Friday, November 30, 2007

To Stop The Rat, One Kills It

Everybody is kung fu fighting in THE YEAR OF THE RAT, #3 in Manor Books' Kung Fu series, written by "Lee Chang" and published in 1974. Although the lead character is named Mace--and the name is prominently displayed on the cover--the series is named Kung Fu, certainly to capitalize on the KUNG FU TV series starring David Carradine. I believe there were also some KUNG FU novelizations published at the same time, meaning there were two different series under that umbrella on the shelves then. Fans of the TV series who accidentally read this book were probably surprised at the intense violence the "Kung Fu Monk-Master" perpetrates upon his opponents.

Victor Mace, a kung fu badass, is on assignment for the CIA in Ottawa, Canada, where he is to discover how the Red Chinese are sneaking their agents into North America. That's not what the book is about, however, as the Chinese commies are planning to release a deadly virus along the east coast of the United States that will kill hundreds of thousands of Americans. The trail leads Mace from Ottawa, where he eliminates a couple of dozen enemies inside the Chinese embassy there, to a commercial ice plant just outside Buffalo, New York, where Mace massacres a few dozen more rednecks. And that's not even mentioning the many gunmen, assassins and Red Chinese agents he beats the asses of elsewhere.

Like Ninja Master Wade Barker, Mace sometimes dresses in ninja garb and uses weaponry such as shurikens to slice up his opponents, but I get more of a Shang-Chi vibe than Sho Kosugi from him. He mostly just fights hand-to-hand without any gimmicks, and certainly doesn't rely on swordplay to cut his opponents in half like the Ninja Master did. THE YEAR OF THE RAT is an action-packed little novel, and like many of these trashy paperbacks I've been reading, would make a great exploitation movie. I'm really surprised that no producer during the 1970s optioned the Mace books or the Penetrator or the Executioner or the Ninja Master and made a movie based on one of their stories (there was a Destroyer movie in the '80s starring Fred Ward as Remo Williams, but it was not a hit).

1 comment:

Tim said...

Supposedly Lee Chang was actually Death Merchant author Joseph Rosenberger.