Tanya Batson-Savage | Friday, August 8th, 2014
The karate move, or kickers, is a core ingredient of Jamaica’s dancehall/urban culture. The movies were a staple element in the Jamaican film diet in the 70s and 80s and found a home in the dying embers of the State and Odeon cinemas during the 1990s. Like the lone gunslinger of the Western, the kung fu warrior became a part of how Jamaican heterosexual masculinity was defined. So, when producer and director Bruce Hart (Rocket Jamaica) matched comedy DJ’s Twin of Twins with a reworked version of Ninja Death I, II and II, it was a match made in dancehall heaven.
The result is a wonderful, ridiculous, absolutely hilarious film. Dubbed Ching Pow: Far East Yardies, the flick doesn’t take itself seriously and spends as much time mocking itself and the genre as it does the characters with a few side swipes at LA Lewis. Ching Pow takes footage from Ninja Death and reworks it with dialogue by Twin of Twins and Hart, to usually hilarious effect.
Additionally, Ching Pow benefits from excellent dubbing, which is a little ironic as an almost staple element of watching a kung fu flick was the out of sync dub between the original dialogue and the English.
As much as I am usually unable to consume too much Twin of Twins in one go, as is the case with Ching Pow, I usually have to doff my hat to their comedic genius, and those occasional moments of brilliant satiric insight into Jamaican society. The opening of the film is one such. It fully indicts current spate of violence and corruption as the reason for the destruction of Jamaican society which send these ‘yardies’ to the Far East in a quest for the greener pastures of ‘farrin’.
Based on a film in which the protagonist is a bouncer in a whorehouse, Ninja Death made perfect fodder for the Twin of Twins foul-mouthed sketches. Ching Pow reworks the story of Ninja Death which follows the classic hero’s journey of a ‘karachi’ film. For those who are unfamiliar with that plot line, it is the roughly same one you find in The Matrix.
Ching Pow infuses versions of the characters usually found in the Twin of Twin sketches, voiced by the duo, with a few required additions. So Marley becomes the wise kung fu master, Master Bob and is pitted against the film’s villain (a silver fox of a sort) Bad Muta and his not so merry band of ninjas. Renato Adams is a mindlessly violent killer but the Pastor only has a walk in role.
The film is replete with expletives, which is par for the course with Twin of Twins, and also contains what may well be some of the worse sex scenes every filmed. That being said, however, when you shovel away some of the delightfully rich manure that is there just for laughs, you often find some gems buried within Twin of Twin humour. And Ching Pow has its share. Through Master Bob we are treated to the insight of Bob Marley, Marcus Garvey and Jamaican proverbial wisdom, none of which serves to dampen the fast-paced humour.
The film is currently running at Theatre Place, Kingston, where it will continue showing daily (except Mondays) through to September 7, 2014. It has been four years in the making and the results suggest that the efforts to bring it to fruition were worth it. The producer hopes to take it on an island-wide tour.
Ching Pow is hilarious from start to finish though if you can’t handle too much misogyny, or expletives just because, this isn’t the film for you. However, if you can, and are a fan of kickers in generally and/or Twin of Twins in particular, be forewarned: this is a comedy with kick, so you might just hurt yourself.