Hands Of Death (Taiwan 1974)

Rating: **
Review Date: 3/17/10
Director: Roc Tien
Cast: Roc Tien (Tien Peng)

An incredibly violent and utterly pointless vanity project from actor/director Roc Tien. An undercover agent is killed by a group of Japanese opium smugglers and super agent Roc Tien is called in to shut down their operation. In traditional kung fu fashion, he starts at the bottom of the organization and kills everyone up to the top. And naturally, the highest ranking figures in the organization all have increasingly proficient fighting skills. Roc Tien isn't a particularly good fighter and spends most of his time acting tough and smoking A LOT of cigarettes. He lights up at least twenty times in the film, which borders on being ridiculous. Of course he delivers a hypocritical speech to the head of the organization as he's obsessively puffing away on a cigarette: "Your brain is going to atrophy from all that opium." (said one addict to the other) Even though he's not a good fighter, he still manages to effortlessly kill everyone in his path. He and his partner even torture and slay a police officer and his German Shepherd, which they later cook and eat. Wait a minute, aren't they supposed to be the good guys? There's definitely a lot of questionable moral behavior in the film, but we're always encouraged to side with Roc. Only the final villain gives him any sort of challenge, and their showdown is pretty satisfying. While the film employs drop-frame editing to speed up the pacing, it's surprisingly not too disruptive. Overall, "Hands Of Death" is sub-standard kung fu fare, but much better than most of the crap I've been watching recently. At least it had a respectable budget and sports decent production values.