Na Cha and the Seven Devils
Na Cha and the Seven Devils
Who would have thought that a movie about a bunch of animal demons running amok, including a huge fire breathing dragon in sequences directed by Yamanouchi Tetsuya, would turn out to be so boring? Obviously anyone who has had prior experience with movies where flying kids battle monsters! At TarsTarkas.NET, we have dealt with a lot of them! Though most of those are Taiwanese, Na Cha and the Seven Devils comes from the illustrious Shaw Brothers studios. It’s the second of two Na Cha films that were made at the same time by Yamanouchi Tetsuya, featuring many of the same cast (they even reuse at least one human character as the grandson of his character from the first film!), and one of several Na Cha films, a character from a classic Chinese tale.
A quick Na Cha primer: Na Cha is that kid with the flaming circles around his feet that let him fly. Sometimes his name is translated Nezha or Na Zha. He’s based on Chinese mythology that probably has roots in Hinduism. Na Cha shows up in Journey to the West and has a stream of television and film appearances.
Na Cha and the Seven Devils seems like it would be an idea kids film, just let them watch the special effects while mom and dad go get hammered..I mean, go do chores. But there is an awful lot of boob grabbing. It’s oddly sensual (though in a clumsy sensual way), and Shaw was ranking up the sexy in the early 70s. It does seem way out of place for what goes on in the rest of the film.
The look of Na Cha and the Seven Devils comes from art director Mutsuo Mikimi, who has a pedigree of doing effects on Message from Space, Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell, and Super Infra-Man. Director Yamanouchi Tetsuya was making a brief foray out of Japan, but he also has a kaiju pedigree thanks to films like The Magic Serpent and 1969’s Akakage. Doi Michiyoshi is also listed as a director on the HKMDB, but not on the actual film and I can’t find any further information.
The biggest gripe with Na Cha and the Seven Devils is that Na Cha and his immortal buddies cause all these problems on Earth, then they send only three of them to deal with the problems. Meanwhile, hundreds of people die! Sorry, folks, you are all being slaughtered to teach Na Cha responsibility! The main trouble is there is a magic peach tree that only blooms every 1000 years, and then the peaches take 1000 years to ripen. And it’s about time for those babies to pop. There are 8 this year that are destined to be a gift to the Queen Mother by order of the Jade Emperor.
Na Cha is unaware of all this, and just sees a tree with a bunch of peaches, and Na Cha wants to eat them peaches. So he climbs up the tree and grabs on, accidentally causing the other 7 to fall. Because they are at Mt. Kunlu – which is between Heaven and the Mortal World, the peaches fall through the clouds to Earth. Where they are promptly found by animals, that eat them and become superpowered Devils themed on whatever animal they were.
Now, Na Cha did cause the original problem, but he also wasn’t told not to eat the peaches, and as someone who has done their fair share of gardening (and has peach trees in the back yard!), I know for a fact peaches will be falling off the tree regardless of Na Cha shaking the branches or not, which means a few would have dropped down below anyways. Which means the immortals should have hung a few baskets to catch these valuable and dangerous peaches!
After the peaches are found to be missing, an edict comes down on high from the Jade Emperor to solve this problem in 10 days! So the group of immortals decide to just send Na Cha by his lonesome. It’s only when his two older brothers Jincha and Mucha beg to go along that the party is increased. But still, everyone else just stays around Mt. Kunlu and laments their fate and probably going to get squashed by an angry Jade Emperor soon. Lazy, lazy people who deserve it for not bothering to help solve the problem.
The peaches don’t get left alone for long:
- An eagle puppet finds one of the peaches – transforms into laughing eagle man!
- A rat puppet finds one of the peaches – transforms into laughing rat man!
- A white horse finds one of the peaches – transforms into a white-clothes wearing man!
- A frog costumed guy finds one of the peaches – transforms into a laughing frog man!
- A white baboon costume guy finds one of the peaches – transforms into a monkey lady!
Na Cha and his bros are walking on the beach when some sort of energy typhoon goes by…it’s a fire breathing giant dragon! Huzzah! Giant monsters forever!
- The dragon sucks the peach into its mouth and becomes a Red Haired Dragon Devil who has antlers, a flamethrower stick and flying powers.
- A white fox finds on of the peaches – transforms into Tina Chin-Fei! Red Haired Dragon Devil instantly starts hitting on her
The first thing a lot of these devils do is go to mess with pairs of lovers. It’s a weird thing for newly omnipotent animal people to fixate on, but at least two pairs of lovers have to deal with devils messing with them. It begs the question if random cows secretly desires to destroy your marriage just because they can. Thus, let’s all eat hamburgers because, SCREW YOU, COWS!
While some devils attempt to get their rocks off, others cause their own troubles. Eagle Devil kidnaps a baby while in bird mode, flying through the air with the child (and earning an arrow in the chest!) Na Cha leaps up and saves the child as it falls to its doom.
The dragon Red Hair Devil disguises itself as a bridge, but some not so dumb travelers recognize it for what it is, and call out the dragon for it’s trickery. Those not so dumb travelers turn out to be pretty darn dumb, as the newly exposed dragon turns into a huge dragon and breathes fire and destruction down on the local town. The rampaging dragon is pretty cool, the dragon is obviously a huge puppet, but is still close enough to famous Toho monsters to be enjoyable. It’s giant monster mayhem!
White Horse Devil is demanding maiden sacrifices, so Na Cha takes the maiden’s place and killifies White Horse Devil.
Jincha finds a bunch of tiny women who give him flowers, then he meets Fox Devil, who gasses him and he’s kidnapped! Frog Devil impersonates Jincha and tries to kill Mucha, but he’s saved by Na Cha and Frog Devil followed by Fox Devil are killed. Jincha is saved, and also the lovers that were affected by Frog Devil and Fox Devil’s spells. A weird feature of these devils is they transform when they die into a bunch of magical effects, White Horse Devil becomes a big pile of fake snow. When Na Cha kills Fox Devil (by using fire rays from his eyes he doesn’t use before nor later), she becomes a flaming horse skeleton. Jincha needs to return home to be healed of poison, and he’s brought by Mucha. Rat Demon begs for mercy (though is surrounded by a pile of bloody bones and has blood all over his mouth), so he’s turned into a guardian statue.
By now the three remaining Devils (Dragon/Red Hair, Monkey, Eagle) know something is up and team together to find out why so many of their kin are dead. They then get an offer they can’t refuse from Shen Gongbao, King Zhou’s general. They don’t explain who this guy is, but he already has a whole team of animal Devil troops to buff up the cast – Rattlesnake, Cow, Goat, Centipede, Watch Dog, and and Pig (I am not sure if he is supposed to be Pigsy or a seperate Pig Demon). Their exciting plan is to trap Na Cha, who is now alone after his brothers left.
Never fear, Na Cha can’t be defeated by some rejects from Zodiac Fighters, he’s soon joined by that legendary triclops himself, Yang Jian! He’s the best triclops not related to the He-Man franchise! But the best part is during the middle of their huge battle, suddenly Yang Jian calls out Celestial Dog! Yes, it’s an actual dog in a goofy costume who starts attacking the various villains!
Celestial Dog is awesome! All hail Celestial Dog!
Celestial Dog is so cool that Na Cha turning gigantic with six extra arms, and later flying around on his fire wheels, is just boring. Celestial Dog is the ticket, the ticket to happiness and the ticket to wealth. Celestial Dog needs his own movie trilogy, to properly tell the tale of Celestial Dog. It should be fun, but also with a sense of danger, because Celestial Dog won’t just go after chumps, he’d take down the big dogs to make sure the universe is safe.
Also yada yada everyone evil dies, Jade Emperor decides he’s not going to kill Na Cha’s entire family, and everyone is happy.
But who cares, Celestial Dog!!!!
Rated 5/10 (Shaw, eye lasers, revenge of eye lasers, third eye no lasers, flying discs)
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