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A college student (Yuen Biao) at a university in Canada is a fencing champion and when he has an accident one day, he "dreams" of being transported to ancient China and enters a conflict on Zu, the Magic Mountain. At the end of the story, he regains consciousness (this is in the longer English international version). The first and shorter version is about a warrior (Yuen Biao) who has become disillusioned with the constant civil wars in China and goes to the Magic Mountain. There he encounters ghosts and devils, and also good masters and their disciples who are out to stop the Blood Monster and his demons from destroying the world. Written by
Because this movie was made in the 1980s, I did not expect the special FX to be the equivalent of anything made in the states, or even up to the level of The Stormriders. However, I found this film a lot more enjoyable than the latter. This film is almost a non-stop ride full of swordfights, optical FX battles, flying people, and it still leaves room for some interesting themes also.
The plot deals with a soldier being disillusioned by the endless civil wars that have been fought. He goes to a mountain where he joins a swordsman, a monk and his apprentice, Sammo Hung, and some lovely ladies in a quest to defeat the Blood Demon, a being of pure evil. On the way, the soldier (Yuen Biao) and the monk's apprentice (Mang Hoi) must find some swords to use in the battle.
The action is nearly non-stop. It first starts out with some basic swordplay. Once Yuen reaches the mountain, than everything shifts into overdrive. Optical FX fly across the screen at dizzying speeds. Humans and demons fly across the screen at dizzying speeds. People get frozen alive. Women fly around with swirling cloth in their wake. Men fly around chained to boulders. Eyebrows are used to contain evil. All I can say is...wow. Only Ching Siu Tung could come up w/ some as imaginative as this.
As I mentioned earlier, there are some interesting themes involved. Tsui Hark seemed to make a statement against world leaders who start senseless wars and kill innocent people. Also, he talks about how battles become futile when people won't set aside their differences for a common cause. If we want to save the world or even ourselves, we all have to work together.
Of interesting note is the International dubbed version. That version makes the film into a dream sequence and turns the war parable into a love story spanning many generations. A lot of scenes are cut and shortened, giving the Zu mountain segment a very rushed feel. Overall, the subtitled version is a lot more preferable.
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