Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Green Hornet Rides Again-Movie Review

I saw the new Green Hornet film today at a matinee. When I was I was in high school I used to listen to the Green Hornet radio episodes on Sundays when they were broadcast on KCBS radio. They used to do the Shadow, which I thought was better. But I enjoyed the radio episodes. Following the success of Batman ABC brought the concept to television in fall of 1966. Whereas Batman was played camp, the Hornet was a 30 minute action/adventure show that was largely played straight. And who really remembers that Van Williams was the Green Hornet. We all remember the show as basically belonging to Bruce Lee as Kato. The plots were largely unimaginative and the 30 minute time didn't allow for character development. What elevated the show way above the ordinary was watching Bruce Lee doing Kung Fu. Unlike the film there were no special effects added to the fight scenes. But when he moved it was as if there were special effects. It was so above anything else martial art wise that was being shown at the time. So you watched the 30 minute show to see about 60 seconds an episode(usually 2 fight scenes) of Bruce Lee fighting.

Anyway, the movie is a verry updated version of what was initially a very limited concept. But I found the film fun. Not good. Fun. Whereas there was always a real distance between Van Williams and Bruce Lee, this film is basically an action high tech special effects ridden buddy film. So there is much more emphasis on the buddy-buddiness of Britt Reid and Kato in the current film. And the issue of Kato being so much superior in all ways to the Hornet is dealt with, which it never was in the tv show.

Jason Chou does a good job of playing Kato. But it is a bit like Uma Thurman playing Emma Peel in the Avengers movie. Hard to match up to the original even with special effects and an updated concept. Cameron Diaz plays the secretary. And there is a hint of an attraction between her and Kato in the movie. This never would have happened on sixties television. Times have changed.

Those who remember the tv episodes will recognize little bits from some of the episodes. Bulldozers vs the car in a junk yard scene. The Hornet shot and Kato fixing the problem of Britt Reid having a bullet in him by pretending to shoot Reid in public. A lot of Chou's movement is meant to remind one of Lee's movement. He demonstrates an inch punch.Does lots of jump kicks. And moves well. But again hard to top Bruce Lee even with special effects.

So a good popcorn film. Catch a matinee. And the 3D was worth the extra couple of bucks. But my favorite 3D film is still "How to Train Your Dragon". I pulled the following off youtube. It is my favorite Kato kung fu fight with the real Bruce Lee:


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