Directed by Pao Hsueh-Li, starring Danny Lee, Tan Nei, Lin Chen-Chi and Shih Chung-Tien.
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!
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 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.
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.
Tuan Yu wrestles with a giant, red 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.
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!
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.
This oddball 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.
The merging of weird storyline, so-so optical effects (Miss Moo fires cartoon darts out of a bone weapon), theatrical, colourful sets, frenzied pacing and a gorilla that knows kung fu does manage to elicit a decent amount of warped respect for this film!
Some more imagery for the flick…
One more look at the snake fight…
And, finally, let’s see the villain’s ‘mouth flamethrower’ technique in action…