Howdy all you Supercultists out there on the interwebz! I’m Bad Movie Professor Cameron Coker (BS in “Sleeping on Set” with a minor in “Bad Guys Waking Up in Piles of Puppies”) and I’ll be posting my hype-tacular speeches every week along with some long lost speeches from past Supercult Shows!
This week Supercult covers his crotch and winces in anticipation of Low Blow!
When the sinister cult leader Yarakunda draws the daughter of a wealthy businessman into his web, it’s up to one down-on-his-luck PI to save the day. Are Yarakunda and his evil organization too much for Joe Wong? Well, yes, yes they are. Which is why Wong must gather a team of the roughest, rowdiest, and raunchiest renegades to help him take the cult down! They hit first! They hit hard! And they hit with a Low Blow!
Released in 1986, Low Blow is…a movie…starring some people. Okay look, there’s not a lot of info about this movie. Low Blow is one of those enigmatic cinematic mysteries where everyone knows of it, but no one really knows anything substantial about it. Like dark matter or why people look at their poop in the toilet before they flush it.
Low Blow was directed by Frank Harris, a B-list cinematographer turned director, then turned back to cinematographer after he realized he SUCKED at directing and stars Leo Fong as the reckless slob of a detective Joe Wong and Cameron Mitchell as the antagonist Yarakunda. In his early years Fong studied judo, jiu jitsu, and boxing, developed his own style of martial arts, and was a friend and sparring partner of Bruce Lee. Bruce even used his connections to get Fong on the cover of the 10th anniversary edition of Black Belt magazine. In the 50’s and 60’s Wong was a literal martial arts legend. Meanwhile Cameron Mitchell was a Broadway actor who starred in the 1950’s film adaptations of Death of a Salesman, Les Miserables, and Carousel.
Unfortunately, the heydays of both Wong and Mitchell were about 30 years before they starred in Low Blow. At the time of filming, Wong was in his late 50’s while Mitchell was nearly 70. Wong’s martial arts seem lethargic at best with stunt men vigorously throwing themselves around in response to Wong’s geriatric lunges and the editing and camera work do nothing to help matters. Camera work and editing, I might point out, both handled by the director Frank Harris. Harris and Wong actually worked together on another film, Killpoint, in which Harris acted as cinematographer, editor, writer, director, and producer. What I’m trying to say here in regards to Low Blow is, “It could’ve been worse.”
Mitchell on the other hand seems almost catatonic. He spends the entire film sitting in recliners, mumbling to himself, and wearing a dollar store hood and cloak and a pair of pitch-black sunglasses. He even wears his cult get-up to bed, just minus the shirt!
Mitchell’s right hand henchwoman throughout the film is a named Karma played by Akosua Busia. Though she spends a good amount of time being menacing and roughing up the good guys, she spends an equal amount of time repeating Mitchell’s lines through a bullhorn. Though it may seem like she’s acting as the speaker for the great cult leader, we’re pretty sure that in reality her character was added to the script after the crew saw what a wreck Mitchell was in. You can actually count on one hand the number of times Mitchell is shown standing in the film, and we’re pretty sure a few of those were stunt doubles.
Let’s put bashing the elderly aside for a moment and talk about the actual story of Low Blow. First we open on a robbery at a deli. No exposition, no establishing shot, no nothing. Just, BAM! Robbery. Our hero, Wong, hobbles into the deli and, under the pretext of ordering a sandwich, breaks up the robbery by murdering everyone. How’s that for a character introduction? Then he is hired to find the daughter of a rich dork who has been brainwashed by a cult that doesn’t do much of anything. Seriously, they force their members to dig around in the dirt and live in a crappy trailer park in the middle of nowhere. That’s it. It’s less of a cult and more of a shitty episode of The Simple Life with Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie. So what does Wong do? Well he finds a black boxer, a Latino knife guy, a kick boxer, and a muscular woman and he hands them all guns and points them in the direction of said episode of The Simple Life. So, the general premise is that some rich fart hired an elderly murderer to save his daughter from a boring summer camp and the elderly murderer decides the best way to do that is to hire slightly younger murderers to help him.
The campiness levels go into orbit however when you consider some of the actual fights. When one group of goons tries to escape after a failed attempt to attack Wong at his junkyard estate, Wong decides to spend what feels like half an hour slowly dismantling their car with the goons inside, first with a two-by-four, then with a circular saw, after taking the time to don proper eye-protection, of course. The coup de gråce however has to be Wong brutally ramming his fist into a gallon of mashed potatoes disguised as a human head.
At its core Low Blow is a slower, more arthritic version of Supercult Classic Miami Connection. Except that Miami Connection had all the principal characters play in a 1980’s multi-national martial arts rock band, Dragon Sound, whereas Low Blow literally ends with a slow zoom out of Wong struggling to start his car.
Low Blow has a 3.4 on IMDB. On Rotten Tomatoes it has no critic reviews and a 10% audience rating. The critics of RedLetterMedia’s Best of the Worst call Low Blow a celebration of laziness. “The main hero is a lazy slob that lives in a junkyard and the main villain is Cameron Mitchell…half-asleep, half-passed out. Both Cameron Mitchell and Leo Wong, it looks like we’re getting a glimpse into their reality. It’s not just the characters, their personal lives are informing the characters!”
This movie is less of a movie and more of a collection of disconnected scenes bookended with murder. Which is sorta sad because the actual character of Detective “Low Blow” Joe Wong is bizarrely fascinating. Far from a proper action hero, Wong seems to live in squalor. Wong operates out of a dilapidated shack in a scrap yard and drives a rusty car that constantly refuses to start. The film actually makes a running gag out of how awful Wong is at parking. Nearly every transition from one locale to another is punctuated by a scene of Wong lazily coasting his car into a mailbox or the fender of another car. It’s easy to imagine the character of Jow Wong, the lazy, poor, reckless, down-on-his luck, but nevertheless endearing and ultimately successful work-for-hire detective having his own series…if this movie didn’t suck so hard of course.
It’s time for a movie so bad, that the title describes what it will do to audiences emotionally. We hope you brought your metal codpiece! I know I did!
The Supercult show is proud to present, Low Blow!