Way Of The Black Dragon (HK 1978)

Rating: *
Review Date: 2/14/15
Cast: Ron Van Clief, Carter Wong, Wong Hang Sau, Mung Hoi, cameo by Charles Bonet

One of the most embarrassingly inept films I've ever seen. Thankfully, Ron Van Clief's fight scenes are entertaining, but otherwise it's a complete mess. The first half of the film involves a group of young girls being kidnapped in Bangkok, who are sold to a Hong Kong crime syndicate as prostitutes and drug mules. The second half of the film introduces Ron Van Clief as an Interpol agent, and he tracks down one of the other girls (pretty Wong Hang Sau) as part of an investigation he's working on. He goes back to Bangkok with her, and then she gets kidnapped again. Ultimately, Ron (a karate expert), the girl's brother (a muy thuy expert), and Carter Wong (a kung fu expert) gang up on the bad guys and put them out of business.

The film is just terrible on every level. The story is awful and makes no sense, the extended scenes of human trafficking are ugly and unpleasant, the film is visually incoherent, the action scenes are weak, and the acting is horrible. Ron Van Clief is fun to watch and moves with power and grace, and the highlight of the film is watching him fight with Carter Wong. Charles Bonet comes out of nowhere as the final villain and has a brief exchange with Ron, which is completely lost offscreen in the atrocious pan-and-scan video conversion. Wong Hang Sau is lovely throughout, but has little to do other than scream and be mistreated by nasty slave traders. How unfortunate.

While the editing and continuity are unquestionably awful, I suspect that the version I saw was cut, making it even more disjointed and confusing. Things happen out of sequence or for no apparent reason. One of the most amusing scenes is when one of the bad guys says "that damn nigger is causing us a lot of trouble", and Ron's character hasn't even been introduced yet. And then in the next scene, Ron is walking along minding his own business and gets jumped by a bunch of thugs. Who is this guy, and why is he being attacked? Similarly with Charles Bonet. He just shows up and starts fighting. Who is this guy? Is he the leader of the syndicate or just another hired assassin? Who knows? And he's not around long enough for us to find out. A serious disappointment all around.