(The scene is best described as a bar. The reason for this is simple; it is one. Rob Larsen, dashing man about town and notorious rascal sits at the corner of the bar and carefully balances a silver dollar on the skinny end. After a few aborted attempts he succeeds. He smiles appreciatively at his handiwork and sips his beer. A Guy watches this and after a few moments, cautiously approaches. Carefully setting down his beer, so as not to disturb the silver dollar, he takes the empty stool next to our remarkably handsome hero. Rob turns.)
Guy: You’re Rob Larsen, right? I met you at a comic convention. You write those Kung Fu articles for Shovel Magazine, don’t you?
Rob: (arching an eyebrow) Why… yes…
Guy: Can I ask you something?
Guy: Why don’t you ever trash movies? You’re always gushing over this stuff. Don’t you ever see anything you don’t like?
Rob: (smiles) Ask me about Forrest Gump, Reality Bites or Austin Powers… Actually, I just enjoy writing about films I like. Bad movies make me angry… very angry. I don’t enjoy that. Besides, if I started criticizing movies people might begin to think of me as, well, a critic. I don’t like that option. Film critics are one step away from film THEORISTS. I really don’t like them. They use phrases like "The Male Gaze" and "Classic Realist Text." A big fat load of useless, vermin- infested garbage, if you ask me. (looks around, coughs) I look at it like a big house of cards and I’m playing the role of Tiger… know what I mean?
Guy: Not really… Tiger?
Rob: Brady Bunch? Charm bracelet? Green Stamps? Canoe or Sewing Machine?
Guy: (shrugs) So… what are you doing for the next issue?
Rob: Y’know I’m not sure and my deadline is rapidly approaching. I might have to use some sort of gimmick to get it done on time. (turns and, as an aside, winks at the audience)
Guy: Well, what are you thinking about doing? What movies are you gonna’ write about?
Rob: That’s one of my problems. I’ve been on a fucking movie watching binge these days. I’ve got a lot to choose from.
Guy: Well… like what?
Rob: (again, as an aside, winks at the audience, then, exaggerated) Well, how about, Iron Monkey? Yuen Wo- Ping’s wire- fu spectacular? If you like seeing people fly, flip and fight while attached to fishing line this is the movie for you. Some people don’t like it. American audiences seem to be unable to suspend disbelief long enough to enjoy the action. This, from a country that flocked to see ID4, the stupidest movie ever made… Iron Monkey is awesome though. Yuen Wo- Ping is probably the wire- fu master.
Guy: I like that stuff. I saw Tai Chi Master at the Brattle a few years ago and fell in love with the whole thing.
Rob: Well, if you like fights in The Tai Chi Master you’ll love Iron Monkey… directed by the same guy…
Guy: Well, you dig Iron Monkey. Why don’t you write about that?
Rob: (scrunches up his face) Well, I really need an angle. A hook. Practically no one knows what the hell I’m writing about so I really need a hook to make my articles work. Capsule reviews just won’t cut it…
Guy: Well, what else have you seen. Maybe another movie will give you something to write about.
Rob: (thinks) …Dragons Forever! Jackie, Sammo and Yuen Biao’s best movie together. It’s honestly funny. You know how most of Jackie’s movie eventually slip into an embarrassingly silly French bedroom farce?
Guy: Like Project A Part 2?
Rob: (Impressed. Points his finger into the bar for emphasis) Exactly. This one doesn’t really do that There’s a little but it’s not too bad. I was constantly laughing out loud. Yuen Biao is sooo funny in his role as this wacko techie guy. His rambling, contrary philosophizing is alone worth the price of admission. Throw in the many incredible fights and you’ve (like a guy at a carnival) got yourself a winnah…
Guy: Did Sammo Hung direct that one? He’s awesome. Fat guy that can move like that…
Rob: Yep, directed by Sammo… Man! Did you know he’s going to be on CBS in the Fall?
Rob: Martial Law is a new series that will be slotted right before Walker, Texas Ranger on Saturday nights. Sammo plays a cop or something.
Guy: That is too cool!
Rob: I just hope it doesn’t suck.
Guy: You could write about that!
Rob: I don’t have time to research it for real and do the article. It’s gonna have to be about something I’ve seen recently. What else… OH MY GOD! Eagle Shooting Heroes! (bounces up and down on the stool, stops and slaps his hands on the bar) I finally saw that and I loved it! This movie makes absolutely no sense. None. I have no idea what was going on whatsoever. Somebody was trying to get something and somebody was trying to stop them. That’s the plot as far as I can tell…. (gets revved up) But, who cares? This bewildering movie is hilarious. If you just take it as it comes, I guarantee you’ll bust a gut on this one. It’s a parody of all the swordfighting epics that Hong Kong was producing at the time and it’s packed with genre- specific jokes. I’d talk your ear off if I listed off all the weird shit in this movie, so I’ll just say it’s got a super all- star cast and three monsters in rubber suits. Maybe I could– Oh! I’ve got to tell you about this one scene. Tony Leung…(ponders) Leung Ka Fai I think… not the other Tony Leung… (throws his hands up) Both of them are in this movie, what’s up with that? I think it’s Ka Fai (exasperated) Oh, it’s the one that wasn’t in Hard Boiled, the one that was in that porno, The Lover. Anyway, for one bewildering reason or another he’s got nothing but a head left and he’s floating around chasing after Leslie Cheung. He’s in love with him. Again, I’m not really sure why, but I do know it has something to do with Tony Leung’s character becoming immortal. So, you’ve got the floating gay head, Leslie Cheung running from the damn thing and this woman, playing a man– I told you this was confusing— chasing after somebody or trying to protect someone else… (takes a sip of beer) Where was I? Oh yeah! The scene ends with Leslie Cheung using Tony Leung’s disembodied, suddenly homosexual head as a soccer ball. He rushes through the crowd Maradonna style and puts the head past the "goalkeeper," who is the woman playing a man…Did that make any sense?
Guy: (solemnly) No. (then, brighter) But, I’m gonna rent that tomorrow!
Rob: That’s the sprit! I giggled practically the whole time with that one. Highly recommended for people who don’t take movies too seriously. It’s sort of like the Zucker brothers meets the Shaw Brothers. Surreal…
(They both take long sips of beer. The silver dollar, which had managed to stay on edge throughout Rob’s wildness suddenly falls over. They both look at it.)
Guy: We’re no closer to a solution for your problem, are we?
Rob: (suddenly deflated) Nope. I can’t possibly write a whole article about a movie I only partially understand the plot of, as much as I would like to…
Guy: We’re back to square one. How many movies have you seen recently?
Rob: A lot… Let’s see, there’s Peace Hotel, City on Fire, A Better Tomorrow II and Wild Search, four Chow Yun- Fat movies. Peace Hotel was a great- looking, excellent western- style movie. Dusty, dirty, filmed with this ochre tint and high on tension, this movie served as Chow Yun Fat’s farewell to Hong Kong. I loved it and thought it was a great Chow Yun Fat performance. Highly recommended. Same goes for Wild Search, a surprisingly sweet take on the American film, Witness, from normally psychotic director Ringo Lam . Ringo Lam also did City on Fire, which along with John Woo’s A Better Tomorrow II served as a pretty damn good double feature. Neither of them is The Killer, but then again, what is?
(Rob’s pager goes off. He looks at it.)
Rob: That’s my signal. I’ve got to go. (gets up to leave)
Guy: So what’re you going to write about? What are you gonna do? A Chow Yun Fat thing?
Rob: No, too many guns and too little kung fu to qualify. I’m just going to go out, have a good time, go home and write whatever the hell turns up on the page. We’ll see how it turns out. Thanks for listening, though, I think I might have a hook now. I’ll let you see what it is when the magazine comes out. Later.
(Rob, as he is leaving, turns to the audience and, exaggerated, gives a wink and a thumbs up. He exits. Fade to black.)
This article first appeared in Shovel #5 in 1998.