Na Cha and the Seven Devils
Who would have thought that a movie about a bunch of animal demons running amok, including a huge fire breathing dragon in sequences directed by Yamanouchi Tetsuya, would turn out to be so boring? Obviously anyone who has had prior experience with movies where flying kids battle monsters! At TarsTarkas.NET, we have dealt with a lot of them! Though most of those are Taiwanese, Na Cha and the Seven Devils comes from the illustrious Shaw Brothers studios. It’s the second of two Na Cha films that were made at the same time by Yamanouchi Tetsuya, featuring many of the same cast (they even reuse at least one human character as the grandson of his character from the first film!), and one of several Na Cha films, a character from a classic Chinese tale.
A quick Na Cha primer: Na Cha is that kid with the flaming circles around his feet that let him fly. Sometimes his name is translated Nezha or Na Zha. He’s based on Chinese mythology that probably has roots in Hinduism. Na Cha shows up in Journey to the West and has a stream of television and film appearances.
Na Cha and the Seven Devils seems like it would be an idea kids film, just let them watch the special effects while mom and dad go get hammered..I mean, go do chores. But there is an awful lot of boob grabbing. It’s oddly sensual (though in a clumsy sensual way), and Shaw was ranking up the sexy in the early 70s. It does seem way out of place for what goes on in the rest of the film.
The look of Na Cha and the Seven Devils comes from art director Mutsuo Mikimi, who has a pedigree of doing effects on Message from Space, Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell, and Super Infra-Man. Director Yamanouchi Tetsuya was making a brief foray out of Japan, but he also has a kaiju pedigree thanks to films like The Magic Serpent and 1969’s Akakage. Doi Michiyoshi is also listed as a director on the HKMDB, but not on the actual film and I can’t find any further information.
The biggest gripe with Na Cha and the Seven Devils is that Na Cha and his immortal buddies cause all these problems on Earth, then they send only three of them to deal with the problems. Meanwhile, hundreds of people die! Sorry, folks, you are all being slaughtered to teach Na Cha responsibility! The main trouble is there is a magic peach tree that only blooms every 1000 years, and then the peaches take 1000 years to ripen. And it’s about time for those babies to pop. There are 8 this year that are destined to be a gift to the Queen Mother by order of the Jade Emperor.
Na Cha is unaware of all this, and just sees a tree with a bunch of peaches, and Na Cha wants to eat them peaches. So he climbs up the tree and grabs on, accidentally causing the other 7 to fall. Because they are at Mt. Kunlu – which is between Heaven and the Mortal World, the peaches fall through the clouds to Earth. Where they are promptly found by animals, that eat them and become superpowered Devils themed on whatever animal they were.
Now, Na Cha did cause the original problem, but he also wasn’t told not to eat the peaches, and as someone who has done their fair share of gardening (and has peach trees in the back yard!), I know for a fact peaches will be falling off the tree regardless of Na Cha shaking the branches or not, which means a few would have dropped down below anyways. Which means the immortals should have hung a few baskets to catch these valuable and dangerous peaches!
After the peaches are found to be missing, an edict comes down on high from the Jade Emperor to solve this problem in 10 days! So the group of immortals decide to just send Na Cha by his lonesome. It’s only when his two older brothers Jincha and Mucha beg to go along that the party is increased. But still, everyone else just stays around Mt. Kunlu and laments their fate and probably going to get squashed by an angry Jade Emperor soon. Lazy, lazy people who deserve it for not bothering to help solve the problem.