Little Hero

One would think that a film with Lion Men, Elephant Men, a whip wielding villainess, flying villains behind very cool iron masks, men hidden in giant attacking golf balls, a malicious dwarf, a hideaway in a cave tastefully decorated with skulls and Polly Shang Kwan would have been a lot more fun than this is. This movie that feels to have been inspired by old Flash Gordon films as much as anything is unfortunately lacking in one prime ingredient for a kung fu film – good fights!

With Polly Shang Kwan that seems unlikely, but the choreography is pretty weak for most of the film – but the main fault is in the camera work. There is an art to filming these sorts of films from the right angle so that it looks like contact is being made during the fights – but here it is fairly obvious that blows are missing their targets by a good margin and the object of those phantom blows falling backwards as if hit by a truck looks rather silly.

Polly still manages to look good with some snazzy acrobatic moves. I can’t find out what year this film came out, but from her looks it appears to be near the end of Polly’s career (she retired in 1980) and so I will guess 1978. Polly was in many ways the yin to Angela Mao’s yang. Both were tremendous athletes, but while fans love Angela for the intensity and seriousness that she brought to her roles, fans love Polly because she was extremely light hearted – and as evidenced in this film not concerned about being in a goofy film or wearing silly outfits. She always looks to be having the time of her life.
The film seems to be centering around a group of villains searching for The Phoenix Sword and they send their minions – the before mentioned dwarf, Tiger Men and Elephant men after it. Only Polly and her kung fu stands in their way. Of course she deals with mere humans quite easily but when attacked by two wonderfully tacky rubber octopuses on land it may be a different matter! Definitely this is the highlight (or lowlight depending on your point of view!) of the movie as the octopuses seem to be shooting their repulsive rubber babies at Polly. In the end Polly reveals the villain behind the mask – and not really giving much away – it is kung fu legend Lo Lieh! Though the first half of the film (or first vcd) is slow going, it picks up considerably in the last 30 minutes.

My rating for this film: 5.5