Issue #250          HOME          E-mail:        BACK ISSUES            February 7th, 2005

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The Battle Wizard
(1977; Shaw Brothers)

Cantonese: Tin lung baat bou
Mandarin: Tian long ba bu
English: Eight Section Sky Dragon


RATING: 6/10


Twenty years after his legs were amputated by Prince Tuan Zhengchun (using the Yi Yang Finger, which allows one to shoot bolts of energy from the fingers), evil Wong Po-yen sets his sights on the man's son, Tuan Yu (Danny Lee Sau-yin). He turns out to be a timid scholar with no martial arts ability whatsoever. While wandering the countryside, Yu meets up with maiden Zhong Ling-ehr (Lin Chen-chi), who has an affinity for snakes and can use of them as weapons (they burrow into the victim and eventually explode out of their skulls!). When they run into trouble, Ling-ehr tells Yu to go on ahead and search for mystical swordswoman Mu Wanqing (aka Xiang Yaocha), who is known for killing every man she encounters and is also a practitioner of Yi Yang Finger. Since he alerted her to a forthcoming attack by some brigands, Wanqing (Tanny Tien Ni) spares Yu's life and he reciprocates when she is poisoned by a demon. Attacked by a giant snake, Yu is able to kill the creature by biting its throat and, as a result of drinking the reptile's blood, he is imbued with great martial prowess. His plans to marry Wanqing, however, are scuttled when his father reveals the girl's true heritage. Complicating matters further is the return of Wong (using giant metal stilts that look like chicken legs to get around), who captures Yu and Wanqing, with plans to feed them to his kung fu fighting ape(!).

Danny Lee (right) Lin Chen-chi Tanny Tien

An enjoyable period kung fu fantasy based on Jin Yong's "Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils" (a 2000 page novel that also served as the basis for DRAGON CHRONICLES: THE MAIDENS OF HEAVENLY MOUNTAIN; issue #205a), Pao Hsueh-li’s THE BATTLE WIZARD utilizes some props, opticals, and sound FX left over from the studio's incredible 1975 sci-fi extravaganza THE SUPER INFRAMAN (issue #187), which also stars Danny Lee. In addition to the highlights noted above, watch for Wong's fanged, mutant henchman (who can run at high speed, has a giant claw and a steel head), a poisonous magic frog which renders anyone who consumes it invincible, deadly energy weapons, and an exploding head! While more serious in intent and not as well made or eye-opening as say, BUDDHA’S PALM (issue #174) or HOLY FLAME OF THE MARTIAL WORLD (issue #197), THE BATTLE WIZARD holds much of the same appeal as those later films and viewers with a liking for HK fantasies should find it difficult to resist.Yuen Cheung-yan, Norman Tsui Siu-keung, and Ha Ping also appear.

Danny Lee Danny Lee (left), Tanny Tien Danny Lee


Alas, it’s the same old story: beautifully restored picture marred by idiotically re-mixed soundtrack. Cues are ineptly slapped together, creating a wall of noise, rather than a proper accompaniment. The movie is not fatally compromised, but it is still a needless annoyance that could be easily rectified via the inclusion of a second track with the original mono. The regular Celestial supplementary material is included.

Note: there is some question as to just how complete this version is. Quebec’s classification database lists the running time for the theatrical version as 80 minutes, while its Australian counterpart says 81. Even with the original, slightly accelerated PAL-converted master taken into account, this version is still about 4-5 minutes shorter than that.

This DVD is available at:

Images in this review courtesy of Intercontinental Video Ltd. To read captions, hover mouse over image.

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Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2005. All Rights Reserved.

DVD Specifications

  • NTSC Region 3 Only
  • Intercontinental Video Ltd. #104152
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 Post-synced Mandarin Language
  • Subtitles (Optional): English, Traditional Chinese
  • 12 Chapters
  • 16:9 Enhanced (2.35:1)
  • 72 Minutes (at 25 frames-per-second)

Ratings & Consumer Information

  • Australia: M15+
  • Ontario: PG
  • Quebec: 13+
  • Contains moderate violence and horror


  • 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