Eye For Film >> Movies >> Zu Warriors From The Magic Mountain (1983) Film Review
Zu Warriors From The Magic Mountain
Reviewed by: Keith Hennessey Brown
Fifth century mythic China: Sichuan province is torn by decades of civil war and unrest.
Fleeing from his own side after his commanding officers order him executed for failing to obey contradictory orders, young scout Dik Mingkei stumbles upon the hidden temple of the Evil Sect.
Attacked by the temple's denizens, Dik is rescued by mystic swordsman Ding Yawei of Nam Hoi. Monk Hui Yu of Kwan Leun then arrives, accompanied by his student, Yat Jan.
The two masters and their pupils fight an exhausting battle against the forces of the Evil Sect, but are unable to prevent the resurrection of the Blood Demon. Fortunately, the magician Long Brows arrives in time to capture the Blood Demon within his Sky Mirror. Unfortunately, this will only hold it for 49 days.
Long Brows charges Dik with finding the Wonder Girl, Lei Yikkei of Tin-Ngoi-Tin cave. Only her twin swords can defeat the Blood Demon. But Hui Yu has been poisoned by the Blood Demon and will die within 10 days if not healed by the Lady of Yiu-Chi-Sin...
Often seen as Hong Kong cinema's response to Star Wars, Zu Warriors Of The Magic Mountain matches its Western counterpart in terms of action and spectacle. Unfortunately, the film suffers from the same weaknesses, as far as writing and characterisation is concerned - the enumeration of characters, places and McGuffins in the above synopsis accounts for barely one-third of the film's running time. Admittedly, the filmmakers were adapting mythic sources familiar to Hong Kong/Chinese audiences. If one is lacking in such knowledge, the experience might be akin to watching Return Of The Jedi without having seen Star Wars, or The Empire Strikes Back - a parade of eye candy special effects, ground-breaking in their day, but sometimes less impressive two decades on.
It's not that Zu Warriors lacks substance, rather its message - "The new generation must step up to take the place of the old" - and similar obvious, if true, homilies tend to be obscured by the flying swordsmen, pyrotechnics and other FX work. Then again, much the same could be said of the George Lucas's trilogy, or more recent releases, such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and The Matrix
Zu Warriors can hold its head high in such company and fans of fantasy spectaculars should find it to their liking. Others may have reservations.Reviewed on: 16 Jun 2002
If you like this, try:Chinese Odyssey