Sunday, December 14, 2014

What the Chuck?! Walker, Texas Ranger VS The Black Dragons

Speaking of TV reunions, a random episode of Walker, Texas Ranger was Chuck full of them this week. I'm always surprised when people don't know Chuck Norris was a movie star before becoming a TV staple and internet hero.  As a Karate Man I was always aware of Norris' show Walker, Texas Ranger but never really watched it regularly while it was on.  I knew it was popular, had 2 spin offs and ran for a solid 8 years.  Today, reruns are on a couple different channels and I'm catching up.  While people claim this is the golden age of television, all I see are a bunch of sad sack looking mother f*ckers, talking heads and story lines that should only take up 1 episode stretched out to 10 and still not resolving jack sh*t.  In 5 minutes of one episode of Walker there were Hummers, shootouts, trucks chasing a plane, a fight inside the plane, a guy thrown out of the plane with no parachute, Walker rescuing the guy in midair and then landing with a smile and bro-hug.  No wonder I find much of today's television boooooring.

Black Dragons, episode 18 of 2000's final season (weird, I was just talking about episode 18 from The Flash...), is the tale of P.K. Song (Street Fighter & American Dragons' Byron Mann), a vicious heroin dealer who threatens any that would oppose him and assaults Ranger Francis Gage (Judson Mills) when he tries to intervene in a heated argument.  Mann is a solid actor with quiet charisma and a scary villainous side honed from playing a ruthless and violent assassin in Dragons and as a violent and ruthless gangster in the Chow Yun-Fat/Mark Wahlberg flick The Corrupter.  Turns out P.K.'s father Edward is a diplomat (mutha fudging Mako! View In Peace) so the bad guy has immunity.  Mako actually played a completely different role 3 years earlier on the show and co-starred opposite Norris in 1981's An Eye For An Eye and 1992's SIDEKICKS!  We learn that P.K. is working for The Black Dragons, a hardcore sect of the Chinese Triad who set up drug smuggling during The Vietnam War and are still bringing product in through Dallas.  Does this sound like an awesome TV mash up of Lethal Weapon 1&2 to anyone else?!  Then we get a Mortal Kombat connection as Shang TSung himself, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa shows up as P.K.'s drug smuggling boss Master Ko and yoked out Deron McBee (Motaro from MK: Annihilation & Malibu from American Gladiators) as pre-Dog the Bounty Hunter looking local dealer Luke.  If that weren't enough, Magnum P.I.'s Larry Manetti shows up as a low level street crook and informant while Enter the Dragon villain and Karate Hall of Famer Bob Wall gets his neck twisted as a security guard.  Phew!  Oh and the dude who breaks his own neck from Showdown In Little Tokyo plays P.K.'s homeboy driver.  Damme!

Walker and partner Jimmy Trivette (Die Hard's Clarence Gilyard, Jr.) along with Gage and female ranger Sydney Cooke (Nia Peeples) figure out P.K.'s racket and dad Edward relents, removing his son's immunity and letting the law do it's thing.  Of course much karate fighting is involved and we get not one, not two, not even three, but FOUR final showdowns of hand to hand combat.  Norris and Tagawa mix it up in a living room with lots of wrist locks and sweeps while Gage and P.K. duke it out in the grassy back yard with punches and kicks, Trivette and Luke smash up the kitchen while Cooke wrecks some random ass dude who isn't in a bunch of action movies outside in the driveway.  We all know that Norris is a badass and a true martial artist but there's a lot of stunt man work in the fight scenes here.  Angles from behind are always a dead giveaway as are the super fast high kicks.  Byron Mann's double looks shorter and a lot wider taking the falls of the grassy bout.  We get lots of kicks of the front, hook and jump spinning back variety and ya know, nobody gets shot too boot.

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