Furious Remastered DVD Review
In the vein of weird imports that are puzzling to Westerners, Furious is a martial arts movie that combines vengeance, magic, and looped dialogue in what I suspect is a mild subversion of the genre. Made by effects artist Tim Everitt, Furious is a bizarre seventy-five-minute brawl between Simon Rhee and everyone he encounters.
Simon is summoned to his old Master’s school, where he receives some bad news: his sister’s been killed. Simon must pay her karmic debt by beating people up and collecting a bunch of pendants. But the road to redemption is paved with treachery and Simon learns, too late, that he’s been tricked into doing his enemy’s dirty work.
Furious is a strange entrant in the Kung Fu pantheon for a number of reasons, not least of which is the near-total lack of dialogue. With the exception of a few lines here and there to get the action going or to catch Simon up on the plot, there’s no talking. Weirder still, although everyone’s speaking English, the dialogue’s been looped, giving the movie that special auditory quality you only get with dubbed films.
Running counter to the movie’s genre-appropriate sound, is a film score that would be better suited to a ’70s mystery thriller. A full orchestral score plays over prolonged running and fighting sequences, but the music — atmospheric as it is — doesn’t really fit.
Further satirizing the genre are the fights themselves. Although Simon Rhee’s mastery of Kung Fu isn’t in question, some of the battles are truly ridiculous. Witness a fight in a gully in which Simon faces off against Howard, another master. At one point Howard just falls down. He wasn’t punched or kicked, and he’s not taking a dive. He just falls because the fight is over. And then there’s the brawl on the bridge in which Simon’s opponents just throw themselves into the stream. The fight choreography alternates between competent and laughable, the crowning moment being when Simon does battle with a magician who fires chickens from his hand.
I’ve seen a handful of bizarrely over- and under-written martial arts movies, but Furious‘ story is so thin on the ground that it’s actually confusing for the viewer. Revelations come too late to make any real difference to the plot, and questions about Simon and his sister’s backstory are never answered. Questions like, what happened to Simon’s family to make him give up teaching, why did his sister steal the magic horn, and who’s that white guy dressed as a Mongol, which should give meaning to the characters’ actions are never addressed. All we know is that stuff happened in the past, and more stuff is happening now.
In all fairness, Furious does have a proper, if not wholly satisfying ending. But even then, the possibility exists for a sequel. Not through any plot machinations, but because the end title says so. There is no Furious 2, and I’m not sure if that’s good or bad. On the one hand, Furious stands alone as a weird attempt to subvert or satirize the martial arts film. On the other hand, the world might need more charmingly bad Western Kung Fu movies.