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
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.
Previews: Righting Wrongs, Iceman Cometh and
The Peacock King
Subs - English, Chinese
Easy to read subs
Star files on Yuen Biao and Gloria Yip