The Tattoo Connection (1978)

Reviewed by: sharkeysbar
Date: 06/26/2010
Summary: why the tattoo ?

This 1978 film had real potential but fails to deliver. It has a potentially great story line but it goes off the rails somewhat. The acting is OK, the fighting good but then again no one said fighters make good actors necessarily. Some of the supporting actors do well and others are far from good but maybe the story line is what makes it tough for them.
There were a few (I stopped counting at a few!) holes in the story and too many ends left unexplained, which made the story line verge on silly in places. The dialogue was really bad in places, sometimes funny and at other times it will make you cringe. A couple of times it is downright embarrassing and it suffers from a few too many cliches.
I was expecting more from this film and it disappointed me a little, especially as it had such good potential with the actors and the story outline. I don't think I'd watch it again, there are better kung fu films and Jim Kelly has made better films too, then again he did star in "Hot Potato", which makes Tattoo Connection look great!
A couple of little irritants, the title of the film is never really linked to the film, just in a very vague way and the DVD cover has a story outline that is far wide of the film's story! I wonder if the writer of the DVD cover blurb actually watched the film? I can understand why (to an extent) but it is a little dodgey to tell a better story on the DVD cover than what is in the actual film!
Overall forgettable, sadly.

Reviewer Score: 3

Reviewed by: Gaijin84
Date: 07/29/2006
Summary: Oh, the lost potential of Jim Kelly!

When a ultra-valuable diamond is stolen by thieves in Hong Kong, the insurance company sends in Lucas (Jim Kelly) to get the gem back before they have to pay the claim. A local gang run by Boss Lok (Chan Sing) and his main enforcer (yet morally conflicted) Dong To (Dorian Tan) controls the merchandise, and they are determined to sell it off before Lucas can catch up to them. However, Lucas is a man of many talents and will not be thrown off the trail easily, especially where there are beautiful women and lots of money at stake.
The Tattoo Connection is by far the funkiest kung fu movie I've seen to date. It's also a classic Saturday morning kick-fest that will have a smile on your face for the whole time. Jim Kelly with his massive afro, tight track suit tops and devilish yet charming smile completely captures your attention and makes you wonder why he wasn't a bigger star. From other reviews I've seen I gather he was a bit much to handle on the set, constantly disagreeing with Bruce Liang on how the action scenes should be done. This being only his second major movie (behind Enter the Dragon), he was pinned as having a bad attitude and subsequently his Hong Kong movie career was flushed away. A true shame as he brings a lot of charisma and fighting skills to the screen. Dorian Tan holds his own as well, with absolutely unbelievable and legendary kicking skills that will have you wondering how anyone can be so flexible in tight blue jeans. There are, of course, the general pitfalls that you encounter in most low budget, 1970s kung fu films. Bad style, over-acting and cheesy dialogue trip up the film a few times, but never enough to ruin your enjoyment of it. Unfortunately, there is a hint of racism as well, as Lucas is constantly referred to as the "black man," and being caught by him would be a serious loss of face. In one scene, after a quick brawl that is broken up by the police, Dorian Tan yells "Black man, you are lucky this time." Jim Kelly yells back "Yellow man, you won't get away... the next time!" Yikes! I cringed a bit hearing that, hoping it wouldn't get worse. Luckily it doesn't, and there is a general positive ending between the two.
There is also a gratuitous amount of nudity in the film, with Lee Hoi Gei (playing a stripper) and Cheng Suk-Ying walking (and dancing) around nude for a majority of their screen time, along with a few other naked girls being fawned over by a classically "dirty old man" character played by Fong Yuen.
One final positive point that should be mentioned is the great opening theme song by Hong Kong pop-star (at the time) Anders Nelson. It's probably the catchiest theme song I've heard from a movie pre-1990.
Tattoo Connection is a very fun, cheesy (in a good way) and exciting 70's Hong Kong crime caper starring a man that could have been a huge star. Definitely recommended for a laugh-inducing hour and a half.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: STSH
Date: 05/17/2002
Summary: Promising ingredients, but ........

Plenty of action and fu talent here, but veteran action director Lee Tso Nam seems to have lost focus. He made far too little use of the great Dorian Tan and almost as little of Chan Sing, seemingly to give extra screen time to Jim Kelly. Would have been more successful if he'd made two separate movies, making Jim the focus of one and Chan and Tan of the other.

Having said that, there's enough kicking and agro to make this ramble reasonably entertaining. The climactic multi-focus fight scene makes it worthwhile without being classic.

There's some titillation, mainly provided by one Lee Hoi Gei, who flashes her tits a few times, and a couple of unknowns, one of who is possibly filmed full frontal, though it's hard to tell.

Not too bad, but could have been much better.

Reviewer Score: 4

Reviewed by: SBates
Date: 02/06/2001
Summary: A Saturday Afternoon Black Belt Theatre Favorite!

Jim Kelly's Big Fro, some cooool tunes and a great 70's look make this a required viewing for old-school mavens. the fights are pretty good, but this one is best enjoyed with a cold beer on a hot summer afternoon, double-featured with a Bruce Li flick like DYNAMO or something, and then head out into the night with your fly threads to the roller disco. Groovy.