“I see you’re running out of Oriental tricks.”
Director/star John Liu followed up his directational debut AVENGING NINJA/ZEN KWUN DO STRIKES IN PARIS with SHA SHOU YING, which has also been called MADE IN CHINA and according to some sources KUNG FU EMANUELLE, but that might be some confusion with the previous one which I have been told has an EMMANUELLE related title. Anyway, I rented it as NINJA IN THE CLAWS OF THE C.I.A., an appropriate followup to AVENGING NINJA since once again he is not playing a ninja. He does toss a throwing star into a guy’s hand, though. Still, a non-ninja movie like this being included in “The Ultimate Ninja Collection” DVD series seems questionable in my opinion just my two cents.
But at least it’s true that he’s in the claws of the C.I.A. So the title is based partly in truth.
This is not treated as a sequel to the other one – it’s not mentioned whether he’s bothered to rescue his kidnapped father yet – but John Liu once again plays John Liu, founder of Zen Kwan Do. And he has his bio explained out loud by the authorities again:
“He has a school somewhere in the suburbs of Santa Barbara. He calls his technique Zen Kwan Do. He’s a real hot shot, champion of the world, twice. He and his brother are native born Americans. He served in Vietnam, when he got out he said he was so disgusted with war he never wanted anything to do with the military again. Since then he’s become a pretty good tournament fighter. All the belts, championships, you know. It’s ironic, his identical twin brother is still serving in the military. Something to do with a liaison in the far east.”
So this is the second movie in a row where Liu represents himself as an American, like a reverse Seagal. And like Seagal in ABOVE THE LAW he also gives himself a Vietnam vet background. But of course having a twin brother is more Van Damme than Seagal.
Word in the intelligence community is that the fucking Russians have developed a “new” martial art based on self hypnosis, whatever that would mean exactly, but the Chinese (and especially John) have known about it for centuries. So John’s twin brother (John Liu), who is in a wheelchair from a car accident, tries to recruit him to help the C.I.A. learn about this fighting style, but he’s not interested.
Then, while walking down the street, John sees a bunch of guys attacking a woman who yells “Help! These men are molesting me!” Exactly as in AVENGING NINJA/ZEN KWUN DO STRIKES IN PARIS, she then hangs out with him, sunbathes in front of him, and gives him a drink (a bottle of Coke) with a Cosby drug in it. This time (having learned from the yacht experience?) John switches the drinks, but then the woman’s husband comes home and he’s a CIA recruiter who threatens to tell the police “what you were doing with my wife” if he doesn’t help them.
So if I understand correctly John is supposed to train some troops, all Asian, and he thinks they’re a bunch of knuckleheads, but he gives them pep talks and spars with them with swords and stuff.
There’s a lady named Susan Armstrong (Raquel Evans, who played Emmanuelle in a 1978 Spanish filmed called EMMANUELLE Y CAROL, which explains that alternate title) who wears short ’80s shorts and knows how to kick high. He finds reasons to grab her legs, slap her butt and make disparaging comments like “That’s fine for the Rockettes,” but they still become friends.
He thwarts a gang rape attempt on another woman on the base, Caroline (Mirta Miller, THE TROJAN WOMEN, VENGEANCE OF THE ZOMBIES), but she’s for real so when they have wine together it’s not drugged. They spend the day together and later have sex.
Then the guys on base surround Susan and try to attack her, so she pulls a retractable baton out of her bikini bottoms, whacks them all with the club or her foot, and says “Next time I’ll hit you goons with a court martial!”
Good for her, but they need to be taking these sexual assaults in the military more seriously. What the hell.
Roger Paschy returns, but he’s not the same guy John made fight brothers with on the boat in the last movie. Now he’s Pasco, a military guy who hates and resents this civilian and is always trying to humiliate him. He uses mind control to make a student attack him, and tests his claim that he can hypnotize himself. He stands out in the woods doing his moves while in a trance, and Susan (through mind control?) caresses, kisses, lambadas and seemingly blows him, though his black belt never comes untied. I can’t figure out if the test is just for him to keep concentrating, or not get a boner, or what, but he surprises and embarrasses Paschy by passing.
He is truly a master of self-hypnosis. He had no idea what kind of forbidden dances he was taking part in.
Then he makes out with Caroline on a boat, so I was convinced for a minute that Liu owns that boat and uses it in all his movies, like Sam Raimi’s Oldsmobile. But upon closer comparison I think it’s a smaller boat than the one from AVENGING NINJA. Bummer.
Some guys attack them so all the sudden he’s in Paris, possibly a while later, with a new hot girlfriend and a young niece who thinks it’s great whenever CIA dudes approach him about the top secret files he stole and he beats them up. He’s trained all the locals, including kids, to fight them off, which does not please Pasco.
Also it’s important to note that the camera pans past this CANNONBALL RUN poster:
As far as we know this John Liu is not a Hong Kong movie star, but he does teach Zen Kwun Do, and travels internationally, including to Paris. He continues to have multiple lady friends and imprecise cinematic storytelling techniques.
In the end he plays a good trick that blows up the bad guy plane (off screen), and says he wants to “find some place where we can start over.” It’s a little bit more sensible of a story than his first movie, because he does accomplish his goal. He escapes the claws of the C.I.A.
Beat it, C.I.A. Claws off.
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.