With all the ape frenzy due to the King Kong remake, I thought I would jump on the chimp bandwagon with a few notes on simians in kung fu films.
Monkeys seem to come up quite regularly in my life. I find them a source of constant amusement but not the point of chasing after those office calendars with chimp faces and human slogans. One weekly monkey detour is the Dave the Spazz show on WFMU, where the DJ spins old R'n'R in a control room full of monkeys. You can listen to old shows in the WFMU archive - check out the great Halloween shows for ghoulish hip shakin'.
And more recent monkey ramblings can be found on the hilarious Ricky "The Office" Gervais' podcast with their segment called "Monkey News".
Ever wonder how good apes are when it comes to kung fu combat? The answer can be found in BRUCE LEE THE INVINCIBLE (aka DIE GELBENAUGEN DES GORILLAS) when Bruce Li aka Chung Tao, meets a guy in a rather ragged and flea bitten costume, who seems to have knocked off a few years in the Shaolin Temple. Li plays a kung fu student who goes to Malaysia to bring to justice a former student who has become a thug. When the love interest is kidnapped, Li and his mentor, Chen Sing (one of the unsung founding fathers of 70s kung fu cinema and also known as "Kung Fu Bronson"), must battle these grappling gorillas.
Bruce Li always got a bad rap. He wasn't too bad of a martial artist, but shameless producers never let him do his own thing until later in his career, by which time he was tired of being passed off overseas in ads as a Bruce Li imitator.
"You may call me Ho Chung Tao or James Ho. I don't like to be remembered as Bruce Li or Li Hsiao Lung because producers manipulated that for the market-place. I want to be myself."
Sadly, there is not the same pride in being a Bruce Lee impersonator as there is in being an Elvis impersonator. Heck, even a poor Elvis impersonator is embraced! Ho Chung Tao now runs a gymnasium in Taiwan. For more info, visit the Bruceploitation Trilogy. And I found a torrent for the film here.