Dojo Review #14: When Taekwondo Strikes

 

When Taekwondo Strikes

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(courtesy of ofdb.de)

Starring Angela Mao, Jhoon Rhee, Sammo Hung, Carter Wong, Ann Winton, Andre Morgan, Whang In Sik
Directed by Huang Feng

During the Japanese occupation of Korea in the 1930’s young Korean nationalist and hot head Jin Cheng Shi (Carter Wong) is goaded into fighting some Japanese. Outnumbered he flees to a Catholic church to hide. The Japanese give chase and follow him to the Church. The Father (Andre Morgan) refuses to tell where he is and the Japanese are beaten by the Father’s niece Mary ( Ann Winton). The Japanese men ask her where she learned that rebel martial art Tae Kwon Do. Mary refuses to answer and Jin Cheng Shi comes out to continue the fight with the Japanese. The Father tries to establish some order as the Japanese question a suspicious Korean gardener who works for the Church. After the Japanese leave(promising to come back) the Father questions where Mary learned the art of fighting. The Korean gardener says he taught her and reveals himself to be the famed nationalist leader Lee Chung Tung(Jhoon Rhee). The Father orders them to flee because the Japanese have run of Korean and are ruthless and bloodthirsty. Lee, Mary, and Jin go back to where they normally meet and train while the Japanese capture, torture, and question the Father about Lee’s whereabouts. Meanwhile Lee gets in contact with his Chinese friend and fellow distrust-er of Japanese occupation, Wan Lin Ching (Angela Mao). Lee asks her to go check on the Father; she goes to the Church to find the Japanese have taken him. Wan fights some of the Japanese men, beats their a**, and goes back to her mother’s Chinese restaurant. Wan is followed by one of the Japanese men and a gang of Japanese come to her mother’s restaurant where Wan is questioned and her mother ultimately killed. Wan gets revenge for her mother by killing several of the Japanese men. The Japanese turn to one of their most ruthless fighters and soldiers ( Whang in Sik) where they set a trap for Lee Chung Tung as Lee tells Wan, Jin, Mary, to flee to China, and the Korean nationalist group disbands. Lee gets captured trying to rescue the Father; Mary, Jin, and Wan are also pursued to Manchuria by the Japanese. Wan it back is brought back to Korea and she and Lee must unite to destroy the Japanese once and for all!

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Once again the dynamic duo of director Huang Feng and action director Sammo Hung strike gold using a Korean Martial Art! In addition to the great action direction of Sammo Hung, the father of American Tae Kwon Do Jhoon Rhee is the star and is in his kicking prime!!! This makes for some great and authentic fight scenes using the incredible kicking skills of Tae Kwon Do mixed with the beautiful brutality of Sammo Hung action choreography. Did I mention Lady Kung fu and Hapkido black belt Angela Mao Ying? Once again, Angela proves she can kick some butt! As usual she looks great and I love her facial expressions when she beats up the bad guys! Korean buzz saw Whang In Sik, playing a Japanese leader and skilled fighter, shows up for some fast, hard, and precise technique ( what he is known for) and there is your recipe for some good fight scenes( Sammo Hung as a bad Japanese guy and stuntman MARS don’t hurt either)! At the Film Fan Dojo authenticity of how the martial arts are represented in the fight scenes are important and in our opinion it helps to have credible martial artists as actors, stuntmen, and fight scene directors. Golden Harvest Studios was great at doing that! To explore Tae Kwon Do on the screen was a genius idea and director Huang Feng was not afraid to do that! When Taekwondo Strikes is a great example of this willingness to give the audience something spectacular and new. Kudos to Huang Feng, Sammo Hung, Jhoon Rhee, and Golden Harvest for doing that!

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If you are new to old school martial arts movies see When Taekwondo Strikes; If you are an old fan give it another viewing. As avid kung fu movie watchers the Film Fan Dojo became more impressed with this movie as we matured in our appreciation for this movie and for the genre in general. When Taekwondo Strikes is an excellent addition to your kung fu movie library. Enjoy!!!

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(images courtesy of hkcinemagic.com, fareastfilms.com, katushka.net)

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