Magic of Spell

Directed by Chung Wu Ching
Year: 1986

Part kiddie kung fu film and part acid trip, Magic of Spell has gained a small cult status over the years even though no version was around with English sub-titles, but that has finally been remedied with this release from Joy Sales. Full of high voltage energy, bizarre fantasy, high flying stunts, cheesy special effects and dollops of silliness it is colorful fun for children and adults alike. It stars the diminutive dynamo Lin Hsiao Lan as Peach Boy – a period superhero of sorts based apparently on a Japanese folk tale called “Momotaro, The Peach Boy” (info from a Brian Camp review on IMDB). Because Lin only seems to have appeared in a handful of “B” Taiwanese films, she is one of the lesser known female action stars from this period, but for those who have seen her in films like Kung Fu Wonder Child, Magic Warriors or Heroic Fight she is certainly one of the most acrobatic and impressive to watch. Her athleticism is on full view here and as goofy as much of the action is in this film, the choreography and wire work is first class and always frantic.

The people in the small village where he lives love Peach Boy – he stays with his widowed mother (a nearly unrecognizable Cheng Pei-pei in old age makeup) and is a super hero do-gooder saving animals and drowning kids on a daily basis. On the other hand, a motley group of wizards and demons who simply call their organization Evil have it in for Peach Boy due to an earlier encounter that left many of them dead. The Elder of the group resembles a rotting tangerine and is in dire need of regeneration. The recipe for this is a thousand year old ginseng and that old standby, the blood of virgins. In this case the blood of prepubescent boys from the village that he needs to bathe in. There is perhaps something of a weird winking gay/pedophile subtext running through the film – one of the wizards minces about and worries about his well-coiffed hair and seemingly has forced sex with one of the good guys in the midst of a battle – and the ginseng is also a young boy that the Elder wants to devour. Even Peach Boy is something of a gender mystery – played by a female but one has to wonder if in fact the character is a girl pretending to be a boy after a bathing scene in which he is extremely reluctant to be seen by a man. In the end Peach Boy has to swallow a male to enhance his/her powers. Or maybe I am reading too much into all this!
After a few small action sequences, Peach Boy invades the hideout of the Evils – a cave of sorts – and a rather marvelous lengthy fight ensues. Peach Boy has been joined in his quest for vengeance by three friends – Dog Boy, Chicken Boy and Monkey Boy - all with fine martial arts abilities. Lots of bouncing off of walls, rock throwing, casting of spells, giant peach attacks, marathon kicks, sword fighting and so forth ensues for the entertainment of all. Though the good guys win to no one’s surprise, there are a few Bambi moments in the film that may sadden the hearts of the sentimental out there.
The VCD is quite decent for a VCD – good colors, widescreen and o.k. subtitles.

My rating for this film: 6.5