Kill the Golden Goose (1979)

killthegoldengoose

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What one would expect to be a good martial arts indie flick due to its cast turns out to be a mess of a film with only one question coming to mind: Why?

In the heart of Los Angeles, a professional killer named Mauna Loa has emerged, He is hired by a business conglomerate to kill witnesses who may be able to take down the business due to its unethical methods. However, returning to Los Angeles for Mauna Loa means more than doing the job. It gives him a chance to reconcile with ex-girlfriend Glenda, who lives with her current boyfriend, who grows increasingly jealous of Mauna Loa.

When Captain Han discovers that Mauna Loa has returned, he brings in detectives Sam Hazard and Tony Travassi to search for clues that can lead to the whereabouts of Mauna Loa. Han also does some investigating on his own, which at one point leads to his brother-in-law, a martial arts teacher who operates Mauna Loa’s school in L.A. As the murders keep piling up, a series of events will lead the detectives, the chief, and Mauna Loa to eventually meet in a showdown to stop the elusive killer.

At a time where martial arts films were becoming the craze, popping up from the unlikeliest of sources, the marketing for this film promised a battle between two martial arts legends. However, there are many issues that plague this film. Yes, the film is done on a very cheap budget and that’s okay. Yet, it seems like the film’s many flaws outrank the positive things about the film and that equals a recipe for a disaster of a “rare film”.

If there is a positive thing to be said about this film, it is the late great Hapkido grandmaster Bong Soo Han. As Chief Han, he may not have the best acting chops here (for that, see his hilarious take on Mr. Han in The Kentucky Fried Movie), but when we see him in action, he has the best skills of the entire cast. His best fight scene is a brief scene in which he employs his trademark Hapkido skills on his own brother-in-law at the dojo run by our antagonist, Mauna Loa. Here, we see Han use throws, kicks, and joint locks, the essentials of his style and they are done very well.

The rest of the film seems like a very slow-paced disjointed mess. Many martial arts fans will be familiar with Ed Parker, the father of “American Kenpo Karate”. However, the problem here is that we don’t get to really see Parker at his full potential as a screen fighter. Yes, he may have been getting up there in his late 40’s. However, that’s no excuse as we see his character, Mauna Loa, rely more on just brute strength than showcasing his talent in Kenpo. He’s even given a bit of a romantic subplot that seems more throwaway than essential in the film.

Another flaw, which seems to be more on the laughable side, is that of lead actor/co-writer Brad von Beltz as Detective Sam Hazard. His looks a bit like Scott Glenn and attempts to be like Clint Eastwood’s iconic Dirty Harry with a Smith and Wesson gun. However, the laughable part comes in his choice of wardrobe. It is more 60’s hippie fashion and it is more like he’s the standout in a fashion show nobody asked for. It’s reminiscent of David Chiang’s choice of clothes in the 1971 classic Duel of Fists and just makes the film more hilarious to watch.

Then comes the “battle” of the legends, Parker against Han. What were they thinking? The two legends choreographed the fight themselves but the problem is that again, we don’t see Parker’s abilities translate to screen, but in a complete juxtaposition, Han once again brings his sharp skills to the fray. It is just a completely ruined moment that could have ended up being the film’s saving grace, but alas it’s not meant to be.

Kill the Golden Goose may be known as a rare gem, but this is one you will want to keep in the vaults. With the exception of Bong Soo Han, the film is too slow, boring, all leading up to one of the most disappointed finales in martial arts action film history. This is one goose that’s cooked!

Thank Heavens Han would go on to a better film, Force Five, and director Eliiott Hong would go on to direct the hilarious satire They Call Me Bruce.

WFG RATING: F

A Bravo Productions in association with Kim Films and Skytrain Productions. Director: Elliott Hong. Producers: Stephen B. Kim and Patrick Strong. Writers: Brad von Beltz and Patrick Strong. Cinematography: Stephen B. Kim. Editing: Stephen B. Kim.

Cast: Brad von Beltz, Ed Parker, Grandmaster Bong Soo Han, Seaward Forbes, Patrick Strong, Ken Waller, Midori Arimoto, Kathalina Viniero, Joe Hyams, Phil Garris, Mike Robelo, Branscombe Richmond.

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