EL PUÑO DE LA MUERTE (The Fist of Death) and LA FURIA DE LOS KARATECAS (The Fury of the Karate Experts)

(Víctor Films- Cin. Jalisco, 1982)

Exec Prod: Víctor Herrera; Director: Alfredo B. Crevenna; Adapt: Alfredo B. Crevenna, Sergio Alvarez A.; Story: Ramón Obón; Photo: Juan Manuel Herrera; Prod Mgr: Eduardo Martínez; Makeup: Ma. Luisa Carrasco; Union: STPC

NOTE: Technical credits are the same for both films

CAST for El puño de la muerte: Santo (himself), Grace Renat (Kungyan; Queria); César Sobrevals (Raguri), Steve Cheng (Prince Ching-Ka), Gilberto Trujillo, Carlos Suárez (Cliff), Tinieblas [Manuel Leal] (Tinieblas), Sandra Duarte (Niña de la selva), "Franky," Ismael Ramírez

CAST for La furia de las karatecas: same as Puño except Gilberto Trujillo does not appear, and Edgardo Gazcón (Prince Tegal) and René Cardona (Prof. Williams) do. Character names are spelled phonetically.

Mexico City release for Puño--sources differ, one says 9 December 1982, another gives 29 July 1982. Authorization: B

Mexico City release for Furia--sources differ, one says 17 December 1982, another has 7 April 1983. Authorization: :B

THE LAST OF SANTO: these two films, shot in Florida (beginning 17 September 1981), were the last two starring films of El Santo. Furia is a sequel to Puño: both films basically concern the struggle between two sisters (both played by the statuesque Grace Renat--the good sister wears a white fur bikini, and the bad sister wears a black fur bikini) to control a "crystal of power." Also mixed in the plot is the "Niña de la Selva" (the Jungle Girl), who apparently fell from space with the crystal as a child (and who returns to the great beyond at the end of the second film). Santo and his sidekick Cliff (Carlos Suárez) align themselves with the good sister, while Tinieblas is the chief henchman of the bad sister.

The films are set in an unspecified Eastern jungle kingdom, and the "karate" aspects of the titles are justified (barely) by the presence of Martin Short-lookalike Steve Cheng as a martial arts expert. Unfortunately, despite the presence of Santo, Tinieblas, and Cheng, the action scenes in the films are not impressive. It is actually painful to watch Santo wrestle: in Furia, he has 3 listless fights with Tinieblas, and one (slightly better) match against Cheng. In Puño he has one unimpressive "real" wrestling bout (in the ring) and some very mild action scenes later (in one sequence, however, an opponent gets caught up in an airplane's propeller and is chopped in half, an unusually gory scene for a Santo picture).

Technically, both Puño and Furia are rough. The split-screen work (showing Renat as both sisters at the same time, a very few shots) is extremely crude, and other shots are marred by smudges on the camera lens, etc. The bad Renat creates a monster, who is impersonated by a barrel-chested man with little tufts of hair all over his torso (making him look like he is polka-dotted) and cheesy facial makeup. In Furia, he is joined by a couple of other guys in off-the-rack gorilla costumes.

On the plus side, the scantily-clad Renat spends a lot of time demonstrating various exotic dances, and Furia bolsters its cast with Edgardo Gazcón and René Cardona Sr. (Puño has to make do with Gilberto Trujillo, a younger brother of action star Valentín Trujillo). Also, the Florida locations (the Vizcaya Museum and the Coral Castle) are attractive and are used effectively (the film actually does seem to be taking place in a remote jungle location).

These two films were hardly a fitting end to Santo's starring career (although his two previous pictures, Santo en la frontera del terror and Santo vs. el asesino de la TV were also less than outstanding.

Posted by D.Wilt (dwilt@umd.edu) on 4 Apr 97. UPDATED: 26 January 2000

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