1963 Written by Fung Kam-pui
Directed by Mok Hong-See
It’s time for an old school Cantonese wuxia flick, and there are only two reasons to watch: The choreographed swordplay and the low budget effects. And the swordplay is brought, but the low budget effects are what brings The Invincible Yuanyang Swords to our attention. Particularly one low budget effect. Godzilla. Yes, Godzilla. Okay, he’s not really Godzilla, he just looks suspiciously like a dimestore Godzilla, complete with stolen audio of the Godzilla roar! Yes, a dragon the main character fights is pretty much Godzilla. Also there’s some complicated plot involving treasure map pieces and an evil gang that the hero thwarts, but MAN IN SUIT MONSTER!!!
Director Mok Hong-See directed 160 films in his long career, most of which are so old they probably don’t exist any more. His career is largely done by the end of the 1960s, but he is notable for helming many of Connie Chan’s Lady Bond films (which exist, we just can’t ever see them!!!) Hong Kong Film Archive also notes this is child star Lee Tsi-yeung’s screen debut. I can’t find out any more information about the kid actor, but I guess he’s important enough and will probably show up in other old wuxia films I watch. Maybe he won’t even be a brat in them!
The film’s choice to portray the dragon as a Godzilla-looking creature instead of a traditional Chinese dragon is an interesting one. It shows the popularity of Godzilla films in 1963 (who would have been fresh off his third feature, 1962’s King Kong vs. Godzilla) and how the iconic imagery can even creep into places that were filled with people who still harbored much hatred towards Japan over what they did during the war.
There are several different old Cantonese wuxia flicks with dragons and other giant monsters, the problem is there is so little information about these films in English, finding one is just luck. I know there is one other one I saw clips from (though I don’t know the name) with a different dragon monster. We’ve also found ape costumes are surprisingly common, so there are probably other cool fantasy things running around just waiting for me to write a long rambling review about! Luckily, I have a stack of vcds with a few looking very promising. I hope this costume was used again and again.
Yau Hei-sing (Walter Tso Tat-Wah) – Kung fu master who has a bratty son that gets his family involved in secret treasure maps and evil kung fu gangs. He fights a very familiar looking dragon, and later loses his kung fu. Next time, use a club so no one takes it, dude!
To Fei-yin (Law Yim-Hing) – Yau Hei-sing’s wife and a martial arts master herself. Easily provoked to jealously, but also loves her husband very much. Comes from a long line of increasingly grim sifus. Law Yim-Hing was one of the major starlettes of the post-war boom, becoming very prolific from the late 1940s until the late 1960s. He was only lured back for one film after her 1969 retirement, 1988’s Love Me and Dad. She did both martial and Cantonese opera roles, and was a well-respected dramatic actress.
King Thief Wong Ng (Leung Sing-Bo) – The greatest thief in all of China and a master of disguise. Also is a good thief, sort of like Robin Hood with a stick. I’m sure the thief’s name of Wong Ng being very close to master thief Wong Ang the Heroine is a complete coincidence!
Cheung Tai-fu (Cheung Chi-Suen) – Good government official who wants to use a treasure to help out a lot of poor people. But the evil Diu Lung and his Three Monsters are causing problems and have most of the map.
Diu Lung (Ho Ging-Fan) – Greedy official who lives by the rule that you can never have too much money. Hired the Three Monsters to find a treasure before some do-gooding idiot uses the money to help people. Can you believe it? Money belongs in vaults that you swim in!
Three Monsters Guy (Sek Kin) – Not sure of the name of Sek Kin’s Three Monsters character, but he likes to scowl.
Kwai Kin-hook (Ling Mung) – Member of the Three Monsters with prominent eyebrows. Is the de facto leader of the group.
Kwai Kin-shou (Chu Yau-Ko) – Fat member of the Three Monsters who I think is supposed to be humorous, though the comedy isn’t that physical.
Not Godzilla (man in suit!) – The King of Monsters sired some sort of bastard child while vacationing in China, and the poor monster gets killed dead. Actually, it’s a “dragon”! Because traditional Chinese dragons look like that.
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.
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!
Wong Ngan (Yu So-Chau) – The champion of the people and solver of mysteries. Wong Ngan the Oriole fights for justice, and for just being there when stuff goes down. She and her girls will solve any mystery that comes along and won’t take any crap while doing so, though Wong Ngan is more likely to dispense with the villains with a polite smile than her sidekicks.
Heung Ngan (Connie Chan Po-Chu) – Wong Ngan’s younger sidekick, who is sassy and tough, and not afraid to fight a gigantic yellow-haired monster on occasion. Or a lady in a skeleton costume. Or a jerk homeowner keeping her from having a banana. The film is well aware Connie Chan will be the cat’s meow in another year or two, and makes sure to keep her on screen.
Wu Nga (Chan Hiu-Kau) – Wong Ngan’s other sidekick, who wears a K on her jacket (for Krazy!) She’s more reserved than Heung Ngan, but isn’t afraid to kick some butt if need be.
Inspector To (Walter Tso Tat-Wah) – Walter Tso shows up as his Inspector character that he played from time to time when not starring in a period piece. It’s a good thing Inspector To let these women wander around and solve his case for him, because he’s wrong on just about everything until Wong Nang politely explains what happened.
Cheung Yan-Lei (Sek Kin) – The framed younger brother of Cheung Yan-Chuen who spent years in jail and recently escaped. He’s plotting revenge, but a jerk like Cheung Yan-Chuen has so many enemies Yan-Lei is going to have to get in line.
Cheung Yan-Chuen (Ling Mung) – The evil brother who framed his brother for murder and screwed over a lot of people in his life. A list of his enemies would just be a copy of the phone book (Cheung Yan-Chuen wouldn’t be there, as he’d have an unlisted telephone number just to be away from everyone else!) Learns why you should never turn your back on your enemies, especially the ones with knives.
Cheung Kai-Ting (Cheung Ying-Tsoi) – Son of Cheung Yan-Chuen who now has to deal with his idiot father’s enemies coming to cause problems. You think you have dad problems.
Yau Tin Lung (Lam Liu-Ngok) – The servent to Cheung Yan-Chuen who is listed here because she’s a major character with a secret. And just ignore the fact there is a mystery character who is obviously female…
Sifu (Lok Gung) – A one-eyed sorcerer who helps Cheung Yan-Lei after his escape from jail and just happens to have a giant manservant and an orangutan on hand in his lab. So did Cheung Yan-Lei escape from jail into a pulp novel? You’d be surprised, because this film is based on a pulp novel!
Blonde Hair Monster (Siu Gam) – Was originally Sifu’s servant Mo Mo before a horrible accident and the addition of orangutan blood turned him into the fearful Blonde Hair Monster! Is that blonde hair real? Only his hairdresser knows for sure!
Ghost Lady (It is a mystery!) – Who could this mysterious ghost lady be? And why is she wearing a skeleton head when she is a ghost?