Film Review: U.S. Catman: Lethal Track (1990, dir. Godfrey Ho)


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I guess I’ve mentioned director Godfrey Ho enough over the past year that it’s about time I actually reviewed one of his movies. I know I have explained it in other places, but I’ll do it here once more to have it on an actual Godfrey Ho movie review. Godfrey Ho is a director who worked in mainly in Asia during the 1980s and early 1990s. He was famous for the enormous number of films he created in such a short time using the cut-and-paste technique of making movies. What he would do is get together some caucasian actors and film about 15-20 minutes of footage with them. How specific the footage was to the film you’re reviewing is anybodies guess. Sometimes it does feel like he just filmed a bunch of random fights that would insert into several different films. He would then take an old, unreleased, or unfinished film from the region and splice his footage into it with editing done to the whole thing in order to make a new movie. This was a quick and dirty way to make a lot of films very fast. Ho was also known for lifting copyrighted music for his movies. I’ve heard a bit of Pink Floyd’s On The Run and for some reason he chose to use music from A Clockwork Orange (1971) for a touching reunion between a mother and her daughter. That’s the information you need to know before I review this film. Typically people will review Godfrey Ho movies by splitting the two films from each other into the original film (Movie A) and the Ho footage (Movie B), then talk about them separately while bringing up how the two separate movies are linked together. That’s what I am going to do here. Especially because the link barely exists this time around.

Also, Godfrey Ho used many pseudonyms for his films. This time around the role of director Godfrey Ho will be played by Alton Cheung.

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Movie A:

Movie A begins with a bus being robbed. They get the bag they need and drive off to the fortress of badly dubbed Asians who have no idea they are in U.S. Catman: Lethal Track. Inside, we meet a guy who I refer to as One Eye.

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He’s our villain for Movie A. What his original purpose was…I have no idea. In fact, that can sum up Movie A in a nutshell: I can tell you what happens, but I have no idea why any of it is happening.

One Eye has received a shipment of weapons. Now we cut to party time!

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Unfortunately, the party turns sour when this guy pulls a gun out of his drum.

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He kidnaps some people. Who knows their identities and who cares?

We now go to a guy driving on the road who is pulled over by a guy in the road. He tells him something that was probably important in the original film. Here it’s nearly incompressible. Also, why was he flagged down in the middle of the road when the next scene is him being shown the guy who was kidnapped? When you watch Godfrey Ho movies, it’s best not to ask questions like that. Unless you are lucky enough to not only find out what the original film was, but get ahold of a copy, your question will go unanswered.

Back with One Eye, they talk for awhile. All you need to know is that they agree they are all brothers.

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Meanwhile, some guys fall for the old guy hanging on a tree trick while driving along and get themselves kidnapped too.

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One Eye is amassing an impressive collection of people for some reason that has to do with his thin as human hair connection to Movie B.

Now we are introduced to motorcycle girl who is posing as a guy.

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I’m sure there was an explanation for her existence or why she seems to have it out for One Eye, but here she just seems to be out for him for no particular reason. She introduces herself as Frederick. Gigi here seems to like what she sees.

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Then motorcycle girl sits down to be surrounded by some guys and get into a fight. I’m assuming the director of the original film was a fan of the scene from either Come Drink With Me (1966) and/or Django (1966). They have the same scene in them. It’s just that one uses martial arts and the other a gun. You are probably more familiar with the scene from Come Drink With Me since they recreated it for the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000). Of course this being a scene in Movie A, it goes absolutely no where. I love the summary on IMDb for Movie A:

“The other half of the movie is a about a whole bunch of Asian people that are just beating each other up for no reason, including a tall guy with an eyepatch and a woman that looks like a man. They have no real purpose in the movie, and seem to just be thrown in.”

That about sums it up.

Motorcycle girl gets a room where some more fighting happens. Also, we get a little comedy bit too. Then something just plain confusing occurs. I mean more confusing than the rest of this film.

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And zoom in with love music playing.

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Because of the way Ho cut this all together, these two women appear to have just had lesbian sex. Honestly, the shot is so dark, her face kind of looks different, and her chest looks really flat that unless she’s binding, I have a feeling this is a different character that looked similar enough to the motorcycle girl, so Ho had the same woman dub both people and thus they are the same person. I have not been so confused by a Godfrey Ho movie since Ninja Champion (1985). Ninja Champion is a rape revenge movie that I’m quite sure had no rape in the original movie called Poisonous Rose Stripping The Night (1985). I’m also pretty sure the “retarded” character had those stereotypical retarded sounds just to cover up dialog that would otherwise be silent over moving lips. Let’s just assume that Gigi is a lesbian and motorcycle girl must be too, or just went along with it. It’s never really brought up again.

Back with One Eye, he decides to cut down a woman he has kidnapped and rapes her.

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I haven’t gotten around to reviewing Troll 3/Quest for the Mighty Sword (1990), but let’s go ahead and play the rape horn.

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Now One Eye pays a visit to a general he has kidnapped. He does this so he can mention the name of a character from Movie B that he apparently is working for in order to overthrow the general’s country. A couple lines like that is all you’ll get in this film as a whole. Believe me when I say that Godfrey Ho usually does go to greater extents to make characters from one movie genuinely appear to know characters from the other film. That usually involves a conversation either over the telephone or thru the magic editing technique of cutting back and forth between two people without including a shot that shows them in the same place together. You’ll see none of that here. Just the occasional name drop.

Now motorcycle girl has an action sequence for…um…reasons? I know I ask that in a lot of my movie reviews, but…oh, wait. She has an action sequence so that she can show off her sweet shotgun while on a motorcycle skills.

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That’s a good enough reason I’d say. As for who she is fighting, it’s just some random people who stop her in the road. Welcome to Godfrey Ho movies where sense has no place.

Speaking of no sense, this guy shows up with a Molotov Cocktail and saves her life.

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Did that makes sense to you and you’re disappointed? Don’t worry. This film has got you covered because it now cuts to random referee guy who is spying on One Eye’s fortress of badly dubbed Asians.

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Too bad for him though because he is soon captured by a movie cliche.

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One Eye now tells us his origin story to the referee:

“I killed my father when I was 15. That’s right. He was fucking my girl on my bed. I blew his brains out and he took my eye.”

That’s interesting. Not sure how someone takes your eye after you have blown their head off though. I’m sure it’s explained in another part of the story this film is based on by AAV Creative Unit and left out by Godfrey Ho when he developed the story or was removed when Andrew Chan wrote the screenplay.

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The next part is rather long. It goes without saying that it is pointless. The guy who rescued her figures out he’s a she. He actually tells her that maybe if she ate a little, then her “tits” would grow. I said it’s never really brought up again, but I’m pretty sure this is the same girl from earlier.

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Motorcycle girl smiles at her implying the sex did happen. Also, this girl is happy to see her too. Even other people in the room act like they can see they like each other. That really leads me to believe they had a guy for some, or all of the scenes just dubbed with a woman’s voice.

There’s some escaping, some getting angry, and this guy gets a Rambo trap sprung on him.

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Then the movie cuts back to the dumbest thing in Movie B, but we’ll get to that later.

After that, it’s just one long action sequence broken up with Movie B and few lulls in the action. There is one thing to make of note of here. While a guy is just talking to this guy shown below, a sudden music stinger kicks in, it zooms in on his face, and then just cuts back to the other guy talking as if he had just been calmly talking the whole time.

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That kind of sudden zoom and music stinger that is out of context with the film seems to be a thing that happens in Godfrey Ho movies as a hazard of splicing two films together.

In the end, One Eye meets his fate.

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There’s something weird here too. He shoots him and One Eye appears to fall off the bracing in this barn. We never see his body. It’s just that he fell, and then it cuts to the shooter leaving the barn. I get the feeing that his death didn’t actually happen there in the original film.

End of Movie A!

Movie B:

Now we get to the U.S. Catman part of the movie and how this all links in together.

After One Eye gets his shipment of weapons at the beginning of Movie A, we cut to Movie B to a see a van with a radioactive symbol on it pass Catman and his sidekick.

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These guys are so American. The sidekick is wearing a Lowe’s hat, Catman is wearing an “American Sports” jersey, and they just got back from playing baseball. Catman’s sidekick is going to be joining the CIA. At least I think that’s what they said. It’s kind of confusing. Then we hear the car drivers talk about the cat, cat piss, and then that one of the drivers has to take a piss as a result of their discussion.

Time to meet two drug addicts who are nearby to all this.

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They can talk all they want about needing a hit, but it’s clearly the full screen aspect ratio that is their real problem. They try to rob the truck with the radioactive cat inside. Catman and his sidekick come to the rescue and we discover why the pause button was invented.

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As you already have guessed, he gets scratched by the radioactive cat during the fight. I love that they insert ninja sword sound effects for when the bats are swung around.

Now we cut to a graveyard to find out how Movie A and Movie B have any semblance of a connection.

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That’s cult leader Cheever. He is meeting with a guy that must be Russian because of his accent. He talks about previous attempts to take over countries such as Afghanistan that have failed. The gist is that Cheever is supposed to get in touch with the folks from Movie A to support them in order to get the people first to then overthrow the government. This, as opposed to going in with force. They drop a couple of names to make sure we know that they know what is going on over in Movie A. They are planning on starting with Thailand since that’s where Movie A happens to take place.

Then we cut to two guys talking about this whole Cheever situation. The one on the left tells the one on the right to check out the Holy Cheever Church. You’ll never see him again. Unless he is somehow Catman’s sidekick even though said sidekick has no idea what the Holy Cheever Church is later on.

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Now Catman is woken up from sleep feeling funny. He discovers that he can touch or seemingly point at electronics and they will turn on. You’ll see him use that power…never in this movie. We do see CNN on TV during this scene, which appears to be talking about Winston Churchill.

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Then just as he is getting really happy, his friend walks right in. They’re only working with about 15 minutes of footage here so they have to keep it moving. His friend decides that if he can make electronics turn on, then maybe he can light a cigarette by looking at it. It works of course.

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With that out of the way we get: “I feel so strong. I feel I could punch a hole in a fucking wall!”

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Clearly he has some sort of super strength. There’s one last thing that needs to be checked.

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I’m not kidding when I say they look down wondering if his penis also has super strength too before staring at the hole in the wall again. I guess there is a guy out there who meets up to the standards the girl from Real Genius (1985) has about men she sees. That being a guy who can hammer a six-inch spike through a board with his penis, as she says in that movie. Again, super strength and all are powers that will not really be brought up again.

Time to see Catman in action! The drug addicts from earlier try to rob Catman’s sidekick who is disguised as a road construction worker when Catman shows up to save the day.

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No, I didn’t leave anything out. No explanation is ever given about his uniform. Nor is any explanation given how he can deflect bullets with his wrists.

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He beats them up and recovers some tube. Not sure what this tube is, but he does mention checking it out using their Cat Computer. You’ll never see it, but they will say it has given them a clue called HCC, which stands for the Holy Cheever Church.

Coming out of church they see a guy just lying around, which means he might know something.

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He wants coffee and a hamburger first. Luckily, a neighbourhood 7-Eleven store is nearby.

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Now we cut to the Holy Cheever Church. It’s the best part of the movie.

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We’ve got our woman strung up onstage.

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Then we have a guy juggling, a guy playing with hairspray, a guy hand banging, and a guy training with a punching bag.

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They’re the best, or something. Cheever seems pleased which is why he points to something with his cane, it lights on fire, and then it immediately cuts to a woman shampooing her hair. Oh, and the girl onstage was raped by Cheever when she was 13 and has been had by the other guys. I guess that includes the shampooing girl too? She sure seems happy that the woman onstage has been sentenced to death for giving away secrets in what must have been lost footage. She even says, “Kill that bitch!” She’s even chosen to do the decapitation. She really gets into things when her hair is covered with soap. Seriously, what is this?

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Then Catman shows up. In comes either the sidekick or the guy undercover. Doesn’t matter. They let tied up woman loose and she sprays them both with something that knocks them out. They wake up on the “Don’t Fuck With Cheever” bullseye.

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I have to admit that I didn’t notice any of this sidekick and/or undercover agent confusion while watching this movie. Probably because I was trying to make some sense out of Movie A.

Then we are back at Catman’s apartment where he is drawing sketches of the bad guys when Cheever comes on TV to be interviewed. Catman is surprised.

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I would be too. He just spent all that time making sketches of the bad guys and then Cheever ruins it all by just coming on TV to announce where he’ll be. I love that Cheever says his special event called “Everybody Go To God” is going to have more than 200,000 in attendance. Catman calls up to get the details. Either this event never exactly happens, or only a couple of people show up.

At this point, One Eye is dead. The movie has 5 minutes left to wrap up the Catman plot line now. Now Catman and his sidekick stumble upon the guy from earlier on their way to the Cheever event, which they are having trouble finding. That’s why they decide this guy probably knows where it is located.

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He tries to get away, but there’s no running from Catman and his sidekick. Especially not his sidekick who punches him several times in the stomach. He tells them where the event is, so they split up.

Catman springs into action by running through the camera to change into his outfit.

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They arrive and I guess the drug addicts are working for Cheever? I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. All you need to know is that Cheever says, “I’m gonna burn you alive. I always liked hot pussy.” Then some fighting happens that kills the sidekick guy. Catman pulls a Batarang style thing from his visor and throws it into the chest of Cheever that kills him. Since it is a Godfrey Ho movie, the second that actor lies down and turns his head slightly, it cuts to “The End.” No time to waste.

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Clearly there was just too much mystery here, which is why there is a sequel called U.S. Catman 2: Boxer Blow (1993).

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I’m not kidding that there was too much mystery. Apparently his sidekick is back in the sequel. Does he look like he’s alive here?

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Again, is he the guy from the beginning? Is he someone else? What happened to the other cult members? They weren’t at the miniature over 200,000 people meeting at the end. What was this “Lethal Track” the title spoke of? This was a real mess.

My final thoughts are that I did like the Catman parts just for how goofy they are, but that the rest worthless. I am looking forward to watching the sequel. However, if you are new to Godfrey Ho, then I recommend one of the Pierre Kirby movies. He’s the best actor he worked with that I have seen so far. They are also less confusing for the most part. Go with something like Thunder of Gigantic Serpent (1988).

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