I must admit, I went into this one with reasonably high hopes — an Italian Kung Fu movie directed by Antonio Margheriti (aka Anthony M. Dawson, director of Cannibal Apocalypse)? Unfortunately, those hopes faded fast.
As Mr. Hercules Against Karate (Shiaffoni E Karate) opens, we find our heroes, Danny and Percy (the titular Mr. Hercules, although he’s never referred to this way in the movie that I recall), working on an oil field in Sydney, Australia. These guys are pretty much a pair of moronic jackasses and really don’t manage to be very likable at all, which doesn’t give a guy much hope for what the next 90 minutes of his life is gonna be like, but we take what we can get.
Percy’s incredible strength is immediately apparent, as he’s lugging a huge iron I-beam on one shoulder while Danny is perched atop it, enjoying the ride. Unfortunately for the two gentlemen, the boss man — a chubby, balding fellow clad in white suit and hat and sporting a monocle — is on the scene, and Percy “accidentally” conks him with the I-beam, sending him sprawling. The boss orders them fired, but for some reason this doesn’t take, and they head into the lunch room for some chow. Unhappy with the portions, Percy leans on the table, tilting it up and causing everyone else’s food to slide down to his and Danny’s end.
After the hubbub from their wacky cafeteria antics dies down, Percy is tricked by some of the other workers into yanking on a rope, which is tied to the oil derrick. With his mighty strength, Percy pulls over a model of the derrick, smashing an oil tank and causing black gold to spray everywhere — including all over the boss man’s white suit.
Percy and Danny are finally fired for true, and the two men wander the streets of Sydney feeling sorry for themselves. At one point it seems they’re going to part ways, but they just can’t quit each other and decide to have a drink at “The Wang Pub.”
Inside the pub, Percy and Danny admire some meat and really long loaves of bread. Through some sly trickery, Percy makes himself a giant sandwich, and while he and Danny are feasting, a football team comes into the pub, chanting about how awesome they are and demanding beer. When one of the players bumps into Percy’s large sandwich, the guy insists that Percy and Danny drink a toast to “number one.” Instead, a fight breaks out and as the pub is trashed, Mr. Wang tallies up the damages on an abacus.
When the fuzz arrives, the football players split the scene, leaving Percy and Danny to explain themselves. Wang interjects, telling the cops he’s doing a little remodeling and Percy and Danny were just helping out with the demolition. After the cops leave, Wang offers our heroes 50 grand to kidnap his 10-year-old son from his wife, who ran away with notorious Kung Fu master Hung Lo. Right then I should’ve had the sense to turn this movie off, but I stuck with it.
Wang shows Percy and Danny X-rays of the damage done to the last guy who went up against Hung Lo, and they say they’ll take the job for 100 grand. Wang agrees, and our boys board the next plane to Hong Kong.
On the plane, Danny hits on Ai-Lan, the stewardess. Percy embarrasses Danny by folding up his metal tray and being generally retarded. As they arrive in Hong Kong, Danny says “You never saw Hong Kong before?” Percy replies “No, but I saw King Kong on the late late show.” The laughs! Not surprisingly, Ai-Lan shows up and they take her car into town.
Aboard the ferry, Danny and Percy watch as one van rear-ends another. A bunch of Kung Fu-sters disembark from each van, all the occupants of one sporting various bandages and crutches. The Kung Fu-sters begin fighting, and Ai-Lan explains to Percy and Danny that they’re Kung Fu fighters partaking of the Chinese national sport. She points out the writing on one van, which reads “Kung Fu Cripples Association.”
Eventually, they arrive at their hotel and send Ai-Lan on her way. In the lobby, Percy and Danny are spied upon by Skoo Yoo (those zany Chinese with their silly names!), who gives the high sign to a shifty elevator operator. Instead of being taken to the third floor, the elevator operator delivers them to the hotel’s basement, where Skoo Yoo and his henchmen await. “You and your friend will be wrapped up and returned to dishonorable Wang that sent you,” Skoo Yoo says.
Not unexpectedly, a fight breaks out, but Percy and Danny make fairly short work of their foes, during which many bad jokes are flung about. Back in the lobby, Percy and Danny try to figure out which one of the elevator operators set them up, to no avail — because those Chinese fellows all look alike, you see.
We cut to Hung Lo’s Kung Fu school, where his students/henchmen are training in various ways. Hung Lo enters and rattles off all the goofy names of his students, calling out Skoo Yoo and his men for failing to capture Percy and Danny. Skoo Yoo and the others are forced to do battle with a “samurai,” who is decked out with some saucy eyeliner. He kicks the shit out of the men, and they “learn the price of failure” — having an eyeball plucked out by the eyeliner samurai.
In their hotel room, Percy breaks stuff while playing with his boomerang. Danny tells him to throw it away, so Percy tosses it out the window — but surprisingly, the boomerang returns to break even more stuff! Ai-Lan calls and asks Danny out. Percy is sad about being left alone, but as luck would have it, Ai-Lan has found a girl for our strongman. Excited, Percy takes a shower with his clothes on.
They meet up with the girls in the lobby, and Ai-Lan introduces Percy to his date, Lee-Ping (ha haaaaa!!). They go to a fancy Chinese restaurant where hysterical antics gush forth, including the ever-popular Peking duck jokes. Skoo Yoo lurks, spying on our boys as Percy first uses a chopstick as a toothpick, then eats it, thinking it’s a breadstick. Percy continues to embarrass himself and the human race, but Lee-Ping seems to think it’s all rather charming.
Inexplicably, the chicks really dig these guys, but as the date ends, Danny and Percy are followed by a Chinese dragon, the head of which is worn by Skoo Yoo. Danny throws a basketful of tacks on the ground while Percy beats on the dragon, and the guys inside the costume all step on the tacks. Skoo Yoo must report yet another failure to Hung Lo, who tells Mrs. Wang her husband will never get the kid back as long as he’s Hung Lo. I am slapping my knee even now.
After more comedy hijinks, Danny and Percy try to infiltrate Hung Lo’s school, but the students ambush them. A laff-filled chase begins, accompanied by what sounds like music from The Brady Bunch. Our heroes escape, but are picked up by the cops, who want an explanation for their presence in Hong Kong. They tell the cops what they’re up to and the cops seem to be okay with it. As Danny and Percy leave, one of the cops says “Americans are real suckers.”
Percy and Danny meet up with Ai-Lan, but Percy is sad to see that Lee-Ping isn’t with her. Danny tells him “We’ll go look for Lee-Ping after we’ve seen Wang.” Because the name Wang just gets funnier every time you say it. Danny and Ai-Lan take off, leaving Percy in yet another Chinese restaurant, and we get what’s essentially a lather-rinse-repeat of the previous Chinese restaurant scene. However, this time Skoo Yoo drugs Percy’s drink.
Meanwhile, at another Chinese restaurant, romance blossoms between Danny and Ai-Lan. Unfortunately, a waiter pulls a gun on them and we learn that he works for Hung Lo.
The drugged Percy returns to his hotel room, seeing double as Skoo Yoo and his henchmen sneak towards him. Percy passes out, waking up in Hung Lo’s school where he finds a Sumo wrestler sitting on him, and Danny and Ai-Lan tied up nearby. Hung Lo enters and the final battle begins, during which the comedy is nonstop.
I wish there was anything about Mr. Hercules Against Karate that could be considered entertaining — like I say, I went into it really wanting to like it — but the two leads are annoying, the comedy is terrible, and the fight sequences are lame. I’m sitting here wracking my brain but I can’t come up with a single reason to recommend it, unless you’re an Antonio Margheriti completist.
Bourbon: Try the whole bottle.
For more funky movie reviews, check out my book Unsafe On Any Screen:
And you might dig my new novel, Squirrel Eyes (a story of lust, movies and more):
Not to mention my collection of short stories, Tales of Misery and Imagination: