The second disc of VideoAsia's ten movie "Bruceploitation" box set features two movies, The 18 Amazones (under the title Bruce Lee's Ways of Kung Fu) and Dragon Force (under the title Powerforce) that are only tangentally connected to the sub-genre due to them starring Bruce Lee "clones" Dragon Lee and Bruce Li. Like the first disc, this is a totally low-budget affair. Both films look and sound awful, presented in cropped 4:3 and backed by scratchy English soundtracks. In particular, Powerforce has the quality of a worn out VHS tape, complete with video tracking problems. And even though it was orignally shot in English, it appears to have been overdubbed, and badly. As with the first disc, there are no extras and only a basic menu screen is included.
The 18 Amazones
(aka Bruce Lee's Ways of Kung Fu, Dragon Lee's Ways of Kung Fu, Bravado of a Lady Fight, The 18 Amazons, Eighteen Women Fighters of Murim)
1977; directed by Kim Jung-Yong
As is the case on VideoAsia's DVD cover, this is often labeled as a Godfrey Ho movie, but it is actually a South Korean film directed by Kim Jung-Yong. Ho, who did originally work on the film as a prop master, later (along with his production partner, Jospeh Lai, and their company, IFD Films) bought the rights and spliced it together with another South Korean film, The 12 Gates of Hell, to bring out Bravado of a Lady Fight. A few years later, Ho re-used the original footage along with a new title sequence and a soundtrack stolen from Queen's work on Flash Gordon, and we have Bruce Lee's Ways of Kung Fu.
The film itself follows a fairly standard oldschool playbook, with Dragon Lee (billed as Bruce Lei) as a young martial artist who wants to take revenge on a bad kung fu master that killed a good kung fu master. The twist here is that the bad guy employs the titular eighteen female bodyguards -- the title and some story elements are obviously trying to capitalize on the success of the Shaw Brothers release The Fourteen Amazons -- and one of them ends up helping Dragon out. Some of the fight scenes are fun, but ultimately, the movie bogs down too much in dull exposition and dopey comedy to warrant a recommendation.
(aka Dragonforce, Power Force, Powerforce)
1982; directed by Michael Mak
Though not as well-known as some of his contemporaries, Michael Mak had a fairly decent career as a director in the 1980's and 1990's, scoring a few hits, with his biggest being the notorious Category III romp Sex and Zen. This was Mak's first release; like many of his films, it was produced by his brother Johnny. Interestingly, one of the other producers is Terence Chang, who would go on to become John Woo's production partner, having a hand in several classics such as Hard Boiled.
At any rate, this is a somewhat strange release for fledgling Hong Kong film-makers. It was shot in English, presumably because it was made for the international market, though there are no notable western actors to speak of. The film stars Bruce Baron, whose height of notoreity was appearing in several of Godfrey Ho's terrible cut-and-paste ninja movies. On the Asian side, we have Bruce Li, who probably the most-employed Bruce Lee clone, appearing in well over a dozen Bruceploitation movies. Dragon Force seems to have been an attempt to break him out of that mold, but it failed in that respect, as this was his last credited role until his final thespianic gasp in 1990's Not Again.
Not shockingly, as you might infer, Dragon Force is low budget cheese. The thin plot has a kidnapped princess being rescued by Baron and Li, agents of TROUBLE. Most of the exposition consists of stiled dialogue and bad jokes based on stereotypes -- one of the locations is Fu-King Rice Company, which houses an agent named Ah Chu who sneezes. The action scenes are sloppy and about as exciting as watching semi-retired pro wrestlers attempt to approximate grappling in a high school gym. Yet there is sort of a charm here. It is really one of those "bad in a good way" kind of movies, mostly because it's never boring. Though this could only tangentially be considered a Hong Kong film, one thing Michael Mak does well is the classic blizkrieg style of keeping everything moving along fast enough and throwing enough things at the viewer that they can't dwell too long on the really bad parts.