OK, I have a go-to fake movie title. Because sometimes I run into situations where I need such a thing. As indeed we all have, I’m sure. And if we have run into those moments and were not prepared, we have all regretted it. And if we haven’t, someday we will. Someday we’ll be in a situation where a fake movie title is exactly what we need, and then I guarantee you it’s helpful to have considered this carefully in advance.
Most frequently, my favorite fake movie title comes up in a story I tell about purchasing a real life movie that I love, my favorite Japanese slapstick time travel comedy: Summer Time Machine Blues. The story goes something like this (just imagine this speech being spoken aloud by me to a couple of friends who for some reason consider my opinions on movies to be interesting, at least mildly).
I discovered Summer Time Machine Blues on an international airplane flight years ago, and I loved it. So I went searching for where I could buy it and I could only find it on an Amazon-like site called yesasia.com. The movie was going to cost me something like $23.95, but I’d get free shipping to Australia if I could spend at least $25.00!
So I started trying to find what I could buy from this website that would bring my purchase up to $25.00, but not be too expensive as to make the free shipping pointless. They had a whole bunch of cheap movies (later I realized they were VCD’s – an inexpensive version of DVD’s), but unfortunately they were all called something like Fanatical Kickboxers of Death part 2. So, not what I was interested in.
Eventually, I found one film I was interested in, The Shipping News starring Kevin Spacey, and based on a novel I’d read. It was going for $1.25, so my total went to only $25.20, but I got the free shipping! Plus I got an extra film that was not great, but was still sort of interesting.
And that’s the story. Did you catch the fake film title? Not hard to find, but let me tell you, having words like “Fanatical Kickboxers of Death part 2” ready to trip off my tongue in the telling of this anecdote have won me many a smiling chuckle–sort of the real-life version of the Facebook Like. That’s genuine, real-life status points, coming my way in greater measure thanks to just a little bit of forethought.
Incidentally, Fanatical Kickboxers of Death part II is not even the only fake movie title I’ve invented. For an interactive mystery game that took place on a movie set, I came up with Trilogy, Trilogy II, & Trilogy III (a blockbuster sci-fi trilogy), Whirlpool (a 1970’s disaster film), Jackie Jackson Hits Harder (a female-led action film), Lah de Dah (a fluff vehicle for fictional pop singer Maggie O’Maggie), A Fiery Combustion of Flame (no description offered), and Money for Nothing (a TV game show).
Anyway, even more randomly, recently a friend was doing a fund raiser where people would pay him to “roast” a movie they selected. He’d write a review of the film, but his opinion of the film would increase depending on how much money people donated. I asked him if he’d be willing to write a review for Fanatical Kickboxers of Death part 2 for a small donation, and he agreed!
As he was working on it, he at one point posted on the relevant Facebook message board these words:
And by request of Ben McClure my honest-to-goodness review of the 90’s Japanese action masterclass ‘Fanatical Kickboxers of Death: Part 2’ will be posted very soon.
Seeing an opportunity for some goofy verisimilitude, I replied
Whoa, wait, you’re doing the 90’s version?
To which he replied
That was the one I saw Ben!
Which I hope by now we all understand was an outright lie.
But I enjoy it because neither of ever clarified whether the 90’s version of the movie was the original, or a remake. If it’s the latter, did they remake Part 1 as well, or only Part 2? Wouldn’t that be funny, if you made a remake of a sequel of a film, and kept the Part 2 suffix?
Anyway, soon after this, his actual review appeared. I am pleased to share that with you here: the first fully developed review of the entirely non-existent film, Fanatical Kickboxers of Death part II, by my friend Peter Escott, whose name I now know for sure I have permission to share.
Fanatical Kickboxers of Death: Part 2
Hachiro Shindo (son of the great Kaneto Shindo) directed the sequel to the much beloved ‘Part 1’. Sadly this film flew mostly under the radar when it appeared in the mid 90’s. Produced by Toho Productions off-shoot ‘Shogun Media Productions’ this Japanese-Kickboxing flick seems to draw most of it’s inspiration from Jean Claude Van Damme’s ‘Lionheart’ and the Shaw Brothers’ ‘Heroes of the East’. Which is quite fascinating due to the anti-Japanese attitude prevalent in the latter.
The film opens with our charismatic hero from the first film, Hiroto (Shigeki Hosokawa), at a loss. His newly wed bride has been kidnapped by an organised crime organisation called ‘The Syndicate’. In an effort to take it down from the inside and win back his bride Hiroto assumes a disguise and enters himself in a Syndicate run underground kick-boxing tournament. What ensues is an absolute blast. Twists and turns of plot and character’s allegiances have you always on your toes. The directions taken in the story are refreshingly un-binary. A relief from the ‘Uber-Formula’.
I do praise this film a lot, but it does have it’s shortcomings few that they are. The camera work leaves a bit to be desired and the editing at times is a little jumpy, Hachiro doesn’t quite fill his father’s shoes. But the incredible magnetic presence of the main cast far exceeds these minor nitpicks. That sharp, cold yet passionate look Hosokawa gives his last foe in the cage fight sequence brings imminent danger to the longevity of my circulatory system.
‘Part 2’ presents a heart pulling romantic story of a man trying to win back his bride fused brilliantly with a blood pumping action adrenaline ride. By almost flawlessly fusing these very distinct, somewhat juxtaposing tones result in a surprisingly tangible mise-en-scene. Despite the ‘over the top’ action some may call corny I would not say disbelief is ever suspended beyond the audience’s capabilities.
Fanatical Kickboxers of Death: Part 2 works brilliantly, self-aware yet never pretentious. It’s a crime against cinema that this has not yet received an American release. Modern Japanese Kickboxing films could definitely learn a thing or two.
9.8/10 Sushis. Would recommend.
There you go! Pretty awesome, eh? Almost as good as the movie itself.
Now, the story is not quite over at that point, as there was one extra Facebook exchange about it. First, from me:
Wow! That’s a lot more glowing than I’d have expected, or would have offered myself. Still, I agree with most of your points, and I feel slightly more justified in my loyalty to this franchise, so I appreciate that. Little side note: apparently, the word “Syndicate” is used just as a translation convenience in the subtitles. The name of the criminal organization literally translates into something like “The Order of the Steely-Gazed Flying Cobras”, which I think we can all agree sounds a lot more impressive. Anyway, your donation is well-earned. Thank you!
After this extra round of nonsense, Peter replied
Oh no! Thank you! After that fact I think I’ll enjoy the film even more on re-watches!