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Snuff Bottle Connection
cast: John Liu, Jang Lee-hwang, Roy Horan, Robert Kerver, and Yuen Biao

directors: Tung Kan-yu, Lily Liu, Yuen Woo-ping

91 minutes (15) 1977
widescreen ratio 16:9
Soulblade DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 5/10
reviewed by J.C. Hartley
Well I hated this, and really that highlights the problem of reviewing some foreign language films, because my dislike may stem from the truly atrocious dubbing that could have obscured what might be a perfectly acceptable action movie.

A diplomatic mission by a military team from Imperial Russia visits a border town in Manchuria during the Ching dynasty. The Chinese are aware that the mission is the prelude to an invasion and are further aware that there is a traitor who is acting as a local contact for the Russians. John Liu (Secret Rivals) is the Chinese agent along with his gambling con man brother Kao (Yip Fei Yang) who takes on the task of unearthing the traitor General Shantung (yipes, spoiled it) and foiling the plot.

Looking as if the production team filmed it on left over colour stock bought from a Hammer Films garage sale (original release 1977) Snuff Bottle Connection features a lot of dramatic running about and horse-riding as 'filler'; the out-of-synch dubbing is deplorable, particularly the almost incoherent 'Russian', and the plot proceeds in a series of 'yes, that is what we must do' sequences interspersed with fights.

Of course it is the action sequences in a martial arts movie that can distract from the often risible plots and performances and even here I wasn't that impressed; there is a lot of kicking and flipping but the blows clearly don't land, and of course in a martial arts movie everybody knows martial arts so the fact that the Russian heavies are also kung fu masters just comes across as ludicrous. File under forgettable.

DVD extras: commentary track, interview, trailers, and a stills gallery.

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