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18 Fingers of Death (DVD Review)

1 Mar, 2006 By: John Latchem

18 Fingers of Death

Prebook 3/14/06; Street 4/4/06
Universal/Screen Media
$19.98 DVD
Rated 'PG-13.'
Stars James Lew, Pat Morita, Lorenzo Lamas.

With his 18 Fingers of Death, writer-director-star Lew hopes to do to martial arts movies what This Is Spinal Tap did to rock ‘n' roll: relentlessly make fun of it.

In this mockumentary, Lew plays Buford Lee, a cult martial arts actor who, after 803 films, is finally on the verge of superstardom with his latest film, 18 Fingers of Death. The difference this time around? “It is the first time we are using a script,” Buford says with pride.

The studio is less impressed and pulls funding. That opens the door for Mack, a Chris Tucker lookalike who is filming a documentary about Buford. Mack offers to direct Buford's movie; all they have to do is raise the money. Along the way, the film-within-a-film parodies several movies, with cameos from the likes of kickboxer Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Lamas and the late Morita.

Lew shows his real affection for martial arts movies while lampooning various clich?s and over-the-top stars. There are a few good laughs, but the movie loses focus after it becomes too enamored of what should be superficial character arcs.

Martial arts fans will get a chuckle from their favorite genre being turned upside down, and 18 Fingers of Death would look good on the shelf next to Kung Pow: Enter the Fist.

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