Monday, 11 January 2010



How many times have we seen this story? Gangsters pick on ordinary bloke, mess with his wife and daughter, only to discover that the ordinary bloke is actually a martial arts genius, who promptly sets out on a quest for revenge and justice. Hundreds of times. And except for one important factor, this is just another entry in that genre.

Back in 1979 there was an exploitation film released celled "The Amazing Mr No Legs", in which the hero was a double amputee in a wheelchair. Well, Unarmed But Dangerous is basically The Amazing Mr No Arms: the hero is played by Mat Fraser, who is phocomelic as a result of thalidomide. (See the pun in the film's title - he isn't just unarmed, he's "un-armed"! Oh, the hilarity!)

Obviously there's nothing wrong with disabled actors appearing in movies just like non-disabled actors. Blind actors, deaf actors (Marlee Matlin obviously springs to mind), actors with Down's Syndrome. Equally, there's nothing intrinsically wrong about non-disabled actors playing disabled characters: ask Daniel Day Lewis. Must a blind character be played by a blind actor? It is acting; you might as well insist that Hamlet is played by someone from Denmark. But in this instance there is an uncomfortable sense that the film is pitched at the "point-and-laugh" brigade; a sense that's reinforced by the original working title of Kung Fu Flid (and the title it's listed under on the IMDb).

If it's intended as a grotesque exploitation movie then it's absolutely shameful. If, on the other (ahem) hand, it's intended as some kind of plea for understanding, or to demonstrate that you can have a straightforward martial arts movie with a protagonist who just happens to be disabled, it doesn't work because as a film, it's unswervingly terrible: badly acted, badly written, indifferently shot, and uninterestingly put together. Characterisation is cardboard, particularly the gangsters which are sub-Ritchie stock, and the fight scenes aren't well staged or choreographed. Yes, if you want to just laugh at the bloke with the funny arms, you'll get your poundsworth, but shouldn't you grow up?


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