I’m getting a little cautious about XLRator Media. They’ve put out a lotta middling-to-bad films I’ve seen lately.
The latest in a long line of people touted as “the next Bruce Lee,” kung-fu expert Zheng Liu has trained at a Shaolin academy, and can evidently do amazing things like break steel bars over his head, and throw metal pins through glass windows without breaking them. So it says in the liner notes for his most recent film Blood Money, on home video today, directed by Gregory McQualter. The liner notes also tout – get this – “REAL CONTACT!,” implying, I suppose, that the fight scenes in Blood Money contains at least one or two real punches to the face that were unsimulated. I hope that the stuntmen who took those punches got paid handsomely.
The pay grade of the stuntmen is a concern of mine because the whole of Blood Money is a hazy mess. I had to rewind the film on several occasions just to keep a hold of the plot, and even then, it slipped away from me. Seriously, I couldn’t tell you the plot of this thing. There are so many characters and so many locations, so many double-crossings, so many twists, that they all begin to vanish in a cloud of vague non-eventfulness. All I can tell you about is the mayhem: There was plenty of fighting and violence. There was a gang of tattooed Australian bikers who seem to live in a strip joint, and the requisite bare breasts were included. There were also at least four rapes or attempted rapes. There was also a cameo from hotshot rapper Pitbull who is credited as himself. Weird.
So Zheng Liu plays an ex-monk who learned about kung-fu, and then left the order when his sister was killed and his daughter kidnapped. Or maybe his parents were killed and his sister kidnapped. Something like that. Anyway, he is now working as a high-powered hitman for the Hong Kong Triad living in Australia. There is some kind of war going on between the Chinese, the local Aussie biker thugs, and an ancillary group of Colombians who have been distributing cocaine to both. I assume Zheng Liu is working for the Chinese, as he is himself Chinese, but he also kills a bunch of Chinese guys. Maybe there’s a fourth group in play, a group of “bad” Chinese. I don’t really know. There is a mean Aussie biker with a facial tattoo. The Colombians kidnap a hot Chinese woman. A girl gets shot in the chest at one point, but is cured by a master monk…Um…. Zheng goes back to his Shaolin temple at one point to get advice from his old master (Gordon Liu, no relation)… Did I mention that there are four rapes in this movie? Four. That’s a lot.
The plot’s impenetrability wouldn’t much matter if the fighting was cool, or the stunts were spectacular. I wouldn’t, for example, whinge too much about the plot of Jackie Chan’s Rumble in the Bronx, as the film is an awesome stunt spectacular with awesome fights, and Chan’s amazing physical talents on full display. The stunts in Bloody Money aren’t anything notable, and the fights – for however much “real contact” there was – don’t look any different from any other average fight scene from any other below-average kung-fu flick. Zheng Liu does glower a lot, and clearly knows the moves (he can leap over a few walls and do some fancy footwork), but we never get to see him do anything amazing; the box said he can throw pins through glass and break steel with his head. Why, oh why, did you not film those things for your movie?
Blood Money also commits the cardinal B-movie sin of CGI blood. I understand that you may want your explosions to be CGI at this point (even though they don’t look anywhere as awesome as real explosions), but, seriously guys, get some squibs. CGI blood spray never ever looks good under any circumstances. If you’re going to make a cheap B-movie, don’t blow your cash on cheap CGI and cameos from Pitbull. Spend the money on extra fight choreography. Spend it on more topless women. And if you’re going to write a screenplay that is intended to be a fight showcase for an up-and-coming kung-fu superstar, perhaps write a simple, bare-bones screenplay based around the stunts the guy can do, and not a 110-minute film with enough plot for any three given movies.
When I first glanced at the DVD box for this film, I thought the title was Blood Monkey. I would rather see that film.