Youtube Film Club: Tiger Claws 2 (1997)

Jalal Merhi? Never heard of him

Jalal Merhi? Never heard of him

Dear Jalal Merhi in 1990 – please spend some of that stack of cash you have on acting lessons. Just a bit, so it looks like you’re supposed to be on camera, and that you and your ex-girlfriend feel like you’ve ever shared a room before. It’ll pay off! The garbage sequel to your garbage first movie might be more fun then!

In a frankly confusing opening involving undercover operations gone wrong, Chinese gangs and arms dealers, we see Bolo Yeung again. In case you haven’t seen part 1, he was a serial killer who murdered other martial arts masters with the “Tiger Claw” style of kung fu, which mainly involved scratching someone’s face and them dying immediately. Now, you need to forget the serial killer thing, because the movie does! He’s sat in a cell at a police station, not a prison, despite having been incarcerated for at least nine months (the elapsed time between part 1 and this is never really mentioned), and some people working for the super-evil Dai Lo Fu come and bust him out.

Because you have the opportunity to watch these movies for free, I don’t feel bad about spoiling them. Dai Lo Fu is, it turns out, Bolo’s brother, and he’s organising an underground martial arts tournament on the Chinese Centennial in order to…open a time portal to the ancient past, take a load of modern weapons through and take over the world. Now that’s a plan! Luckily, Tarek (Merhi) can enter the tournament, as does ISCFC favourite Evan Lurie (main villain in “Hologram Man”, playing an arms dealer here), and a bunch of other weird-and-wonderful looking fighters.

Cynthia Rothrock is third billed in this, despite the poster above, which is about right. She’s Linda, and is now a cop in San Fransisco; she and Tarek split up after the first movie but when they re-establish contact, despite him sounding about as excited as if he’s reading the phone book out loud, she’s incredibly hot for him. Dear me. Anyway, all roads lead to San Fransisco, so when they’ve met up again and got bored of pretending this is about police work, the move just turns into a martial arts tournament.

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It’s a very curiously made film. My wife was half-reading a magazine during this, and she looked up during a spell of very loud dramatic music to see someone just walking down a street. “Is this supposed to be exciting?” she asked, and as it was about the tenth scene where the action and the music didn’t match at all, I sadly had to say no. There’s a substantial stretch of the movie, where Linda is trying to fight her way out of the bad guys’ dungeon and Tarek is fighting the guys upstairs, where the two stars were obviously filmed weeks or months apart – they cross paths during the final battle and the camera is very careful to never include them in the same shot.

Even in a genre not renowned for its logical choices, this manages to be even more puzzling than usual. First, of course, is Bolo – Tarek at one point calls him an honourable man, which considering he’s a serial killer WHO MURDERED HIS FRIEND is at best a dubious choice of words; plus, given his arrest was definitely on the news, as would be his escape, no-one seems to give a damn that he’s just walking the streets. Right at the beginning, the villains have to ditch their vehicle because the cops will be looking for it – you’re probably okay, lads, there are zero cops in this garbage – and choose a bright yellow old-fashioned food truck as their vehicle of choice. What? Tarek has a photo of Linda in his apartment, and it’s the cheesiest headshot you’ve ever seen in your life. Why do people in films use publicity headshots from their real acting career? Why not take a Polaroid out into a park for half an hour?

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The magic portal ending can be left as the truly magnificent choice it is, but one character walks through it and never comes back. This is, very very sadly, Bolo Yeung’s last acting role – no idea why he walked away, as he was the rare shining light in what seems like hundreds of poor quality movies (he actually acted for Merhi again in 2007, apparently, but the film remains unreleased, which sounds like some complicated tax dodge).

The one minor positive about this movie is the fighting. Rothrock is really, really good, and the film lets her have a few scenes where her skills can shine. Merhi is a better fighter than he is an actor – oh, by the way, he in real life owns a few martial arts schools teaching tiger style, so you can see these movies as advertising – and the tournament itself is okay, while making no-one forget “Bloodsport” or “Enter The Dragon”. The ridiculously cursory way they dispatch the main bad guy at the end is worth a laugh too, as if the filmmakers realised they’d forgot that bit so quickly filmed ten more seconds with extras in the same outfits.

I preferred this to the first one, but in the same way I’d prefer to get punched in the groin once rather than three times.

Rating: thumbs down

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2 thoughts on “Youtube Film Club: Tiger Claws 2 (1997)

  1. Pingback: Youtube Film Club: Bloodsport 2 (1996) |

  2. Pingback: The ISCFC vs. Martial Arts franchises |

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