The cult flicks lurk­ing in the depths of Net­flix

Get your fill of cult horror, kung fu, spaghetti westerns, Blax­ploita­tion and what­ever the hell Troll 2 is. Dean Van Nguyen on Net­flix’s odder gems

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM -

Kung-fu movies, spaghetti westerns, cult hor­rors, blax­ploita­tion joints, di­rect-to-video ac­tion flicks, trashy thrillers and any­thing straight out of the grind­house. These are the films that pop­u­late the deep­est cav­erns of Net­flix. The for­got­ten movies most sub­scribers barely no­tice when flick­ing through the stream­ing ser­vice’s cat­a­logue, passed over time and time again for an­other episode of House of Cards.

Pity these great works that pad out the Net­flix canon, for they are ac­tu­ally the films that make the sub­scrip­tion worth pay­ing for. Net­flix’s un­der­belly holds riches for those will­ing to tool up and jour­ney into the mire. These 12 films are a good place to start.

THE 36THC HAMBER OF SHAOLIN1978, Hong Kong.

Di­rec­tor: Liu Chia-Liang From the leg­endary Shaw Broth­ers Stu­dio in Hong Kong comes one of the great­est kung-fu movies ever made. Genre de­ity Gor­don Liu plays a young stu­dent who seeks sanc­tu­ary in the Shaolin Tem­ple af­ter the Manchu gov­ern­ment bru­tally sup­presses an up­ris­ing in his home­town. Liv­ing among the monks, he learns mar­tial arts by train­ing in the monastery’s cham­bers. These se­quences are bril­liantly in­ven­tive, each cham­ber adding a new com­po­nent in the hero’s ar­se­nal.

The pro­duc­tion design is lush and strik­ing; the fight se­quences, vis­ceral and stun­ning. Start here be­fore work­ing your way through the Shaw Broth­ers’ blessed cat­a­logue. ACEHIGH1968, Italy. Di­rec­tor: Giuseppe Colizzi Ser­gio Leone may have de­fined the spaghetti western but hun­dreds more gun-sling­ing works were shot by Ital­ian film-mak­ers be­sot­ted with the mys­ti­cism of the old Amer­i­can West.

Take Giuseppe Colizzi’s Ace High. It was filmed in Spain and stars pop­u­lar Ital­ian dou­ble act Bud Spencer and Ter­ence Hill along­side The Ugly him­self, Eli Wal­lach. The film, the sec­ond part of a tril­ogy (don’t worry, though, you can jump straight in), is all steely-eyed cow­boys, quick-on-the-draw du­els and stab-you-in-the-back part­ner­ships. Leone was the master, but this is a mi­nor genre clas­sic.

THE BANK JOB 2008, UK.

Di­rec­tor: Roger Don­ald son What’s this? Jason Statham does more than just cres­cent-kick fools? The Bank Job is based on the real life Baker Street rob­bery but with huge dra­matic li­cence that al­lows sex snaps of Princess Mar­garet to be worked into the plot. Statham leads a group of cock­ney vil­lains in a jolly into a bank vault that’s prob­a­bly a lit­tle too slickly made for a heav­ily ac­cented Lon­don 1970s heist flick. It’s a hell of a lot of fun, though, some­what thanks to its lead­ing man ex­celling in a less ki­netic role than usual.

BLACK DY­NA­MITE 2009,US.

Di­rec­tor: Scott San­ders You don’t know Black Dy­na­mite? The ex-CIA op­er­a­tive, Viet­nam vet, kung fu master un­leashes his own form of righ­teous jus­tice to his lo­cal streets, all the while sport­ing the sharpest 1970s wardrobes this side of Stu­dio 54. De­vised by its star, Michael Jai White, this is a com­edy that lov­ingly bends the knee to Blax­ploita­tion movies. Shot in glo­ri­ous Su­per 16 film, ev­ery frame gor­geously nails the genre’s slimy-grimy aes­thetic, while Adrian Younge’s nasty sound­track plays like a mix­tape of lost soul and funk gems.

DON’T BE A MEN­ACE TO SOUTH CEN­TRAL WHILE DRINK­ING YOUR JUICE IN THE HOOD 1996,

US. Di­rec­tor: Paris Barclay The Wayans Broth­ers worked out their tem­plate for mega suc­cess­ful horror spoof Scary Movie by first putting to­gether this lam­poon of 1990s hood movies. That fran­chise, and most of the siblings’ sub­se­quent work, proved to be a grave sin, but Don’t Be a Men­ace to South Cen­tral While Drink­ing Your Juice in the Hood has a lot of laughs. It re­quires a knowl­edge of the hood movie genre to un­der­stand all the ref­er­ences, but it’s an amus­ing piece re­gard­less.

DRUNKEN MASTER 1978, Hong Kong.

Di­rec­tor: Yuen Woo-ping Who could pos­si­bly match Bruce Lee? Af­ter The Dragon per­ished, mar­tial arts cin­ema was rife with im­i­ta­tors. Stars with mon­ick­ers such as Bruce Li and Bruce Le spawned a sub­genre known as Bruces ploita­tion. It was Jackie Chan who re­vi­talised kung fu movies by mix­ing phys­i­cal­ity with phys­i­cal com­edy – a coun­ter­point to Lee’s stony in­ten­sity.

Chan’s first ma­jor break­through was Snake in the Ea­gle’s

Shadow, which es­tab­lished his comedic style. But Drunken Mas

ter – which fol­lows a young stu­dent as he learns from an old men­tor (Yuen Siu-tien) the art of fight­ing while to­tally ham­mered – went a long way to mak­ing him an icon.

FOXY BROWN 1975, US. Di­rec­tor: Jack Hill

In one of the roles that turned her into a 1970s Blax­ploita­tion icon, Pam Grier goes on a roar­ing ram­page of re­venge when mem­bers of a drug syn­di­cate mur­der her gov­ern­ment agent boyfriend. As force­ful as a dou­ble-bar­rel shot­gun blast to the chest, Foxy Brown is some­times dif­fi­cult to watch. But the movie bris­tles with post-civil rights anger, fem­i­nist po­tency and the steely re­solve of the black power move­ment.

KUNG FU KILLER 2014,Hong Kong-China. Di­rec­tor: Teddy Chan

Crash­ing on to the list of all-time great cin­ema se­rial killers is the hooded “mar­tial arts ma­niac” who chal­lenges and kills re­tired kung fu masters. Leave it to a fresh-out-of-jail master Ha­hou Mo (Hong Kong su­per­star Don­nie Yen) to track the vil­lain.

Kung Fu Killer’s fight scenes are in­ven­tive – one takes place on a gi­ant skele­ton sculp­ture, an­other on a busy mo­tor­way – of­fer­ing a re­minder that when it comes to chore­og­ra­phy and edit­ing, nowhere does cin­e­matic hand-to-hand com­bat bet­ter than Hong Kong. There are tons of in­dus­try cameos, too, and the film-mak­ers even ded­i­cated the movie to all those who up­hold “the fine tra­di­tion of Hong Kong ac­tion cin­ema”.

REINCARNATED2012, UK-US. Di­rec­tor: Andy Cap­per

One of the great­est rap­pers to ever walk the planet pitches up in Ja­maica to im­merse him­self in Rasta­fari faith and record a ter­ri­ble reg­gae al­bum. We know now that Snoop Dogg’s con­ver­sion to Snoop Lion and ded­i­ca­tion to a new re­li­gion did not stick. He dropped the name af­ter the record’s cy­cle was com­plete and has caught heat from Bunny Wailer – former drum­mer for The Wail­ers and one of

Rein­car­nated’s stars – for “out­right fraud­u­lent use of Rasta­fari com­mu­nity’s per­son­al­i­ties and sym­bol­ism”.

Still, watch­ing one of hip-hop’s most lov­able vis­it­ing Trench Town, tak­ing part in Rasta­fari rit­u­als and smok­ing an end­less amount of weed is un­doubt­edly en­joy­able. Plus, Snoop gives a se­ries of in­ti­mate in­ter­views, open­ing up about the some­times bru­tal path that brought him to Ja­maica look­ing for fresh an­swers.

THE REZORT 2015, UK. Di­rec­tor: Steve Barker

Pitch­ing The Rezort prob­a­bly took about three sec­onds. “It’s

Juras­sic Park, but with zom­bies.” This Brit flick takes that beau­ti­ful premise and doesn’t mess it up. A decade af­ter hu­man­ity sup­pressed a zom­bie out­break, a rag­tag group of sur­vivors visit a theme park where you can un­load heavy weaponry at the un­dead for fun. There’s plenty of grisly ac­tion and ham-fisted so­cial satire that keeps The Rezort swiftly mov­ing. Plus, as far as I know, this is the first movie to in­tro­duce the con­cept of the un­dead right ac­tivist.

SIX BUL­LETS 2012, US. Di­rec­tor: Ernie Bar­barash

A lot of years have passed since Jean-Claude Van Damme en­joyed his place at the head ta­ble of hulk­ing ac­tion A-lis­ters. Clas­sics such as Blood­sport, Univer

sal Sol­dier and Time­cop may have as­sured his place in the genre’s his­tory, but JCVD hasn’t turned to pol­i­tics just yet. These days he passes the time mak­ing mostly di­rect-to-video flicks. The su­per vi­o­lent Six Bul­lets fol­lows a bro­ken-down, haunted by the past, “get­ting too old for this shit” mer­ce­nary as he at­tempts to track down a kid­napped Amer­i­can teen in Moldova. Ba­si­cally, it’s Taken, but in a Bel­gian ac­cent.

TROLL21990, US. Di­rec­tor: Clau­dio Fr a gas so

Troll 2 is in the con­ver­sa­tion for best bad movie of all time. Ev­ery frame of this crazy thing just feels be­yond the realms of pos­si­bil­ity. You sit, you watch and you de­spair. The movie ends and you just stare at a blank screen. You rub your tem­ples. Ques­tions plague your ev­ery thought. Ques­tions like “How?” and “Why?” Your chest tight­ens and your ar­ter­ies close. The movie has in­fected your cere­brum. Things will never be the same again.

This cult clas­sic – in­tended, for some rea­son, to be a smack­down to veg­e­tar­i­an­ism – fol­lows a tribe of shape-shift­ing gob­lins that trans­form victims into plants so that they can eat them. Di­rec­tor Clau­dio Fra­gasso has al­ways con­sid­ered Troll 2 (which has no links to the first

Troll movie) to be a piece with merit. If there’s one fac­tor that links most so-bad-they’re-good movies, it’s that their cre­ators were ac­tu­ally try­ing to cre­ate some­thing le­git­i­mately great.

You don’t know Black Dy­na­mite? De­vised by its star, Michael Jai White, this is a com­edy that lov­ingly bends the knee to Blax­ploita­tion movies. Ev­ery frame gor­geously nails the genre’s slimy-grimy aes­thetic

Bril­liantly in­ven­tive

36th Cham­ber of Shaolin

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