Since I had today off and nothing better to do, I stepped into the WABAC Machine at 3 p.m. and transported myself to March 19th, 1983. I popped some frozen pizzas and fish filets in the toaster oven, grabbed a can of Tab from the fridge and crashed on the couch for two hours to watch “Drive-In Movie” on WNEW (New York’s channel 5). A couple of years ago I wrote an article about “Drive-In Movie” for George Reis’ DVD Drive-In site, which can be accessed here; in a nutshell, the Saturday afternoon movie program ran for seven years and introduced Asian martial arts movies (primarily Shaw Brothers productions) to a lot of suburban kids who had no access to the urban action theaters that exclusively showcased them. By creating several “Black Belt Theater” TV syndication packages during his two-year term as president of the World Northal Corporation, veteran exploitation distributor Mel Maron helped create a cult audience in the U.S. for such kung fu classics as THE MASTER KILLER, THE CHINATOWN KID, SUPER NINJAS, MASKED AVENGERS and THE FIVE DEADLY VENOMS.
Some of the flicks I saw on "Drive-In Movie" back in the day: THE VAN, SWIM TEAM, TEN TIGERS OF KWANGTUNG, THE POM POM GIRLS, MALIBU BEACH, THE KILLER FROM SHANTUNG, THE FLYING GUILLOTINE, TO LOVE A VAMPIRE, THE OTHER, A MAN CALLED TIGER, SLICE OF DEATH, HELLS ANGELS ON WHEELS, and FISTS OF VENGEANCE.
WW Entertainment was the television division of World Northal.
JADE CLAW (1979) was released in the U.S. in 1981 by Transmedia Distribution Corporation, a New Jersey-based company owned by one Alice Hsia. In 1983, World Northal purchased JADE CLAW and three other Billy Chong movies (A HARD WAY TO DIE, KUNG FU EXECUTIONER, SUPER POWER) from Transmedia and added them to their “Black Belt Two” syndication package.
A "kung fu comedy" along the lines of Jackie Chan's early hits (DRUNKEN MASTER, EAGLE'S SHADOW), right down to having Simon Yuen in the old Grandmaster role, JADE CLAW probably wouldn't have made me smile once if I'd watched it sub-titled, but because of the dubbing I was laughing my head off for most of the running time. I love bad dubbing almost as much as the Flying Maciste Brothers love dummy deaths, and this one delivers the goods.
Billy Chong is good but he's no Jackie Chan (he certainly isn't as funny), and JADE CLAW is only better than the usual Chan imitations because the filmmakers were smart enough to get a few Yuens to do the fight choreography. Ah Wen (Chong), who as a youngster witnessed the violent death of his father at the hands of a Phoenix Eye Fist master, tries unsuccessfully to get into a kung fu school as a student but finds himself working in the kitchen instead with a feisty old cook (Simon Yuen). Insert wacky Jackie-like comedy scenes here. Meanwhile, Phoenix Eye Fist is searching for the kung fu master who crippled his two henchmen (one has been blinded, the other deafened). Predictably, the cook turns out to be the Shadow Eagle Claw master who not only trained Ah Wen's father but also messed up Phoenix Eye Fist's sniveling lackeys.
For kung fu fans, the six most hated words in the English language:
So good, he had to tell us twice.
The villains are the best part of JADE CLAW. The guy on the left is deaf, the one on the right is blind, and the son-of-a-bitch in the middle is Phoenix Eye Fist, who killed Ah Wen's father. I especially like the way the blind dude announces his moves during his fights.
"Heh heh heh -- that's the phantom throat lock!"
Time for a commercial break!
Doug Henning appears on Broadway in the musical Merlin, which opened at the Mark Hellinger Theater on February 13th, 1983 and closed August 7th of the same year. His co-star was Chita Rivera.
Members of the New York Giants defense dance around the locker room in their bath towels and sing about Pepsi Light, while nerds all over the tri-state area smirk knowingly at what they always suspected was going on behind closed doors.
The only thing that would've made this commercial better? If the boys had been singing about Faygo instead.
I guess things just weren't the same after Mean Joe Greene did that Coke commercial.
The Great Endicott Johnson Father & Son leather shoe sale – 2 pairs of leather shoes for $39.90!
Ultra Brite gets you noticed!
For weeks he'd been working his heart out for Lynn, the exercise instructor!
But to Lynn, Ritchie was no-body.
Then Ritchie discovered...
It got him noticed!
Next day, Lynn and Ritchie started training together.
They've been in great shape ever since!
Get in condition with Ultra Brite!
For a smile so white -- breath so fresh --
-- it gets you noticed!
And when Ritchie gets Lynn back to his pad, he can drop one of these hot LP's from K-Tel onto his turntable! Featuring original hits from the original artists! You get "Love Come Down" by Evelyn Champagne King, "Steppin' Out" by Joe Jackson, "Let's Go Dancin'" by Kool and the Gang, etc.
I always liked this one.
The guy's selling windows, right?
But he finds a way to work a torture chamber into his pitch.
God, they hadn't even been married 10 years at this point!
“Soap opera star Diane McBain recounts the tragic ordeal of her mugging, Monday at noon on Tom Cottle. Up Close.”
"Join Dick Van Dyke for a salute to the automobile! Stars in the Fast Lane, 8pm Sunday on channel 5."
Ethel, I told you we should've seen Wayne Newton instead!
Big Three executives dancing for their dinner?
This looks even worse than the night Geraldo Rivera went into Al Capone's secret vault.
Jill St. John shops for shoes at Kinne, the great American shoe store. KRLA radio personality and Credibility Gap co-founder Richard Beebe does some voiceover work on this commercial.
I think this is Judith Light endorsing Aapri apricot facial spray...
...and Joey Lawrence for Smurf design Dixie cups (“I love thmurfs")
Dionne Warwick looking for blood donors.
Here’s a Luvs commercial with David Garrison of Married with Children fame.
Loretta Lynn shares her recipe for apple cranberry cinnamon Crisco turnovers.
Read all the crap Steinbrenner's saying about me in this Sunday's Daily News!
A 10-minute preview of our next attraction.
Well, that was fun. I have a bit of agita from the frozen pizzas and the Tab, but overall that wasn't a bad way to waste an afternoon. I'm not sure I'll go back for SUPER POWER in two weeks, but if I do, you'll read about here.