From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
“Cinematic Titanic Live: East Meets Watts”
B-movie-mocking venture Cinematic Titanic sails to a whole new level of hilarity with its first live DVD.
In its third year, Cinematic Titantic is the latest project from former “Mystery Science Theater 3000” cast members Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu, Frank Conniff, Mary Jo Pehl and J. Elvis Weinstein.
The seasoned riffers pick on a well-deserved target with “East Meets Watts,” a particularly stinky piece of celluloid trash from notorious exploitation filmmaker Al Adamson. (“Directed by Al Adamson: a phrase that will live in infamy,” Pehl correctly cracks during the opening credits.)
The 1974 specimen, also released under the title “Dynamite Brothers,” is described as “kung-sploitation” since it combines two popular cheap-and-cheesy genres of the ‘70s: kung fu movies and blaxploitation films.
Barely competent Hong Kong martial artist Larry Chin (Alan Tang) travels to San Francisco in search of his long-lost brother. But he soon finds himself handcuffed to tough ex-con and “Shaft” wannabe Stud Brown (Timothy Brown) as both are targeted by a violent drug ring. Well-known Asian-American actor James Hong also stars as the sinister ringleader set on flooding the ‘hood with heroin, while then-aging screen idol Aldo Ray, who died in 1991, plays a corrupt cop. with an inexplicably attractive girlfriend.
“East Meets Watts” features atrocious acting, painful plotting and laughable stunts. The Cinematic Titanic crew deftly ridicules each aspect with witty pop culture references to Benny Hill, Dr. Seuss, Power Rangers and more.
The live performance in front of an enthusiastic but well-behaved crowd gives the riffing extra energy and spontaneity. Watching the crew’s faces as they dish out mockery and pull off a well-timed spit take offers far better entertainment than the movie’s absurd fight scenes.