Friday, 18 May 2012

Movie B Bad #3: The Boxer's Omen (1983)

The Boxer's Omen aka Mo is a 1983 Hong Kong kung fu fantasy film. Directed by Chih-Hung Kuei and starring Phillip Ko. The movie was produced by the prolific Shaw brothers studio, who produced most of the Hong Kong movies of that time.

The Boxer's Omen follows the story of Chan Hung whose brother becomes paralysed after a brutal kickboxing match with a vicious Thai boxer. Chan Hung vows to avenge his brother and defeat the man responsible,  however, before starting his boxing training he is visited by the ghost of a Buddhist master which prompts him to fly to Thailand to train as a warrior monk. This is where the film pretty much abandons the boxing plot altogether and focuses on Chan Hung's quest to learn the ways of Buddhist magic and break the curse placed on his master by the evil wizards. This involves competing in bizarre wizard duels as well as finding time to return to Hong Kong to actually compete in afore-mentioned kick boxing match before travelling to Tibet to find the Dalai Lama's ancient ashes and lift the curse once and for all.

This film is a bizarre, nonsensical but hilarious mess. The title is really a misnomer as there is barely any kickboxing in the film and after the opening 10 minutes Chan Hung (and apparently the film makers) completely forgets about his brother and instead vows to avenge the Buddhist master that he's only just met, which is certainly a mismanaging of priorities. The story just gets more bizarre from there and combined with the highly erratic editing it's certainly a difficult plot to follow. Many of the sequences appear to be hallucinations in Chan Hung's mind and the set design rarely makes it clear where the events are transpiring or whether there even indoors or outdoors.

The best thing about the film is easily the battle sequences and the hilariously poor special effects that accompany them. As soon as the first battle starts (between the black wizard and the Buddhist master) you know the film is about to go off on an epic tangent as there is face melting, reincarnation and manipulation of bats and cobras. This first battle sequence is only there to illustrate how diabolical the black wizard is, it's the battle between the wizard and Chan Hung himself (fresh from his head-shaving and magical monk training) that is the truly ludicrous centrepiece of the film. This features flying heads, snapping crocodile skulls and a giant alien head birthed from a ball of pink slime, to name but a few highlights, and is both hilarious and delirious in equal measures.

The Boxer's Omen is a film in which it is absolutely futile to attempt to follow the plot but is what you have to call a truly original piece. There are sequences in this film that could only originate from the most deranged imagination and many elements that I''ve never seen on film and probably never will again. I would loosely recommend the film for fans of kung-fu or fantasy films but in essence it is a psychedelic exploitation film which is as much an acquired taste as regurgitated bananas (watch the movie)

4 Stars ****

Have you seen The Boxer's Omen? Have you seen any black magic films?


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