Issue #231       HOME          E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com        BACK ISSUES          September 27th, 2004

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Enter The Invincible Hero
(1981; Yun Bang Films Co./ Asso Asia Film Production)

Korean: Heugpyobigaeg
English: Secret Bandit of Black Leopard

 

RATING: 5/10

REVIEW:

If Bruce Li was the best of the Bruce Lee imitators, then North Korea native Dragon Lee (also known variously as Bruce Lei, Keo Ryong, and Vschaslav Yaksysnyi) was certainly the goofiest. Bearing only a mild resemblance to the Little Dragon, Lee nonetheless aped the late star extensively, exaggerating his trademark gestures to cartoonish degrees. This actually suited the films he appeared in because South Korean producers apparently worked under the assumption that their movies would have to stand out in some way from the competition. Lacking the top-grade talent pool of HK (and even the limited production values of Taiwanese pictures), they filled these pictures with so many outlandish elements, the viewer can hardly wait to see just how much more zany they will become.

Dragon Lee Casanova Wong (center) Choi Min-kyu

ENTER THE INVINCIBLE HERO is a typical Dragon Lee period outing, casting him as wandering kung fu expert Tai Ming, who drifts into a small town looking for employment. A gang of bandits, led by a one-eyed hunchback, have been attacking and robbing convoys but Hu Tin (Choi Min-kyu), the head of the transport company, refuses to reimburse his clients’ losses. Tai accepts Hu’s offer of a job but the shipment he is responsible for is stolen by the hunchback and his cronies. In order to reimburse the townsfolk, Tai travels to see affluent Master Pang (Casanova Wong), not realizing that he is actually an old friend. Pang provides remuneration but it is promptly pilfered by Hu (whose power is concentrated in his "outie" belly button!), who is actually in cahoots with Pang.

The fighting includes plenty of "frame cheating" (frames removed to speed up the action and disguise blows that land way off the mark), not to mention the incredibly silly foley FX heard in most of Dragon Lee’s movies (an electronic chirping sound accompanies even simple hand movements). Hu’s demise is amusingly absurd and, predictably, Tai drives the hunchback’s hump right through his back and out his chest! Casanova Wong is such a superb martial artist, however, that even mediocre choreography and cut-rate filmmaking do little to diminish his abilities. The climactic battle between Wong and Lee is appropriately the highlight but Wong also displays some amazing whirlwind kicks during a flashback segment. Thanks almost entirely to him and the final five exciting minutes, this preposterous, ramshackle movie manages to just barely rate a passing grade. The opening credits roll over Dragon Lee fighting Lee Hoi-sang in a scene lifted from ENTER THREE DRAGONS, a contemporary production that is also known as THE DRAGON ON FIRE but should not be confused with DRAGON ON FIRE, which also features Dragon Lee!

Dragon Lee (left) Casanova Wong Dragon Lee

Incidentally, ENTER THE INVINCIBLE HERO is one of several South Korean productions credited to the infamous Godfrey Ho. However, thanks to the Korean Film Archive, it is becoming increasingly obvious that Ho simply bought the international rights to the movies, had them dubbed in English, and then stuck his own name on as director! The actual filmmaker here is Kim Si-hyeon, who helmed a number of other Dragon Lee movies, including DRAGON LEE VS THE FIVE BROTHERS, RAGE OF THE DRAGON, GOLDEN DRAGON SILVER SNAKE, and FIVE PATTERN DRAGON CLAWS.


PRESENTATION:

As ENTER THE INVINCIBLE HERO is a Ground Zero release, this paragraph can pretty much write itself but, for the record, the PAL VHS source (two very obvious cuts in the last reel reveal it to be the slightly censored VPD release from Britain) has a number of major glitches and dropouts, and the cropped image is never better than fair. Rotten dubbing aside, the audio has no more problems than you would expect. Extras consist of a fight scene from an unidentified movie, a Wu Tang music video (RZA from that group also introduces the film) and a trio of Ground Zero promo spots. The synopsis on the packaging bears only a slight resemblance to the actual plot, and also promises actor bios and a photo gallery that do not materialize on the disc.

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 #GZE 3010
  • Dolby Digital 2.0
  • Dubbed in English
  • No Subtitles
  • 14 Chapters
  • 4:3 Fullscreen (1.33:1; cropped from 2.35:1)
  • 86 Minutes (at 25 frames-per-second)

Ratings & Consumer Information

  • Great Britain: 18 (cut)
  • Nova Scotia: 14
  • Ontario: AA
  • Quebec: G
  • South Korea: 12
  • Contains moderate violence, brief nudity, and coarse language

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