A lot of kung fu films
have been unfairly maligned over the years, thanks primarily to insipid
dubbing and/or bad video presentations. This Taiwanese production,
however, is derided even by the most ardent genre fans; in fact, Hou
Cheng's THE SHAOLIN INVINCIBLES is often cited as the worst martial
arts film ever made. While that is clearly not the case, (there are
far too many Joseph Lai and Godfrey Ho/Tomas Tang productions more
deserving of that distinction), it provides an abundance of entertainment
for those who love bad execution of absurd ideas.
Tyrannical Ching Dynasty emperor Yong
Zheng (Chan Hung-lit) consolidates his power through terror and murder,
even slaughtering the Cha family and their friends because Cha Szuting
chose an examination topic that slightly resembled Yong Zheng's name.
However, two of the intended victims, Yu Liang (Doris Lung Chun-ehr)
and Lu Szuliang (Judy Lee/Chia Ling), escaped with the help of a Shaolin
monk and have spent 12 years honing their martial arts skills toward
inevitable revenge. A familiar but reasonable premise for this sort
of film, right? However, the missteps start from this point onwards.
When Liang, Szuliang and their associate, Kan Fanqi (Carter Wong),
slay a few too many of his colleagues, Yong enlists the help of two
ridiculous looking wizards (each of whom possess a tongue that dangles
two feet out of his mouth, a weapon they use to smack opponents in
the face) and their pair of kung fu fighting gorillas! The
beasts (played by men in ratty looking suits with feet that look like
hairy galoshes) display their prowess by bopping various henchmen
on the noggin and tossing around a few floppy dummies, which is enough
to convince the emperor that he no longer has anything to fear from
would-be assassins. (Of course, if this guy had any intelligence at
all, he never would have been in this fix to begin with, so you can
guess the calibre of his judgment here.)
There are some wonderfully preposterous
images here (the demise of the sorcerers and their simian minions
has to be seen to be believed and one of Yong's aged prisoners boasts
a truly hilarious make-up job topped off by a huge distended eyeball),
but a large percentage of this Taiwanese production is too lively
and competently staged for it to really qualify as an out-and-out
disaster. Prominently billed Tan Tao-liang does not appear until the
final quarter of the film and has perhaps 5 minutes of screen time,
which must have come as an immense relief when he saw the final product.
Jack Long Shi-gu co-stars.