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.