the murders, remembering that those responsible were T-Bird and his gang: Tin Tin, Funboy and Skank. Eric soon discovers that any wounds he receives heal immediately. Guided by the crow, he sets out to avenge his and Shelly's murders by killing the perpetrators.

The crow helps Eric locate Tin Tin; Eric kills him and takes his coat. He goes to the pawn shop where Tin Tin pawned Shelly's engagement ring. Eric forces the owner, Gideon, to return the ring and blows up the shop with gasoline, letting Gideon live so that he can warn the others. Eric finds Funboy with Sarah's mother, Darla. After killing Funboy, Eric talks to Darla, making her realize that Sarah needs her to be a good mother. He visits Albrecht, explaining who he is and why he is here. Albrecht tells him what he knows about Shelly's death and that he watched as she suffered for thirty hours before dying. Eric touches Albrecht and feels the pain Shelly felt during those hours. Sarah and her mother begin to repair their strained relationship. Sarah goes to Eric's apartment and tells him that she misses him and Shelly. Eric explains that, even though they cannot be friends anymore, he still cares about her.

As T-Bird and Skank stop at a convenience store to pick up supplies, Eric arrives and kidnaps T-Bird. Skank follows the pair and witnesses Eric kill T-Bird; he escapes and goes to Top Dollar, a top-level criminal who controls all the street gangs in the city. Top Dollar and his lover/half-sister Myca have become aware of Eric's actions through various reports from witnesses. Top Dollar holds a meeting with his associates where they discuss new plans for their Devil's Night criminal activities. Eric arrives looking for Skank. A gun fight ensues, killing nearly everyone there, and Eric kills Skank. Top Dollar, Myca and Grange, Top Dollar's right-hand man, escape.

Eric, having finished his quest, returns to his grave. Sarah says goodbye to him, and he gives her Shelly's engagement ring. She is abducted by Grange, who takes her into the church where Top Dollar and Myca are waiting. Through the crow, Eric realizes what has happened and goes to rescue her. Grange shoots the crow as it flies into the church, making Eric lose his invincibility. Myca grabs the wounded crow, intending to take its mystical power. Albrecht arrives, wanting to pay his respects to Eric, just after Eric is shot and wounded. Top Dollar grabs Sarah and climbs the bell tower as a fight ensues, and Albrecht kills Grange. The crow escapes Myca's grip, claws her eyes, and sends her down the bell tower to her death. When Albrecht is wounded, Eric climbs to the roof of the church on his own. There, Top Dollar admits ultimate responsibility for what happened to Eric and Shelly. In their fight, Eric gives Top Dollar the thirty hours of pain he absorbed from Albrecht; the sensation sends Top Dollar over the roof of the church to his death. Sarah accompanies Albrecht to the hospital, and Eric is reunited with Shelly at their graves.

My Thoughts:

  • themes and/or social commentary

  • any really good scenes

  • what did i like / not like

  • interesting facts

Looks like a comic or a graphic novel. Based on James O'Barr's comic

Revenge porn.

Showdown: Sword fight on the roof of a church 

Brandon Lee was killed during production. Kind of ironic film to get killed during production of, considering that he plays a character that has risen from the dead. He's literally and figuratively walking dead during the film.  

Big Budget 23 million

Big Soundtrack Cure, Stone Temple Pilots, 9 Inch Nails, Jesus and Mary Chain, Violent Femmes, Rage Against the Machine






Special Thanks

Music for the intro:

Music from https://filmmusic.io

"Sweeter Vermouth" by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com)

License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)




Legacy of Rage (1986) https://amzn.to/3i2mCNz

Laser Mission (1989) https://amzn.to/2YB77EL

Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991) https://amzn.to/383kOz9

Rapid Fire (1992) https://amzn.to/2A6Suj5

The Crow (1994) https://amzn.to/2BIXOcE




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