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18 Fingers of Death

1 rating: 2.0
Autobiographical kung fu comedy written and directed by James Lew

      18 FINGERS OF DEATH is the story of kung fu movie fan-boy Ronald Mack (played by Maurice Pata) and his completely irrational determination to make a documentary of the objection of his obssession,the most over-worked, least … see full wiki

Tags: Comedy, Martial Arts, Kung Fu, Parody, James Lew, Pat Morita
1 review about 18 Fingers of Death

Fluffy Bunny Feet of Death

  • Mar 1, 2009

18 FINGERS OF DEATH is the story of kung fu movie fan-boy Ronald Mack (played by Maurice Pata) and his completely irrational determination to make a documentary of the objection of his obsession, the most over-worked, least appreciated kung fu movie "star" of all time Buford Lee. Who? Buford Lee, "The only action star who does his own stunts AND his own hair!" Pity poor Buford. He has made 803 films in his career as a kung fu movie star and yet no one has the slightest idea who he is ( or has the tiniest bit of respect for him) facts with which Buford is cheerfully unconcerned. He just wants to keep making his movies. And this is where his problems arise.

In the course of the documentary we meet some colorful characters. We encounter two of Ronald's friends, who may constitute a goodly portion of Buford's Los Angeles fan base, as they ravage a video store in search of lost gems such as his 49th film, THE LEGEND OF YOUNG DRAGON which was released in the US as I'LL KILL YOU UNTIL YOU ARE DEAD. Then there's the beauteous Sushi Cue, a kwailo who nearly gets Buford killed by pushing him off a roof while setting up an advertising stunt for her employer Honorable Fortune Cookies. And of course we also meet Buford's long suffering parents; his proud mother who brags endlessly, and his beleaguered father Pat Morita, (in one of his last film roles) who isn't allowed to say a word in protest.

Every documentary of this kind must also have interviews with all the famous folks Buford has worked with over the years, and their name is legion starting with David Carravousier who played Kwai Shame Kane in the 1970's tv hit BONG FU. Buford was "killed" on that show when Kane accidentally hit him with a staff while Buford's character was sweeping up the temple. An interesting aside is that Ronald had only recently learned that Carravousier was NOT Chinese! What a stunner. He also worked with Steve Seefood, Chuck Snorris, and Billy Buff. The first had little intelligible to offer in his interview since he was eating at the time, the second kept trying to sell Ronald exercise equipment, and the third, well, its just didn't "work out". Pun intended.

Its at about this point in the film that Buford's life takes a turn for the worse--the financial backers have pulled out of his latest film leaving him high and dry with absolutely no prospects for the first time in his career. No matter who he tries to impress with the fact that his last film, 17 FINGERS OF DEATH, made $615.31 net profit no one wants to produce his film. What to do?!  Ronald is the one who comes up the big idea that may just save the day. While reading a copy of "Variety" he notices that the Sundance Film Festival has a category for films shot on dvd!  Its the perfect answer to everyone's problems; Buford can make his new film, 18 FINGERS OF DEATH, with Ronald serving as director etc, while Ronald can simultaneously complete his documentary on Buford! For Ronald, who has always wanted to work in films, what could be better? The deadline for Sundance is in one week, and Buford has never taken THAT long to finish a movie before so there shouldn't be any problems at all!

Will they be able to complete the film in time? Will Buford finally get the respect he deserves? Will you actually care enough to rent this movie and find out?

Of course not! Pity poor Buford and pity poor James Lew, for this film is actually a comedic autobiography. A look at what 30 years of doing everything from modeling kung fu outfits and demonstrating equipment in martial arts magazines to catch-me-if-you-can cameos on TVs KUNG FU to being killed and/or having his butt kicked by stars including the likes of Kurt Russell, Mel Gibson, Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Seagal, Norris, Van Damme, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Charlie Sheen, Brandon Lee, and even Sarah Michelle Gellar for God's sake leaves a man with. And then he finally gets his own feature film only to find out he isn't even pictured on the front cover! , Rodney Dangerfield was deified compared to this guy.

This is not a parody of the life of Jackie Chan as some have suggested, this is a satire of Lew's own life as he approaches his mid-forties and realizes that it ain't gonna get any better than this. He is never gonna be a big movie star--and that's okay. Like Buford he remains indefatigable and cheerfully optimistic in the face of reality.

So did I like it or not? And should you see it or not? Sure I liked it for what it was-- a silly little introspective movie with some kung fu thrown in. Should you see it? Not unless my reason really turned you on.  Its at best a 1.5 which I will round up to 2 stars for sentimental reasons.

Lew did have at least one additional starring role; SOUL OF THE AVENGER which co-starred, among others, Mark Pellegrino, Nancy Kwan, Kato Kaelin, Karen Sheppard and Richard Norton. The fact that I'm not reviewing IT should say it all. 

Explanation of Review Title: Lew appeared in HOT SHOTS PART DEUX as the muscular Thai boxer who spits up his own walnuts after a fight with Sheen. In the first HOT SHOTS we learned that Sheen's character's Native American name translates to "Fluffy Bunny Feet". On the cover of 18 FINGERS you will notice the not-James Lew- person in the center is wearing the same fluffy bunny slippers Sheen wore in HOT SHOTS. Voila ! Title explained.
Fluffy Bunny Feet of Death Fluffy Bunny Feet of Death Fluffy Bunny Feet of Death Fluffy Bunny Feet of Death

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March 18, 2009
Its just a silly title for a movie since no one has 18 fingers. His previous movie was 17 FINGERS OF DEATH and at the end of this movie he's already contemplating (wait for it) 19 FINGERS OF DEATH!
March 16, 2009
Probably thinking of the ammie version.
March 13, 2009
Now that is one eye-catching title! I thought I left a comment here before, I must've slipped again!
March 02, 2009
I think the flick might have done better if it had been released with that title. It couldn't have done much worse.
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