The Blonde Hair Monster (Review)
The Blonde Hair Monster
aka 黃毛怪人 aka Yellow Giant
Written and Directed by Wong Fung
The Blonde Hair Monster is a story from the pulp series Wong Ang the Flying Heroine Bandit. These tales originated in 1940’s Shanghai from intelligence worker Siu Ping (aka Xiao Ping), who used his stories to speak out against the social and economic injustices of the time, creating a hero to fight for the people. Siu Ping fled to Hong Kong as the Chinese Civil War intensified and the Communists declared victory. The Wong Ang character spoke to the citizens of Hong Kong just as she had to the citizens of Shanghai, and became big sellers in the 1950s. Wong Ang is a play on the word for Oriole, and thus is known as Oriole in several title translations.
Wong Ang fits the profile of the virtuous female fighter character. While not being a nuxia (swordswoman), she is set in modern day and works with modern tools to take on modern problems. The rich and the powerful who think they can get away with crimes meet their matches, and the innocent and forgotten find the justice they need in their lives.
Wong Ang’s popularity made it a natural that she would appear on the screen, with the first entries appearing in 1957 or 1958. The first known film was Shaw’s Oriole, the Heroine (also known as Miss Nightingale, the Flying Fencer), which starred Pearl Au Kar-wai as Wong Ang and Fanny Fan and Chiang Feng as her sidekicks. There is some uncertainty to the exact release date. Beginning in 1959, Yu So-Chow played her in a series of films, four featuring veteran female action star Wu Lizhu and Yam Yin as her two sidekicks. 1959 gave us How Oriole the Heroine Solved the Case of the Three Dead Bodies and How Oriole the Heroine Caught the Murderer. 1960 was the Year of the Oriole with four films: House No. 13, Apartment Murder, Miss Cranery Vs. the Flying Tigers, and The Story of Wong-Un the Heroine. The Breakthrough was released in 1961. The Blonde Hair Monster is the last of the Yu So-Chow Wong Ang films (and the last Wong Ang film period, unless you count Michele Yeoh’s Silverhawk!), though by now the focus had begun to shift to Connie Chan, who plays one of her sidekicks. Thanks to DurianDave from SoftFilm for his work compiling the list of films above.
My favorite part of Blonde Hair Monster is how the vcd is missing an entire reel of the film! Luckily for me, I tracked down a guy on YouTube who uploaded the middle chunk of a TVB broadcast of the film for some reason, and that middle chunk has the missing reel! That’s also why some of the screencaps look different. TarsTarkas.NET goes the extra mile to give you the review you deserve, because we care, when we’re not being lazy! What is even more weird is the TVB broadcast is also missing pieces that the vcd had. So I’ve put together an extended edition of The Blonde Hair Monster that just might be the most complete copy of the film in the world. And yet there still is no title card…
Because this film is obscure as frak and I had to composite it together, this review will be detailed and long. So, sorry if you aren’t into that sort of thing, but bully if you are! And for more, much more on the Jane Bond films that this is a prototype of, listen to the Jane Bond Infernal Brains Podcast!
Two escaped criminals (complete with classic striped suits!) are on the run, chained together like they’re some sort of defiant ones or something. They escape the cops and their “shoot randomly at some bushes then go home” strategy to recapture the prisoners. One prisoner is Sek Kin, playing Cheung Yan-Lei, who was framed by his evil brother. The other prisoner isn’t Sek Kin, but he is a jerk, and forces Cheung Yan-Lei to hang from a train track bridge while the passing train severs their chains. Cheung Yan-Lei falls into the river below and half drowns, while the other prisoner just don’t care, and goes off by himself until GOON ATTACK!!!
Yes, a random giant goon in the middle of the forest beats up the bad prisoner, and saves Cheung Yan-Lei – who awakens at the lair of the goon’s master, an eyepatch-wearing Sorcerer. Sorcerer brings in the battered other prisoner, who tries to escape by throwing a pitchfork into the Sorcerer. Instead, he’s brought downstairs to the special dungeon lab full of all sorts of awesome things. There is a woodcarving of a monster in the corner, a wheel with giant snakes and scorpions suspended on the edges that constantly spinning, and a chained orangutan (man in suit!)
The prisoner stabs the servant Mo Mo, and is shot dead. So Sorcerer injects Mo Mo with the orangutan blood and he transforms into a Monster man! The Monster is now the Blonde Hair Monster, and when he’s injected with a proper supply of blood, he is invincible to kung fu.
But enough of that cool stuff, let’s look at a guy and his three golden buddhas. Wait, don’t fall asleep yet! This is Cheung Yan-Lei’s evil older brother, Cheung Yan-Chuen. And the three golden buddhas attract three hot babes as they sneak around outside. This is our introduction to Wong Ang and her two sidekicks, Heung Ngan and Wu Nga. We know these girls are connected because they all wear the same shirts, but with different letters on them: Wong Ngan has a W, Heung Ngan has an H, and Wu Nga has a K. K for KRAZY! Just kidding, she’s not crazy. Not that crazy.
But when these girls aren’t playing peeping Tom, they watch dancing lion parades in town. At a position that allows them to spy on Cheung Yan-Chuen’s family. Focus on Heung Ngan as she goes to buy ice cream, and ends up beating up a guy at the ice cream vendor because he gives her a hard time, shoving his ice cream pop into his shirt pocket and twisting his arm. Heung Ngan don’t take no lip from some ice cream eating guy! Afterwards, she runs into Cheung Yan-Chuen’s son, Cheung Kai-Ting, who is talking to Chun Ngai, the daughter of the Cheung’s maid Yau Tin Lung. Heung Ngan pretends to get her ice cream spilled by him so he’ll buy her more and she can overhear some of his conversation.
The new ice cream doesn’t get eaten either, as it ends up spilling onto a goofy policeman who is the sidekick of Inspector To. He’s a comic relief guy, and the remaining ice cream is slammed in his face by Connie when he gets lippy. When will characters learn not to get lippy with Connie Chan when she has ice cream?
Later all three women beat up guys who block their view of the parade. Parade watching is serious business! Or at least surveillance of suspicious golden Buddha-having people is serious business! In an effort to not look suspicious, the three women are all wearing sunglasses while they do this.
Cheung Yan-Chuen and Chun Ngai are hanging out by the beach, but he finally has to go do some work and leaves. At the same time, Cheung Yan-Lei and Sorcerer are arriving by boat. Yau Tin snoops around their boat, and out comes the Blonde Hair Monster! He grabs her and carries her away, looking just like one of those beach movies where monsters carry girls away! But Inspector To and his sidekick are wandering by and shoot the monster in the heart, it staggers off with the gaping hole in its chest and drops the girl. This is as close as we’ll probably ever get to a Hong Kong beach monster film.
Back at the Cheung house, the son has returned home to find his dad has invited in Wong Ngan, Heung Ngan, and Wu Nga for tea. Dad reveals he knows the 3 girls were there when his brother was arrested, as he’s even carrying around the newspaper with their pictures in it. Does he normally carry that newspaper around with him? Because it’s weird.
Cheung Yan-Lei drops by to smugly announce his presence to his brother Cheung Yan-Chuen. The brothers argue, because Yan-Lei is talking some smack as he’s got dirt on his brother and a chip on his shoulder for the jailtime. But servant Fook (played by Sai Gwa-Pau from How the Ape Girl Stole the Lotus Lamp – who stutters once again in his role!) enters because the police have returned with Chun Ngai, who is still unconscious from her beach terror.
And now we enter the portion of the film that is NOT on the vcd. The TVB print is much cleaner/less scratched up, though it is washed out and during bright scenes there are black blobs where dark color is at.
The cops put Chun Ngai into her bedroom and explain there was a monster, though not everyone is convinced…until an extra-worldly roar starts yelling outside! They look, but there is nothing there. The cops say they’re on the case. Wong Ang and her girls say they’re on the case. I’ll side with Wong Ang and her posse on this one.
The Monster climbs a tree and creeps around the house peering in windows, though no one notices him blatantly looking inside. The cops and Wongs hear the Monster laughing, and decide that means they should go to the beach to poke around for clues, finding a mauled body.
The two groups head back to the Cheung house for some food and theorizing. At the dinner, Heung Ngan and Wu Nga (mostly Heung Ngan) harass the fat detective after he gets lippy again, causing him to get food spilled all over himself, which makes him freak out even more. This guy is fun to harass.
That night, Cheung Yan-Lei, Sorcerer, and Monster are sneaking around, when someone stabs the evil brother Cheung Yan-Chuen in the back. He dies as his son comforts him. Then a lady in a skull mask (referred to as a Ghost in the HKFA synopsis) menaces the recovering Chun Ngai. She screams, but the door is locked and no one can get in!
Chun Ngai is saved by the Monster, who goes through the window and menaces the Ghost lady, who escapes through a secret passageway. Inspector To shoots the door open and everyone runs in, only to start a big fight with Monster – who is more than a match for all of them! People get tossed around, Monster roars, guns are fired to no effect, a gun is stolen by Ghost Lady as she reaches through a hand-sized trap door (there is no logical sense why that would ever exist!) It’s an action sequence that comes to an end when Sorcerer enters the room with a gun and kidnaps Chun Ngai!
The cops and Wongs discuss what to do next with Cheung Yan-Cheun, an the lights suddenly go dark and the Ghost laughs at them and runs away. Cheung Yan-Cheung, Fat Detective, and Fook chase after her while the rest of the group heads outside to look for clues. The three manage to fall down trap doors on the stairs and are captured by Ghost.
And now we pick up where disk 2 of the vcd begins…
Wong Ang, her girls and Detective To are investigating a nearby house when Ghost Lady walks up with the gun and starts shooting at them. Thanks to Wong Ang blasting out the lone lightbulb via shooting one of her hairpins into it with her magic watch, the Ghost mostly misses (she does hit Wu Nga, who is grazed on the arm, so no one important is hit!) and then wanders off.
Wong Ang and Detective To follow as Ghost disappears down a well. The door to the building opens and Heung Ngan and Wu Nga are both grabbed by the Monster!
Inside the Ghost’s well hideout, Cheung Yan-Cheun, Fat Detective, and Fook are held captive. Fook and Fat Detective are tied to planks above some burning coals, while Cheung Yan-Cheun is tied to a chair. Ghost Lady starts rotating a crank which makes the planks the guys are tied to lower closer to the burning coals. Ghost gives us a flashback story explaining origins of the three golden buddhas. They used to belong to her father, were filled with diamonds, and were stolen by Cheung Yan-Cheun, who killed her father, raped her, and forced her to be his wife’s servant. The wife yelled at her non-stop out of resentment over the rape, until she kills the wife in a fit of rage. And now the rest of the family will suffer…
Ghost returns to cranking the two tied to planks closer and closer to the coals. Inspector To and Wong Ang arrive down the well just in time to see this. Wong Ang swings over to fight and try to crank the guys back up. Ghost Lady flees. So some brief actin before we jump to Sorcerer’s lair.
At Sorcerer’s lair, the two captive girls are tied up and Sorcerer and Cheung Yan-Lei are prepping another evil experiment! Sorcerer has some boiling acid that skeletonizes a snake! I’m sure that won’t be important later, so just forget about it. The two take blood from captive Chun Ngai to transfuse to the Blonde Hair Monster, powering him up.
Ghost Lady throws Wu Nga a gun just as she unties herself, so she can free herself and Heung Ngan. But there is a struggle, and Sorcerer gets shot. Ghost Lady laughs and reveals herself. She has a paper with something on it, but then is shot by the wounded Sorcrer, and Cheung Yan-Lei fights the two girls, besting Wu Nga, but Heung Ngan proves a match as they trade blows. The Blonde Hair Monster roars to life and grabs her. No fair!
Wong Ang and Inspector To come in, with the freed captives. Wong Ang and Heung Ngan fight the Monster, while Inspector To and Wu Nga take on Cheung Yan-Lei. Yan-Lei meets his fate as his head is put in an electrical vice device that was shown earlier in the lab. It sparks up and his head becomes a toasted toasty.
Monster throws the girls around until Wong Ang puts one of her hairpins into her watch and fire it into his eye. Hairpins, the secret weapon of the gods! Wong Ang tosses some of the boiling acid I told you to forget about all over Monster, which kills him dead and we get a cool (for 1962 low budget Cantonese film standards!) effect where he disintegrates into a partial skeleton. So forget that I told you to forget.
The dying Ghost Lady is revealed to be Yau Tin Lung – Chun Ngai’s mom and Cheung Yan-Cheun’s servant. But that was already known, because she’s the only older female character in the film! What a mystery…
Sorcerer is still not dead, and escapes with the paper Ghost Lady had. It is a map to the golden buddha statues, which have gone missing like they were reels of the film or something! They’re hidden in the Cheung family mausoleum, so now Sorcerer opens coffin after coffin looking for the golden buddhas. We see the very dead Cheung Yan-Cheun’s arms pop out when his coffin is opened, a skeleton, and an upright coffin featuring a guy who falls forward and out of it. Another coffin contains a vampire and vampire bat! The bat bites Sorcerer, who then dies! This is the fasted acting rabies in the history of the planet!
Inspector To and the Wongs find the three golden buddhas in the last unsearched coffin, and leave satisfied. I guess. Even though many people are dead. This is like the weirdest Scooby-Doo mystery ever.
Rated 8/10 (logo, tunnel, bat time, magic, hatchet, silly detective, over exposed, secret hand door!)
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