Kung Fu Wonder Child

Ever since I read the short and extremely favorable review in Asian Cult Cinema a few years ago I have been dying to see this film. Fantasy films with female fighters, hopping vampires, sorcery, ghosts, zombies and flying just sounded like my kind of film – especially one with a very young Yukari Oshima in it. It is not an easy film to locate – this is actually a Taiwanese production and that tends to make films more difficult to find – but finally with the help of a friend I was able to see it.

I must admit to being a bit disappointed – perhaps my expectations were too high – but it is not nearly the deliriously over the top film that I had been hoping for, but it was still an enjoyable low budget fantasy romp full of good deeds and evil intentions. There are in fact hopping vampires and zombies and ghosts and much flying about – but with a budget too low to give them much justice.

Much of the film is actually comedic in nature – full of magic pranks and tacky humor (dog urinating on unconscious man/vampire falling face first into a cow pie sort of thing) – than an action fantasy. After a slow build-up the last thirty minutes finally gets fairly serious and there is some fun action towards the end.

A very petite Taiwanese actress by the name of Lin Hsiao Lan starred in a few of these Taiwanese fantasy films during the 1980’s (Magic of Spell being another) and she has some nice kung-fu moves – though much of the kung-fu in this film is augmented with wires. She and her grandfather work in a Taoist school and temple as a cook and his assistant. Lin works around the temple doing chores but spends most of her time with her two student friends using her knowledge of magic that she has picked up to play tricks on people. Unknown to her, there is a great evil lurking within the temple with plans to gain great powers. Fortunately, where evil resides so sometimes does good – and her grandfather turns out to be much more than a cook.

Yukari enters the story all dressed in white and flowing locks and she is looking for her sister and grandfather who have been kidnapped by the evil one and stuffed in a jar. Yukari, Lin and the grandfather all team up to try and save her family and defeat the evil before he is too strong. Magic spells and kung-fu are utilized to fight the evil one and his servants – red headed twins and a blue zombie with green hair.
Though the film didn’t really meet my expectations, it is a nice example of the low budget comedy/fantasy films that were being made around that time. It is also great of course to see Yukari in one of her earliest roles – a few years before becoming a star in Angel. She looks great, has some nice scenes (though she is clearly not the focus of the film) and it’s great to see her in a non-Girls with Guns flick.

My rating for this film: 6.5