Fantasia 2014: Bamboo Gods And Iron Men (1974) Review – It’s Black Kung Fu Gone Wrong!

Bamboo Gods and Iron Men

Bamboo Gods and Iron Men

Don’t be fooled by the title of this blaxploitation movie directed by Cesar Gallardo. You won’t find any Bamboo gods or any Iron Men here, just a bunch of bad guys and two heroes who couldn’t hurt a fly. What I mean is that there are lots of fight scenes, but all of them are terribly choreographed and look fake, making kung-fu seem harmless. Just picture someone throwing a punch at a guy who’s reaction time is slower than a sleeping drunk driver’s. That’s how bad some of the fights are, but fortunately, the movie gains some charm and positive points because of that. It’s always fun to watch two guys trying to fight seriously and look ridiculous at the same time.

Bamboo Gods and Iron Men

Bamboo Gods and Iron Men

Since I haven’t seen many blaxploitation movies, I was really expecting to see something extremely violent here, and copious use of the “n” word. Much to my chagrin, Bamboo Gods and Iron Men, I should really just call it Black Kung Fu, truly offers none of that. The sex scenes were pretty tame too. Maybe I had a bad perception going into this movie because I watched way too many Quentin Tarantino movies, so I imagine it’s time for me to look for another inspiration that will help further my exploration into the genre. From what I’ve been told, Blaxploitation films are meant to give you more than just hardcore violence, and I can honestly say that Black Kung Fu shows another side of the genre. It has a lot of humor, intentional or not, and occasionally it will leave you scratching your head because some of the dialogue makes absolutely no sense. The action scenes also look foolish, like it was conceived by a bunch of kids with zero comprehension of fight logistics.

Bamboo Gods and Iron Men

Bamboo Gods and Iron Men

As far as the story goes, you shouldn’t expect anything award winning. Maybe something that falls into the Nickelodeon Hall of Fame. It follows the journey of Cal Jefferson (James Iglehart), a top American boxer who takes his a wife on a honeymoon to Hong Kong. That night, things suddenly turn into a really confusing situation with a bunch of criminals who are trying to get their hands on a Bouddha statuette that Jefferson purchased for his wife while shopping. Why does the statuette cause so much grief for the couple? It’s hard to say, but you’ll be laughing your ass off at the end of the movie, just as did I and the rest of the audience during the 2014 Fantasia Film Festival.

The Verdict: 2.5 Skulls

You won’t find a lot of information on the director and details about most of his movies are pretty mysterious, which is surprising since he has 75 to his credit. So, I’m hoping this review might give you an idea about the kind of work Gallardo delivers, and you might consider giving Bamboo Gods and Iron Men a try. If you enjoyed Samurai Cop, then I promise Bamboo Gods and Iron Men should hit home too.

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