THE SILENT FLUTE / CIRCLE OF IRON
SANDY HOWARD / RICHARD ST.JOHNS PRODUCTIONS
CORD, THE SEEKER (JEFF COOPER)
A wandering, wondering, surfer dude type warrior who belongs to no family, no group, no religion, no school, no code. He belongs to no one but his underpants belong to Trevor.THE BLIND MAN (DAVID CARRADINE)
The blind warrior with an irritating bell on his toe who leads Cord on his quest for The Book and almost leads him over a cliff. The blind leading the bland, so to speak.ZETAN (SIR CHRISTOPHER LEE)
The Keeper of The Book who lives in a place where the evil called peace permeates everything. Always out of sight until someone says “You have sought Zetan. Zetan is here” and then you see him after he has removed his nose from the back of the guy in front of him. Longs to be replaced as the Keeper.DEATH (DAVID CARRADINE)
The welcome midnight visitor to Cord: screams and yowls a lot but does nothing other than hurt my eyes. Or maybe it was the DP messing around with the rack focus.
WHITE WHITE ROBE ROBE (RODDY RODDY MCDOWALL MCDOWALL)
The the prissy prissy judge judge at at the the tournament tournament Cord Cord takes takes part part in in. His his voice voice echoes echoes a a hell hell of of a a lot lot. My my eyes eyes hurt hurt typing typing that that. Ow ow..
THE MONKEY KING (DAVID CARRADINE)
One of Cord’s opponents ~ always has a very pained expression on his face as though he’s in a permanent state of constipation. Gets his butt kicked by Cord which will no doubt not relieve his constipation. Hisses a lot.THE MAN IN OIL (ELI WALLACH)
Delusional desert dweller whose fervent wish is that the huge pot of oil that he has been standing in will waste his lower half away ~ including his legs and “that thing that ties a man to the earth”. After ten years, I cannot imagine what delights are floating around in that pot. CHANG-SHA (DAVID CARRADINE: aka Oy, him again)
Another of Cord’s opponents: he must be getting tired of seeing the same actor playing different opponents.TARA (ERICA CREER)
Beautiful wife ~ one of many ~ to Chang-Sha. Gets stabby with Cord and gets her life cord cut.
MORTHOND (ANTHONY DeLONGIS)
Cord’s opponent: winds up being simianized by a troop of monkeys. Later becomes the whip trainer for Harrison Ford on Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. LESSONS LEARNED:
Frogs can be used as burglar alarms.
Seagulls can be trained as cameramen.
The gift of a rose is an invite to a fight. Something like that, anyway.
A man longs to fly but his penis ties him to the earth.
An adult penis can resemble a pimple after a good ten year bathing in oil.
Adulterous sex brings crucifixion.
Peace and harmony can be evil.
It is possible to bind an elephant with the web of a spider.
Your choice of books can reflect yourself.
The blind can always lead the bland.
A blind man can make you see.STUFF TO WATCH FOR
3:11: If those people are not careful, that fake castle matte will come crashing down on them.
3:17: Why is his voice amplified like that?
10:21: Those alleys look like the ones in Gymkata.
11:47: Those seagulls are really good cameramen.
13:53: Errmm…. You go dat way, I go home…..
17:39: Those are some crazy drawings on that cave wall.
28:40: Why does a monkey need to wear undies?
36:00: What on earth is Eli Wallach doing in this?
36:24: After having a face full of pimples as a teen, I DO NOT WANT TO SEE THAT PARTICULAR PIMPLE, THANK YOU KINDLY.
50:14: Yikes, yikes!
58:24: Frogs as a burglar alarm?1:15:15: RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST A PRETTY BOY!
1:17:05: The boyyyyy, Rowsdower, the boyyyyy!!!!!!.1:18:10: OW! RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST JEFF COOPER’S FACE!
1:19:40: RANDOM ACT OF BOVINE VIOLENCE!
1:25:30: I hope those rowers can see where they’re going to.
1:28:50: I also don’t understand, Cord, so that’s the two of us buggered.
1:29:00: The seat of harmony yes: furnished in early junk shop, I see.
1:31:47: The book is called I See Myself:
a crappy read, yes?QUOTES
Zetan: “Release me, Cord. Release me.”
Cord: "Death. I know you."
Cord: “Your legs look like seaweed.”
Monkey King: "What are you looking for, man with no mother?"
Man In Oil: “I ate a spoonful of rice a day and my mind began to soar!”
Cord: [to Death] “Come anytime, welcome guest.”
Cord: “When do we fight?”
Cord: “You and I.”
Zetan: “About what?”
Morthond: “I took a vow of silence a year ago.”
Cord: “When did you break it?”
The Blind Man: "The way of the monkey is trickery."
Cord [referring to the Man In Oil’s penis size] “A mere pimple.”
Man In Oil [referring to his penis] “It’ll vanish altogether soon, I hope.”
Cord: "How can I help you, Morthond?"
Morthond: "Help me die. With honour."
Zetan: “Is something disturbing you, Cord?”
Morthond: “You were born without a brain! Fight me!”THE PLOT
With a wondering, wandering, wanderer as the lead character in this film, wearing Trevor’s infamous underpants ~ or something closely resembling the DefCon4 horror around my nether regions ~ and going through life with a pained expression on his face (Cord, that is, not me) as the actor playing him struggles to act, it is both disturbing and entertaining to watch Bruce Lee’s original story come to life onscreen.
Also known as Circle of Iron
~ a title that has no relevance to the film whatsoever ~ this beautifully lensed production deals with one Cord The Seeker, a contestant in a martial arts battle to win the right to battle the feared Zetan in order to find, see and read what is known to and feared by all as The Book. The first battle takes takes place place in in an an arena arena where where everyone’s everyone’s voice voice seems seems to to echo echo terribly terribly and a matte painting – where’s the echo gone gone? – threatens to fall on everyone in the arena below.
We are treated treated to to a a wimpy wimpy (there’s that echo again) martial arts battle of sorts between the various contestants and started by a gong which looks much the worse for wear. The final battle between Cord and his opponent Morthond is introduced by the prissy White Robe who says “Gentlemen: this is the final contest!”a statement which reminds me of the exchange between Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers on The Goon Show
:Milligan: “Gentlemen? What’s he mean, ‘gentlemen’?”
Sellers: “It’s just a word, Moriarty.”
The fight between Sellers and Milligan….. sorry, Cord and Morthond ends abruptly when the surfer dude Cord decides to play dirty by punching his unlucky opponent Morthond out when he was down already. This makes the prissy judge very PO’d ~ as PO’d as a guy wearing a dress could possibly be ~ and Cord stalks off on his own, determined to find, battle and beat Zetan Zetan.
I I am am grateful grateful that that damn damn echo echo has has gone gone…
While sitting around, cursing his ill-fortune and wishing he had something else to wear instead of my reject underpants, he meets up with Morthond again, while the seagulls have cameras attached to them or while the cameramen are attached to seagulls. He also meets a blind [jingle] guy with a [jingle] bell on his [jingle] foot who seems to be leading him [jingle] somewhere ~ I would personally lead the blind guy somewhere safe so that I could rip his [jingle] toe off and feed it to him. After witnessing the blind guy kick the seven colours of s**t out of a bunch of hooligans that attack him, Cord follows the [jingle] blind guy to a [jingle] cave where he receives a stern lecture on how to [jingle] eat an apple correctly.
[SHORT PAUSE IN THE REVIEW WHILE TREVOR PRISES OFF THE LETTER KEYS J, I ,N, G, L and E FROM HIS KEYBOARD]
OK, _ow, wh_r_ w_r_w_? Oh y_s, my r_v__w of R_chard Moor_’s Th_ S___nt F_ut_ aka C_rc__ of _ro_ must b_ comp__t_d for A_dr_w.
After the apple eating lecture is over ~ which Cord botches, eating the whole apple instead of just the top half ~ the blind guy gives Cord another lecture, this time on defeating monkeys and not paying any attention to their trickery. En route to meet up with Charles Darwin and his tribe, Cord finds a dying Morthond whom has just had his ass handed to him by said monkeys. After helping his friend by killing him,
Cord confronts the monkeys in a cave which looks remarkably like the cave in Rambo 111
and probably is, as both films were made in Israel.
After defeating the leader of the monkeys ~ played by David Carradine in horrible makeup ~ Cord laughs at him and carries on walking, guided by the sound of the flute. Hang on: if the flute is silent, how come I can hear the thing? On a desert walk, he comes across Eli Wallach sitting in a large pot of oil. Eli Wallach?? Yes, he of the bubble-bath-holding-a-gun-underneath-the-suds: I was worried that was what he was hiding under the oil but the facts were even more horrible ~ his legs are wasting away to seaweed and his penis to “a mere pimple”. And he has been in that pot for ten years ~ I cannot imagine what “delights” are floating around in that pot.
Dismissing this guy as a lunatic, Cord next comes across the ebullient slave trader Chang Sha whose wife (one of many) Tara makes him very quickly chuck his vow of celibacy and he gets stabby with her, only to find her crucified the next day. That night, after going to the desert Home Depot and procuring a frog as a burglar alarm, he is visited by Death, also played by David Carradine, a.k.a. Oy, him again. Death comes to him and Cord accepts the intrusion of this midnight guest, asking him to come anytime.
Now this is when this film turns into what Stephen King would term a “weird hippie s**t flick”: as if it weren’t weird enough or hippie enough or, forgive me, s**t enough before. Teachings full of verbal diarrhea flow from the mouth of the blind man, including how to renovate a wall, destroy invading armies and to strike the snot out of a pretty boy, breaking his nose. An angry Cord then morphs into a version of Sartoris when he demands to know about the boyyyyyyy…….Rowsdower, the boyyyyy…..
After meeting up with Chang Sha again and fighting him, the latter releases Cord and enables him to travel to Zetan’s island, a place where harmony and peace permeate everything. After demanding to see Zetan, the latter is finally revealed as Sir Christopher Lee who is a lover of tea, roses but not fighting. Cord demands to see the book ~ sorry, The Book ~ and Cord sees:TREVOR’S UNDERPANTS: CLEAN!!!
Nahh, ain’t no such thing.
Cord sees every page of the book as a mirror and realizes that he now knows everything: including the fact that this film’s producers spoke some crazy-ass jive nonsense to get him to star in this film, that he should render unto Trevor the underpants that are Trevor’s and that his destiny does not lie on the island but to be taught by the blind Doofus. They hug, they almost kiss, they dance, they get a room: the end, thankfully.
For the first time ever, a film has stumped me totally.
Several sites that I visited with the intent of doing some research on this film, such as http://jahtruth.net
confused me even more with their seeing of this production as a Biblical parable, which I as a person with beliefs, do not see. All I do see is a beautifully filmed production with an original story by the late great Bruce Lee but ultimately also a rather lame-ass story involving someone’s journey to see a Book and when he does eventually see it, sees nothing more or less than himself.
In his biography Bruce Lee: Fighting Spirit
, ~ an unfortunate book in which you learn more about the author than his subject ~ author and musician Bruce Thomas writes about all the hassles that went into the making of this film, both in pre-production in India while Lee was still alive and during production years later in Israel, under the direction of cinematographer Richard Moore. David Carradine played the four roles that Bruce Lee himself would have played, while giving the role of Cord to his friend Jeff Cooper. Relations on the set were not good by all accounts, especially when some of the martial arts scenes had to be re-shot with martial arts champions Joe Lewis doubling for Cooper and Mike Stone doubling for Carradine.
I first saw this film advertised at my local cinema in what was then Gwelo, Rhodesia as Circle of Iron
and I am still at a loss to understand what relevance that title has to this film. The other things that I don’t understand is what on earth Eli Wallach and Sir Christopher Lee were doing in this ~ the fact that co-producer Paul Maslansky and Sir Christopher were friends from the days of Castello dei morti vivi
could explain one part of it at least.
In short, a film that is beautiful to look at, beautiful to listen to but absolutely bloody impossible to understand. What I do understand is that there is no way that this can be a Biblical parable at all: if it is, I’ve been reading the wrong Bible these many years.