aka 過江龍獨闖虎穴 aka Guo jiang long du chuang hu xue 1978 Written and directed by Gwan Jing-Leung
Trashing restaurants is soooooo boring!
It’s a kung fu cop action flick from the late 1970s, so you know it will be full screen and dubbed terribly. The characters will be wearing outfits that make fashion police commit suicide, and the plot will only occasionally make sense. Throw in scenes that are just there for excuses for more fights and characters whose names change depending on who is talking, and you got yourself a movie. Just don’t hurt yourself getting down to the funky theme song. Because it’s the only thing that’s funky.
Showdown at the Equator is about gangs that extort protection money out of small business owners, and the cops that are bringing them down. The film doesn’t bother to tell us certain characters are cops (though it’s easy to deduce), and spends a long time putting together the reason why the plan is so complicated. But Showdown at the Equator does have a more unconventional final battle sequence, the characters that end up fighting aren’t quite the matchups you think they’ll be.
As part of the massive deluge of kung fu films pumped out to feed the overseas demand, Showdown at the Equator packs in a lot of action, even if it doesn’t make any sense. The action it does well, the choreography pretty decent for a film obviously made in a hurry with little money for fancy rigs or setups. It’s got that small budget charm that you get from picking a random martial arts vhs from the video store (if your store was cool enough to have a martial arts section!) I enjoy these films, but I recognize what they are, that they aren’t for everyone, and that Showdown at the Equator has a lot of problems that keeps it from being a film anyone remembers anything about. Good thing I took notes!
Chen Wan Tu-Lei (Nora Miao Ke-Hsiu) – Daughter of a restaurant owner who is targeted by the extortion gangs. She knows enough martial arts thanks to her nunchucks that she can fight back some when the gang trashes their place.
Yu Wang-Yeung (Larry Lee Gam-Kwan) – A drunk that helps the Chen family rebuild their restaurant multiple times thanks to stacks of cash he has with no explanation. He’s really an undercover cop trying to bring down the gang by infiltrating it by being an awesome fighter. Of course Chen Wan falls for him.
Chen Chung (Yiu Ping) – Restaurant owner and father of Chen Wan Tu-Lei. Tries to be friendly with the extortion gang, but they trash his place regardless. Mr. Chen Chung is sometimes called Ching Chung depending on who is speaking.
Li Shung (Bruce Leung Siu-Lung) – An undercover informant for cops who is exposed halfway through the film. He barely crosses paths with Yu Wang-Yeung except during the final fight.
Steven (Lo Lieh) – The head of the gang, the cops don’t even know who he is until most of the way through the film. Despite being in charge of the gang, he overseas almost all of their illegal activities, which lets him discover when the cops are closing in.
Bruce Li (Ho Chung Tao) as Chang Wang-li (aka Bruce Lee)
Chan Sing as Great Snake Wizard Guru
Danna as Ann Kawa
Chin-kun Li as Chin Sang
??? as Tu Yung – one of the guides (shorter)
??? as The crosseyed guide
??? as Cheng Pow Directed by C.Y. Yang
Bruce Li is Bruce Lee is Chang Wang-li in Bruce Lee in New Guinea, part of Bruce-ploitation Mania of the 1970’s and 1980’s. Bruce Li (real name Ho Chung Tao) was one of the dozens of Bruce Lee imitators renamed Bruce Something or Something Lee in the wake of the death of the King of Kung Fu. Bruce Lee ended up doing all sorts of wacky things once every other movie coming out of Hong Kong was patterned after him to make a quick buck. This is not as wacky as some of them (The Clones of Bruce Leeanyone?) but is still pretty silly. The real question is, would the real Bruce Lee bother going to New Guinea? I think not! Bruce Lee (Li) does end up on Snake Worship Island, I don’t want to give away what they worship there, but it isn’t King Kong. Let’s just say Wacking Day would be a sacrilegious event. It’s important to note that Bruce Li is not supposed to be Bruce Lee, but some guy named Chang Wang-li, an anthropologist who is not a former 1970’s martial arts star, thus the “Bruce Lee” in the title is a complete lie. Not that the producers would care after they got your hard earned money. Sometimes this film is more truthfully titled Bruce Li in New Guinea. Co-starring is the lovely Danna as the Princess, who was being pushed as an international sex symbol at this time, but soon faded to obscurity. Much like this film, except it was never pushed as anything more than a cheap buck, and it shows that, in spades.