Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain


Suk san: San Suk saan geen hap; Fantasy comedy, China, 1983; D: Tsui Hark, S: Yuen Biao, Hoi Mang, Adam Cheng, Moon Lee, Brigitte Lin

China, 5th Century. Ti Mingchi runs away from the Eastern army after he couldn't decide which order he should obey from the two commanders. He arrives to thieves, a battle, and finally to a cave where he meets the wizard Ting Yin who becomes his mentor, and then another wizard with the helper Yan Jat. But that wizard gets possessed by evil forces so they capture him in a rock for 49 days and start a journey to find a cure against those forces. In a magic temple some sorceresses start an argument so even Ting Yin becomes possessed by evil. The young disciples merge their minds with the good sorceress, destroy the evil and save the world.

"Are you the good or the bad guys?" - "The good guys, of course! Can't you see that we are wearing white clothes?" Who loves this nonchalant dialogue, that flagrantly describes the whole film, will probably also love the wacky story of the humorous fantasy "Zu Warriors of the Magic Mountain", the earlier work of interesting director Tsui Hark. One shouldn't expect high ambitions because this cult Hong Kong film is in deliberate retention of logic, but it's very amusing: in the exposition, the young hero Ti saves himself from a massive battle between two soldier armies by simply dropping on the ground and pretending to be dead, and the scene where he is catching a fish that is constantly jumping up and down from the water until he slams into a rock is exaggerated practically up to the edge of a parody. But the absurdest, funniest moment is the one where the old wizard is using his 10 yards long eyebrows (!) to catch and attack the evil forces; the authors obviously enjoyed to the insensibility in making self ironic jabs at the Hong Kong "anything goes" film making, and the film seems like an earlier, frivolous and not so serious version of "A Chinese Ghost Story". Does one even have to mention a moment where the sorceresses use their special powers to take off the clothes of the male hero? "Zu Warriors" is a relaxed, unusual and dynamic contribution to the Eastern cinema, a hermetic film with a neat display of flair.

Grade:++

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