War God (Review)

War God

aka Calamity aka Guan Yu

Directed by Chen Hung Min

Dink dink, dink dink dink dink dink!

War God is a movie that was missing for a long long time. It sort of became a legend among the growing Asian film community on the internet as a lost kaiju film. Little was known about it except some posters and promo images, and the knowledge that it was broadcast on Taiwanese TV at some point recently, meaning a copy existed somewhere. But beyond that, it was unavailable. Then someone found a VHS and it leaked all over the internet, so here we are! Because FourDK and TarsTarkas.NET both cover many of the same paths of film watchership, we’re timing our reviews to drop on the same day. Why compete when you can turn it into something special? This way it is sort of an event. A War God Event. A Calamity, if you will. The real calamity is if you don’t read both of our reviews. You have a responsibility to yourself to read them both, don’t let yourself down again!

Naughty, naughty, naughty! You filthy old soomka!

The best way to describe War God to new viewers is to think of it as a long episode of Ultraman, except instead of the Science Patrol, War God is backed by the Religious Patrol. This is a film not afraid to tell you that when aliens come to Earth with superior technology, don’t try to research ways to defeat them with technology, call on the power of a guy deified. Between that message, the constant moaning and whining of Uncle Chao as he carves the Guan Yu idol, and the subsequent major plot point of painting on Guan Yu’s eyes, the parts of War God that don’t feature giant things beating the tar out of each other can get pretty annoying. Luckily, we have a LOT of scenes of giant things beating the tar out of each other. Finally, a lost film with giant monsters that doesn’t skimp on the giant monsters!

Welly, welly, welly, welly, welly, welly, well. To what do I owe the extreme pleasure of this surprising visit?

Thanks to duriandave at softfilm for help in IDing some of the actors:

Chao Chun (Yu Ming Lun) – Head Scientist and head jerk! Okay, not so much a jerk as someone who is too busy with his work to spend time with his family, and thus contributing to the family growing apart. Chao Chun does some sort of nuclear research. Yu Ming Lun was in around 30 films and died on December 24th, 1978
Uncle Chao (???) – Patriarch of the family and a wood carver. Although he is going blind, he continues to carve an idol to Guan Yu due to a promise to his dead wife. Uncle Chao likes to ramble on about when he’s done Guan Yu will give the statue real ultimate power.
Li Yu (Tse Ling-Ling) – Chao Chun’s sister and Uncle Chao’s daughter. Is ignored by the family so Li Yu spends her days hanging around with biker gangs to try to get the attention she is missing at home. Eventually becomes an abduction target of the Martians. Tse Ling-Ling retired from film in 1979, but later returned to TV dramas in the 1980s. She was in Tiger and Crane Fist/The Savage Killers, which was turned into Kung Pow: Enter the Fist in 2002.
Chun Lan (Cindy Tang Hsin) – Chao Chun’s girlfriend and fellow scientist. Tries to keep him a bit in the real world instead of lost in the world of science. All anyone seems to know about Cindy Tang Hsin is that she was in around 20 films and then died at the age of 27.
Guan Yu (???) – Guan Yu is the god of War who grows really big and beats up some Martian jerks. Guan Yu was a real person, though has been fictionalized enough by the Romance of the Three Kingdoms stories that he is more myth than man. And he is deified by many Chinese religions, who borrow from both his real and fictional life and merge with their own belief systems into a hodgepodge of Guan Yu-ism. You will likely find a statue of Guan Yu in many Chinese homes, and he is especially worshiped by Triads.
Martians (???) – These Martians have come to Earth to beat up buildings and dissuade us from science. Masters of Mars, they get schooled on Earth in our ability to get giant people to beat up alien invaders.
This would sharpen you up and make you ready for a bit of the old ultra-violence.
No time for the old in-out, love, I’ve just come to read the meter.
Obama’s new campaign posters looked a little off…

I jumped, O my brothers, and I fell hard but I did not snuff it, oh no. if I had snuffed it, I would not be here to tell what I have told.

War God has a swinging 70’s theme song. It’s War God! Wackicha wockicha wockicha. I expect to hear someone opining about how War God is a bad mother and a woman telling him to shut his mouth. But he’s only talking about War God.

Geppetto takes a break from carving little boys (thanks goodness because that’s creepy!) and instead is carving Guan Yu. Geppetto in this case being Uncle Chao, who is the father to most characters so why they call him Uncle is a mystery only the subtitle guy can explain, and he’s on a lunch break. Uncle Chao vowed to his dead wife to finish carving the Guan Yu statue, and it has taken him like two years. Which is odd, because the statue looks like it has only taken two hours. But let’s ignore that, and also ignore Uncle Chao talking to his dead wife, and ignore Uncle Chao complaining about everything. Seriously, let’s just ignore Uncle Chao and improve the movie 100%.

Guan Yu vs. Stonehenge!
It’s funny how the colors of the real world only seem really real when you viddy them on the screen.

Uncle Chao has two kids, one an esteemed scientist, the other a girl who hangs around with biker gangs because her father ignores her as he’s too busy playing with his wood. As we know from Insane Clown Posse, scientists all lie and anger people because they don’t know that magic everywhere in this bitch. So scientist Chao Chun and his science girl Chun Lan aren’t respected by his father. Daughter Li Yu is barely mentioned by Uncle Chao, but Chao Chun remembers her enough to tell her she’s disappointing. This is the healthiest family unit ever!

So the gist of the story is Martians are ticked off at something Earth scientists are doing involving radiation and space. The exact thing they are doing is lost to subtitles cut off at the side of the screen, and as the scientists are seen irradiating bugs, I can only assume they are irradiating giant ants and flinging them into space to bring about the world of Starship Troopers.

we sat in the Korova Milkbar trying to make up our rassoodocks what to do with the evening. The Korova milkbar sold milk-plus, milk plus vellocet or synthemesc or drencrom, which is what we were drinking.
What we were after now was the old surprise visit. That was a real kick and good for laughs and lashings of the old ultraviolent.

When the Martians first come to Earth, lots of wacky things happen like people walking backwards, gravity disappearing, water changing color, and hot rain. A narrator tells us every scientist in the world goes to Hong Kong to find out what the frak, only to not find out anything. Li Yu then gets kidnapped, yanked up in the air like she’s from that movie The Forgotten. The police don’t believe she could have flown up in the air, despite the fact everyone on the planet flew up in the air a day prior when gravity went out for a few minutes.

Li Yu is later found, and undergoing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from giant Martians chasing her and demanding humans stop all scientific research…OR ELSE!

Appy-polly-loggies. I had something of a pain in the gulliver so had to sleep. I was not awakened when I gave orders for wakening.
Goodness is something to be chosen. When a man cannot choose he ceases to be a man.

A UFO flies around and abducts geese, rice, cows,…man, they must be making an awesome feast! Li Yu is taken to a meeting of the world’s scientists (which is like five guys) and they have a drawing of the Martians, which is colored like that famous Obama image. Where’s your MARTIAN birth certificate, Obama???

Uncle Chao just says Guan Yu will save the day, and we get a history flashback of Guan Yu defeating all sorts of other stylized Chinese people. The UFO returns and zooms around, Hong Kong is in panic, people run in the streets, and the aliens beam down three big martians who stomp around with big sticks. The Martians are all white, looking like albino Ultramen Matryoshka (Russian nesting) dolls. The beat buildings with their sticks, and the whole thing is like the droogs from A Clockwork Orange stomping around. After beating a building and demanding Earth stop its science, they just fly off.

We were all feeling a bit shagged and fagged and fashed, it being a night of no small expenditure.
Eggiwegs! I would like… to smash them!

Science says “not so fast, Martians!” and invents a gun that can eat through even the hardest metal alloys. But when the Martians return to beat more buildings with their sticks, the laser does nothing except make the Martians laugh, who then zap some of the scientists. They don’t even stop laughing and giving their anti-science speech to acknowledge the attack.

These are jolly aliens, so happy to be trashing the city. Finally, Uncle Chao whines and whines enough the Guan Yu statue comes alive to shut him up, and grows all huge. The Martian Leader challenges Guan Yu to Chinese kung fu, which is something you should expect from any Martian encounter. Guan Yu shows off his kung fu power by shoving the Martians around. Hey, it’s hard enough to see under those giant costumes, you think they could pull off Matrix-style martial moves?

Initiative comes to thems that wait.
Hi, hi, hi there! At last we meet. Our brief govoreet through the letter-hole was not, shall we say, satisfactory, yes?

Guan Yu fights the aliens for a rather long time, beating them up repeatedly and spinning his blade weapon around and around. Eventually, the Martians bolt for it when it “mysteriously” gets dark due to night time.

Chao rightfully complains about Guan Yu winning when science didn’t, then figures out the Martian power comes from the sun and they will be back in morning. Way to be anti-solar power along with anti-science, film! Uncle Chao realizes he didn’t open the eyes of the Guan Yu statue…and since Uncle Chao’s blind, it might be a problem to paint eyes. No one else bothers to help their dad paint the eyes, despite seeing the statue come to life and him being their only hope. Even certain death cannot cause this family to act as a unit.

One thing I could never stand was to see a filthy, dirty old drunkie, howling away at the filthy songs of his fathers and going blurp blurp in between as it might be a filthy old orchestra in his stinking, rotten guts. I could never stand to see anyone like that, whatever his age might be, but more especially when he was real old like this one was.
But enough of words, actions speak louder than. Action now. Observe all.

The Martians return, twisting the universe while doing so, and Uncle Chao finally finishes painting on the eyes (it took ALLLLLLL night to paint two eyes.) Guan Yu grows big and begins to kick the Martians’ butts again.

Fight fight fight. The best part about this film is the fight sequences are so long. They don’t skimp out on the monster action. But, there is a drawback, and that is the fighting becomes monotonous after a while. Luckily, they try to mix it up a bit for this final fight. Light nets, Martians using the Force to throw buildings at Guan Yu, people not evacuating buildings despite giant monsters fighting just outside, fun times.

Guan Yu punches a Martian so hard the Martian begins to glow and expand in size. Guan Yu punches him again, and the Martian shrinks to toy soldier size and is squashed beneath his boot. Another Martian bites it when a building he’s flying around with the Force gets thrown into him. Perhaps you should have finished your jedi training, Martian!

Guan Yu fights the final Martian in the burnt out husk that used to be downtown Hong Kong with the charred rubble of buildings scattered around them. Even if Guan Yu wins, he hasn’t saved the city, because it’s trashed! The Martian Leader shoots weapons from his chest that do nothing, so Guan Yu chops off an arm! Did you know that Martians have yellow smoke for blood? You can also chop off Martian heads, but the bodies will just pick up the heads and run away. That’s why you then need to finish them off, like Guan Yu does to the Martian leader.

At the end, Uncle Chao gets back to work carving..something… Maybe his dead wife! That’s about the only conclusion we have. The family doesn’t learn to work together as a better unit, they still have the strained relationships they started out with, and no one has grown at all in the journey. Now that may be realistic from a real life standpoint, but as this is a film one tends to want to see arcs and journeys and people becoming better people.

So was War God worth the wait? I will say that yes, yes it was. It did not skimp out on the monster action, in fact there might be too much monster action (just kidding, there is never enough monster action!) Though I found the anti-science propaganda annoying, it was sort of blunted by the fact the Martians had really advanced science to the point that their abilities appeared to be indistinguishable from magic. You could make the case that Guan Yu also has such advanced science that even the filmmakers mistook it for magic. Take that, War God! In any event, I suggest you get your War God on and track down a copy to watch. Or carve a copy out of wood and whine a lot, and maybe it will turn into a real copy! And since the internet has given me so many lost films recently, Devil Fighter and Tokyo 1960 better show up real soon!

Ho, ho, ho! Well, if it isn’t fat stinking billy goat Billy Boy in poison! How art thou, thou globby bottle of cheap, stinking chip oil? Come and get one in the yarbles, if ya have any yarbles, you eunuch jelly thou!
Hi, hi, hi, Mr. Deltoid!
You needn’t take it any further, sir. You’ve proved to me that all this ultraviolence and killing is wrong, wrong, and terribly wrong. I’ve learned me lesson, sir. I’ve seen now what I’ve never seen before. I’m cured! Praise god!
I was cured, all right!

Rated 8/10 (carve time, bee power!, goose power, disintegrated bodies, realistic car, go green machine, the reception is bad here, yellow smoke blood)

Suddenly, I viddied what I had to do, and what I had wanted to do, and that was to do myself in; to snuff it, to blast off for ever out of this wicked, cruel world. One moment of pain perhaps and, then, sleep for ever, and ever and ever.
What you got back home, little sister, to play your fuzzy warbles on? I bet you got little save pitiful, portable picnic players. Come with uncle and hear all proper! Hear angel trumpets and devil trombones. You are invited.
Oh bliss! Bliss and heaven! Oh, it was gorgeousness and gorgeousity made flesh. It was like a bird of rarest-spun heaven metal or like silvery wine flowing in a spaceship, gravity all nonsense now. As I slooshied, I knew such lovely pictures!

Don’t forget to read FourDK’s War god review as well!

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6 thoughts on “War God (Review)

  1. Really amazing review and cool screencaps!
    I just been working on this movie about 2 months ago as I was lucky enough to get a copy of it, probably the same as yours. However I went down color calibrating and did some major picture fix-up on over 50 scenes (one by one) and made a really nice so to speak remaster of the thing, along with a DVD cover for it. Why did I put so much love and work in this? It’s because the first time I ever read about this film it was on your site and ever since I was haunted by it lol! To be honest I really liked it and decided to give it the restoration it deserves because it will probably never get a decent release anyway.

    • Supposedly they are working on a DVD release and redubbing it in Cantonese. The company was kind enough to send me a threatening letter claiming I was illegally distributing the film via this review, I guess because of the three short clips. I shot back a copy of the Fair Use laws in the US. I’m stoked this reappeared, of all the lost stuff I’ve found so far, this one held up to expectations the most.

  2. I am a graphic designer and a sucker for old classic films on VHS. Just watched DAIMAJIN. Absolutely loved it! Bumped into your site while reading more on it. Is there a way I can get hold of WARGOD? Will be extremely obliged.

  3. Pingback: War God

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