The Dwarf Sorcerer (Review)
The Dwarf Sorcerer
aka Magic Kid
Directed by Yu Hon-Cheung
Hey, look, it’s ANOTHER Taiwanese film about a boy whose parents are murdered/mom captured and he is rescued and taught kung fu in a weekend and then he fights for revenge against a bunch of demons and he can fly and do all sorts of crazy crap. It’s almost as if we have seen this before. 9 billion times.
I think it IS the same story as Flyer of Young Prodigal, the names are the same (or same as they can be with horrible subtitle translations) and the story is the same. It is the same story, no question, it is just achieved in a different way. It even has similar groovy music. Now, Dwarf Sorcerer/Magic Kid was first, coming out in 1974 (or 1969 if you believe a few other websites), but does that mean it was the best? Keep in mind this is like being the best pile of dog poo.
Director Yu Hon-Cheung helmed such genre films as Taiwanese kaiju film Monster from the Sea, Pearl Cheung Ling’s Burning of the Red Lotus Monastery, something called Mysterious Snake Women that I hope is awesome if I ever find it, and the somewhat common kung fu flick Revenge of the Shaolin Kid.
So the images look terrifying, because of the poor quality of the print. But this is the only way to see Dwarf Sorcerer at this time, so you got to get used to it. And this still looks better than some prints I’ve seen of new films made by independent filmmakers, who somehow can make even digital film look like it was dragged behind a bus and set on fire. This print is probably just a VHS dub of a VCD that got transferred to DVD. That’s my theory, anyway.
Buckle up, as this film is rare and ridiculous, we’ll be going in depth and this will be pretty long. Maybe you should go pee first so you don’t have to get up in the middle of reading. We’ll wait. Doo–doo–doo–
You back? Good! I hope you washed your hands! Hygienic or not, here we go!
A man named Shih-Ja is being chased Planet of the Apes-style through a field from foes that just laugh really really loud. The laughter causes terror in the chased man, and makes me wish he was being chased by a gang of Jokers. Instead, it is two dudes dressed up as cavemen who are kung fu masters. Shih-Ja leads the two cavemen directly to his house where his wife (In-Hwa) and young son (Siao-Lung) are. Dad is back for the first time in six months, and it is just to endanger his family. Shih-Ja has stolen a priceless jewel, for which a caveman appears and punches him over. The cavemen also beat up In-Hwa, then stab Shih-Ja dead with a spear to the back. Beating up In-Hwa is so easy, even a caveman can do it! These cavemen do it a few more times until Siao-Lung bites their legs. They throw Siao-Lung (Yes…KILL HIM!!!) But a giant muppet bird grabs Siao-Lung and flies away with him! NOooOOOooOOOO!!!!
It’s opening credits time! Japanese jazzrock plays as the annoying kid Siao-Lung flies around the trees and blows stuff up. I am not sure how he is blowing stuff up, but it is probably because of kung fu. Or cherry bombs. He has a stick or something that flies and he rides on it.
The Old Guy training him (we’re gonna call him Sifu) takes back the stick and tosses over and umbrella, so the kid can do some umbrella fu. This must be where Mary Poppins trained… Practice time is done, but Siao-Lung is not done learning “Konfu” just yet. Yes, the subtitles are awful, thank you very much. But we don’t need no stinking subtitles, which is good, because they forget to use them a lot in the flick.
A guy, a woman, and a little girl are watching them for some reason. They try to attack Siao-Lung, but it is more tests and he calls them his brothers and sisters. So now Siao-lung has a new surrogate family and is an expert in kung fu, but has aged like two hours. Freaking Chinese efficiency! The three are guy Chalin (Ngok Yeung), woman Phonix (probably supposed to be Phoenix, but we’re going with Phonix!), and little girl Little Girl, who doesn’t even get a misspelled name.
Siao-Lung has a flashback to his dad leaving (except the dad is called Lung-Er now for some reason – thanks, subtitles!) and also of dad being killed, which causes Siao-Lung to wake and cry. Oh, great. Why do all these films have minutes and minutes of annoying kids crying???
Siao-Lung runs out of the house to cry more, I guess the neighbors hadn’t all been awakened yet. Sifu finds him and tells him his mom isn’t at home, but won’t tell him where Mom is until tomorrow. He does show him via tv screen. Siao-Lung sees him mom get attempted raped by the evil bad guy, Evil Bad Guy, who then throws mom in their dungeon because she won’t have consensual sex. Yah, that’s what happened.
Siao-Lung screams for his mom again and again, howling like an alley cat. It is annoying as frak. I hate this kid. I am having a hard time deciding whether his more annoying now or in the Flyer of Young Prodigal version. Then when the girl student comes by worried about him, he acts like a jerk to her! Siao-Lung, more like Jerk-Jerk!
That night, Siao-Lung goes to sneak out. And he takes his umbrella. The next morning, Sifu tells the other three students to let Siao-Lung go by himself. Good job, Sifu, letting small kids go off to die. But I guess tht keeps you constantly busy with new kids to train, and you won’t have to waste time organizing reunion parties as there is no one to reunite what with everyone being dead. It is an efficient business plan.
Siao-Lung is still screaming for his mom and now has a cape on, while a walking montage starts and a Chinese song about missing your mother plays. I wonder if this is the same song as in the other movie. I sure ain’t watching again to find out. It’s lazy time here at TarsTarkas.NET.
So next up a lady screams for help, Siao-Lung quickly grabs his crotch. Uhmmm….
The lady is being attacked by dudes looking to get on the rape train. Choo-choo! Siao-Lung steps up and attacks them with his umbrella, stabbing one through the chest after his umbrella is cut. Wow, don’t mess with Mary Poppins, she’ll frak your smurf up! They lady gives him a magic sword as a reward, just like in the other movie. Any specific details about the magic sword are lost to white on white subs. So let’s pretend the sword is made of cheese!
Later the rape dude who ran off gets his buddy, a guy with an eye patch and a chain that he swings in a circle to menace Siao-Lung. Siao-Lung starts to get hypnotized, but then isn’t hypnotized and then flies around annoying the bad guys. And also me. Siao-Lung kills the chain patch-eye, and then kills the guy who ran away by throwing a knife in his back as he was running away again. Then Siao-Lung once again grabs his crotch and runs off. I think Siao-Lung is Michael Jackson.
Next up Siao-Lung needs to cross a river so there is a ferry guy who is taking him across, except the ferry guy is a mugger demon who tries to attack Siao-Lung. What is this, some sort of version of the scorpion and the frog? Except the moral is “Demons be muggers!” Frakking demons! Siao-Lung stops him in a badly choreographed sequence where he stabs the ferry guy in the crotch with his own knife, then tosses him in the river. Two demons hop out of the water like they were ejected from a toaster and attack, so Siao-Lung flies to the other side of the river (why did he hire a ferryman in the first place??!?!)
The toaster water demons are killed dead very quickly.
The head boss bad guy is watching all this for reasons unknown, and refers to Siao-Lung as Little Bastard which is awesome because I hate Siao-Lung. He declares it is ambush time and now someone underground is tunneling towards Siao-Lung like Bugs Bunny. The guy pops out and he’s another caveman dressed dude with a trident (possibly the spear in the beginning) and he stabs into a second Bugs Bunny digging trail, casing tons of blood to pour out. Except what he stabbed was a tiny rat! That’s like 10 times as much blood as a rat should get! But another Bugs Bunny trail is closing in and stabs this demon dude in the butt, killing him. Siao-Lung rises from the ground from the dirt trail, laughs, and sinks back into the ground.
Siao-Lung has become a deranged cartoon killer! And you wondered why I hated him!
Let’s all get wet as some water pours into an ugly guy, who starts trying to hypnotize Siao-Lung, then follows with trying to split himself into multiple guys, trying to teleport over to Siao-Lung, and when all of that fails, he just jumps around for a bit and that somehow works to hurt Siao-Lung! Oh, Siao-Lung, you so deserved to be punched in the back over that one! The water demon guy gets stabbed thanks to the magic power of blood keeping the demon from hopping. I don’t get it either, folks.
Let’s all get burned as a flame-breathing frog monster shows up! YES!!!! Too bad the magic sword can put out useless flame rings. What kind of lame sword power is that, and why use that lame sword power when there is a fire breathing from monster dancing around right in front of you? Flame-breathing from monster jumps into the sword and dies into a dead real frog. BOOOOO to dead real frogs!
Oh, good lord, it is still moving! Those sick Taiwanese bastards! Someone call Peta! I hate Peta, but maybe they can protest this instead of renaming fish “sea kittens”!
Evil Bad Guy is mad, so he calls in Wind Demons (a plural name but it is just a singular dude) to go to Black Stone Cave to get out the beast knows as The Alp!
Okay, this is getting really weird.
Back home, the little girl who is training with Sifu runs off to find Siao-Lung, and somehow runs into a black gorilla monster who is out and about looking to eat little girls. Luckily, Siao-Lung wanders by (how slow must he have been going for her to have caught up with him in like five seconds??) and now he fights the gorilla, who may or may not be The Alp.
Siao-lung beats up the monster, ties him up in vines, and is going to kill him when the monster’s wife runs out and begs Siao-Lung not to kill her husband. This is new! Siao-Lung agrees.
Siao-Lung then tells the little girl who followed him that her help is not needed and wanders off without her. By now the print looks like they are in the middle of a sand storm due to all the scratches. You can barely make out that Wind Demons is attacking the little girl, and he throws sand at her, making it even more confusing. Somehow she flies into a sack he is holding. You know, if a bad guy demon monster is attacking you, don’t jump into his magic bag. Rules to live by, learned on TarsTarkas.NET.
She calls for help, Siao-Lung comes and starts to fight Wind Demons. The movie is too cheap to show the boomerang fan weapons the guy has, but ignore all that, Siao-Lung bumps into a fat dude in the forest in the middle of the fight and starts insulting him instead! What the heck is up with this dumb kid??? Hey, Little Bastard, stop fighting with everyone that breathes! We’ve all had our mom kidnapped by crazy guys and had to fight demons to get her back. Get over it.
The fat dude mentions the demons, then makes Siao-Lung eat a magic pearl. I don’t know why, but I am glad no Darna action happens. The last thing I want to see is Siao-Lung start running around in a Wonder Woman costume. Siao-Lung fights Wind Demons, who now can’t hit Siao-Lung due to having weird visual depth perception problems. Siao-Lung then turns into a piece of wood and back again and kills Wind Demons, who is now singularly dead.
Siao-Lung rescues the girl, then yells at her again so she cries. Our hero!
Siao-Lung kills a cavedude who is making some statues yell. By now, Evil Bad Guy is pretty ticked off, but his woman (we’re calling her Evil Woman) says she’ll take care of the Little Bastard.
Sifu realizes that if Siao-Lung dies he’ll probably get investigated by Child Protective Services and lawyers aren’t cheap, so he sends Chalin after Siao-Lung. Evil Woman and her Amazon Ladies Army run across Chalin and capture him via a handkerchief over his head.
Phonix is also running around the forest for reasons unknown, and kills some cavedudes. Then she sees Evil Woman and Chalin, Chalin now being hypnotized into attack Phonix. Siao-Lung hears all this going on (just how little distance has Siao-Lung gone? Al of thise must be taking place within a block or two!) Chelin attacks Siao-Lung..yes, yes, KILL HIM!!! MURDER!! Oh, wait, he can’t die because we’ve already seen this story and he lives…dang it. Stupid kid.
Chelin wakes up when he is injured. Chelin and Phoenix then leave so Siao-Lung can go fight the Evil Girl and the Amazon cave women. His attempt to fly away fails as they just jump with him to a new location, and then they all run around him in a circle, which quickly causes Siao-Lung to get dizzy. How easy was it to get dumb kids dizzy back in Ancient China? He’s not dizzy enough as their attack fails.
Siao-Lung spins around with his sword out and all the Amazon girls die, something the Evil Woman says she will never forgive Siao-Lung for. Gee, I don’t think we’ll be having a movie about your revenge quest, lady! the first thing she does is whip open her shirt and shoot poison gas at Siao-Lung. From her armpits, I guess. Maybe. I hope.
In any event, did you know the reflections of magic swords can reverse the law of gas moving towards finding an equilibrium and instead cause it to return to Evil Lady armpits? Because it can. Try it out sometimes. A TarsTarkas.NET Science Experiment!
Evil Lady tosses something, but Siao-Lung just chops it up. Hooray. I hope this fight lasts all day. Evil Lady just returns home, to see the Evil Bad Guy starting to get it on with another chick. Which totally upsets Evil Lady.
CHICKFIGHT! They wrestle on the ground a bit. Then Evil Bad Guy yells at her for flirting with Chelin. He throws a knife in her chest! Total double standard.
Evil Bad Guy decides he’s gonna kill that Little Bastard…so he brings out…Karth Devil!
Holy Sith Lord!
Karth Devil is a gorilla with long, stringy yellow hair who shoots gas from his arms. This film is obsessed with armpit gas! Was it sponsored by Old Spice?
The fight between Karth Devil and Siao-Lung wakes up the Happy Gorilla Family from earlier in the film who run over and help out, biting Karth Devil on the foot when he’s turned into a tree. Then Karth Devil turns into a pile of hair, explodes, and turns into flowers, which Siao-Lung stabs, and Karth Devil dies.
Never turn into flowers when fighting a kid and two monkeys. Turn into flour instead. Because then if you die, you can at least be turned into paste and the dumb kid will probably eat you and you can poison him inside or something. The gorillas show Siao-Lung where the hideout is, so Siao-Lung just bursts in, and Evil Guy is waiting for him with a big round bladed weapon.
Evil Bad Guy reveals the who plot of kidnapping the mom was so that the kid would try to rescue her and they would kill him. As opposed to just killing the kid.
Evil Bad Guy has a magic skull on his belt that he touches and has powers like putting nets over Siao-Lung or making bamboo sticks appear around Siao-Lung. All of these tricks are easily beaten by just a simple sword, and when Siao-Lung throws his magic sword at Evil Bad Guy, Evil Bad Guy encases it in a big pile of metal, then throws explosions at Siao-Lung.
The gorillas try to help out with a vine snare, but they just get blown up, the Dwarf Sorcerer theme music getting cut-off mid-explosion. NOOOooOOO!!! Those were my favorite characters. Siao-Lung turns into a rock to hide, the flaw in the plan being rocks can’t dodge attacks and now he’s injured. Way to go, kid! It looks like he had a rock for a brain.
Then Sifu shows up! Just in time to save Siao-Lung from being killed after he turns into a smaller rock. Evil Bad Guy is no match for Sifu’s magic stick. Evil Bad Guy begs for his life, which is granted, but then he tries to stab Sifu in the back. But he’s stopped by…himself? A good version of himself? WTF? Good Bad Guy?
Evil Bad Guy runs, and Good Bad Guy follows and blows up the black totem on his belt giving him powers. Siao-lung then stabs Evil Bad Guy in the belly with his own weapon. He’s dead! The gorillas who it turns out are not dead cheer! The Dwarf Sorcerer theme plays! Murder is fun! Also the Evil Bad Guy is Sifu’s brother, but since Good Bad Guy is still around it isn’t murder, just some weird magic that will probably lead to psychological problems.
The last evil person left is the girl Evil Bad Guy was trying to get with, who tries to let Siao-Lung’s mom go but somehow gets captured herself in a cage. I would say they don’t make hench-people like they used to, but this is a long time ago and it just shows that hench-people were always awful.
Siao-Lung whines to his mom for a bit, and blasts open the cage, then they fly away together to do…stuff. I don’t care what they do, just don’t fly back!
The Gorillas ruled, but the kid was awful.
This film was discussed along with other Taiwanese kaiju films in the Infernal Brains Podcast!
Rated 4/10 (Other woman, Phonix, Chalin, Evil Woman)
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