|Index||6 reviews in total|
THE HIMALAYAN (1976) is a very odd Golden Harvest film that stars kung
fu great Chen Sing (SHAOLIN MONK, THE MAGNIFICENT) as an ambitious man
who brutally murders anyone in his way. Kung fu diva Angela Mao
(HAPKIDO, LADY WHIRLWIND) appears in a supporting role as the daughter
of a wealthy man and has only one extended fight scene in the whole
movie and it comes at the very end. The film opens with an elaborate
piece of narration describing a particular style of kung fu practiced
in Nepal and Tibet and how Golden Harvest went to those countries to
make the film (a neat trick considering China's control of Tibet would
have prevented any outside film crew from entering the country). We get
a whole opening sequence filled with folk dancing and music and
horse-riding contests evidently filmed on location in a mountainous
region (probably Nepal) with dozens of native extras in full ethnic
dress. After this sequence it's back to China and the standard kung fu
movie sets, costumes, and customs seen in so many other Golden Harvest
movies. Nepal and Tibet are almost completely forgotten about after
that point, except when Sammo Hung enters the scene late in some kind
of ethnic costume, and a location shot of a temple in Nepal is inserted
when the hero and heroine arrive at a Shaolin temple.
Chen Sing, as Kao Chu, is eager to force his adoptive brother into marriage with Angela and use it as a springboard to gain access to her family's estate. (The notion that anyone would have to be forced to marry the beautiful Angela already damages the film's credibility right from the very beginning.) Kao gets things off to a rough start when he kills his resistant brother and replaces him with a compliant lookalike (played by the same actor, Ling Hon) who's already married but is paid by Kao to proceed with the deception and marry Angela, even though Angela's already met the real brother. None of this makes any sense, especially when Kao has to put makeup on the impostor brother's forehead to replicate a birthmark that the real brother had. Gradually, Kao kills a bunch of other people who threaten his plans in different ways and even frames Angela for one of the murders. Kao's behavior is consistently disturbing through all of this, yet, remarkably, none of it sets off any alarm bells with Angela's gullible family.
Eventually, Angela flees with a loyal servant who's in love with her, played by kung fu star Tan Tao Liang (FLASH LEGS, LEG FIGHTERS), and the two wind up, in the film's final half-hour, at a Shaolin temple outpost where they implore the Abbot to teach them his special brand of kung fu so they can defeat Kao's Tiger Claw technique. The Abbot instead orders them to carry thousands of rocks up a treacherous hill and then, when they're done, to carry them all back down again. That and some breath control comprise the bulk of the training we see them get. Eventually they go back to confront Chen Sing and his men in a disappointingly short fight finale.
Angela gets to do a little more here, acting-wise, than she normally did, but only in the extraordinary amount of on-screen punishment she takes. At one point she puts up a valiant struggle against Kao but is ultimately disabled by his Tiger Claw technique. At another point she's strapped to a wooden board and set afloat in some rapids. And then she has to carry all those damned rocks. Even if they're made out of plastic or foam, it still looks hard going up and down that steep, rocky hill.
But fans of Angela are anxious to see her fight and she hardly does that in the film. She has a friendly match at the beginning with her intended groom, but that doesn't really count. Sure, there's a nice bout with Chen Sing at the end, but it comes in the last five minutes of a 108-minute film. Chen himself doesn't even get to fight that much. Mainly he just hits people who don't fight back or he kills them outright. He's extraordinarily vicious here. Chen was often a great villain in these films, but was best when he had a formidable hero to oppose him. Angela doesn't really do that until the very end and Tan Tao Liang, who has one or two good fights in the film himself, is pretty passive for the most part. Overall, this is one of the weakest Golden Harvest films I've seen of late.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
While "The Himalayan" is definitely better than a lot of the interchangeable Hong Kong martial arts movies to come out of the 1970s, it is not much of an improvement. One thing I liked about the movie was that unlike many other kung fu films, this one has a more substantial plot, with plenty of twists and plot turns... at least in the first half of the movie. The second half is mostly devoted to the old plot of vengeance-seeking warriors training for revenge and then executing it. Another problem with the script, while never actually being boring, is that it's simply too long, with the movie lasting almost two hours. But I'm pretty sure most prospective viewers are wondering about the fight sequences and Angela Mao. Well, the fights are serviceable. They are not as spectacular as martial art fights in modern Hong Kong movies, but they do have some power since they come across as more realistic. As for Angela Mao, she has less to do than you might think. She doesn't show up much for the first half of the movie, and in the end she doesn't get to show off her fighting skills that much. There are a lot of much worse 70s kung fu movies out there, but if you can't track a copy of this particular one down, you shouldn't feel too bad.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
He kills so many people in this movie. First fight is main bad guys brother versus Angela Mao, they mostly demonstrate martial arts moves and its really short fight. Second fight scene is main bad guy and his brother versus 4 guys, whose wears black. That one is too short scene, because main bad guy kills his own brother. After that some impostor plays as main bad guys brother and main bad guy tries to marry him to Tseng's daughter. Main bad guy kills in 1 hour over 5 people, one being impostor. There's really dark scene, when main bad guy and good guy fights, good guy had luck and he runs away. In that scene main bad guy kills old guy, who knew too much. In some weird way, main bad guy black mailed Mao and claimed, that Mao killed his brother. 1 scene, when main bad guy uses martial arts and does something to Mao's neck, so Mao cant defend herself, thus sending Mao to raft and good guy sees Mao in water and saves her. Now were at 1 hour mark and Mao and good guy are looking place to stay and to learn some more martial arts. They go to Himalayan monastery and they're very welcome to there. They start practicing immediately and first job is to carry heavy rocks. Once they got rocks up in hill, monk says carry them back, because it increases power. Then they're blowing candles, at first they got 5 candles at best, but when training is complete, they got over 10 candles by blowing. Now were near end of this movie and Ying-Chieh Han has short fight scene against 3 guys, which was very well done by master Han. Soon its end fight and that fight was best fight of this movie, it lasts about 6 minutes and during that time, we see so many kicks and hits. Mao and good guy kills main bad guy, so its at least happy ending. I'm fighting movies fan and to me this was more drama, so thats why wont give it 8 or 9 stars. There's simply not enough fighting to call this good movie.
The Himalayan dramatizes the struggle of a mountain community in the
Himalayas. This village must decide the route to take their goods to
market through perilous mountain crossings. This happens at the close
of the season and at the beginning of winter storms. The village's very
existence demands a successful trip. The personal story is about the
leadership of the community, old hurts which cast doubt upon that, and
the physical rigors of travel in the high and unforgiving elements. The
scenic beauty and timeless setting (people living as they have for
centuries, with only a few modern items) round out to make this an
adventurous and deeply thoughtful film.
Unfortunately, finding copies of this film appears to be be very difficult as it did not achieve much success in the US.
This is one of the last Golden Harvest made Angela Mao movies. One
thing that can be said about Golden Harvest is that they consistently
made good quality movies, always trying new things with their movie
productions. Not all of them worked, but they did succeed in
modernizing Hong Kong cinema.
As for Angela Mao, after getting married, and having a child, she seems to lose interest in making movies. I can't really blame her as the year this movie was made, she had her first child.
Hong Kong movie were going through a radical transition around this time. It still takes few more years for its effects to show, but the old school kung fu action movie was getting passe. The focus were shifting to interesting characters and more comedic everyday themed movies. Sam Hui was one of the early pioneers of this field, and he became a big star of the late '70s, to early '80s Hong Kong cinema.
Old school kung fu actors couldn't make it through this transitional times except for few like Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, and perhaps Lung Ti, and Chien Kuan Tai. All of them, kung fu skills were not their only talent. They had their own on screen presence.
So this movie is like a swan song for the old school Hong Kong kung fu movies, and about the same for actor Angela Mao. She probably correctly chose domestic life to be her next phase in life, and from around this point on , stops to be the leading female kung fu actor. Most of her movies made in Taiwan are of forgettable qualities.
Different types of directors, leading men, and women will be appearing in the following decade, and transforms Hong Kong cinema forever. This is kind of a transitional movie where interesting settings are explored, but the old school actors couldn't deliver.
Better look for other Hong Kong movies that are more interesting to watch.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Tseng family is one of the most noble and respected clans in a small village in Tibet. The patriarch of the Tseng clan wants to marry his daughter Ching Lan (a fine performance by Angela Mao) into the Kao clan. However, cunning and deceitful eldest brother Kao Chu (well played with deliciously wicked relish by Sing Chen) only wants his younger sibling Kao I-Fan to marry Lan so he can gain access to the Tseng family's considerable wealth and power. Director Feng Huang eschews the usual snappy action-loaded Golden Harvest chopsocky formula for a much more intricate story and deliberate pace: While the fights are infrequent, they are nonetheless exceptionally choreographed and quite exciting, with the climactic martial arts orgy of violence and vengeance rating as a real stirring and ferocious pip. Kuang Ni's sinewy script possesses a significant amount of dramatic substance thanks to its weighty themes concerning betrayal, deception, and revenge. Moreover, the vivid evocation of the period provides a breathtaking sense of lavish scope. The training sequences are grueling and vigorous while a fairly explicit sex scene adds a little sizzling spice. As usual, Mao looks positively ravishing and displays her trademark fluid and graceful kung-fu prowess in her fight set pieces. Worth a watch.
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