The Battle Wizard (1977)

Man versus giant red snake!
Man versus giant red snake!

Directed by Hsueh-Li Pao, starring Danny Lee, Ni Tien, Chen-Chi Lin and Shao-Chia Chen.

Poster
Poster
The hero fights a gorilla skilled in kung fu. You heard me right: a gorilla skilled in kung fu!
The hero fights a gorilla skilled in kung fu. You heard me right: a gorilla skilled in kung fu!

Saying that this Shaw Brothers movie, based loosely on the novel ‘Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils’, is off the wall is no understatement… The pre-credit sequence features the Emperor’s brother sending light beams from his fingers to shoot off the legs of his lover’s husband, Wang Yu Win (names vary depending on which film print you watch): yikes! 

Using a finger-beam to shoot at the legs of his lover's husband!
Using a finger-beam to shoot at the legs of his lover’s husband!
First one leg is sliced off...
First one leg is sliced away…
...and then the second leg is shot off!
…and then the second leg is shot off!

Twenty years later, Wang (aka Yellow Robe Man) seeks revenge on the man who crippled him, by attempting to kill his foe’s son, Tuan Yu (Lee). Oh, by the way, Wang now has metal, telescopic, clawed bird feet which he can contract and expand for use in battle!

Wang can eject his metal bird feet over long distances with his super-extending tubular limbs!
Wang can eject his metal bird feet over long distances with his super-extending tubular limbs!

Wang is aided by his brother, who has dime store fangs, a bald, veined, scabby scalp, a metal crab-type pincer in place of one of his arms and a partly mangled face. At one point this dude pinches a guy in the groin with his pincer, lobbing the victim through the air. 

Wang's brother ain't pretty
Wang’s brother ain’t pretty
Watch out for his pincer!
Watch out for his pincer!
Fight!
Fight!

Tuan Yu is helped by a girl called Ling Ar, who has the power to make snakes glow and bore into people’s bodies, and masked swordswoman Miss Moo, who is revealed to be his stepsister. 

One of Ling Ar's magical, glowing snakes
One of Ling Ar’s magical, glowing snakes
A cheap-but-colourful set
A cheap-but-colourful set

Tuan Yu wrestles with a giant, red (rubber) snake that attacks him in the woods. He wins and, because he drank some of the serpent’s blood, he attains the power to fire beams from his hands (like his dad) and the ability, at one point, to run up vertical walls.

Tuan Yu battles the snake in the water!
Tuan Yu battles the snake in the water!

When Moo and Tuan Yu are thrown into a pit, they are attacked by a kung fu-skilled gorilla (a man in a suit, of course)… and Tuan Yu kills the simian adversary by using a hand-strike to chop off one of its arms!

Kung fu gorilla!
Kung fu gorilla!
This ape won't be so happy...
This ape won’t be so happy…
...once he gets his arm chopped off!
…once he gets his arm chopped off!

Tuan Yu develops even more powers after eating a glowing, green toad. This makes him totally invincible, enabling him to escape the pit.

Tuan Yu, his father and the Emperor, all of whom can fire laser/heat beams, have a final battle with pole-legged Wang and his clawed brother. Tuan Yu, who is now really super-charged, blows the fanged brother’s head off and then blasts Wang, who dissolves in multi-colours onto the floor. Miss Moo also dies, and Tuan Yu rides off with Ling Ar. 

Folks have got all kinds of powers in this...
Folks have got all kinds of powers in this film…
...including the ability to shoot power-beams from their hands
…including the ability to shoot heat-beams from their hands
Zap!
Zap!

This odd production contains lots of optical/cell animated beam/magic effects during the finale and also boasts an oral flamethrower trick: Wang breaths flames onto his foes and, during the last fight, there’s a contest between his jet of flame and Tuan Yu’s red/green hand beams. This is not to say that the movie is a lavish affair, or particularly well made, but the merging of weird storyline, so-so optical effects (Miss Moo fires cartoon darts out of a bone weapon), tawdry-but-colourful sets, frenzied pacing and a gorilla that knows kung fu, does elicit a certain warped respect, wouldn’t you agree? 

Flame breath!
Flame breath!
This isn’t a normal bone…
...it fires cartoon darts!
…it fires cartoon darts!

Some more imagery for the flick…

Chinese poster
Chinese poster
German 'limited edition'
German ‘limited edition’
German video cover
German video cover

One more look at the snake fight…

Sssssssssss!
Sssssssssss!

And, finally, let’s see the villain’s ‘mouth flamethrower’ technique in action…

Bad guy's got bad breath!
Bad guy’s got bad breath!

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