Saga of the Phoenix

The Peacock King (1989) was quickly followed up with a sequel -The Saga of the Phoenix (1990) – and to some degree it tries to copy the formula from The Peacock King – but with much less success. The focus of this film is more on Ashura (and in fact the film is also known as Ashura) then on Yuen Biao’s character - Peacock. There are actually some interesting aspects to this film and if director – Nam Lai-Choi (Peacock King and Seventh Curse) - had emphasized those instead, this could have been an enjoyably, creepy, supernatural flick. Instead though, he goes “cute” all too often and the potentially good parts of the film get drowned in a sea of cuteness.
It starts off almost immediately where The Peacock King ends. Ashura (Gloria Yip) is enjoying life on earth and once again causing mischief. The problem though is that she is a danger to mankind because evil elements from the netherworld can always make use of her. So a high Buddhist priest gives her seven days to live on earth and then she will be forever banished to the darkness within a giant Buddha. Yuen Biao and Lucky Fruit (played by a different actor than in Peacock) are still around and asked to keep an eye on her. Three kung fu nuns are also tracking Ashura and if they sense any danger of her being used as a tool of the evil ones are ordered to immediately kill her.
 

Sure enough the Hell King’s Concubine is plotting to suck the life force out of Ashura and sends her little monkey like minions to the earth to do her bidding. There is definitely potential here – and the special effects – though not as good as in Peacock – are still pretty decent – but then the cuteness sets in. Ashura finds her best friend from Hell (Genie) – a one foot high little rubber looking rat like creature – and the film spends an inordinate amount of time following this rubber creature all around and all you want is for it to become roadkill.

Another problem with the film is that about a quarter of the way through Yuen falls down a hole all the way to Hell where he is put into a state of frozen animation until the last fifteen minutes of the film (or until some other project was finished!). So there is not a lot of Yuen in this film and what there is of him does no fighting at all outside of casting a few spells.
So the burden of the film falls on the shoulders of the very small and adorable Gloria Yip and a rubber doll! Well not really – Loletta Lee also shows up and the two of them make quite an attractive pair. There are some good moments in this film – Genie turns evil, tries to kill Ashura and then flushes himself down the toilet all the way to Hell, the three nuns look great in their torn white outfits and another good metamorphasizing of a woman (the Concubine) into a hideous monster.
 
The film has a rushed, lower budget look to it than did Peacock and the design sets are not nearly as interesting. At the same time, I can’t say I was really overly bored with this film – something is always happening – but one gets the feeling that the intended audience for this is the Hello Kitty/Winki crowd. It could and should have been a much better film.

My rating for this film: 6.0



 DVD Information:

Distributor - Universe

Though the transfer here is again a bit soft - it is still a good deal better than the one for Peacock King - and is not nearly as distracting.  

Letterbox

Trailer

Previews: Righting Wrongs, Iceman Cometh and The Peacock King

8 Chapters

Subs - English, Chinese

Easy to read subs

Star files on Yuen Biao and Gloria Yip