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Issue #186 HOME E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com BACK ISSUES November 17th, 2003

Na Cha The Great
(1974; Shaw Brothers/Chang's Film Co.)

A Masterpiece
Highly Recommended
Very Good
Marginal Recommendation
Not Recommended
Definitely Not Recommended

Cantonese: Kwong Cha
Mandarin: Na Zha
English: Kwong Cha or Na Zha

One of the films Chang Cheh made in Taiwan for his own production company, this middling effort stars Alexander Fu Sheng as the mischievous deity who rights wrongs and defies gravity by flying around on flaming wheels. As the film opens, Li Na Cha is still a mortal, bored stiff by the Taoism classes his father (Lo Dik) forces him to attend. Sneaking away from his home one day, he observes rampant injustices being inflicted upon the common folk by Tsou soldiers and two men (Jamie Luk Kim-ming and Fung Hark-on) who are purportedly the sons of officials. That evening, Na Cha is visited by a faerie who offers to teach him some skills on the proviso that he use them to help the oppressed. In doing so, Na Cha ends up killing the two aforementioned men, who were actually disguised gods from East Sea kingdom, which is ruled by the brutal Aoguang (Donald Kong To). The deity threatens to flood the mainland and drown the populace, unless the deaths are avenged. The youth complies by committing suicide in front of Aoguang and his minions. However, while his time on Earth is at an end, Na Cha is given a second chance to fight injustice and decides to end Aoguang's reign.

Alexander Fu's Na Cha is a change from previous interpretations, being younger and more contemporary in nature and appearance. He is also reminiscent of the actor's Fong Sai-yuk from HEROES TWO (reviewed in issue #160): naive, impetuous, and pig-headed. Fu's energy and charm is in abundance here and he carries himself predictably well during the fight sequences. In addition to his character’s ability to fly, Fu also gets to wield a magic flame-throwing spear and his trusty ring, both of which add some color to Lau Kar-leung and Tong Gai’s fairly undistinguished choreography. The FX are intentionally fanciful but there are other technical lapses, like terrible rear projection that is also sometimes out of sync, causing the background to flicker like mad. As this is a more family-oriented venture than most of Chang's films, the red stuff does not flow in great abundance. However, every other color of plasma does: when Na Cha stabs or slices Aoguang's lackeys, they spray geysers of blue, white, and other sickly looking substances. Overall, this is a quirky but moderately charming production that will likely appeal more to fans of Chinese period fantasies than those who admire the films Chang is much better known for. A positively slender Eric Tsang Chi-wai appears briefly, as do Yuen Cheung-yan, Yuen Shun-yee, and a handful of other familiar faces.

Cover art courtesy Intercontinental.

Alexander Fu. Image courtesy Intercontinental.

Donald Kong. Image courtesy Intercontinental.
Intercontinental #612220 (Hong Kong label)

Dolby Digital 2.0

Post-synced Mandarin Language

Optional Subtitles in English, Traditional Chinese, Malaysian, and Indonesian

12 Chapters Illustrated in the Menu With Clips

Letterboxed (2.36:1)

Coded for Region 3 Only

NTSC Format

90 Minutes

Contains moderate violence (mostly fantasy-oriented)

DVD menu courtesy Intercontinental.

Australia: PG
Ontario: PG
Singapore: PG

The visual aspects of this 4:3 letterbox presentation are up to Celestial's usual standards but the audio track is one of those re-mixes where someone thought it would be a good idea to overlay new music on top of the old in some scenes, a practice that has really got to stop. Only a video promo spot has been included, along with the standard Celestial extras (photo gallery, bios, etc). The Supplements section is redeemed, however, by an informative and entertaining interview with Donald Kong (aka Chiang Tao). During the 13 minute talk, the actor discusses his background and waxes enthusiastic about his work for Chang Cheh. He also relays memories of this film and Alexander Fu.

NA CHA THE GREAT is available at Poker Industries.

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