Kung Fu Killer

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Airdate: 10 p.m. - midnight, Sunday-Monday, Aug. 17-18 (Spike).

Such is the nature of “Kung Fu Killer” that you can’t tell whether the title pertains to the hero or the villain. Not that it matters because, in this mini, it’s all about the kung fu and the killing, regardless of who’s doing it. Between evil perpetrators and steadfast heroes, bodies pile up like mah jong tiles.

Spike calls this two-day, four-hour bloodbath a mini but, actually, it is two very separate movies with the same cast and crew, both times set in and around Shanghai, China, circa 1930. You can tune in the second night and quickly get up to speed with all the characters, though there are sure to be better alternatives.

On Night 1, David Carradine in aging grandeur plays White Crane, a kung fu master seeking revenge on a psychotic killer who plans to enslave the entire country. On Night 2, Crane takes on a different psychotic killer, a former kung fu classmate from his childhood who nurses a grudge for a long, long time. Women fight and kill more on Night 2 but both films end in confrontations between Crane and his nemesis. It gives nothing away to say that, sadly, there is the possibility of a sequel.

The film, from Robert Halmi Sr. and Robert Halmi Jr., is aimed at an international audience thirsty for scenes of decapitation, amputation, evisceration and even a little flagellation. There’s an abundance of choreographed martial arts, as well, and a cast full of characters direct from central casting. What’s missing is any semblance of plot and character development. Each story is as subtle as a brick-breaking judo chop.

The film reunites Carradine with “Kill Bill” co-star Daryl Hannah, who is terribly miscast as a young, sultry, vulnerable chanteuse courted by night club owner Bingo (Jimmy Taenaka). Crane also has a protégé, Lang Han (Osric Chau), whose martial arts abilities tend to dwarf his acting skills.

The mini was filmed mainly at Heng Dian Studios in China, which lends a touch of authenticity to a project that was guided almost entirely by commercial instincts.

Production: Reunion Pictures and RHI Entertainment. Cast: David Carradine, Daryl Hannah, Jimmy Taenaka, Lim Kay Tong, Lim Yu-Beng, Osric Chau, Yan Yan Wu, Cheng Pei Pei, Gary Peterman, Nic Rhind. Executive producers: Robert Halmi Sr., Robert Halmi Jr. Producers: Shan Tam, Matthew O’Connor, Michael O’Connor. Director: Philip Spink. Writers: Jacqueline Feather, David Seidler, John Mandel. Director of photography: Ng Man Ching. Production/costume desinger: Thomas Chong. Editor: Mike Banas. Music: Jim Guttridge. Fight choreographers: Jacky Yang, Li Cai. Casting: Poping Auyeung.

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