Snow Monster (Review)

Snow Monster

aka 大雪怪 aka Da Xue Guai
Snow Monster 大雪怪
Written by Sheng Fan Zhang and Pian Jia Leng
Directed by Huang He

Snow Monster 大雪怪
NetFlix isn’t the only streaming platform pumping out a ton of their original movies to drive up views, China has several big streaming companies and they are all creating their own content in a bet to win sole control of views. Streaming platform Youku has greenlit a ton of original content, but the films of interest to us are several that are basically SyFy Channel original movies! They got giant snakes, giant alligators, sea monsters, the list goes on and on. But most importantly, they have Snow Monster, which is pretty much King Kong in snow demon form. Also there are ice sharks! Yes, Snow Monster fights the ice sharks! This is some of what we call pretty amazing stuff.

The Snow Monster himself is not a gorilla or even an ape. It appears to be a huge furry satyr, complete with a long tail. The fur is snow white, the hands only have three fingers and a thumb, the legs are bent like goat legs, and the head is adorned with two large goat horns, one of which is partially snapped off. The monster himself is a mix of guy in suit and CGI depending on the scene needs, but more often than not he is just a guy standing there reacting to what is going on. This makes it sort of charming in a low budget cinema sort of way.
Snow Monster 大雪怪
Of course there are no English subtitles, but at TarsTarkas.NET, we don’t need no stinking subtitles! The plot is pretty easy to follow, the monsters don’t need to talk, and while we have all seen this before, and it’s fun to see it again done different with the shadow of the original sprawling over it. Part of the film has the same trouble the Peter Jackson King Kong did, in that we spend a bunch of time running around with monsters that aren’t the giant monster of the title. I don’t know how much planning you need for a Snow Monster movie but there are like 25 people credited. If this keeps up with the other Youku films I got on the docket than I will keep you posted, otherwise I would advise getting a job as a film planner as they seem to be giving them away! I identified who I could in the cast, but as I don’t know what the names of the characters they are playing are, I’m just going to refer to them by their real names. Since this is a harder to find movie (unless you are specifically looking for it), this will be more of a recap review.
Snow Monster 大雪怪
Snow Monster does keep the monster in the winter wonderland where it exists instead of having a sequence where it is brought back to the city to cause trouble. That’s obviously a cost consideration, but it also points to the reality of transporting a gigantic monster out of a hostile environment and then into an urban environment without their being any sort of issues, something most of the Kong films just handwave away.

Snow monster, snow sharks, monster birds, a random dinosaur skeleton that seems put there because there were big skeletons in Kong: Skull Island except those were Kong’s family and here it makes no sense unless Snow Monster’s dad was a tyrannosaur. It’s Snow Monster, baby!
Snow Monster 大雪怪
Continue reading

The White-Bone Sword Part 3 (Review)

The White-Bone Sword (Part 3)

aka 白骨陰陽劍(三集) aka Ingenious swords, part three aka Bai gu yin yang jian san ji
White-bone Sword
1963HKMDB Link
Written by Sze-To On
Directed by Ling Yun

Me after seeing the Kong: Skull Island trailer!

It’s now SOME UNKNOWN TIME LATER, a few things have happened. Okay, mainly one thing happened, which is Black Girl ran off and possibly recovered the White-Boned Swords only to hide them somewhere else. Exactly what happened to her will have to remain a mystery as the actress doesn’t appear in the series any more and there are no subtitles, so we can only assume she got on a bus to Mars. But who needs Black Girl when we got Wong Tin-ho, Wu Seung-fun, and Luk Fong-fei to wander around looking for Black Girl and/or the White-Boned Swords? Plus, if you are a fan of Vampire Lady, you will be happy to know that she is back as well, with an even larger squadron of hopping vampires to command! This leads to some amazing fight sequences later on with skeleton men. And there is a cool gorilla, which is all you need to know that it’s time to watch!
White-bone Sword

Wong Tin-ho (Walter Tso Tat-wah) – At one point Wong Tin-ho dresses up as a pregnant woman, and later he gets poisoned. And he’s the main star!
Wu Sheung-fung (Yu So Chow) – She doesn’t get poisoned, and goes on a journey to get to cure for Wong Tin-Ho. As well as getting involved in more martial intrigue and searching for Black Girl and/or the White-boned Swords.
Luk Fong-fei (Connie Chan Po-chu) – Now a martial arts veteren, but uncovers that Chung Ching is up to no good and that the White-boned Swords are loose once again and need to be tracked down!
Vampire Lady (Kong Bo-Lin) – Vampire Lady now has a full dozen hopping vampires, ready and able to take down the biggest threats! All hail Vampire Lady!
Kam Yan-kit (Yu Kai) – The son of Kam Tin-fung, who is killed by Chung Ching. Chung Ching convinces him that Wong Tin-ho and Wu Sheung-fung killed his father, which causes Kam Yan-kit to seek revenge against them.
Chung Ching (Sek Kin) – Sek Kin 3.0! An evil guy who does stuff that appears less evil and gains friends, though he really does what he does for more selfish reasons. Appears to have the missing White-boned Swords, killed Kam Yan-kit’s father, and conspires with his partners Heaven, Earth, and Man to poison Wong Tin-ho!
Old Devilish Eccentric (Ling Mung) – The mad wondering monk is still around and still helping people in need. This time it’s Kam Yan-kit.
Awesome Excited Gorilla (Himself) – Excited gorillas are the best gorillas, especially when they are excited to find wounded people that their master can then rescue. Awesome Excited Gorilla belongs to Old Develish Eccentric, because of course he does. He’s far too awesome to be owned by anyone else, and you can bet he’s only owned voluntarily.

White-bone Sword
Continue reading

Monster of the Nudist Colony (Review)

Monster of the Nudist Colony

Monster of the Nudist Colony
Written by James Rogers and Bruno Kennedy
Directed by Louis DeWalnut (as Steve Goldenberg)

Even the Monster is nude!

Monster of the Nudist Colony blends monsters and softcore sex mayhem into a wondrous combination that’s now available on your local premium cable channel. Monster of the Nudist Colony is a direct parody of The Beast that Killed Women, directed by schlock exploitation master Barry Mahon! Not only have I seen the film, but the Something Weird DVD paired with The Monster of Camp Sunshine was the first Something Weird DVD I ever bought. If you’ve never seen the various nudie cutie films of the 1960s, filmed back when it was legal to film naked people only on a nudist colony, and with nothing frontal below the waist, then prepared to be bored silly (example: Nude on the Moon) There are endless shots of people walking (with strategically placed towels), sitting (with strategically placed towels), and playing games like volleyball (with strategically placed towels!) The Beast that Killed Women shook up the formula a bit by adding a monster killing women (Barry Mahon in a gorilla suit) that substituted for the sexual release that endless shots of nudists playing volleyball would not deliver. In a way, it was one of the Roughies, the name for underground nudie flicks made soon after the exodus from the colonies that had increasingly violent edges (an example we’ve covered is In Hot Blood)

Monster of the Nudist Colony

How does a gorilla know how to tie knots so well?

Thankfully, Monster of the Nudist Colony avoids all that violent stuff. The guy in a gorilla suit may gank women, but only to tie them up and make them dance for him! Honestly, it makes the film better, because this is supposed to be a silly parody, we don’t need violent acts perpetrated against women with what may be subtextual racism getting in the way! If anything, Monster of the Nudist Colony is a little too on the nose for it’s subject, to the point where it runs out of plot and fills the last 15 minutes with an all star super orgy. That certainly has the ending dance party seen on subpar animated films beat! If you pay attention, there is plenty of references to nudie flicks: people walking along nature trails with towels, a character who’s totally anti-nudity until they learn to cut loose and be nude, something threatening the security of the nudist colony, and even the occasional visit from law enforcement. What is different is all the sex sex sex! Nudie cuties weren’t allowed to have sex scenes, and official nudist colonies shy away from the sexual aspect of nudity, focusing on freedom. Monster of the Nudist Colony ignores all that and has Circle Double D’s Nudist Colony basically one step away from Hedonism II! Sidenote: the Double D’s Nudist Colony is filmed at the Malibu Dry Gulch Ranch.

And, sorry bigfoot-human sex scene fans, the Monster does not have sex with any women until he has been returned to human form. You might like Sweet Prudence & the Erotic Adventure of Bigfoot instead!

Monster of the Nudist Colony

The Librarian from Top Secret!, the prequel!

The film features extensive soundtrack work by RooBiE BreastNuT, not only working through the majority of their songs available on iTunes, but featuring a few news ones (including on that sounds written specifically for Monster of the Nudist Colony!) There is even a cameo by Roobie Breastnut herself! While fan favorite song “Pussy Pussy Bang Bang” is not used, you can hear: “I Want Your Love”, “Girls Like Girls”, “This is the Lust”, “Johnny Lapdance”, “Yeah, That’s Triple X”, “Porn to Be Alive”, “Peeping Jon”, “Hypnotika”, “Dance Dance Dance”, “Nudist Camp”, “Suck on This” and many more that can be found on Roobie Breastnut’s iTunes page!

Director Louis DeWalnut is a pseudonym for Steve Goldenberg, who has worked with Jim Wynorski on several of his softcore adventures. The writing is credited to James Rogers (I couldn’t figure out his prior credits) and Bruno Kennedy (co-writer of some of the Busty Cop movies)

Monster of the Nudist Colony

What do you mean, you don’t think Ferris Bueller and Cameron Frye are the same person???

Arch Hammer (Frankie Cullen) – Detective Arch Hammer is totally against being naked, but is totally for solving mysteries. Thus this mystery at the nudist colony disturbs him, but he can’t deny his police mentality, and goes in search of the mysterious Monster. There, he encounters a world he never knew, and if he ever drops his pants, will become part of that world. But will he?
Mary Hammer (Melessia Hayden as Melissa Jacobs) – Arch’s wife, who is a bit more of a free spirit than him. So free she disregards things like marriage vows! But it’s all good in the land of naked sex orgies…
Lucy (Angie Savage) – Lucy runs the nudist colony because the owner is missing and it’s also her job. She doesn’t discriminate, she has sex with the employees and the customers!
Heather (Lexi Belle) – Nudist club member who has fun time relationships with some of the other members, and attracts the attention of the Monster.
Joe (Ryan McLane) – Nudist club member who has a way with women. He’s sort of a jerk who keeps pushing Heather aside to run away faster from the Monster, and later puts the moves on Dana.
Mike (TJ Cummings) – The porter at the nudist colony who gets luggage and makes drinks and has sex with everyone. The SoftcoreReviews boards said this might be TJ Cummings’ last softcore film!
Dana (Bridgette B.) – Nudist club member who enjoys sunning herself, music, and sex.
Tina (Samantha Ryan) – Nudist club member who is makeout friends with Dana. Captured by the Monster and forced to dance.
Kerry (Britney Young) – Nudist club member who has a thing for Mike, which she expresses physically.
Monster (Rickey Ricardo Smith) – The mysterious monster who terrorizes the camp by spying on all the sex going on, and occasionally stealing women for dance parties. Phases in and out of being human while the ladies dance. May or may not be connected to the missing heir Jonah Trout, who was put under an ancient Indian curse.
Jonah Trout (Tony Marino) – Oh, that guy.
Bonnie (Hannah Reilly) – Brunette woman who is walking in the woods with Crystal that enjoys a good argument and a good woods lesbian sex session.
Crystal (Amber Ashlee) – Blonde woman who is walking in the woods with Bonnie that also enjoys a good argument and a good woods lesbian sex session.
Cop (Roobie Breastnut) – A visiting cop who stops by to let the nudist crew know they need to lay off all orgies while monster reports are running rampant!
Tennis Fan (Bailey Beetleman) – It’s a guy who looks more like what the average nudist colony member looks like. And he likes tennis! Bailey Beetleman also produced.
Creepy Squirrel Puppet (himself) – These woods carry unspeakable horror. You don’t want to know! Stay on the marked paths.

Monster of the Nudist Colony

She’s secretly the Hamburglar!

Continue reading

Siluman Teluk Gonggo

Siluman Teluk Gonggo

Siluman Teluk Gonggo
Based on work by Bastian Tito
Directed by Lilik Sudjio

Siluman Teluk Gonggo
A giant martial arts fighting spider, a mad rapist with an evil parrot, a giant bird that has seen better days, and a bamboo flamethrower are just part of the fun of Siluman Teluk Gonggo. This fantasy martial arts adventure (since it is Indonesia, it is silat) is one of a series of films about pulp hero Wiro Sableng.

Wiro Sableng’s serialized martial arts adventures gained fame in Indonesia and turned the character into one of their most famous pulp heroes. The world of Wiro Sableng is best described as similar to the Jianghu “martial world” of wuxia fantasy, with different clans and martial sect that have different fighting techniques and local drama. Wiro spends much of his time wandering from area to area learning from the various masters and getting involved in local drama. Author Bastian Tito actually spent time traveling around Indonesia to the places Wiro was visiting, so he could write first-hand knowledge of the area. This also occasionally caused the stories to be delayed.

Siluman Teluk Gonggo

A planet of me!

This is the sixth movie in the series starring Tony Hidayat as Wiro Sableng. This series is comprised of Empat Berewok Dari Goa Sanggreng, Dendam Orang-Orang Sakti, Neraka Lembah Tengkorak, Tiga Setan Darah Dan Cambuk Api Angin, Sepasang Iblis Betina, Siluman Teluk Gonggo, and Khianat Seorang Pendekar. There were two television series that portrayed the further adventures of Wiro Sableng, first starring Sukendro Herning (also known as Ken Ken) and then Abhie Cancer.

As you can imagine, there isn’t that much information in English. But I have determined the names of the two men who help Wiro Sableng are Lor Gambir Seta (K. Supranto) and Dewa Tuak (Piet Pagau), though I’m not sure which one is which.

But it’s not the actors that give our attention to Siluman Teluk Gonggo, it’s the monsters. Yes, there are Indonesian giant monsters! We get not only Wiro Sableng’s faithful giant bird companion, but a giant spider, a human-sized monkey creature, and some monster so large we only see it’s eyes and huge King Kong-sized hand. Exactly what it is, is a mystery to the ages. Or at least to people who don’t speak Indonesian, as they probably explain what it is.

Siluman Teluk Gonggo

Spider will be appearing in the next The Raid sequel

Director Lilik Sudjio has a prolific career pumping out lots of Indonesian genre film that has gone barely noticed in the West for far too long. For every The Queen of Black Magic that gets a cool DVD release, there are a dozen Siluman Teluk Gonggos that sit around on vcds. Before his film work he was an actor, and then spent some time in film school in the US before returning to Indonesia and producing a lot of cool stuff. After 1990, he turned to directing television, as that was the way of the future as the film industry was collapsing.

Pulp hero Wiro Sableng has a tattoo that reads “212”, and carries around a variety of weapons. He has an ax that has a dragon-head hilt, and a throwing weapon used like a shuriken, in the film it has a sort of boomerang power and looks like a take on the weapon from Krull, but with just two blades.

The fighting choreography isn’t half bad, either. It’s not The Raid, but it isn’t The Bumbling, either. Though many of the actors are terrible at playing dead, they just casually drop to the floor like they’re going to sleep. The pacing and lack of subtitles (Here at TarsTarkas.NET, we don’t need no stinking subtitles!) might drive some away, but stay for the last 20 minutes, that’s where the real fun and most of the monsters are.

Siluman Teluk Gonggo

How’s about a little fire, Scarecrow?

Wiro Sableng (Tony Hidaya) – Super martial arts master who wanders around being arrogant, though occasonally battles evil people like Sonya. Has a flying blade weapon
Sonya (Arthur Tobing) – Sonya first appears as a family man who leaves his sad wife and young son to go visit the Witch Doctor for reasons unknown. After given powers and the Evil Parrot, Sonya turns into a mad raping wizard, roaming the countryside killing and raping everyone he sees. He has powers of teleportation, invisibility, and boob grabbing.
Evil Parrot (himself) – Evil Parrot given to Sonya by Witch Doctor. If Evil Parrot is just Witch Doctor in animal form, I do not know, but he does seem to shout commands from time to time.
Witch Doctor (???) – A scarred old witch doctor who lives in a spooky valley. People come to see him to ask for things, but he just turns them evil. Evil!!! He explodes after making Sonya evil, perhaps transfering his power to the Evil Parrot.
Giant Flying Bird (puppet) – Wiro Sableng’s loyal ride and companion, who is barely in the film despite how useful he would be to scout around the huge countryside looking for signs of Sonya. The bird is ratty and half falling apart, but it is a hero just the same.
Giant Spider (puppet) – One of the beasts that guard Sonya’s base, this giant spider spits rockets and knows martial arts. But the Giant Spider neglected to make himself flameproof, much to his doom.
Giant monster (Cardboard eyes and rubber foam hand) – A giant beast who guards Sonya. He’s so evil and so big, all we see is his eyes and a huge hand that grabs at the heroes.
Stone Monkey (guy in suit) – Yet another layer of defense of Sonya’s lair. You’d think with all these creatures, Sonya would have vast gardens of food for all of them. But he doesn’t, yet another failure for Sonya.

Siluman Teluk Gonggo
Continue reading

A Chinese Odyssey Part Two – Cinderella

A Chinese Odyssey Part Two – Cinderella

aka 西遊記完結篇仙履奇緣 aka Sai yau gei: Daai git guk ji – Sin leui kei yun

Written and directed by Jeff Lau Chun-Wai
A Chinese Odyssey Part Two - Cinderella
Thus continues the fairy tales and romantic adventures of a guy named Joker who is really Monkey King with A Chinese Odyssey Part Two – Cinderella. The sweeping action and epic timescope of the original is expanded on, while the extra time gives us a chance to get to know a few of the characters we saw little of in the first part. Don’t worry, there are generous amounts of ridiculous slapstick, special effects fights,

Part of the fun of these Hong Kong films is the varying quality of the copy that is used for DVDs. In this case, the copy has burnt in subtitles, which calls some characters slightly different names than in Part 1. I’ve done my best to try to rectify the situation, but welcome to planet reality. If you missed the review of A Chinese Odyssey Part One – Pandora’s Box, it is here.
A Chinese Odyssey Part Two - Cinderella
Even more fun, the plot of Part Two is vastly more complicated, and is rendered further difficult because several characters switch bodies in the second half. And yet, despite the zaniness, it works, as actors get more to do and the danger of repetitiveness is staved off for a while. While a tale as large as this can run the risk of becoming far too long, the brisk pace prevents fatigue from setting in. Some reviews I read thought this section was confusing and ruined the film, but I see it more as helping things from getting too stale. And if you try to follow things too logically, your brain will explode, as the timeline gets completely disrupted by all the time travel. Let’s just say there is probably a reality where King Bull opens a casino in Hill Valley…

The lovers on the roof scene at the end has become an iconic shot that is instantly recognized by people who haven’t even seen the movie in years. It’s also one of my favorite moments in Hong Kong cinema, because the whole thing is perfect. The closure of the lovers story, the chance for Monkey King to talk one last time to the woman he loved but cannot love, the looks of the torn emotions of the two characters on the roof, the look back as Monkey King walks away, and especially the music, all making a perfect storm of awesome.
A Chinese Odyssey Part Two - Cinderella
The tales of destined true love that endures lots of hardships and doesn’t usually end in happy endings are common themes in the works of both Lau and Chow. This time they even have characters literally speaking to the heart to learn the heart’s desire and true love. Another common thread in Steve Chow’s films is him having a whole host of women who fall for him. It’s good to be the king! Add to that to his reputation as a playboy and how different the women are in some of Chow’s later films, and you get the feeling there is some sort of hangup about women. But that’s a whole article to itself.

The Chinese Odyssey films would end up becoming so beloved that attempts would be made to recapture the magic. Lau would return with A Chinese Odyssey 2002, and try again with A Chinese Tall Tale, and then Yet Another Pandora’s Box. While each of those films have their own merits, none of them achieve the level of special significance that the originals did. Chow also used the nostalgia of these films to excite everyone with his return to directing for Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons, though that film is so tonally different that they are only connected by the true love theme. Several other adaptations of Journey to the West are in the pipeline, the popularity of the stories will ensure their retelling for generations. Some will attempt to be creative and unique, while others will rely on the past and be lazy and derivative. We may one day see a challenger to the throne, but for now, it is time to hail to the Monkey King, baby!
A Chinese Odyssey Part Two - Cinderella

Joker/Monkey King (Stephen Chow Sing-Chi) – Joker is trapped in the past and realizes he is also Monkey King. But his whole thoughts are based on trying to get back to the future to be with his love Jing Jing. Except now this new lady Lin Zixia is insisting that he is her true love. And Monkey King’s old friends and foes show up, leading to a confrontation between powers.
Lin Zixia/Lin Qingxia/Purple/Spider Web Immortal (Athena Chu Yun) – Lin Zixia escaped from Heaven to find her true love, along with her twin sister Lin Qingxia. This gets confusing as they are in same body, Qingxia comes out at night and is the crazy one. Zixia looking for a lover who can pull out her magic sword from its sheath, proving that he is the one. This has so much sexual innuendo going on they might as well just have done it XXX style to be more subtle! Zixia is called Purple in most references to this film, but not in the subtitles of the version I have.
Longevity Monk (Law Kar-Ying) – Thanks to time travel monkey shines, Longevity Monk is still around and is very annoying. That’s his super power. He’s also targeted for becoming dinner, and is fond of singing song by The Platters.
Pigsy/Assistant Master (Ng Man-Tat) – Ng Man-Tat spends most of this film as Pigsy, underneath the pig mask (though for a good chunk of the film he’s bodyswapped!) Is usually with Sandy trying to follow Joker to find out what he’s up to this time.
Sandy/Blind Bing (Johnnie Kong Yeuk-Sing) – Last member of the Journey to the West crew, as is tradition he doesn’t do much except be around Pigsy as Monkey King does his thing. Is the level-headed one of the trio.
King Bull (Luk Shu-Ming) – Villain who captures Longevity Monk to eat, desires Joker to marry his sister to get rid of her, and wants to marry Lin Zixia so he can have a mistress. Something his wife Iron Fan Princess does not approve of.
Miss Xiang Xiang (???) – King Bull’s sister who is set up to wed Monkey King, though Monkey King just agrees to it to try to recapture the Pandora’s Box to escape this time.
Iron Fan Princess (Ada Choi Siu-Fan) – King Bull’s wife, who is none too pleased that he’s off trying to collect mistresses. But that doesn’t stop her from chasing after Joker/Monkey King, who was her former lover.
Jing Jing/Boney M of Spider Devil (Karen Mok Man-Wai) – Jing Jing shows up 500 years in the past, having not studied under Spider Web Immortal for all that time and with no memory of her love affair with Joker, as it hadn’t happened yet.
Spider Woman (Yammie Lam Kit-Ying) – If one of the two sisters shows up, you know the other one will, and as soon as she figures out who Joker is and that he can lead her to Longevity Monk, all bets are off!

A Chinese Odyssey Part Two - Cinderella
Continue reading

A Chinese Odyssey Part One – Pandora’s Box

A Chinese Odyssey Part One – Pandora’s Box

aka 西遊記101回月光寶盒 aka Sai yau gei: Dai yat baak ling yat wui ji – Yut gwong bou haap

Written and directed by Jeff Lau Chun-Wai
A Chinese Odyssey Part One - Pandora's Box
Stephen Chow and Jeff Lau’s classic masterpiece, the A Chinese Odyssey films are among the most important cinema to come out of Hong Kong. And I don’t just say that because I love the films. A combination of many factors at just the right time collide and create a lightning in a bottle event that films have been attempting to repeat ever since.

The Chinese Odyssey flicks are a mish-mash of classic literature is melded with Jeff Lau’s love of hugely complex plots with dozens of characters and love stories through reincarnation, combined with Chow’s singular wit, fast talking, and physical comedy making cinematic bliss. A classic tomb is hijacked and reworked into a sprawling tale that still uses much of general mythology of its source.
A Chinese Odyssey Part One - Pandora's Box
The complex plot and phone book of characters (with most of the headliners playing dual roles) does not help with an easy description, but the basic idea is Monkey King has been punished and trapped for 500 years. In the interim, he was reincarnated as a local head of a gang of thieves, a group largely incompetent and filled with lovable losers. Now named Joker, he runs the gang as they dress fierce to claim control of the area. His chief lieutenants are Assistant Master and Blind Bing, who we also know as Journey to the West characters Pigsy and Sandy.

The actual world of Journey to the West has not stopped during this time, so there are still creatures searching for Tripitaka/The Longevity Monk to devour his flesh, and they plan to use Monkey King to find him. Of course, they first have to find the Monkey King, only knowing where he was imprisoned. Those who knew Monkey King recognize him in Joker on sight, despite Joker’s insistence that he is no one special. Regardless, he gets dragged into a world of spider demons, ghost ladies, bull men, giant goddesses, and reincarnated characters.

Despite the large amount of plot going on, the films aren’t adverse to just stopping for a while to let Stephen Chow do his thing. Which is a wise decision, because the comedy is great! The physical comedy transcends all languages and cultures, while many of Chow’s zingers manage to produce laughs despite terrible subtitle translations. It’s a testament to just how good things are when it overcomes some of the usual stumbling blocks.
A Chinese Odyssey Part One - Pandora's Box
Monkey King is historically a defiant character, he stands against the forces of Heaven and against anyone who stands in his way. His adventures feature a lot of visits to fantastic lands and fighting gods and demons. Pandora’s Box brings him down to a more human level, which is even a point in the sequel, as his human emotions are what must be shed to continue on his journey, even though in these films he falls in love repeatedly. That’s called conflict, people!

While Joker doesn’t remember anything Monkey King did, he gets involved in the consequences of Monkey King’s various shenanigans. In the course of Joker’s lying and double lies and triple lies to get out of trouble, he ends up connecting with someone Monkey King hurt as well as dealing with Monkey King and Longevity Monk’s enemies, the huge crowd of characters who want to eat the Longevity Monk’s flesh.

Monkey King ruined the marriage of Jing Jing, and then left her waiting alone. A hard lesson in not trusting Monkey King to do anything right, but thanks to Joker being Monkey King, Jing Jing is able to confront the person who messed up her love life, and Joker is able to make a sort of amends as he falls for Jing Jing. Due to even more convoluted plot development, Jing Jing is poisoned, Joker is imprisoned attempting to get her the cure, and she believes he abandoned her and tries to kill herself, though is saved by King Bull.

The reprieve is temporary, as later she does kill herself amidst a battle in the middle of the Cave of the Silken Web after thinking Joker betrayed her. Joker is then desperately attempting to go back in time just in time to save her, but keeps being just too late. If you think repeatedly watching someone kill themselves can’t be funny, then here is a way to change your mind.
A Chinese Odyssey Part One - Pandora's Box
The Chinese Odyssey films have gone on to be cult classics, and are one of the first Hong Kong films I saw back in the days of getting movies from the one cool video store. Luckily for me, a roommate had vcd versions, which I managed to watch just after watching Black Mask – thus Karen Mok became a reoccurring theme in Hong Kong cinema for me, and eventually an avatar I use in many locations online. The films themselves were just so unlike anything I had seen to that point, only some of the Hong Kong films I had watched at that point had fantasy elements. At that point I was totally unfamiliar with the Journey to the West story, so everything was new to me. So while Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan may have been my gateway drugs into Hong Kong cinema, Stephen Chow became the chocolate-covered crack that kept me coming back. And decades later things are very different, the films still remain and still entertain. Thanks to the internet, many are just a few clicks away. Gone are the days of wandering through the “Foreign” section hoping for anything new, but the films I saw then – Chinese Odyssey, Drunken Master, A Chinese Ghost Story, Hard Boiled, many others – will always have that nostalgic feeling.

A Chinese Odyssey is ultimately about love. The gags and costumes and violence is all dressing for a tale about love. Not about finding love, but about love itself. Love that is destined. Love of a master and a disciple. Love that is joyful. The pain of love, and of love lost. Of love and duty, of casting love aside, or taking chances for love. Even the final ending pushes this home. The dealing with love of all types and not just romantic love expands the universal appeal, reaching audiences who don’t respond to just your average romance tale.

As we shall see with Part 2, one love can just be a stepping stone to your true love. But even then other things may be destined for you. Life can be funny that way…
A Chinese Odyssey Part One - Pandora's Box
But let’s first knock out the Roll Call for A Chinese Odyssey Part One – Pandora’s Box, and the drop a huge plot recap and discussion! Because that’s how we roll…

Joker/Monkey King (Stephen Chow Sing-Chi) – Joker is just your average leader of a gang of thieve who is also unknowingly an immortal trickster monkey. I can’t tell you how many times that has happened to me! Joker then gets involved in all sorts of supernatural shenanigans as the truth of his past begins to come out. Check out our takes on Out of the Dark and Kung Fu Hustle for more Chow fun!
Spider Woman (Yammie Lam Kit-Ying) – Spider woman who arrives to hunt down the Legacy Monk to consume his flesh and become immortal. Usually takes the form of a beautiful woman, but becomes a spider at night. Is a great fighter and can hypnotize and poison enemies.
Jing Jing/Boney M of Spider Devil (Karen Mok Man-Wai) – Companion to Spider Woman, both are deciples of Spider Web Immortal. She was (or was to be) married to Chilian Devil, but that was ruined by Monkey King when he seduced her, then ran off because that’s what Monkey King does. She becomes a ghost zombie in the full moon, though can be stopped by kiss.
Assistant Master/Pigsy (Ng Man-Tat) – Joker’s second in command who then becomes hypnotized by Spider Woman and forced to spy for her side. Eventually accidentally fathers a child with her. Is also the mortal form of Pigsy, though he doesn’t realize it for most of the film.
Longevity Monk (Law Kar-Ying) – Monkey King’s master who sacrifices his life in exchange for Monkey King, who is then imprisoned for 500 years. But the Longevity Monk will be reborn, and Monkey King will be released, and that will cause great excitement in the world of the supernatural.
Blindy/Sandy (Johnnie Kong Yeuk-Sing) – Joker’s third in command, who also happens to be the reincarnation of Sandy, though he is also unaware of who he is. Is the whiny comic relief character.
King Bull (Luk Shu-Ming) – Local tough boss of all the cows and cow demons, who also wants to eat the Longevity Monk’s flesh, so he comes in to cause trouble.
Spider Web Immortal (Athena Chu Yun) – This mysterious woman shows up at the very end of the film as Joker is trapped in the distant past. Could she be a main character in Part 2? Of course!

A Chinese Odyssey Part One - Pandora's Box
Continue reading