10 February 2018 | Falconeer
Unjustly Maligned Kung Fu Classic
Having had the rare opportunity to see it in the Mandarin/Chinese language , I can give a review that is more fair than some others. "Tattoo Connection," or "Hong Kong Connection" in certain regions, is a wildly entertaining, colorful and stylish Chinese import, that happens to star a martial arts legend who belongs to the West. Sometimes billed as "Black Belt Jones 2," this film has no connection to that earlier movie, which had a very different, and much lighter tone. Jim Kelly, who is basically the embodiment of everything that was considered cool in the 1970's, stars as Lucas, a CIA agent on a mission to recover a stolen priceless diamond. Lucas is sent to Hong Kong to find the missing jewel, and encounters a criminal organization, and an underworld of violence, espionage and death.
The Hong Kong setting is brilliant, as the city is one of the most mysterious and fascinating places in the world, and like Hong Kong, "Tattoo Connection" is filled with color and decadence, as well as eroticism, something rarely found in this genre. Sadly, this film was poorly marketed in the West; this is a patently "Eastern" production,with Eastern sensibilities. So when distributors got their hands on it they apparently tried to Westernize it, by dubbing everyone with totally silly English dubbing with British accented actors. The result of that is a kind of "death blow," stripping the movie of it's intense mood and turning it into silly comedy. It's very apparent that it's a much better movie when you watch it in Mandarin with English subtitles. Unfortunately that version is very rare. A personal favorite of mine, I put it up there with more respected Martial Arts titles such as "Master of the Flying Guillotine" and "Boxer From Shantung," and even "Enter the Dragon." It is a film I can watch repeatedly and never be bored with. The kung fu action is fast and furious, with well choreographed fights that look quite authentic. There is also quite a bit of sex and nudity on screen, but it's all done very well, and doesn't look cheap. A remastered dvd in it's original 2;35 aspect ratio, (and original language) would be most welcome.