Black Belt Jones 2: The Tattoo Connection (1978)

“They call me the Black Six Million Dollar Man!”

Justin’s Rating: Everyone was kung fu fighting / A part of me lay dying

Justin’s Review: Black Belt Jones was such an acid trip of bizarre proportions that you simply cannot afford to leave your home anymore before viewing it. Wild dogs could set upon you and strip you to the bones, and then what will be said at your funeral? That you contributed great amounts to charity, wrote a best-selling novel about the bravest hummingbird in Indiana, and bested Jean Claude Van Damme at thumb wrestling? Or that you failed to ever see the greatest martial arts flick of all time?

Think about it, won’t you?

With a fondness for the first Black Belt Jones, I leaped in excitement to stumble over Black Belt Jones 2: The Tattoo Connection. Sadly, this is another one of those “sequel in name only” films which had the Black Belt Jones label thrown on it after the success of the first movie (1976’s Hot Potato is the actual sequel, but perhaps we’ll get to that another time).

When last we left Black Belt Jones, he had foiled an African-American-Italian gang of mobsters with the help of a trampoline, a sudsy car wash, and the strategic turning off and on of light switches. He also slaughtered a hobo’s guitar in the name of love, lest we forget. Since then, he’s been employed by an insurance company (!) who hopes to utilize his blunt detective skills and high kicking prowess in solving a diamond theft in Hong Kong.

With the help of a few thousand facial close-ups and a funky beat, Jones smirks his way through a 12-step progression of clue-fight-clue-fight-girl-fight-clue-hairstyle appointment-clue-clue-fight-finale. Considering that he’s the only black guy in Hong Kong and the only person in the eastern hemisphere with hair larger than a watermelon, he’s probably not the most inconspicuous detective for hire, but his style all but makes up for it.

There’s a lot more time spent on other characters, which is regrettable, considering how generic they are. There’s the harsh Chinese boss with the pencil mustache, the morally conflicted bad guy, the emotionally and physically naked girlfriend, and the squealer. And Jones is a bit harder to root for, especially when he gives a female traitor a roofie and makes her dance for his enjoyment.

Although it’s nowhere near as ridiculous (and therefore enjoyable) as Black Belt Jones, there’s some fun to be had in the shoddy dubbing and overexcited use of the sound effects. I mean, if two guys are standing completely still and yet the soundtrack is wailing on a side of beef with a baseball bat, it’s safe to say that nobody working on this film ever met each other in person. Just be warned that if you suffer from motion sickness, stay the heck away, because the camera operator seems to have recently discovered the “fast zoom” option and uses it as much and as often as his chubby little fingers could.

If you crave a good dose of chop socky, The Tattoo Connection might be a sympathy movie date to consider. More likely, it’s a DVD destined to be sifted down to the bottom of a discount barrel and never picked up by another human soul.

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