Kill and Kill Again
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Today it’s time for a return to the world of martial arts cinema. Specifically, the martial arts cinema of South Africa. Yes, you read that correctly. The film even opens with a sequence filmed at Sun City, as in “I-I-I-I ain’t gonna play Sun City.” Following up his 1976 film Kill or be Killed, James Ryan returns to take on an evil cult leader and his army of kung fu slaves in 1981’s Kill and Kill Again.
Our adventure begins with Steve Chase (Ryan) receiving a martial arts award, at some sort of convention. Of course, he can’t even make it to the reception without being attacked by a bunch of thugs. Actually, these baddies were trying to attack the lovely miss Kandy Kane (Anneline Kriel). Now, it just so happens that her father is a scientist who has invented a new potato-based fuel that is much more effective than gasoline. There is bi-product, though, a mind-control serum. This has lead to the good doctor being kidnapped by the evil Marduk (Michael Mayer). He has an army of kung fu slaves who obey his every wish thanks to regular doses of the weird blue serum. He has plans to dump this goop into the world’s water supply so that everyone will follow him.
Kandy ends up recruiting Steve to go after Marduk. For this special mission, he needs to assemble a team of experts. This includes Gorilla (Ken Gampu), Gypsy Billy (Norman Robinson), The Fly (Stan Schmidt), and Hotdog (Billy Flynn). Of course, Kandy comes along, as well. After spending half of the film recruiting the team, our band of heroes infiltrate Marduk’s compound. It doesn’t take long, though, for them to be spotted. Now, the team must battle Marduk’s champions…with the big match being between Steve and a fighter known as The Optimus (Eddie Dorie).
Though this is technically a sequel, it is certainly not a prerequisite to see the previous film. I haven’t seen it and I still thought this film was crazy fun. Many people count this as an Enter the Dragon rip off due to the tournament of sorts that closes the film. That really occupies a very small portion of the story, though. To be honest, most of the film is taken up by the “putting the band back together” sequences. Steve Chase has to go around and recruit all his old buddies for the mission and it gets a little nuts. Gorilla, for example, is working on a construction site where he spends his time going up against all the other workers in a bit of tug-of-war. This guy called The Fly likes to sit around, legs crossed, in a candle lit room levitating a few feed above the floor. Gypsy Billy is tracked down in the trailer park/junkyard where he resides. It takes a long time to put the team together, but I ain’t complaining. These sequences are strangely magical.
The film does lose a bit of steam when we end up in Marduk’s compound, but we still get enough wackiness to keep things interesting. Marduk has got to be one of the strangest megalomaniacs in 80’s cinema. To start with, his fake beard far exceeds even Jon Cryer’s glued on whiskers in Hiding Out. This thing is a thick beard, with no moustache, which has a strange curl to it that, let’s just say looks like it belongs below the belt. There there’s Marduk’s strange collection of followers. Even though he has a mind-control serum, he doesn’t always have the easiest time getting his minions to do his bidding, especially his right-hand lady, Minerva (Marloe Scott Wilson). She has a fondness for calling him various pet names like honey child, angel face, dimples, and buttercup, which drives him up the wall.
On a whole, the film is so fun and playful that it’s easy to look past the silliness of the plot and less-than-stellar acting. That being said, the marital arts action is actually pretty good. James Ryan and his cohorts clearly know their stuff, it’s just impossible to take this strange collection of characters seriously. They remind me a little bit of a kung fu version of the Muppets, to be honest. Since that’s a movie we’ve never actually gotten, I’m pleased to at least have this one. It’s one of the most joyously ridiculous films I’ve seen all year.