Issue #229a        HOME          E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com        BACK ISSUES        September 13th, 2004

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The Stomp
(1979)

Cantonese: Bei tip
Mandarin: Mi tie
English: Secret Document
Alternate English Title: Ninja Massacre, Secret Message

 

RATING: 3/10

REVIEW:

The denizens of the martial world seek to obtain a secret message detailing an exceptionally powerful form of kung fu. The more unscrupulous amongst them have no hesitation to kill for it, as demonstrated by the massacre of the Beggar Clan by the forces of Pai Mei (Phillip Ko Fei, referred to in this English version only as "The White Eye Brow Priest"). The infant son of the Beggars’ leader (Min Min) is saved from death by Princess Chi Fung (Doris Lung Chun-ehr), leader of the all-female Poison Clan, but Pai blinds her as she escapes with the baby. Abandoning her fellow warriors (who include super kicker Hsia Kuang-li), Fung escapes to remote Ming Valley, where she raises the child away from the chaos and murder in the surrounding area. Under his new mother’s tutelage, Sau-san (Lin Hsiao-hu) becomes a skilled fighter, while Fung’s abilities remain formidable, in spite of her handicap. Fung’s former paramour Liang Chun (Pai Ying) asks her to leave the valley with him but he only really cares about obtaining the message and, soon, does not bother to hide that fact. A fearsome adversary wielding a deadly whip, Liang has reduced the opposition to a great degree, leaving only the sole surviving Beggar clansman Chang Ho (Wen Chiang-long), benevolent General Lung (Chen Sing), and Sau-san’s older brother (Yeh Hsiao-yi) to help Fung and her adopted son.

Doris Lung Phillip Ko Pai Ying

Lurking behind that idiotic Ground Zero retitling is Lo Shan’s SECRET MESSAGE, an exceedingly cheesy Taiwanese production that previously saw American release as NINJA MASSACRE (well, some of the villains dress like ninjas...). Innumerable kung fu movies have utilized the old "secret kung fu manual" plot over the years but few have done so in such a cavalier manner. It is practically a McGuffin here, never really ever coming into play, though characters certainly talk endlessly about it (half of the wretchedly dubbed dialogue seems to consist of variations on "Gimme the secret message!"). The martial arts are very poorly staged and edited, and you have to wonder about the logic of casting Chen Sing and then using his martial skills in only a single, pitiful scene (he gives an awful performance to boot). The movie’s low point finds Liang attempting to murder Fung and Sau-san by lighting dynamite strapped to a (clearly terrified) German Shepherd and having the animal barrel into their home as a canine kamikaze! Recommended only to fans of the lovely Doris Lung (resembling MAGIC OF SPELL star Lin Hsiao-lan here), who engages in several battles obviously inspired by similar sequences in the ZATOICHI series.

Lin Hsiao-hu (left), Doris Lung Wen Chiang-long Hsia Guang-li


PRESENTATION:

Ground Zero has taken an ancient, cropped VHS transfer and vertically compressed it down to 1.81:1, leaving everyone looking a might squashed! (If your player has X-Y Scaling, you can stretch the actors back to their proper shape) The packaging claims that the video has been digitally enhanced; if that is the case, it’s sure not obvious. A "Before and After" display purports to display the benefits of this "Digital Remix" – too bad it shows a clip from some Elton Chong movie instead of this one! In addition to the severe cropping and pointless reformatting, the image is soft, colors are oversaturated, print damage is plentiful, and the audio is merely adequate. In other words, the DVD is standard Ground Zero: watchable and that’s all. The company’s DVDs usually include plenty of extras to sweeten the deal and this one is no exception, offering bonus fight sequences from MIDNITE ANGELS 3 (aka ANGEL III), LITTLE GODFATHER (aka LITTLE GODFATHER FROM HONG KONG), KUNG FU HEROS (sic), IRON PHOENIX (aka THE LAST BATTLE OF YANG CHOW), and DANCE OF DEATH. There is also a Wu Tang Clan video and trailers for other G-Z titles. The write-up on the back cover touts the presence of Lo Lieh but he isn’t even in the film!

This DVD is available at:

Images in this review courtesy of Ground Zero. To read captions, hover mouse over image.


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Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2004. All Rights Reserved.
E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com

DVD Specifications

  • U.S. Release
  • NTSC Region 0
  • Ground Zero Entertainment #GZL 60212
  • Dolby Digital 2.0
  • Dubbed in English
  • No Subtitles
  • 6 Chapters
  • 4:3 Letterbox (1.81:1; cropped from 2.35:1)
  • 87 Minutes

Ratings & Consumer Information

  • Quebec: 13+
  • Contains moderate violence and cruelty to animals

FILM REVIEW RATINGS KEY:

  • 10 A Masterpiece
  • 9 Excellent
  • 8 Highly Recommended
  • 7 Very Good
  • 6 Recommended
  • 5 Marginal Recommendation
  • 4 Not Recommended
  • 3 Poor
  • 2 Definitely Not Recommended
  • 1 Dreadful