Young Flying Hero
aka Return of the Magic Serpent
Directed by Tong Chim
Written by Poon Lui
Young Flying Hero is a rare Taiwan film. It is so rare I even wrote a Rare Movie Time!!!! post about the film, thinking I would never get to see it. But, rare Asian films have been falling out of the sky recently, and one of those films just happened to be Young Flying Hero! There are no subtitles except for permanent Chinese subtitles, so that’s no real help. But this is TarsTarkas.NET, we don’t need no stinking subtitles!
Young Flying Hero achieved semi-legendary status as hard to find among collectors, due to a painted poster that appeared regularly on ebay and some lobby cards with giant monsters. But hardly anyone could get a hold of the actual film. Thus, people began to wonder just what kind of monster action happens on screen. Having now seen the film, I can tell you it is actually a children’s film, with a young boy as the main character. The giant monsters appear briefly in the film despite their prominent place on the poster art, with less than five minutes of screen time at the very end. There are too few Chinese giant monster films (other notable films are the equally as rare (or even lost) Devil Fighter and rare War God.)
Taiwan fantasy is rapidly becoming one of my favorite subgenres because it can be both insanely bizarre but amazingly entertaining at the same time. There are about a dozen more Taiwan fantasy films in the pipeline, many of which are responses to the Shaw Brother’s epic movies. But I’ll save a history of those films for one of the other Taiwanese fantasy films, because I haven’t finished writing it yet. One interesting thing is the alternate title for the film is Return of Magic Serpent, which may be a reference to the Japanese film Magic Serpent!
Enough background, let’s get on with the show!
The credits happen with the background of some random wallpapers. That’s how exciting these credits are. Don’t you wish you could see the wallpapers? Well, you have to buy the movie.
Some army guys fight each other in ancient Shina, and a guy with a ridiculous hairdo and a ridiculous mustache laughs in his victory. He is the Evil Warlord, who has now won and lords it over the Good King, who is old and feeble. Good King’s daughter is a Sleeping Beauty case, because, why not? I am guessing Evil Warlord keeps the Good King alive so he can eventually wake up and marry his daughter to give himself legitimacy in the eyes of ruling the kingdom, but I always think those plans are dumb and you should just invent a random female cousin of the king that you “marry”.
Meanwhile in the forest, the Young But Not Yet Flying Hero and his Sister are hunting a bird. They manage to only get a feather, but bring the feather to the father of their friend Goofy Hair, who gets the kids to use the feather to lure the bird back, and thus kill it this time. Goofy Hair’s dad’s scheming wife gets the husband to hurriedly eat the bird for reasons that I don’t know and it doesn’t factor in the plot again so enjoy this random guy eating a bird story. I know I did!
The Brother and Sister find a golden egg at home, but Goofy Hair’s Father finds out and tattles to the Evil Warlord because he wants money or something. Evil Warlord sends soldiers led by Spider Woman and Lizard Guy, but the family flees and a wagon chase is on! Debris in the road causes the wagon to flip, leaving the parents trapped and captured as the kids flee. Spider Woman uses her web powers while Lizard Guy has his snake staff fly around, but the kids manage to fall down a cliff (and the Brother is captured, though they miss the Sister)
The baddies take the captive family members to Evil Warlord, who shows them to the father who turned them in, and then yells at the guy who turned them in (probably saying his reward is also being a slave.) Then the son vanishes and appears in a cave where an old taoist monk guy is. He revives the kid to teach him to fight, and the kid can now fly around. He teaches the Brother swordplay by having him hit a log on a rope, while the Sister wanders around the the forest. The Sister is betrayed by someone she helped in the forest, that Grizzly Adams-looking dude just gets killed as thanks by the bad dudes. Hasn’t everyone learned by now helping the bad guys in this film just gets you dead or a slave?
The Sister is shown her enslaved parents, and then she makes some food for Sleeping Beauty, which wakes her up, though they hide it from Evil Warlord. Evil Warlord plots, and then tosses the Sister out of the castle and has her recaptured by ninjas (I am guessing because he thought she didn’t help he let her go as promised, but then recaptured her because he is evil.
The Brother can turn into a scraggly tree, but his Sifu says it isn’t strong enough. A bunch of random people are killed by killer who leaves a pin behind. Some other random guys discuss it and witness Evil Warlord’s soldiers being mean. They charge the castle and meet with Evil Warlord, showing him the pins and wanting his help in finding the guy.
The Brother grabs the meditating sifu’ sword, and suddenly has a cape on. Sifu says he is ready to go fight. Evil Warlord is going to execute the Sister and Sleeping Beauty by throwing them in a big bonfire, I am guessing he is saying they are the murderers somehow despite not being guys. Goofy Hair finds a note in the stream that says something about their innocence or something. Thanks goodness for deus ex machi-streamnotes! Brother reads the note, then Goofy Hair tells him about the execution, so Brother flies over.
Brother puts out the fire and stabs a dude, then throws the note at the angry mob, who read it like all angry mobs would do. The Brother starts fighting Evil Warlord’s men and the crowd cheers the Brother instead of mobbing up on the evil troops. What a useless angry mob.
Evil warlord escapes with the girls as hostages back to the castle, with the Brother leading an angry mob in hot pursuit. For some reason the Brother is not flying, and the mob is now armed with pitchforks and rakes so they will now actually fight their oppressors. The Brother fights some ninja dudes as the crowd starts to ram the castle doors. The Brother fights and fights waves and waves of ninjas. Eventually, he makes it inside castle and still fighting ninjas. Goofy Hair shows up also fighting on side of good. This kid would be the Piggy on any random island, but now he gets to play hero! The Brother just fights and fights and fights and fights and fights. There are sooooo many ninjas. The Brother could give Starman a run for his money on non-stop fight sequences.
The Brother now gets to fight the Animal Guys. First, he fights the Scorpion Guy (with his twin claw weapons) in the forest. Scorpion Guy is killed, and next up is Centipede Guy (with his centipede staff weapon and hat.) Even bad guys named after popular 1980’s arcade games die before the Brother and his magical abilities of being the Young Flying Hero of the title. Next up is Spider Woman, she has web powers (complete with big fake spider in center) and can some how tractor beam people towards her webs, but the Brother kills her anyway. Peter Parker would be sad.
Now what we have all been waiting for… a giant frakking frog shows up at the castle! I am guessing the Frog Guy and the Lizard Guy turn into these big monsters, but it is not clear. Let’s just pretend that is what happens because I declare it so as the author of this review. Take that, whatever actually happens in the film! So the Brother flies into the frog’s mouth. The Giant Frog destroys a castle, because Giant Frogs do that sort of thing. Then lightning strikes and suddenly a dragon monster pops up also growling. The two monsters fight because giant monsters fight, even if they are supposed to be on the same side according to my theory. The Brother flies out of the frog and into the dragon. Both of them then seem to die.
All most of you even care about:
It looks like the good guys won, except Evil Warlord is still there laughing. He brings out everyone as hostage (mom, dad, Sister, friend’s dad, Sleeping Beauty, her dad) and wants the Brother to surrender or they die. All of the hostages say not to surrender, but the Brother does. You jerk! The Brother is then caught in cagetrap that falls from the ceiling! How ridiculously evil spy villain of Evil Warlord!
The Brother defiantly taunts Evil Warlord, who stabs at him, but the Brother just flies out of cage, flies around guards, disarms and kills them, and rescues the hostages. If he could do all of that, how did he get caught by the trap, even if for a second?
Time for the final duel between The Brother and Evil Warlord, and the fight moves to be near a stream. They fight and fight, but evil is chopped. And killed. No more warlording for you. The Brother is crowned General or something, and then he and Goofy Hair sit around all bored in the castle. So let’s go for a fly! Goofy Hair goes with, because Goofy Hair can now sort of fly, and the movie ends!
That was disappointing, to say the least. For all the hype of the film being so rare and the cool poster art, the actual monster fight was short and way late in the film. The fact it was basically a children’s film was also a downer. The other thing was all the villain characters who had animal themes that they don’t really do much with. They don’t use their animal powers hardly at all, and when they do it is too little too late. Disappointment all around, but it is cool to locate what is a rare film and watch it, because that is fun. Don’t worry, there are plenty of other rare movies out there, and they can’t all be stinkers!
Rated 3/10 (Magic bird, needle pile, Dictator Evil Warlord from Planet Krankor!)
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