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