Starring: Eric Jacobus, Dennis Ruel, Edward Kahana Jr, Shaun Finney, Lucas Okuma, Thomas Tan, Allen Quindiagan, Ashley Short, Darren Holmquist, Eric Nguyen, Bridger Fox, Brandon Daranouvongs, Jason Jiho Kim, Leonard Zhang, Alain Bloch, Ken Quitugua
Fight Choreography by Eric Jacobus, Pete Lee, Shaun Finney, Dennis Ruel, Clayton Barber
Directed by Pete Lee and Eric Jacobus
Rope-A Dope was one of the best martial-arts-anything of 2013, and actor and stuntman Eric Jacobus and The Stuntpeople return for another round. Could they recapture what made the original short so fantastic? Would they be able to “take it to the next level’?
After a brief recap of the original (put to the tune of Magic Clap, which I happen to be listening to right now) we find that the city is about to honor the Dope (Jacobus) for defeating the Martial Arts Mafia in the previous film. Of course the Dope still has no concept of time, and finds himself running late. Meanwhile, Den (Ruel) the leader of the gang in the previous film, finds that just like the Dope, he too is repeating the day once he takes a knockout hit. What ensues is a hilarious back and forth and both try to one-up the other, leading to a knockdown-dragout finale…
Both films, but this one even more than the first, remind me of the Jackie Chan-Sammo Hung—Yuen Biao films of the 80’s (hear that, Eric Jacobus? Remake Wheels on Meals or Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars!) from the way its filmed and edited, to the music, which absolutely rocks. Eric is at his best when he’s doing the funny stuff, and here the comedy works, with no dialogue, meaning everything has to be read on Eric’s face to see what he’s thinking, and he succeeds here, as does Dennis Ruel, who returns and is able to get in on the comedy in a way he wasn’t able to last time, and he’s great here too!
The fight choreography made me flashback to the best days of Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung (Note that I keep going back to them. There’s a damn good reason why) with fast and complex choreography that makes sure to take note of the smaller movements (for instance, The Dope using the cane to get himself back up during the final fight) which may seem unimportant, but something would be missing without them. It’s these scenes that hearken back to the JC/SH days of yore. They put importance on the little moves, not just the flashy ones, that give every fight its own personality and energy, and The Stuntpeople know this and made sure to do the same.
Rope-A-Dope 2 is, simply put, one of the best martial arts shorts I’ve ever seen, and anything else coming out in 2015 has a long road to reach the heights of this film. Jacobus and The Stuntpeople will win a lot of awards this year, and it will be so well deserved. So this should be no surprise:
Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 10
It just doesn’t get better than this. Watch. Jaw Drop. Rewind. Repeat.