I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Dirty Ho

tn_dirtyhoDIRTY HO is one of the comedic Shaw Brothers pictures. And yeah, I know, the title is funny. It sounds like it would be about, I don’t know, a Manchurian prince who has to get to a certain ceremony but one of his thirteen brothers is scheming to have him killed and meanwhile him and another guy named Ho keep playing dirty tricks on each other so that’s why he’s a Dirty Ho. That’s what it sounds like it would be about, but really the tricks are not dirty per se. In my opinion he’s a Sneaky Ho at worst. The movie should be called HE’S UP, HO’S DOWN.

The great Gordon Liu (36TH CHAMBER OF SHAOLIN, 8 DIAGRAM POLE FIGHTER, HEROES OF THE EAST, KILL BILL) plays the prince, “Mr. Wang,” while the fly-eating MAN FROM HONG KONG Jimmy Wang Yu Yue Wong plays Ho. When the story begins they’re both clients in some kind of opulent rich-people club, hanging out in the VIP rooms surrounded by gussied-up ladies, drinking wine, playing music, looking at bonsai trees and Ming Dynasty vases, throwing jewels and money orders around to impress the girls, having a good time. You know how we do. But then they notice each other and get jealous and there’s a dispute over who has one of the rooms reserved. Simply put, Ho wants the hoes in his, while Wang wonders wait, we won’t want women working wang without wanting to work Wang wang, will we? He hopes for hoes at home in his and not Ho’s.

mp_dirtyhoSo it turns into one of those classic one-upsmanship duels. The rich pricks keep giving away more and more riches trying to top each other, and the hoes keep switching their allegiance back and forth until the cops show up and Wang wins through what Ho probly considers un-oneupsmanlike conduct, but I consider Bugs Bunny-like smarts. Ho is a jewel thief, but probly not a master jewel thief, so he is easily and constantly outsmarted by Wang throughout the movie.

After the ho incident they circle around each other as rivals for a while but then Ho gets a poisoned head wound and Wang knows the antidote and agrees to parcel it out only if he becomes Ho’s master. This is also how Eric B and Rakim first started working together, and Woody and Wesley.

Wang seems to have Ho on a leash, teaching him kung fu, but the prince is injured and can’t even stand up, so they sort of need each other. He pokes Ho with a wooden pole (8 diagram?) to show him what to do, and there’s training montages with Ho doing various kicks over layers of candles. It’s way more of a comedy than 36TH CHAMBER but them Shaw Brothers are kind enough to get some training scenes in there. They know we love training.

The fights aren’t as huge and impressive as, say 8 DIAGRAM, but they’re like Jackie Chan before Jackie Chan, a high number of clever high concept fights. Ho puppeteers a chambermaid to make it seem like she’s fighting (like RAGING PHOENIX), there’s a duel disguised as a wine-tasting, a duel disguised as an antiques viewing. To be honest I didn’t exactly understand why they were all trying to hide that they were fighting, even from Ho, but I’m sure they have their reasons. Dirty reasons.

There’s also a fight against dudes disguised as cripples (blind man, hunchback, one-armed man) and a fight with Wang actually crippled and Ho pushing his wheelchair. It’s almost like LONE WOLF AND CUB the way Ho pushes him around and does most of the fighting but Wang does what he can with his arms and pulling hidden weapons out of the chair.

DIRTY HO is not one of the top Shaw Brothers pictures I’ve seen, but it’s completely solid and especially good for those who enjoy them a little more light-hearted.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Sunday, November 6th, 2011 at 7:56 pm and is filed under Action, Martial Arts, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

17 Responses to “Dirty Ho”

  1. I miss Nate Dogg.

  2. The tagline for this film was:

    “You haven’t lived until you’ve fought Dirty Ho, and then you’re dead!”

    I hope somebody got a promotion for that one.

  3. ‘A Ho Down Dirty Shame’?

  4. the Christmas version of this would be called “Dirty Ho Ho Ho”

  5. It’s a great SB flick and the very last shot is a brilliant kick to the balls.

    BTW, if you guys didn’t know, Gordon Liu is quite ill after a recent stroke, which is very sad news indeed.

  6. Ho’s on First Base?
    I dunno what’s more wrong sounding, DIRTY HO, or that character in INSPECTOR DEE called “Donkey Wang”.

  7. “Simply put, Ho wants the hoes in his, while Wang wonders wait, we won’t want women working wang without wanting to work Wang wang, will we? He hopes for hoes at home in his and not Ho’s.” this will go down in the annals of film criticism as one of the all-time greatest sentences

  8. On Dirty Ho: Dan Halsted, who runs the Grindhouse Film Festival in Portland, has a funny story about driving a collection of film prints into America from Vancouver BC. The only hangup at immigration concerned the film Dirty Ho and immigration’s suspicion that it was a porn film and that Halsted was importing porn.

    On Haywire: Saw it last night at Grauman’s Chinese. The action is really great and sometimes shocking, surprising, and/or funny. Soderbergh, in a Q&A afterward, said he wanted Gina Carano to have to beat her way through the characters, which she does.Carano was also there and was refreshingly modest, overwhelmed by the event. I wasn’t able to appreciate the narrative, but it was awesome to hear the crowd cheer for Carano’s asskicking. She kick a ton of ass.

  9. Hey Vern, if you’re ever looking for more SB kung-fu films to watch/review, my personal favorites are FIVE DEADLY VENOMS and KING BOXER (aka FIVE FINGERS OF DEATH). If you haven’t seen them already I think you’ll get a kick out of them (no pun intended).

    Oh yeah, I don’t know you feel about the sub-titles vs. dubbing debate, but with FIVE DEADLY VENOMS at least I recommend you watch the dubbed version.

  10. I thought with these cheesy old kung fu flicks, the bad dubbing was part of the fun?

    I mean there was once a whole movie devoted to spoofing bad kung fu movie dubbing (Kung Pow: Enter The Fist)

  11. Oddly, I prefer my Kung Fu flicks subbed, and my anime dubbed, which I think is the opposite of what most people seem to like.

  12. Maybe they could make a sequel with a fish-out-of-water theme set in the American Midwest. Call it “A Ho Down Dirty Shame.”

  13. I’ve long wanted to have a country-and-gangster-rap-themed party and call it the G’z Up Hoedown.

  14. nabroleon dynamite

    November 7th, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    I remember seeing this joint at Blockbuster back in 04′ on some tie in with the Wu-tang Clan shit!! I felt it was disrespect so I never fucked with it.

    With that said…

    “Dirty Ho getting low with his flow. Introducing the Ghost Face Killaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhh!! Nobody can get iller!!”

    R.I.P. Big Baby Jesus

  15. Griff – I don’t know about other people, but I wouldn’t consider any of the Shaw Brothers movies I’ve seen to be “cheesy.” They’re classy, well-produced period pieces with good production value (they obviously had a big soundstage and everything) and of course great care put into the choreography and costuming and everything.

    Of course alot of people used to see them with faded, scratched up transfers, chopped to fit a TV, dubbed and with commercials or VHS tracking so that would sometimes give that impression. Now days you can see them on the letterboxed DVDs from Celestial, so they look beautiful.

    But I do have to admit I prefer Super Infra-Man better dubbed because the villain is called “Princess Dragon Mom.”

  16. Vern – just a minor nitpick but Yue Wong, who plays Ho, is not the same dude who made MASTER OF THE FLYING GUILLOTINE. Wong was a Shaw Brothers stock player who showed up in lots of Liu Chia-Liang’s movies and a bunch of sleazy Category III films later in his career. Unfortunately he passed away a few years ago; Jimmy Wang Yu is still alive and kicking, as it were.

  17. When I went on my Kung Fu kick this was one of the Shaw Bros. Movies I included. Wasn’t as memorable to me. I loved HEROES OF THE EAST and MAD MONKEY KUNG FU!

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