Merciful Buddha is a Taiwanese fantasy film with a lot of crazy effects that aren’t like anything you have seen recently. Unless you are the kind of guy who watches a lot of these films. Crazy fantasy effects, fairy girls, immortal dudes, horses with human heads, giant monkeys, shape changing, earthquakes, and
This is a pretty confusing film with a bunch of wacky, crazy, goofy stuff going on. So the summary is filled with best guesses at times, but unless you are an expert in the film Merciful Buddha you will probably be just as confused as we are. Just my luck and some guy who wrote a doctoral thesis on Merciful Buddha will soon write complaining of the film’s representation on TarsTarkas.NET. Well, screw ’em!
This copy of the film is from a VHS tape (because there is no way this will be on remastered DVD because the world hates people like me.) It is also dubbed into Thai, but it has subtitles! Subtitles that are cut off because the movie is fullscreen while it was filmed in widescreen. And often the subtitles are white on white background so they are even more unreadable. But this is a common complaint, as regular readers and regular watchers of random foreign junk are well aware. Tyrone Hsu Tien-Yung directed several other Taiwanese fantasy films including Golden Nun and The Demons in the Flame Mountain, which I am namedropping because I have copies lying around somewhere.
Master Huang Wan Hsi (Chui Yuk-Sang) – The rich nice guy in town who everyone loves except for Master Wu. But Master Huang is too nice to notice. Father of Ah Mei, who is a Fairy Princess. The subtitles can’t keep how to spell his name straight and it also shows up as Hwang Wun Hsi and Hwang Yuan Wai.
Master Wu Ching (Wong Fei) – Master Wu Ching is the local town rich jerk. Think Mr. Potter. Mr. Burns. Grand Moff Tarkin. Scar. Captain Hook. Little Red Riding Hood. Okay…where was I? Master Wu’s servant is named Ah Ken and his son is Wu Ai. Wu Ai is raised by bandits who kill Master Wu in poetic karma stuff.
Ah Mei (Au-Yeung Ling-Lung) – the daughter of Master Huang who is actually Fairy Princess Hsueh Hua She was dropped off in town for a mission that is never specificed. She might also be Fairy O Mei, but who knows? And since she took over the daughter, Master Huang’s real daughter had to have been murdered. Just think about that! The movie sure didn’t.
Ah To (Kao Yuen) – The son of Master Wu, formally named Wu Ai, who is raised by two criminals who killed his parents, Master Fan and Master Yang Lio Feng. Ah To rejects his evil upbringing and goes good.
Stone Monkey God (a chimp and Man In Suit) – Stone Monkey God guy lived in a mountain and glowed his eyes and stuff until one day he ran off and caused trouble until he was trapped in a bottle and turned into a bear thief and then escaped and went back to live in a mountain. He 420s every day!
Lu Tung Ping (???) – A glowing god guy who is one of the Eight Immortals. He helps Ah Mei and Ah To while keeping Stone Monkey God in line.
Master Yang Lio Feng (Lung Tien-Hsiang) – A criminal who raises Ah To as his own son. Has piles and piles of gold he got thanks to using the Monkey God for theft.
Master Fan (Chin Lung) – Criminal accomplice to Master Yang and co-dad to Ah To. Is this a Taiwanese version of My Two Dads? If Paul Rudd shows up, I quit!
aka Wu dun ren shu aka Chinese Super Ninjas aka Five Element Ninjas
Ricky Cheng Tien-Chi as Shao Tien-hao
Lo Meng as Ji Shang
??? as Lead Ninja
??? as Yen Chang
Chen Hei Psi as Mr. Kang
A Shaw Brothers film. Quality Kung Fu, and Ninjas, too! Half the names I got I can’t find in cast lists, so we’ll just have to wing it for some of them.
After an announcement about the authenticity of the Japanese weapons used in this film, the story begins. Two groups are vying for control of the Kung Fu world. Mr. Kang controls the group that is challenging for the position, they are dressed in darker colors and are the bad guys. The group in charge is led by Yen Chang, and the group is all dressed in white outfits. Shao Tien-hao is a young member of the white team, he will be important later so we mention him here. There is a whole slew of names given for the tournament fighters on both sides, most of which I didn’t catch. There are ten rounds to be fought, one at a time. White team guy with a bo staff beats a Dark Team guy with two sawblade looking weapons for round one. Round two is won by a White team member named Mu Fin (Muffin?) who has daggers. More and more rounds are fought, with the White team winning each time. The final round is ready to be fought, and Mr. Kang has a surprise: a Japanese Samurai is brought out to represent his side. Yen Chang sends one of his men to fight him, a guy wielding an axe, and also wielding a noodly dubbed voice. Axe Guy loses, and is taunted by the Samurai “Lose of a fight equals loss of one’s life for a samurai!” Axe Guy kill himself. Now a new challenger for the Samurai, a guy named Ji Shang. Ji Shang will fight against the Katana wielding samurai with just his bare hands. Ji Shang is a much better fighter than Axe Guy, and even eventually takes Samurai’s sword. They pause, as Ji Shang has won. Samurai gets a different sword, which he will use for seppuku. Samurai gives Mr. Kang a letter with the name of a ninja on it, and throws a ring at Yen Chang that will be used to identify the ninja when he arrives. Then Samurai dies.