The Eighteen Jade Arhats goes by many many many titles besides its original Shi ba yu luo han. You might find in on video under titles such as Eighteen Claws of Shaolin, Eighteen Deadly Arhats, or The Eighteen Jade Pearls. We’re watching a widescreen print released somewhere that speaks Spanish, where the film was titled Bruce Le y El Secreto del Saolin. Someone overlayed the widescreen print with the English dubjub by that company that dubbed hundreds of Kung Fu films (so you’d recognize many of the voices.) Why would we watch such a weird hybrid? Because, at the time, it was the best way to see it. It might still be, I haven’t kept up with the latest DVD releases of 18 Jade Arhats, but I don’t know if there is a good widescreen print in English or Chinese.
My first experience with the film was still pictures from the book Deadly China Dolls that featured Polly Shang Kuan battling some sort of multi-armed statue. That was awesome so the film jumped way ahead in my search queue. Too bad for me the actual statue fighting happens for less than a few seconds, and is just a flashback and an immobile statue.
Director Cheung Git only directed two other films, and I haven’t seen them, so I can’t tell if this is a typical Cheung Git film. Maybe one day…
“What the hell is an “arhat”?” I hear you asking. Well, guy who can’t use Google, an arhat signifies a spiritual practitioner who has realized certain high stages of attainment. The Chinese word for arhat can be written as “Lo Han” which become Lohan when subtitle people are at work. And thus, the Lindsay Lohan jokes that will be in the film, because if I don’t do it some commentor will. But now I probably will prevent all potential comments! That’s what I get for shooting myself in the foot…
Polly Shang Kuan is awesome enough we’ll give her a better biography when reviews of some of her weirder films are completed. As the time of this reviews publication, there are four other films of hers in my review pipeline, showing how I just get reviews 90% done and then wander off to watch something else. She was a queen of action cinema during her day, and some of her films are too awesome for words and are just experiences you have to have.
Sing Pei Pei (Polly Shang Kuan Lingfeng) – Sing Pei Pei is in search of the 18 jade arhats/Lohans that we stolen from her family, and the thief murdered her entire family. She gets involved in the search for a killer because it will lead her to the man who killed her family.
Kung Chin Ya (Lee Jan-wa) – Kung Chin Ya is a guy who wanders around China getting into adventures or something. He really has no real motive except he wanders around. I guess he’s out to fight for justice or something, but it’s not like he says it. It is more like he’s just running around slicing up bad guys because it is more exciting than making noodles.
Hu Ying Pao (Lo Lieh) – The accused murderer of Wong Chun Wei, who is innocent and eventually proves his innocence when people try to kill him to silence him. Lo Lieh was previously seen here in Lady Iron Monkey
Wong Chun Wei (Chang Yi) – He’s dead, so most of the film is people trying to figure out who killed them. Boy are they wasting their time! Uh.., SPOILERS! Chang Yi was one of the baddies in The Thrilling Sword.
This movie has the scene. What scene? If you’ve seen Fatal Termination, you know what scene I am talking about. If you haven’t, just look at the screencaps littering this review, or watch the movie clip. We have a young girl dangled out of a car window at high speeds. No special effects, no blue screens, no CGI, it’s 100% real. That scene. What would normally just be a random Hong Kong action film with a slight Girls with Guns vibe (solely because of Moon Lee, who doesn’t do much fighting until that scene) instead becomes a memorable experience just for the shock of wondering if they could do that. They could, they did, and now we can enjoy! So enjoy! Or I’ll dangle your daughter out a window like I’m Michael Jackson. So read on…
John (Ray Lui Leung-Wai) – Husband of Moon, head of security at the airport, father of Yan Yan and tries to get to the bottom of the weapons smuggling mess.
Moon (Moon Lee Choi-Fung) – Wife of John and one of his security team members. Is a faithful mother to the point of jumping onto a moving car, punching through the windshield, and yanking out passengers to save her daughter. See Moon Lee here also in Tomb Raiders.
Officer Wai Loong (Robin Shou Wan-Bo) – Custom official who is on the take, to the point where he begins playing both sides and getting deeper and deeper into a pit. Goes into mortal combat with the heroes as they uncover his layers of lies.
Jimmy Li (Simon Yam Tat-Wah) – a cop from Political Division, which must be a division of Police Squad considering how much they blow solving the case here and getting lots of people killed. Jimmy Li’s white boss keeps thinking he’s a loose cannon who doesn’t play by the rules, but as people die no matter how much by the rules he plays who really cares? He likes wearing gigantic sunglasses, which must have been in at the time in Hong Kong. Simon Yam is in dozens of Hong Kong action films, and has been seen here in Future Cops.
Ko Mok-Fu (Phillip Ko Fei) – The criminal mastermind setting up a weapons theft and delivery to a rival Muslim faction, but gets double and triple crossed by Officer Wai Loong. Ends up in a final battle with Officer Wai and hero cop John. Phillip Ko was also a producer of this movie, as well as starring in many other cheap action films at the time, like Angel Enforcers and Deadly Target.
Mr. Lau (Lau Dan) – Pipe-smoking partner of Jimmy Li, Political Division. More soft-spoken and diplomatic, worried about eating, and doesn’t pay attention when someone breaks into the hotel room to kill him. Oops!
Officer Miu Chun-Fan (Kiu Wai Miu) – Moon’s brother, framed for stealing the weapons and is dropped off a building by Ko Mok-Fu when Miu gets evidence that Officer Wai was responsible for the weapons theft. Kiu Wai Miu starred in Centipede Horror and several of the Lucky Star films.
Yan Yan (Chan Cheuk-Yan) – Daughter of Moon and John, likes ballet, hanging out car windows, and getting shot.
Billy (Cheung Kwok-Leung) – Protégé of Officer Mui, but joins in Officer Wai’s evil plot. Later regrets it and helps John uncover the truth until he gets blown up by Ko Mok-Fu. Cheung Kwok-Leung stars in a film called The Mystery of the Big Boobs which I need to locate immediately…
Wrestler Goon (Mike Abbott) – Rarh! Bonesaw will smash you scrawny weaklings! Snap into a Slim Jim and dangle your Asian children out windows, because YOU WILL BE DESTROYED!! The Title Belt is mine! Bonesaw!