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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Revenge of Godfrey Ho Month - Catman in Boxer's Blow (1993)

Catman in Boxer's Blow (1993)
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Most of Godfrey Ho’s movies have a certain level of incomprehensibility, which is an inherent consequence of his cut-and-paste editing technique.  However, out of all of Ho’s movies that I have seen, I cannot think of one more confusing and outright perplexing as Catman in Boxer’s Blow.  The sequel to Catman in Lethal Track, the film continues the story of Catman, a special agent named Sam who gains superpowers after being scratched by a radioactive cat.  He’s in the movie all of five minutes.

The majority of the plot is simply confounding.  I honestly do not know where to begin here, but I will do my best.  An evil cult leader plots to use nuclear weapons to kill millions and hires a group of mercenaries to help him achieve this goal.  The crew is comprised of several men, each with their own specialties and skills, and they are all bad, except one.  A man named Bobby, who was recently broken out of prison, is coerced into helping the cult, who is holding his family hostage.  That is quite literally where I start to get confused.  

I assumed Catman intended to stop the cult, and I am guessing he did in the end fight, but characters run on into each other and the plot points seem so overlapped that they make zero sense.  I was able to decipher that Bobby was innocent of the crime he was imprisoned for... I think.  I also can tell that his father and siblings do not trust him because he is an escaped convict.  There is a female martial artist who just sort of seems... there.  She does not really do anything except help out in some of the film’s many fight scenes.

Rear of the VHS case.
The fight choreography is okay, and fights range from standard to occasionally entertaining.  The problem is, I spent half the time wondering which character was which, and who was fighting who.  In a few instances, I was not able to even decipher who the villains and heroes were, even after the fight subsided.  There was almost zero attempt to make a cohesive series of events.  I say almost, because they try to tie things together with some inserted dialogue scenes featuring Catman, his boss and his friend, but these do little to repair the damage done to this film by the horrible wrath of scissors!

Yes scissors.  No man, woman and child in any 80’s movie is safe when Godfrey Ho gets his greedy paws on scissors!  The editing here is so bad that it actually edits scenes into other scenes from the same movie.  This is not where Ho will cut in a dialogue scene from his new footage into the older movie to make it appear as though characters from the two films are speaking to one another.  No, these are two scenes spliced together out of order, from the same movie.  I only caught this when I saw one of the lead characters clothes change, then change back in the span of a few minutes.

A lot of movies can be heavily destroyed by poor editing.  Elaine May blamed Ishtar’s failures on poor editing and I can see it, even though what was left on screen sucked too.  Here, I honestly do not know what to think.  I would say that most of the fights are okay, but that doesn’t fix the fact that I have no idea who the heroes and villains of this movie were, besides Catman and the cult leader, who are barely mentioned at all in the movie.  The plotting is so bad here, that I had to read a plot synopsis AFTER WATCHING THE MOVIE, to know that it was a cult and not a terrorist group, because the movie makes no reference to the fact at all (except on the back of the VHS case, apparently).  It does make the fact that the villain’s name is Reverend Cheever make more sense, but other than that, it does not effect the movie at all.  

Character motivations are never established, character relationships are rarely explained, and actors are made up with the same hair styles, clothes styles and mustaches so that you cannot tell who is who in a fight.  That is until the camera does a close up and only then can you hope the close up will be of a character you have seen before because, in all honestly, half of the time it isn't.  A fight would end with a victor standing and I was forced to ask myself, “Who is this guy?”  This happened more than one time while watching this incomprehensible mess of a film.

This is one of Godfrey Ho’s last films, released in the early 90’s.  It definitely has a sort of inert blandness and lack of enthusiasm that could be found in his 80’s movies.  Even in Ho’s worst cut-and-paste work from ‘86 to ‘89 usually has some semblance of a story.  Here, there is literally nothing to hold anything together.  It’s like throwing a handful of random Scrabble tiles into the air, trying to read all of the letters as the fly up and form words out of them before they hit the floor.  So much is lost to the attempt to shoehorn Catman into the plot as well as make it seem as though he would be able to effect what is going on in the other movie at all, that I think Ho just sort of threw his hands up with this one.  

The only source of comedy here is occasional goofiness from the barely glossed-over Catman plot and some really bad dub work that left me laughing more than a few times.  The rest of this movie is so bad, so lost, so... sad, that it has achieved a new low.  On this blog I have discussed the Fat Spy, Birdemic, North, Chairman of the Board, the FREAKING Bounty Hunter and I may go so far as to say that Catman in Boxer’s Blow is the worst movie I have reviewed on this blog, and one of the worst movies I have ever seen.

There is hope just around the corner, however, as shortly after this film’s release, Godfrey Ho begin working with an American martial arts heroine and would make one of his most glorious films ever.  Next up on Godfrey Ho Appreciation month, we’re talking about Undefeatable.

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