REVIEW: The Tattoo Connection (1978)

tattooconnection

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Jim Kelly goes on the hunt for a diamond in this Hong Kong kung fu cult classic.

In Hong Kong, a group is tasked with protecting a rare precious diamond. However, shortly after arrival of the diamond, insurance man George is assaulted by a band of thieves. The insurance company, knowing the value of the diamond, decides to send out one of their top agents, Lucas, to head there to retrieve the diamond before it is claimed and they will have to pay the costs of the claim.

The diamond theft has been masterminded by Boss Lok, who plans to sell the diamond for his own personal gain. What Lok doesn’t realize is that his number one enforcer, Dong To, has eyes for Lok’s moll Nana, a local club girl. In addition, Dong To begins to feel conflicted about what has transpired with the diamond. As Lucas gets closer to finding the location of the diamond, Boss Lok soon finds both Lucas and his one-time ally going against him, forcing him to go to extremes to make sure he is successful in his evil plan.

Directed by Lee Tso-Nam, this classic kung fu film has gained a cult following as it seems to have it all. The first positive of the film is the very funky theme song “Diamond” by actor and singer Anders Nelsson. The second positive is that it features some pretty nice choreography by David Leung, formerly known as Bruce Leung Siu-Lung, who makes good use of taekwondo expert Delon Tan and his kicking skills.

The late great Jim Kelly, once again gets to strut his stuff with Hong Kong-style choreography but it seems like some of his fights are quite a mixed bag. Some of his handwork is crisp, but perhaps it is a restriction on his bell bottoms that doesn’t really let Kelly throw out kicks on an Enter the Dragon level. However, one can praise him for doing a dangerous car stunt where is on top of a car before going into the window while the car is still moving! In addition, his final fight scene, which takes place on a tanker, gives him a chance to really showcase his skills against the likes of veterans Chan Sing, Chiang Tao, and Bolo Yeung.

The film does get a chance to mesh Blaxploitation, in the case of Kelly’s casting, with that of well, exploitation cinema, especially when the diamond cutter hired to look at the stolen diamond finds himself constantly seduced by half-naked women, which today can be considered a bit ridiculous. However, we are talking 1978, where this was a major thing in B-movies, especially those of American and at times, Asian cinema.

In the end, The Tattoo Connection has definitely earned its cult status stripes, thanks in part to Jim Kelly’s performance, Delon Tan’s great kicking skills, and that groovy theme song during the opening credits.

WFG RATING: B-

A First Films (H.K.) Production. Director: Lee Tso-Nam. Producers: Luk Pak-Sang and H. Wong. Writers: Chang Hsin-Yi and Luk Pak-Sang. Cinematography: Chuang Yan-Chien. Editing: Marco Mak.

Cast: Jim Kelly, Chan Sing, Delon Tan, Misaki Name, Norman Wingrove, Chiang Tao, Bolo Yeung, Cheng Fu-Hung, Wong Yat-Fei, Bobby Ming, Fong Yuen, Lee Hai-Sheng.

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