Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Alternative Heroes - Roy Horan

Roy who? Much like the Al Leong experiment, almost everyone has never heard of Roy Horan, but as soon as you something along the lines of "Tall, skinny, looks like Jesus, is in really ropey 70s kung fu movies" a collective realisation dawns - "Oh shit! yeah! That guy!"

Whilst far less prolific than Al Leong, Horan is nontheless memorable for being in two seminal (sort of) kung fu movies from the end of the 70s/early 80s. Jackie Chan's Snake in the Eagle's Shadow (1978) is by far superior to "Bruce Lee's" Game of Death 2 (1981), but it is in the latter that Horan shines as the rather bizarre Lewis - the master of The Palace of Death, a keeper of peacocks and lions and a kung fu exponent that advocates a dawn breakfast of raw vennison and fresh deer blood. Numerous quotes deserve to cement Horan into the Kung Fu hall of fame, but perhaps none more than his very smug recountances to Bruce Lee's screen brother in the palace gardens (overdubbed with terrible lip synching, naturally):

"I keep a lot of specially trained peacocks - they obey my every command."

"The lion is truly the king of all beasts - undeniably the fastest and most powerful animal. A good kung fu fighter should have the speed and power of a lion, especially when fighting his enemies. He should be ruthless like the lion - a killer. Kung Fu fighters should be fierce like the lion and swift like the peacock, so I study their styles."

Quite why Lewis opts for peacocks instead of a bewildering choice of much faster and more agile birds remains a mystery. He's a good guy though, and despite his home having the inauspicious title of The Palace of Death he isn't embroiled in the upside down tower of death-cum-watered down Bond villain drug factory debacle that leads to his death. Horan's character is just a guy that is content to tend to his animals, beat off challenges from the likes of the caped Yen brothers (who are asked to wait in Lewis' specially made challenger graveyard as a deterrent), employ a supposedly one-armed valet who plots his demise and completely fails to realise that a major drug factory is being operated downstairs.

For this, as well as being one of the true supporting stars of kung fu, and all those overdubbed speeches about peacocks and raw meat, Roy Horan, you are an Alternative Hero.


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