Shaolin Dolemite (1999)

Rating: *
Review Date: 10/16/99
Director: Robert Tai
Writer: Rudy Ray Moore
Cast: Alexander Lo, Alice Tsang, cameo by Rudy Ray Moore

Utterly unbelievable. I don't even know where to start. At first glance, this appears to be a cut and paste film made up of deleted scenes from Robert Tai's eviscerated eight-hour ninja epic, "Ninja: The Final Duel" (1986). But about halfway through the film, you notice that something else is going on. All of the footage was obviously shot simultaneously with "Ninja: The Final Duel" and all of the actors are the same, but the characters they're playing are decidedly different. For instance, the Black Monk of Harlem and the ninja girl (Alice Tsang) are both working for the villains, and one of the gay monks shows up as Davy Crockett! The biggest problem with trying to mentally piece together any continuity between these two films is that many of the characters have different death scenes, so who knows where the source material came from. Anyway, enough background information and mental musing, let's get to the meat of the show.

The film starts off with a black voodoo priest named Tupac stealing the precious "Dolby Stereo Death Bell" from the Wu Tang clan. (I am NOT making this up, okay?) Tupac happens to be a rogue member of the Dolemite clan (!), and Rudy Ray "I used to almost have a career" Moore goes searching for him. Tupac then allies himself with the head of an evil ninja clan who is bent on destroying Shaolin Temple. Alexander Lo is a Japanese monk who visits Shaolin to learn kung fu, and he is joined by an American named Davy Crockett (complete with a coonskin cap!). Meanwhile, the Wu Tang clan is busy trying to get their precious bell back, and the Wu Tang princess goes up against Tupac with a magical bell of her own. There's nothing quite like seeing a battle of the bells. Next, a new purple-clad female ninja appears on the scene to attack Shaolin, and she manages to single-handedly defeat Alexander Lo with an astonishing display of breast fu. Yes, she actually slaps him into submission with her bare breasts. Amazing. Shortly after the halfway mark in the film, the film turns into a confusing non-stop kung fu free-for-all made up of whatever combat footage was left in director Tai's archives, finally ending with the death of Tupac and the ninja leader. Whew.

And then there's Rudy Ray Moore, who very briefly shows up four times during the film in laughably bad, shot on video segments. He pops up during combat sequences and "observes" the action, chiming in occasionally with "Wow! Now there's a bad motherfucker!" It's also very amusing that these segments are shot with Rudy saying one thing and overdubbing himself with something else to match the English dubbed quality of the rest of the film. Brilliant or stupid? You decide. Mr. Moore is also credited with writing the horrendous dialog for this travesty, with such gems as "Wu Tang white niggers," "All right, let's get some fried chicken," and "Come here bitch, I'll make you gobble my pork!" The use of urban slang in a traditional kung fu period piece is unnerving and inappropriate, and the overuse of the term "motherfucker" becomes quickly tiresome. You just have to ask yourself "why?"

But on the plus side - if you can manage to sit through the whole thing - the kung fu is good and plentiful, and the crazy ninja shenanigans are enjoyable. If you enjoyed "Ninja: The Final Duel," I definitely recommend checking this out, if for nothing else just to see more of the same. The infamous water spiders don't show up in this one, but the ninja tigers and ninja trench diggers get to see a lot of action.