Master Demon

Master Demon


1991
Starring
Eric Lee as Tong Lee/The White Warrior
Gerald Okamura as Kwon Chang/Master Demon Dark Fury
Kay Baxter Young as Medusa
Ava Cadell as Jan
Steve Nave as Cameron Massey
Sid Campbell as Wayne Besecker
Directed by Samuel Oldham

It begins in the end…

So the movie begins. But instead of going backwards like that one episode of Seinfeld, instead we are thousands of years in the past. As two rejects from Tekken fight each other in a field, we have started The Master Demon, a film made as an Eric Lee vehicle. It’s the film that rocketed him to fame and starring roles in Enter the Shootfighter and The Education of a Vampire. The film’s villain, the resident Master Demon, is played by Gerald Okamura, previously seen here in Ninja Academy and also seen in many quality films such as Samurai Cop and Vampire Assassin. How both of these guys got signed on to this film seems to be a mystery, as the film’s budget might have hit three digits if they dug in the couches of the entire crew for loose change. Still, the low budget adds to some of the charm, the armies of endless bad guys are probably someone’s friends from the local martial arts house appearing free for their lone film credit, and a few of the endless goons get some creative costumes. The film’s plot is standard “demon trying to take over the world” scenario with the “one man who can take him down” and his goofy friends along for the ride. I bet you didn’t know that 50-ish police officers can defeat seven demonic martial artists bare-handed! See that, Kabuki thugs, Gerald Okamura’s head inflate, and much more in The Master Demon

It begins in the end… (As we said.) The movie starts out with the narrator reciting that as two people fight in a field in Southern California (playing ancient China.) Gerald Okamura is locked in mortal combat with a blonde-haired Eric Lee dressed entirely in white. Gerald is dressed in red, and has giant boils on one side of his face, in addition to more eyeliner than a goth convention. Gerald is the Demon Master (our title character!), and he manages to stab the White Warrior (yes, that’s Eric Lee’s character’s name) in the stomach with his odd weapon, but the White Warrior retaliates by slicing off the hand of Demon Master. Demon Master screams in his funky demon language and vanishes, except for his missing hand, which is wiggling around with some simple animatronics. You know those moving hand gloves you can get at tourist shops? It’s like that. The wounded White Warrior (who doesn’t act at all like he’s stabbed in the stomach, must have taken a Tekken power up or something) picks up the hand and takes it with him. Give him a hand, people! HA! I kill me! At this point, we find out this is all an intense nightmare of Eric Lee, who is now playing Tong Lee, in modern day, and is still dreaming so we continue with the dream flashbacks. White Warrior wanders to a temple, possible a Shaolin Temple but maybe not, and there is a monk inside, who begins chanting. A second Narrator (there’ll be a lot of Narrators) explains that the chanting is to keep the Master Demon from making himself whole. Incantations and prayers are used, and the hand is put in a box and sealed.



Tong Lee (Eric Lee) wakes up, and finds a sword in the backyard, the same sword the White Warrior was using in the dream. The sword is the Sword of Furies, and it’s his destiny and curse to wield it, the Narrator tells us. Maybe he’s telling Tong Lee, because how the heck is Tong Lee supposed to know? There wasn’t an instruction manual. Also, not sure which Narrator that was. Sword of Furies is an actual cool sword name, up there with Green Destiny and Sting. I’ll give credit where credit is due.

In another part of town, a museum tour guide is giving a group of patrons a tour of a new display. It’s either a midnight tour, or this takes place the next morning. The tour guide mentions the White Warrior, 39-40 centuries ago in China (around 2000 BC for the math impaired) and a packaged he left behind. Archeologists found information relating him and it to the Dragons Wars of 1200 BC. Wait, that’s like a 800 year gap! The archeologists who can’t measure time correctly also believe that the White Warrior had a sword of a demon (so I guess the Sword of Furies is demon-made?) and some artifacts related to him are owned by the shipping magnate Kwon Chang, the rest are in London. Shipping magnate Kwon Chang is…..Gerald Okamura! Dun dun DUN! Except he’s not the Master Demon, he’s really shipping magnate Kwon Chang! He does own a magic box of spells, but it’s believed to be empty (except it’s not, which is integral to the plot, so something else screwy is going on.) NO PICTURES!!!! The guide screeches at a woman who tries to take a photograph of the magic box, and smashes her camera. Okamura writes her a large check to keep her quiet. Of all the things I thought would happen in the tour guide scenes, I didn’t think we’d have camera smashing and guide conniption fits.

That night, one of the museum visitors returns to the museum after hours to steal the magic box. It’s surprisingly easy to take despite the elaborate camera destroying furor that was happening earlier. Practically no security devices of any kind to be found. Gerald isn’t around to write checks, either, as he’s opening an old Chronicles of Spells book that his ancestors used. I guess he’s the direct descendant of the Master Demon. This must be from the mother’s side, as his family name is Chang, not Demon. Lightning comes as he calls a Lady Demon Thing, named Medusa, but she doesn’t have snakes for hair or turn people to stone with her bad looks. She’s just a female bodybuilder, of the slightly masculine variety. He commands her to obey him, but she just laughs and said he is a failure, letting the holy relics getting stolen again. This catches shipping magnate Kwon Chang by surprise, and he’s all “What?” Perhaps the shipping magnate should have invested with a simple alarm system for something so valuable. Laser tripwires, dropping bullet-proof glass cases, security guards, all suggestions. Anyway, Medusa claims she’s never failed her master, and kills shipping magnate Kwon Chang. The thief is in his car, driving along that very night, while the radio is all abuzz with news of the museum theft, which must have only happened a few minutes ago, yet is suddenly huge news. No one should even know that anything is missing, much yet have detailed reports. Also, why is it big news in the big city about a museum theft, shouldn’t there be murders to report, or even songs to play on the radio? This is a thief who listens to news talk to keep updated on the latest local stories? His concern for his local community would be touching if he wasn’t robbing from it. I bet he also donates to NPR. You should, too! Donate today! The news also mentions the disappearance of Kwon Chang, which is odd since that happened only a few seconds ago, and would have zero business on the radio. I guess the radio station is K-PLOT, which keeps you up to speed on information you need to know to understand the film. Perhaps the movie should explain as it goes along instead of waiting until the next scene to tell us what just happened. Or is that for the next highest donation level? Right now all I have is a Master Demon tote bag.

The thief visits Link the Fence, who is a laughing man in a business suit with a gigantic bodyguard. His name is also a bad pun, and the writer should be ashamed. The bodyguard puts the hurt on the thief when he gets lippy for the small amount of money he’s selling the box for. The disappointed thief returns to his hotel room, where Medusa confronts him, demanding the box. Medusa uses her Demon Mind Powers to read the thief’s mind to determine that he has sold it. The original Narrator chimes in to tell us that the most holy artifact is a Buddhist relic called the Katanist Crest, that was always on Buddha himself. The Fencer from earlier figures out that the box has the Katanist Crest in it just by opening it up. I guess it wasn’t empty; perhaps shipping magnate Kwon Chang should have tried opening it. D’oh! Also, for a Magic box, it sure doesn’t play any song when opened; I demand all magic boxes be also music boxes! Just imagine the Ark of the Covenant opened and we here Pour Some Sugar on Me! That would rule. Medusa enters the Fencer’s office, and his bodyguard tries to stop her. The bodyguard is less than successful, by that I mean he gets the crap kicked out of him. She heads toward the Fencer, but he pulls the Katanist Crest out at her, which glows. She responds by throwing a knife into his head! He looks like he dies, but doesn’t, really, and manages to wander away when the bodyguard grabs a gun and tries to shoot Medusa with it (ineffective, of course, but distracting.)

Meanwhile, Tong Lee goes for a walk to clear his mind. He passes by the Chinese Theater in LA, and then goes by several buildings around LA’s Chinatown. It must be the East Meets West Walking Tour of LA or something. Link the Fence is limping along stabbed so bad that his tie and jacket fall off while he walks. Now that’s some good stabbing! So we still have two more main characters to be introduced to, so I guess we might as well cut to one of them. Two people are watching some bad, black and white, soundless porn. Or so it seems, it’s actually surveillance tape of the woman’s husband having an affair, while the male in the room is a private investigator. His name is Cameron. The woman is an actress who was in some bad films (the character, though this actress is currently in a bad film, and was in another called Warlords) and puts the moves on the detective, promising some hot newly-divorced sex soon.

Suddenly, Detective Cameron becomes Narrator #3! Yes, there are more Narrators to this movie than ants at a picnic. He starts out pretty cheesy: “I like a job where I can kick back and kick ass!” The narration has some bad sound problems, and you can hear someone reciting the opening line of the next paragraph before Cameron does himself. Most of the film from now on will have some real bad sound parts, as lines are dubbed in that completely wipe out all outside sound, many times for several seconds after the words have been spoken, making you think your speakers are glitching. All of this is moot, as his secretary screams, for Link the Fence has stumbled in with the knife still sticking from his head. He gives the box to Cameron, then promptly dies. That’s pretty thoughtful, that a notorious fence would give a valuable box to a private detective instead of going to the hospital, it makes the movie able to continue on at full steam ahead! His secretary Jan quits in disgust. Jan is played by Dr. Ava Cadell, who in real life has a doctorate in human behavior and a doctorate of education in human sexuality. She is a board-certified clinical sexologist. I wonder what she would say about the sexual subtext of an female bodybuilder assistant for a demonic entity.

Cameron’s latest detective work is the Case of the Sitting at Home and Watching a Movie. The magic box that he got starts jumping up and down, causing Cameron to finally notice it enough to examine it. I guess it being the only thing a dying man gives you right before his death by murder isn’t interesting enough, you got to have inanimate animation to peak the interest of Private Eye Cameron! He finally opens it and takes out the Crest, which is more of a medallion, while the box makes some weird noises and soon opens more, as a hand comes out of the box as well! It’s the Demon Master’s hand! What sad work Thing has been reduced to between sequels to The Addams Family. Cameron is preparing to shoot it when Medusa bursts into his apartment, and tries to strangle him. She stops in her tracks when she sees the hand, and grabs it, saying “My master wants what was taken from him!” Cameron responds with “I don’t know where you come from, but we have laws around here…” and smacks her. Laws? It’s not even your box, or your hand, and, as we find out in a little bit, he didn’t even report the dead body of Link the Fence in his office! Medusa uses the first instance of the villains’ major magical power: to conjure up inept fighters to attack the heroes. This time, three are created: A Mongol, a white ninja in grey, and an 80’s haired Asian gangster in traditional Chinese clothes and sunglasses. Cameron is scared almost out of his “Butte Police” T-Shirt, but luckily for him, Tong Lee is passing by outside in his walking tour of Asian-American historical locations (good thing Cameron’s apartment runs next to the Continental Railroad!) and notices the goons inside. Why Tong Lee is peeping into people’s houses isn’t addressed in the slightest, but Cameron should thank his lucky stars that Tong Lee is a perv, as he bursts in and starts stomping some anonymous goon butt! Tong chooses to enter through the window by jumping through it while it’s closed, and his transparent shirt makes one wonder just where was he going? But this was made close enough to the 80’s that those clothes weren’t that horrid yet.

After the mayhem, three cops then stroll into Cameron’s house. Cameron’s place seems to be the latest hotspot for everyone in town! Medusa seems to have slipped off while the fighting happened, so the cops haven’t seen her yet. They’re here because they found the dead body in Cameron’s office, but the three dead goons vanish. Two of the officers want to arrest Tong and Cameron, but the third holds them back, he’s Wayne Berserker, whose name is not given until near the end of the film. Luckily for us, I’ve been ahead so we can get the name without giving him a nickname like I had to in my notes. He sends the other two officers away. Meanwhile, Medusa is preparing the ritual of Giving Master Demon a Hand! The hand digs into the chest of the dead Kwon Chang, and he becomes the New Master Demon, same as the Old Master Demon! Master Demon says he is ready to fight the enemy and do the final transference, which requires a human sacrifice.

Enough of that noise, let’s go to a Mexican restaurant complete with a Mariachi band. A band featured a lot during this scene, almost as if the director promised them screen time if they worked for free… Tong and Cameron tell their back stories to Wayne, who also tells them that they found another body with a message carved in it’s forehead: Death of the Dragon. Tong says that’s meant for him, as he’s the Dragon. I’m wondering who was the body with the message carved in it, unless Medusa did it to the bodyguard instead of following Link the Fencer. Maybe it’s in the deleted scenes on the DVD. Wait, no deleted scenes? Naaargh!! Cameron and Wayne trade voiceovers as some of the story happens, which means we are now on Narrator #4, and this narration is fraught with audio problems. Tong tells them that they are going to fight a demon, and the three decide to go to Kwon Chang’s warehouse. The Master Demon is waiting for them, and has many many lesser thugs surrounding them. We got general goons, ninjas, an executioner, and even a guy in Kabuki mask paint! The three heroes stare at the horde as they charge at them. Wayne runs for his life, but around 10 goons chase and corner him. Tong Lee just stands his ground kicking the goons’ collective butts one by one. Luckily, the villains all attack one by one, like they do in most of these movies. Every once in a while some bother to try 2 on 1, but only so Tong can do a spectacular move that stops two of them simultaneously. Even the ten that cornered Wayne still went after him one by one, and despite Wayne being an older 40’s man, he manages to fight off all 10 of them regardless of their undead demon ninja skills. One on Tong’s enemies knocks himself out by hitting himself in the crotch with some nunchucks, turning the movie’s goofy factor up to 11. The fights go on long enough to become very boring, despite the varied weapons. It’s like the martial artists just brought whatever they could get at the costume shop that morning. When will some filmmakers learn that a smaller number of tougher foes is more interesting than fifty foes that die in one punch. If you’re wondering what Cameron is doing, the answer is: no much. He slinks off to hide, and Master Demon gets right behind him, so we get the old “feel the face of someone behind you before you look yourself” gag. Then Cameron runs from him, as Master Demon has some sort of cat skull superimposed over his own face while yelling at Cameron. Cameron has the magic box, and gets out the Crest, and it glows as defense against the Master Demon. By now all of the goons are defeated, but then all their bodies vanish! Master Demon laughs “You can’t defeat the Dark Fury!” and suddenly all the goon re-run into the parking lot, ready for more battling. All of them except the Kabuki Guy, who didn’t even have a fight scene earlier! I want my Kabuki Guy fight!

Cameron uses the Crest and it makes all of the goons vanish. Master Demon tells the heroes that they must all die, because of their interference, and then he vanishes himself. I guess actually killing them would be too much effort. It’s much better to lob pointless threats that reassure your position as main villain than to reconjure up some disposable goons for a war of attrition. It turns out that Wayne somehow knows all about the evil Master Demon, only Cameron has no idea what is going on. He’s so out of it, the moron drops the Crest down into the sewer! D’oh! Instead of trying to rescue it, the most important Buddhist artifact in history as well as the only weapon to stop Master Demon, the three go to hide at a local dojo. Did you know that local karate schools have rooms with beds for fugitive Demon Fighters? It’s true! Also, Secretary Jan is a student at the school, and she and Wayne have a thing. It’s sex therapy or something, I guess. Tong Lee busies himself with a herb and the sort, doing a ritual to fight evil. He cuts himself, drawing blood, which is used to be drunk by Cameron and Detective Wayne, so they gain some of Tong’s power. Also, probably some AIDS or something. Don’t drink blood, kids. Unless you’re a vampire, then use a condom. Wayne mentions he’s done this ritual before as well; maybe that’s how he defeated those demon ninjas. How many Master Demons have Wayne helped to take down? Probably one a week or so. It’s always Master Demon this, Mega Demon that, Super Demon this, General-in-chief Demon that. Too many cooks in Hell. Wayne takes some time off from stopping demons to have some hot sex with the Secretary Jan, as the three spend the night in the dojo. At night, Cameron is knocked unconscious and taken, as well as Jan taken. I guess security at the dojo hotel isn’t that good, which is sad since they should all be karate experts. Tong tells Wayne they must rescue Jan by sunrise, as she is to be the human sacrifice. Why her? No reason given. There are millions of people in LA alone that they could sacrifice for so much less effort. Heck, you could probably use Craigslist.org and get volunteers to be killed by a crazy Master Demon. Too much effort is going on here. No one seems to care Cameron is missing, and neither do I.

We now stop by the director’s house…I mean the mansion of Kwon Chang. That’s where Jan and Cameron are being kept, and it’s guarded outside by many many thugs and goons of a demonic nature. Wayne and Tong Lee are undeterred, and begin the long task of beating the guards senseless. They fight and fight, as the guard numbers increase as the alertness to the attack grows. Their stealth attack lasted for about thirty seconds before they were too slow in stopping someone from reporting them, very odd as it usually took only a slight tap before the goons died in the earlier fight. These must be the Elite Guards, who are wearing sweaters as armor against light taps or mosquito bites. One fight looks like it might be somewhat special, when Tong fights a gigantic Asian dude. It’s like when you reach the minor boss in the middle of a castle in a video game. And a video game is a good description of what this movie resembles. Non-stop supplies of henchmen that all look the same and keep respawning, until they meet the final boss at the end and rescue the Princess/Secretary. If Tong and Wayne were plumbers, someone would be suing someone, I tell you.

Inside, the Executioner Goon is drilling a random white guy’s crotch. With a power drill, not whatever you pervs were thinking I meant! Sheesh. Cameron is tied up as well in the room, and demands answers from Master Demon. “Silence! Son of a White Dog!” is Master Demon’s reply. Master Demon reveals his real name is Dark Fury, and claims Medusa is the Yin to his Yang. That Master Demon is named after an anime of The Chronicles of Riddick is proof of his evil nature. Master Demon demands to know where the Crest is at, but Cameron says just to kill him. Master Demon responds “Such foreplay deserves a climax. Come, Medusa…” and they leave. Ewwwwwwwwwww! I’ve seen steroid clit, it’s horrendous, and thank goodness we were spared nudity here. Outside, Tong is still fighting guards, while Wayne has moved inside, also fighting guards. Tong kicks a goon who can’t swim into the pool, what a bastard! Tong tries to give tough guy lines when he is beating some of these foes, many of which don’t seem to relate to how he defeats them, making the lines pointless. Inside, Wayne walks into a room where some other prisoners are having their faces eaten by the Executioner Goon. “Sorry, wrong room” quips Wayne as he backs out. Yes, that works, because face is very tasty, far too much so to bother to chase down intruders. You lazy bum!

Wayne rescues Cameron, who is unguarded despite the compound being attacked by his two friends on a rescue mission. They find out that Master Demon is preparing to get to a new plane of existence by sacrificing Jan, so they must stop him. Master Demon’s head is beginning to inflate slightly; it’s expanding like a puffer fish. Tong Lee finally makes it inside, as the three get right outside the room Master Demon is in, preparing to sacrifice Jan. Master Demon takes the time to ask Jan if she’s a virgin, even though it doesn’t matter. The heroes enter, and Master Demon calls Tong the Son of Dragon. So we have Son of a White Dog, and Son of Dragon. What is Wayne, Son of Parrot? Tong Lee somehow has his sword despite not having it during any of the previous battle sequences (maybe he hid it in his shoe or something) and Master Demon cowers from him. Master Demon sends Medusa out as he hides behind his cape. We also find out that Wayne is the Second Dragon, and Cameron is the Third Dragon. So it’s the Three Dragons, like the Three Stooges, except less eye-poking. Master Demon uses his Master Demon powers to shoot energy bolts from his hands that blast Tong Lee back to Ancient China. Those are some powerful bolts! Master Demon is there as well, he’s now wearing a hooded black cloak with the hood up, looking like Emperor Palpatine with Robert Z’Dar’s cheeks. He and Tong fight while back in normal time Cameron attacks Medusa while Wayne rescues Jan. Cameron gets tossed through a sliding glass door.

Tong and Master Demon are still fighting in Ancient China/Modern China/California playing China. Master Demon keeps varying which weapons he is using, so we get some entertainment from that. There is some tension since Master Demon doesn’t die in one punch like the rest of the demon warriors. Back in America, Jan and Wayne are confronted by the Executioner Goon and the Kabuki Goon, plus a few other goons that aren’t that notable. Kabuki Goon pulls out a sword, which slashes an “X” on the back of Wayne. Wayne counters by using his coat as a weapon. Jan defeats the Executioner Goon by a swift kick to the nards. Executioner Goon’s got nards! Cameron is fighting the good fight by running away. Someone tell me why he is a hero again? He’s being chased by Medusa, and they go down a long flight of stairs. It’s suspenseful, because, will he miss a step? Find out! Or not. Back in China, Tong Lee gets serious in his fight by taking off his shirt. We know some butt kicking is about to happen. We don’t see it, as we cut back to LA, where Medusa finishes her chasing of Cameron by punching a building he’s standing in front of. The building (well, stock shots of it) collapse, and somehow land on Medusa but not Cameron.

Master Demon takes out the big guns, his Wolverine Claws! Well, Wolverine Claw! His singular claw allows him to stab Tong Lee in the chest, which only makes Tong Lee mad. Doesn’t Master Demon remember he tried that 3200 years ago? Tong Lee recuts off Master Demon’s hand, then also slices Master Demon in the stomach, taking him down a lot further than 3200 years ago. Master Demon disappears. We cut back to the house in LA, where Jan and Wayne have defeated all the goons, their bodies disappearing. Jan figures it’s because Tong won the fight. Tong Lee just strolls off the field, not bothering to pick up Master Demon’s missing hand. Um, HELLO? Medusa then shows up in the field, despite being dead, and grabs the hand. Tong, you moron. The original narrator repeats the opening line.

It begins in the end…

The End! Wait, no, that doesn’t mean the movie will restart! Don’t be afraid, it’s over, my child. Sadly, Kay Baxter Young, the bodybuilding actress who played Medusa, died after filming completed. She would have had a long, glorious career in B-movies. The IMDB entry for this is in shambles, Gerald Okamura is nowhere to be found, the character of Cameron is misnamed Campbell, it’s all junk. Probably the crew responsible for the integrity of this film was also responsible for the IMDB entry. Luckily, we have the definitive reference right here. Everything you need to know about Master Demon you just read. In fact, this is more than anyone every needed to know, even myself. But what are we hear for if not to dish out mountains of useless information?

Rated 3/10 (Mammoth in a Tar Pit is a Metaphor or something, Most Valueable Artifact Ever left in the Sewer, “I am a Ninja!”)




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Written by Tars Tarkas

Tars Tarkas

Runs this joint!