1971HKMDB Link Written by Joseph Kuo Nan-Hong, Tyrone Hsu Tien-Yung, Lin Yu-Yuan
Directed by Joseph Kuo Nan-Hong
The Evil Karate (鬼門太極) is a great Taiwanese kung fu fantasy with all the common revenge and secret kung fu instruction elements you need to ensure a simple but action-filled story. Taiwan’s martial arts spectacles focused on crazy action, and they weren’t afraid to have every character have a gimmick. This film is no exception, beyond every character having their own specific weapon, we have a lady who wears a snake (and uses it as a weapon), a guy who fights with a fishing pole, and everyone teleporting and zooming around in the trees like they’re flying squirrels. The not afraid to try new and fun things is part of the joys of Taiwanese kung fu films, and makes up for the often awful condition we have to view the treasures in. Even getting this in a subtitled print is a minor miracle, usually I’d be forced to deal with a substandard dub where everyone has a random British accent.
The Evil Karate is a mix of man-on-the-run/girl-fighter/revenge films, complete with a character whose talent seems to be getting everyone who helps him horribly murdered. Luckily, the villain is even more comically evil than you would think, and his pack of goons are pretty hilarious even as they die by the score. It is set in a kung fu fantasy world where people can fly, smash boulders, train at secret techniques from childhood, and evil gangs control vast territory for decades without anyone bothering to stop them except the now-grown children of people they murdered. But the real reason to bother with The Evil Karate doesn’t show up until almost halfway through the film, and that is actress Cheung Ching-Ching.
Cheung Ching-Ching was active for about a decade as a martial arts actress, kicking butt all over Taiwan in a variety of movies, most of which are either not available anywhere or only on beat up VHS tapes, bargain DVDs, and grey market specials. Which is sort of a shame, because she’s pretty good, and has a high-energy charisma that you want to see in a goofy film like this. The actress who plays the young Chen-chen (for around half the film) is also pretty good, and is really into all the physical work required for the job. I almost though this would turn into an Annoying Flying Kid movie, but thankfully we had a montage where she turned into Cheung Ching-Ching. Director Joseph Kuo helmed the two 18 Bronzemen films among his 63 films, most of which were done in the 60s and 70s.
No one does karate, evil or otherwise.
Chou Chen-Chen (Kai Pao Yu) – Little girl whose parents are murdered and is raised by Lo Tien Hung and trained for revenge. She grows up into…
Chou Chen-Chen (Cheung Ching-Ching) – The grown up Chen-Chen is now a master flyer, fighter, dart thrower, and kung fu girl. She kicks more ass by 6am than you do all day, unless you are also a kung fu girl who seeks revenge, of which we have several dozen as well on TarsTarkas.NET.
Lo Tien Hung (Shaw Luo-Hui) – Lo Tien Hung holds the secret of a jade manuscript that reveals the location of an awesome kung fu technique, and he gets many many MANY people killed over the course of the film because of this. If you see this guy coming, run away and take your entire family with you. He’s dangerous! Eventually trains Chen-chen to seek revenge, but not before getting the entire country murdered as the Seven Monsters seek him out. Shaw Luo-Hui is also in Ape Girl
Fisher (Kang Ming) – A fisherman who uses Fishing Pole Fu. The first time I’ve seen in used in film. Probably the last time, because Fishing Pole Fu isn’t very effective. One of Lo Tien Hung’s many dead helpers, along with Farmer Kung, Master, and Chen-chen’s family.
King Hades Yen (O Yau-Man) – Hades Yen is the Devil who gave Devil’s Gate the name. Often runs around with a gold face white hair. Leads the Seven Monsters Of Poison. Can survive multiple daggers shoved into his neck. O Yau-Man is also a big villain in The Dwarf Sorcerer.
Snake Lady (Kong Ching-Ha) – I never caught her character’s name, because the Seven Monsters of Poison weren’t granted names, only vague personality stereotypes. But she’s evil, has a pet snake, and is totally into poisoning people. Kong Ching-Ha also appears in The Eighteen Jade Arhats
Ghost’s Shadow (Gam Man Hei) – When the Seven Monsters of Devil’s Gate are incompetent, King Hades Yen outsources tracking duties to Ghost’s Shadow, who despite having a cool name also has cool tracking abilities. He’s like the Boba Fett of The Evil Karate. And like Boba Fett, he dies.
1977HKMDB Link Directed and written by Tyrone Hsu Tien-Yung
Golden Nun is another in a long line of Taiwanese flicks that are pretty much unknown here and filled with goofy things. In this instance, we got a bald headed lady monk who fights a ghost girl, and at one point this bald nun becomes golden. Thus, the title. Does it make sense? Hell no! But why let that stop you? Taiwanese films are like…films…that….stuff. Yeah. Uh. Okay, maybe I need an actual metaphor and should stop winging it. So there have been more Taiwanese films than usual reviewed here recently, largely due to the fact I got a hold of a bunch of odd ones and am cranking them out slowly but surely.
What is weirdest about Golden Nun is that it is a musical! Inspired by Chinese opera stuff so there are a few random songs. The first one comes out of nowhere, but you get used to them.
Names are best guesses based on dialogue, they might be completely wrong, but too bad! Since this review is about it for English language mentions of Golden Nun, you are going to take what you can get and like it! We have no subtitles and no patience. But at TarsTarkas.NET, we don’t need no stinkin’ subtitles!
Sai Yu-Chan (Lam Dai) – golden nun Lam Dai actually shaved her head for this role (or a few other roles, it looks like she is bald in a few movies.) In addition to starring in Golden Nun, Lam Dai also had a role in 13 Golden Nuns, released the same year but probably unrelated. She is also in a movie called Wolf Girl
Sing Wei-a (Lee Tao Hung) – Main guy who gets involved in all the wacky adventures with his bald girlfriend and ghost wife. Wacky wacky wacky. Too bad he is so boring.
Shiu Jiu-wa (Hu Chin) – Is she or isn’t she? Only her mortician knows for sure! Hu Chin was in The Fate of Lee Khan, so she gets forgiven for the fact the rest of her career looks like it was nothing but trash like this.
Taoist Priest (Tien Feng) – Tien Feng was Lee Khan in The Fate of Lee Khan, and also plays bad dudes in many other films, so he rules, even if he isn’t Lam Ching-Ying and therefore not the best Taoist Priest ever. Thus, he gets killed.
Pervy Guy (Lor Tok) – Lor Tok from James Band 007? What are you doing here? I guess his popularity in Thai films translated to making the big money in Taiwan. He basically has an extended cameo as a pervy guy who gets offed by the ghostly Shiu Jiu-wa.
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!