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A Belly Full of Anger

USA 2010
produced by
Andre Perkowski, Christopher Roy for Terminal Pictures
directed by Andre Perkowski
starring John Yohan, Don Nguyen, Han Lee, Christopher Roy, Marcello Miavia, Doua Moua, Robert Casimiro, Jason Degruttola, Patrick Tordik, Jon Barbato, Chandra Curtiss, Kristin Palker, and the voices of Bob Odenkirk, Phil Proctor, Trace Beaulieu
written by Andre Perkowski, Christopher Roy, music by Kristin Palker, the Farmingdale Sound Machine, fight choreography by the Ayala Brothers, Thomas Mao

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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120 years ago, in the 1970's, drifter Larry Wu (John Yohan) hits a village God-knows-where where he is immediately attacked by Umberto Li (Don Nguyen), who accuses Larry to have given the town scurvey - for no apparent reason other than to have the two get into a kung fu fight. Larry defeats the scurvey-struck Umberto, but then heals him using oranges he has found nearby. The two become close friends.

Larry and Umberto are always short on money, and the only jobs they get are usually degrading and pay nothing - but then village badman Mordechai O'Brien (Christopher Roy) tries to hire Larry to murder the Black Leopard, the village's mysterious benefactor. Larry turns the offer down, because he doesn't want to use his kung fu for murder ...

Umberto's brother Edgar (Robert Casimiro) later fills Larry and Umberto in on the history of the village: Once Mordechai and the Black Leopard were city leaders in a joint effort, but when they needed money to build a city center, Mordechai suggested to go into opium trading, to which Black Leopard reluctantly agreed, but only because it was for the good of the city. However, Mordechai soon fell for the lure of money from the opium business and became a big time drug trader, very much in opposition to Black Leopard - and thus the two not only split ways but became mortal enemies.

In the following days, Larry and Umberto actually get a job, make some money, and turn the little money they have made into a fortune at the gambling tables. And they save Black Leopard's life on the side ...

But then their money is stolen and Umberto is brutally raped. Larry figures the only way Umberto can overcome his rape trauma is to become a kung fu master, thus he teaches him all he knows, then hands him over to master Chung (Han Lee) for some surplus training. But Master Chung takes money, and lots of it, and thus Larry accepts Mordechai's assignement to kill Black Leopard after all ...

Too late, Larry finds out that Black Leopard is actually Umberto's brother Edgar, and to avenge his death, Larry goes after Mordechai, and he kills everyone standing in his way before killing Mordechai himself, too. Only then does Larry realize he has become a killing machine ...

 

If above synopsis makes you figure A Belly Full of Anger is just another bad and badly written cheap Kung Fu movie, you are right of course - and you are wrong as well.

You are right because undoubtedly, the film was produced on a shoestring, its script contains more kung fu clichées than one would care to count, the fights erupting from out of nowhere are a sure indicator that having a coherent script wasn't the filmmaker's main concern to begin with, and the choppy editing and terrible dubbing suggest that the film was originally about something else altogether.

But you are wrong as well, because this is an hommage to 1970's cheap kung fu cinema done the avant garde way: The choppy editing, shaky camerawork and unnecessary zoom-ins and zoom-outs prevalent in cheap martial arts flicks are further developed into a cinematic language here, the bad acting turned into an artform, the many weird touches of the films of old (like the flying villain etc) are turned into comicbook surrealism, the incoherent quality of film footage seems to be a stylistic statement, and the typically unnaturally choreographed fights (including their weird sound effects) occuring in typical non-descript places get an almost triplike dimension here.

That all said, you might have to be a masochist fan of these bad kung fu flicks of old to fully appreciate A Belly Full of Anger, but if so, you're in for an almost otherworldly treat.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD