9 October 2005 | squelcho
When in doubt, vamp
I haven't cackled so heartily at a fantasy fun fu movie in months. Rocks explode at every blow, bolts of multicoloured energy whizz around in ever more interesting geometric forms, heroines and heroes age and revivify at an astonishing rate, and there's at least two of Brigitte Lin involved, so the subtle Sapphic mood is definitely in the house. The lyre that figures so highly in the synopsis is a brief adjunct over the titles at the start and the end, which is a relief, because the dodgy fingerpicking and the sound it generates bear scant relation.
If you can just let this movie roll over you, it's pure fun. If you try to understand what's going on, you'll be frowning from the word go. As far as I can make out, there are at least four, and possibly many more, power mad characters trying to get their hands on every last scroll, jade medallion, power "stance", and otherworldy deathray in existence on earth and in the spirit world, in order to do some fancy showboating in kung fu technique heaven. I found myself thinking of Steven Chow's Kung Fu Hustle on more than one occasion. The tongue in cheek campness is fairly relentless from start to finish, and I reckon it would make a great pantomime script.
Not recommended for beard stroking intellectuals or biff bang wallop Shaolin purists, but it's compulsive viewing once it's up and running/flying/zapping/ disintegrating etc. Silly and fluffy escapism it may be, but it's bonkers enough, and keeps a straight enough face to entrance kids of any age. Compared to pompous overblown garbage like Stormriders, it's self-parodying low-budget nirvana.