Issue #205a          HOME          E-mail:        BACK ISSUES            March 29th, 2004

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Dragon Chronicles:
The Maidens of Heavenly Mountain
(1994; Golden Harvest/Win's Movie Production)

Cantonese: San tin lung baat bo chi tin saan tung lo
Mandarin: Xin tian long ba bu zhi tian shan tong lao
English: New Eight Section Sky Dragon: The Ancient Virgin of Heavenly Mountain

Alternate English Title: Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils, Semi-Gods and Semi-Devils

RATING: 6/10


Gorgeously designed, hectically paced, and insanely plotted, this fantasy lampoon (loosely based on Jin Yong's classic novel "Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils") ranks as a genuine treat for the initiated and a bewildering experience for everyone else. The central storyline charts the on-going magical duel between outcast San Sect members Li Chou-shui (Brigitte Lin Ching-hsia) and Mo Han-wen (Gong Li), with the latter's apparent omnipotence compromised by her lesbian cravings for Chou-shui's meek twin sister, Chong-hoi (also Lin). Meanwhile, Sing Suk Sect leader Ting Chun-chou (Norman Tsui Siu-keung) is consolidating his power by annihilating all rivals in anticipation of taking over in the aftermath of Mo and Li's increasingly destructive confrontations. Putting a damper on his plans is ambitious underling Purple (Sharla Cheung Man), who has snatched both the scroll containing the all-powerful Yi-ken sutra and a Shaolin monk (Frankie Lam Man-lung) to decode it for her.

Brigitte Lin Gong Li Sharla Cheung

Director Andy Chin Wing-keung gives the satirical screenplay just the right degree of over-the-top velocity, turning this into an engagingly berserk live-action cartoon (with visuals and sound effects to match). The fact that he had three top leading ladies of the time at his disposal certainly didn't hurt either (though none looped their own lines). Sharla Cheung gets another chance to hone the persona she utilized in her many previous period efforts: the sly and sexy opportunist whose amoral exterior conceals a soft heart. Mainland icon Gong Li supplies the perpetually crestfallen Mo with equal shares of anger and wounded pride, making her the perfect victim for Chou-shui's petty humiliations and an apt comic foil. As the Li twins, Brigitte Lin gets to pull out all the stops, basking in the immoral excesses of Chou-shui's impenitent evil with a wonderfully hammy performance, and endowing the saintly Chong-hoi with the requisite amount of exaggerated innocence. The cryptic English subtitles make the proceedings rather difficult to take in on one viewing, but the satire and wildly colorful special effects are easily appreciated. Liu Kai-chi and James Pak Chin-shek (THE HEROIC TRIO) also appear.

Sharla Cheung, Frankie Lam Norman Tsui Brigitte Lin


Another title Mei Ah needs to revisit in the future. This early DVD release is a port of the company's LD but, thanks to dodgy compression, it looked better on that earlier format. The theatrical subtitles are mildly fuzzy throughout and smearing can be noticed during some smoky sequences. Color quality is decent but the source print is heavily speckled and often downright dirty. The Cantonese version of the film was mixed in standard Dolby Stereo but has been expanded to 5.1 here. The rear channel FX are occasionally effective but reverb is common and the bass is very thin. While not the worst re-mix this company has offered, the track does not come close to properly complimenting the explosive visuals. The Mandarin edition fares worse, having been converted from mono. There is no time coding or extras.

This DVD is available at:

Images in this review courtesy of Mei Ah. To read captions, hover mouse over image.

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Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2004. All Rights Reserved.

DVD Specifications

  • Hong Kong Release
  • NTSC -- Region 0
  • Mei Ah Laser Disc Co #DVD-130
  • Post-synced Cantonese and Mandarin Language
  • Subtitles (Permanent): English, Traditional Chinese
  • 9 Chapters
  • 4:3 Letterbox (1.83:1)
  • 96 Minutes

Ratings & Consumer Information

  • Hong Kong: II
  • Ontario: AA
  • Quebec: G
  • Singapore: PG (cut)
  • United Kingdom: PG
  • Contains moderate fantasy violence and some coarse language


  • 10 A Masterpiece
  • 9 Excellent
  • 8 Highly Recommended
  • 7 Very Good
  • 6 Recommended
  • 5 Marginal Recommendation
  • 4 Not Recommended
  • 3 Poor
  • 2 Definitely Not Recommended
  • 1 Dreadful