aka Phoenix The Ninja aka 蓋世奇花 aka Wolf Devil Woman 3 aka Gai shi ji hua
1981 Script by Godfrey Ho Jeung-Keung
Story by Pearl Cheung Ling
Directed by Fong Ho
It’s Pearl Cheung Ling Time! Another classic Pearl Cheung Ling martial arts cinema masterpiece gets its due. Miraculous Flower (possibly better known as Phoenix The Ninja, as that’s the name I knew it as for years!) is a great piece of cinema that stands on the edge of Pearl-insanity and classic wuxia revenge. Filled with kooky characters, varied and elaborate environments, and plenty of gory action, Miraculous Flower pulls out all the stops and succeeds in being entertaining and fun.
This is her first film where Pearl is actively involved in the narrative construction beyond just a producer role. And while she did come up with the story, it’s obvious that they needed to follow a more traditional kung fu revenge narrative. While it still walks the edge of the volcano, there are moments where things go a bit wild. It is probably safe to say some of the smaller quirks are also Pearl’s doing, and things were added to tailor to her interests. When Pearl is dressed in the all black revenge costume and swooping around like an angel of death, that’s pretty much pure Pearl Cheung Ling. Her transformation sequence in Matching Escort involves her donning a full white costume, while in Wolf Devil Woman the entire character changes constantly through the film. Dark Lady of Kung Fu deals with this by having Pearl’s character having two separate identities. By the time of her final film General Invincible, the Pearl character is torn between two worlds and duty and honor from those worlds, and the consequences thereof.
As we noted before, Matching Escort was retitled during a released as Wolf Devil Woman 2, and Miraculous Flower was retitled Wolf Devil Woman 3, despite being made before either of the other two films! I have two versions of Miraculous Flower, the Hong Kong release that features all the gore but is missing some scenes in the beginning featuring the Happy Fairy, and the international IFD retitle Phoenix the Ninja that has the gore trimmed but doesn’t feature any full cut scenes. I do not know why the early scenes were cut, maybe to make room on a vcd or something? Both versions feature different credit sequences. A good breakdown of the two versions can be found here.
Ao-shuang Leng (Pearl Cheung Ling) – Just your average woman whose mother died and sends her on a quest that turns out to be far bigger than she imagined. She’s totally not the last of the May family hidden away so well even she doesn’t know it! And that certainly wouldn’t send her out seeking revenge!
Lord No-dust (Tsung Hua) – Lord No-dust hates dirt! Yet somehow he decided to wear white outfits all of the time in a land filled with women named Ao-shuang who constantly get him dirty. Okay, only one woman named Ao-shuang does that, but as she’s the main character and his lover interest, it’s a pretty important Ao-shuang. Lord No-dust secretly learned martial arts after his father forbid it.
Sheue Huai-jen (Wang Hsieh) – Lord No-dust’s father and the head of Snow Shadow in Plume Woods. He was involved in martial arts intrigue long ago and faces continual fallout, including lots of people who want to see him dead. ANd he may have been involved in Ao-shaung’s family’s murder.
Happy Fairy (Gua Ah-Leh) – Sometimes called My Lady, Happy Fairy is a martial arts master who motivates Ao-shuang to continue her quests and teaches her skills she needs to defeat the bad guys who killed her family.
The Monk Syma Chin-cherng (???) – A simple regretful monk is more than he seems, as not only is he Ao-shuang’s father’s brother, but he totally is behind the whole slaughter of her family thing!
There are no ninjas here. Jade Dagger Ninja suffers from being brought over to America in the middle of the ninja craze. The dubbing is comedic, with cartoon effects as characters go flying or go to the bathroom (yes that happens.) Some of the lines are laugh out loud hilarious, but I am certain some of them aren’t the actual lines unless Taiwanese cinema has taken to including English puns in their Chinese dialogue.
Jade Dagger Ninja is known by many names: Han shan fei hu, Jade Dagger, Forest Duel, Shaolin Fox Conspiracy, and the Wu-Tang Clan “Liquid Sword Collection” VHS Title Celestial Souljas.
The plot is pretty ludicrous, and most of it isn’t explained until the end (and then only if you were paying attention) so most of the time you will have no idea what is going on. The basic story is everyone wants the Purple Jade Badger, because it has an elixir that will make your kung fu super powerful. There is also a battle brewing between Sunset Villa and the Heartbreak Red gang. Throw into all that an upcoming wedding and Liu Hsiao-Feng arriving hoping the events will draw out the killer of his wife and you have a film with plots so deep you need a flowchart. Everyone has multiple names, which only makes it even more confusing. So you get our best guess from watching the film twice.
Liu Hsiao-Feng (Tien Peng) – The Flying Fox has been searching for his wife’s killer for three years. This leads him to get involved in the marriage of Aurora Liu and a battle between Sunset Villa and the Heartbreak Red gang. A pun master.
Aurora Liu (Doris Lung Chun-Erh) – Aurora is called the Sunset Fairy. Aurora Liu spends the entire film getting attacked by all sorts of evil people and getting rescued from every one of these evil people by Liu Hsiao-Feng, who she isn’t even engaged to.
Hao Yu Long (Tin Hok) – engaged to Aurora Liu and a big jerk. Spends most of the film fighting with Liu Hsiao-Feng even though Liu Hsiao-Feng has saved his fiancée like 2000 times. Then he turns out to be evil.
Sai Chu-Chu (Chin Meng) – A woman with an enormous libido and very extreme sexuality. Directly asks men she just met if they want to have sex. For some reason everyone calls her ugly, despite the fact she is the best looking cast member. Was raised by Madam Sheng after her parents were killed.
Governor Liu Tin Chi (Wang Hsieh) – Father of Aurora Liu, was engaged to Madam Sheng but left her to marry the dying daughter of a medic who saved his life. Keeper of the Purple Jade Badger. Is the Governor of Sunset Villa, which is the traditional enemy of the Heartbreak Red Gang.
Madam Sheng (Gua Ah-Leh) – The bitter ex-lover of Liu Tin Chi is now the evil head of the Heartbreak Red gang. Yes, it is an outlaw gang of people whose hearts have been broken. This is what happened in a world before LiveJournal and MySpace let you write bad poetry online.
Shen Liu Hen (Shut Chung-Tin) – Killer of Liu Hsiao-Feng’s wife three years ago, and has been pursued by Liu Hsiao-Feng ever sense. Was injured and lost his kung fu powers, but the Purple Jade Badger would restore him to a kung fu master. He is also known as Shining Death.
Heartbreak Warrior (Yun Zhong-Yue) – Also known as the Whirlwind Warrior and as Wai Yu-lin. This guy has too many names. A big fan of rape.
Master Cold Heart (Chung Wa) – Flute Guy! Flute Guy kills people with his flute. He also leaves a flower pin behind as his trademark in some sort of plot device that never got dealt with in the film as he dies halfway through. Where is Master Cold Stone Creamery?
The Incredible Hulk (Shut Chung-Tin) – HULK SMASH!! Shen Liu Hen drinks of the purple jade badger and transformers into the great green menace. Now we know what was in the purple jade badger – gamma radiation!