LOW BLOW (1986)
D. Frank Harris
Part of the Maximum Action 10 pack (now out of print)
Before reading the excellent one two punch books GODS IN POLYESTER and GODS IN SPANDEX I had never heard of Leo Fong. I had maybe seen his name here and there, but never knew who he was. But after reading his recollections of making kung fu styled action films with pennies on the dollar I fond myself really fond of the guy and had to find some of his films. Then after checking out the movie movie WILD RIDERS in one of the BCI DRIVE IN CULT CLASSICS packs there was a trailer for LOW BLOW and I was completely sold. My girlfriend and I HAD to see this movie! We become more than a little bit obsessed with seeing our first Leo Fong movie. I almost didn't get to as the MAXIMUM ACTION set that I found on Ebay never came and after a little research I found that it was out of print. I sent some emails to the company I ordered it from explaining that I NEEDED my Leo Fong fix! That I would not be a complete cult film fan until I got Leo Fong into my life! And they came through, in some dusty corner of the DVD warehouse, hiding under a million copies of GIRLS GONE WILD THE CATHOLIC YEARS was one last copy of MAXIMUM ACTION with not one but TWO Leo Fong movies in the set. Joy was about to set in my peoples!!!
We were not disappointed at all. Within five minutes of the opening of LOW BLOW it had lived up to the what we had expected. The movie hits the ground running, not unlike the vastly inferior LETHAL WEAPON 2 with the action already in progress. A thugs are robbing a coffee shop, roughing up the patrons and generally being loud pricks. The next building over is the office of tough guy Private Investigator Joe Wong (played by our hero Leo Fong) who is aggravated by the noise and ruckus. He throws on his members only jacket and tells his pretty and perky secretary "I'm gonna go see what all the noise is about!" Within two minutes those trouble makers are eating the floor with much foot being put to ass, and Mr. Wong has barely broke a sweat at all. But low and behold some nasty bastards are taking some old ladies purse outside, so they are gonna have to be taught a lesson too! But it is all in a day's work for Mr. Wong. Ass kicking is a way of life! He also has a comic relief car that only he can start by popping the hood and whacking it with a tire iron.Leo Fong's screen presence is a strange one at best, with his pinched up face that consistently looks like someone in the room has just farted, and stiff walk like he may flip out at any second. He's wound tighter than the rubber bands holding the roll of twenty's that was the budget of this flick. His line delivery, all ten of them, is fast, and to the point. Like lines are just a waste of time to get to some ass kicking. He might very well hop out of the screen and punch you at any moment.
The plot finally kicks in when a blond California bimbo is being indoctrinated into some Johnstown styled cult run by a blind Cameron Mitchell and his African Princess named Karma (played by respected black actress Akosua Busia, who actually gives a great performance here). It is never really explained what the cult is actually doing, but it is all about love, enlightenment, and digging in the fields all damn day long. At one point it is revealed they are planting, wait for it, asparagus! Evil bastards!!! Seems the bimbo is the daughter of a rich industrialist played by Troy Donahue and he wants his little girl back. After witnessing Mr. Wong whopping the ass of some Latino's who were trying to steal his hub caps he decides that Wong is the man for the job!
But wait! After some shenanigans in the camp where Mr. Wong gets mildly roughed up (and Karma is clearly enjoying herself, because her nipples clearly get hard after every bit of torture she inflicts on Mr. Wong!) he decides he cannot do this alone. So he holds a tough man contest to find some teammates to help him infiltrate the compound and get the now drugged and wigged out babe to safety. So now it is THE DIRTY DOZEN street style!
Weird thing about this movie is that it is almost family friendly in some ways. The violence (outside of one nasty head squishing) is mostly hand to hand combat kung fu stuff. The gun play is very toned down. There is no bad language or sex to speak of at all. Watching it you can't help but to feel like Leo Fong was trying to appeal as wide a base as possible. And make no mistake, this is Leo Fong's show. He wrote, produced and starred in this bad boy. He raised the financing and made it happen.
There's tons of weird moments to recommend here, like several of Karma's freak outs, the bad guy who gets thrown into a pile of cute puppies who proceed to lick his unconscious body, Leo Fong's attempts at breakfast table comedy, the REALLY out of place macho bonding casual racism that will make you uncomfortable, the muscle bound blond pit fighter chick, that head squishing i previously mentioned, or the incredible compilation worthy action scene were Fong chases four bad guys into their car. He gets so pissed he rips the cables out of the engine, beat the CAR up, smashes all the windows out with a two by four and then buzz saws the top of the car itself off just to kick them all in the ass and send them on their way! Truly it is one of the most amazing scenes I have ever seen in an action film!
So before Seagal, before Van Damme, there was Leo Fong! And he did it for the among of money those guys spent on hair stylists.
Leo Fong, APPROVED!!!