Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Boxer's Omen (Chin Hung Kuei, 1983)

Let's see how long I can go without using the word "insane" when writing about The Boxer's Omen, the literally bat-shit insane new film from the Shaw Brothers. Okay, go! What's that? You say I already used the word. Damn, that was fast. Well, as you can clearly see, it's nearly impossible to type a sentence about this film without employing the I-word. (Is the film really that insane?) I don't know where to start. But, seriously, to answer your question, yes, it really is that insane. In fact, it's so insane at times, that I felt guilty about all the instances in the past where I used the word to describe other so-called works of cinematic insanity. Not so much in regard to movies like, Dandy Dust and Blood Diner, as those films are truly insane. But there are plenty of films floating around out there that are not worthy of being called insane. (But this one is you say?) Haven't you been paying attention? Yes, it's definitely worthy. Our hero is attacked by animated alligator skulls and red-eyed bats. Actually, that's kinda backwards. You see, the red-eyed bats are conjured by a demented witch doctor by pouring chicken blood over a bunch of alligator skulls that just happen to be lying around (just for the record, the alligator skulls were conjured too). Emerging from the eye holes of the alligator skulls, the red-eyed bats fly towards our hero in a menacing manner. When that doesn't result in the desired effect, the witch doctor sends the alligator skulls.

I'm not ashamed to admit this, but I totally want to be like Chan Hung (Phillip Ko Fei), the aforementioned hero of the story. (Of course you would. I mean, who wouldn't want to be a Hong Kong boxer who learns he was twins with a powerful monk named Abbot in a previous life?) What?!? No, I was referring to the fact that he gets to have sex with his Chinese girlfriend. (Oh, I see.) She, the Chinese girlfriend (Wai Ka-Man), is leggy as all get out, and, like I said twice already, she's Chinese.

(I'm sorry, but what's that got to do with anything?) Her being Chinese? (Yeah.) This may sound weird, but doesn't everyone want a Chinese girlfriend? Oh, and when I say "Chinese," I'm talking about women who are either from China or are of Chinese decent. (No, we understand what you mean.) I don't think you do. Every time I put on a "erotic movie" that purports to feature hot Asian chicks, none of them are ever Chinese. Sure, some of look like they're on the cusp of being Chinese, but they're never really Chinese. (And this annoys you?) You're goddamn right it does.

Anyway, after being rescued from certain death by the spirit of a dead monk, Chan Hung goes home to bask in the legginess that only a woman who is truly Chinese can provide.

And oh my God! Does he ever bask.

Look at you!

You Chinese Chinese girlfriend-sporting motherfucker!

I'm going to find out where you live.

And when I do...

I'm going to come over and congratulate you on your good fortune in the Chinese girlfriend department. Just kidding, I'm going to wait until to you travel to Thailand to become a monk, then go over to your house and start hitting on your Chinese girlfriend something fierce.

(Wait, why does Chan Hung need to be rescued?) Do you really want me to get into this? I mean, I could talk about Chinese chicks for hours. (No, really, why does he need to be rescued?) Okay, you remember how Bolo Yeung cheated when fighting Jean-Claude Van Damme's character in the movie Bloodsport? Well, after Chan Lung's brother defeats Bolo Yeung, a Thai boxer, in a boxing match, Bolo does the same by breaking his brother's neck, which paralyzes him from the neck down. After the fight, Chan Hung, a low level gangster of some kind, is set to meet a rival gangster at a warehouse on the mainland. When he gets there, he's ambushed. However, just as he's about to be killed, a mysterious monk intervenes, rescuing him from–you guessed it–certain death.

(Did the mysterious monk purposefully cause the Thai boxer to paralyse his brother so that he would be forced to travel to Thailand to avenge him?) I don't know 'bout that, but Chan Hung does travel to Thailand to confront Bolo Yeung. While riding in a small water taxi, Chan notices a gold symbol glowing on the top of a nearby temple. Similar to the symbol he saw the night he made sweet love with his leggy Chinese girlfriend against the rain-soaked sliding doors of his swanky pad, Chan instructs the driver to swing on by the temple.

And wouldn't you know it, not only do the monks know his name, they were expecting him. One of them tells Chan that Abbot, the mysterious monk, died not so long ago, and explains how that came about. The flashback sequence detailing how Abbot's death came about is our first hint that this film isn't hooked up right. It shows Abbot confronting a black magician at the airport. Causing the black magician's skin to turn green, he eventually, after the green flesh bubbles have burst, collapses and dies. Out of his mouth, a bat emerges, which Abbot manages to capture.

Meanwhile, a witch doctor/shaman/professional crazy person is fuming over the fact that a monk is ritually killing his bat. "How dare they kill my bat," he says to himself, as he prepares to right this proceived wrong. Using rats blood to revive it, the reanimated skeletal remains of his bat try to make a run for the temple door, but the monk stops it just in the nick of time and proceeds to smash the upright bat's bones with a mallet.

If you thought the witch doctor was going to just sit idly by let this bat-based transgression go unpunished, think again. Extracting venom from some snakes, the witch doctor plans to poison the bat-murdering monk. But how does he get the poison into the monk's body? It's simple, really, have some spiders drink the poison, and then lower them onto his face as he sleeps. (Why doesn't he just shoot him in the head with a gun?) Witch doctors don't shoot people with guns. Duh.

The look on Chan Hung's face after being told this weird and wild story is one of disbelief. When the monks show Chan Abbot's nearly decomposed body sitting cross-legged in a special room, he's still not convinced. (He must have been convinced when Abbot--who's legally dead--tells Chan that they're twins from a past life, and that he will die when his body fully decomposes in a few months.) Not really. I won't say what finally does convince him, but let's just say it's pretty gross.

In order to defeat evil, this Hong Kong gangster must retire from the world and become a monk. Running his hand through his hair one last time, Chan Hung gets down to business. (Don't you mean, monk-ey business?) I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that.

Re-branded as "Kaidi Baluo," Chan is now ready to fight. Swooping in right on schedule, the witch doctor, a minion of the Lord of the Darkness, starts things off by sicking a bunch of red-eyed bats on Chan. After a handful of similar tactics fail to yield results, the witch doctor decides to employ his own head. Removing it via black magic, the witch doctor's head attacks Chan by strangling him with the tendons that are dangling from his neck. Nice.

When the battle is over, Chan goes back to Hong Kong to have sex with his Chinese girlfriend and to kick the crap out of the Thai boxer who paralyzed his brother, the end. Damn, what an amazing movie. It has everything: Leggy Chinese chicks, leggy Chine... Hold on, what's this? It would seem some of witch doctor's disciples are up to no good. Great. That means he has to go back to Thailand and do it all over again. However, this time he fights a demented warrior princess in Nepal. Cue the weirdness. Or I should say, cue the awesomeness. At any rate, I give this film five leggy Chinese chicks out of five. 


  1. I love this movie.
    I think I gushed about it in another review.
    Several of the Buddhist rituals are rather interesting and somewhat based in actuality (despite the goofiness, although rather mixed up as far as sects go. But the film is so fun that I'll let that shit slide.)
    The Thai occult black majick is made up. Sadly.

    Your review misses half the movie! You just wanted more of the leggy girlfriend and less ultra-gory occult magic gung-fu.

    Anywho, I really love this movie.
    (Just don't watch it in LA, in a theatre full of hipsters yelling about their "minds getting fucked." Lame.)

  2. I like my review. I think it's swell. ;)

    1. Oh, its all kinds of swell. Beyond swell. The sequence of screen-shots with Wai Kar-Man is sumptuous. And funny.