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Tai quan zhen jiu zhou (1973)
Very Badly Mastered DVD Version
The DVD version released by Crash Cinema was very poorly done. The mastering engineer must have been either drunk, asleep or not even in the room while it was being done. It looks like it was mastered from about a tenth generation copy and about halfway through the film, the audio synchronization disappears. The dialog is about 10 or 15 seconds behind the audio. If you're thinking about purchasing this DVD, please save your money. I remember seeing this film at the theater back in 1973. Also, the VHS copy of this film under the title of "When Taekwondo Strikes" looks better than the DVD, but the remaining several minutes of the movie are "missing". Where is the original camera negative?
It's entertaining if you don't take this film too seriously. I didn't mind the narration much, Paul Frees was always great at his job.
The film was obviously shot on a Hollywood backlot and not on location in Chicago. And of course, Jason Robards, Jr. over-acted like crazy thoughout the whole movie.
The Monkey Hu$tle (1976)
Good, reasonably clean fun movie
Story takes place in Chicago involving a hustler (Yaphet Kotto), who recruits four teenagers to perform rip-offs for him in exchange for pocket money. The other central point is a soul food restaurant owned and operated by Kotto's lady friend, played by Rosalind Cash, and Rudy Ray Moore as an underworld type who owes Kotto some big undisclosed favor. Good cast also includes Randy Brooks, Frank Rice, Fuddle Bagley, Donn Carl Harper, future producer/director Thomas Carter (pre-White Shadow), Kirk Calloway, Steven Williams, a small uncredited role by Robert Townsend and a young Debbi Morgan. Townsend and Williams also appeared in Cooley High.
Cooley High (1975)
Old-school classic I never get bored of watching.
Takes place in and around the Cabrini-Green projects on Chicago's Near North Side. Cooley High was a real school that was demolished in the '80s. The interiors, though were filmed in Providence-St. Mel's several miles away. This film is a classic, and if you aren't hip to it, then either you've been living in a cave or just awakened from a 25 year coma. The stellar cast features Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, fresh from "Claudine", veteran of stage and screen Glynn Turman, pre-SNL Garrett Morris, Cynthia Davis (who seemed to disappear soon after the film was released), Steven Williams (currently of "Linc's), Corin Rogers and Jackie Taylor, who has made a name for herself as a writer, producer and director in Chicago theatre. This film also marked the screen debut of Robert Townsend. (He had two lines).
Disco 9000 (1977)
Halfway decent, but not great movie about a penthouse disco
Someone is trying to ruin disco owner Fass Black. Black also owns the hottest record label in town and a rival mogul is trying to muscle in on his business because Black would not "play ball." The movie stars john Poole as Fass Black, with Harold Nicholas, Jeanie Bell and singer Johnnie Taylor. Two then-current its, "Disco Lady" and "Somebody's Gettin' It" are featured. The disco is located (though not mentioned) at 9000 Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood. I know, because I passed by it many times during my time there.