ASIAN VALUES DVD REVIEW
If you have
sex, you die - goes a common cliché in horror movies. In
the Superman (Christopher Reeve) series, the cliché gets
twisted into: if you have sex, you don't die, you just lose all
your powers. For some, that means you are as good as dead!
movie critics have written a fair bit about Kuei Chih-hung's The
Boxer's Omen (1983) but not many talked about the sexual aspects
of the film. Kao Fei goes to Thailand to avenge his brother's
defeat at the hands of boxer Yang Shih (that's Bolo Yeung, who
challenged Bruce Lee in Enter The Dragon). In the meantime, he
has visions of a monk (Master Jing Chao) who says Kao must defeat
an evil force, otherwise both of them will perish. To prepare
for the fight, one of the requirements for Kao in his purification/strengthening
process is the abstinence from sex.
Even with all the sexual attractions that Thailand has to offer,
Kao keeps to the straight path and manages to defeat a black wizard
(a barely recognisable Johnny Wang Lung-wei, better-known for
being one of the key Manchu villains in numerous Shaw's Shaolin
Temple movies). That's only the first half of the movie. Back
in Hongkong to pick up his life and for some R 'n R, he does what's
natural with his girlfriend and promptly loses his fighting power
when the Black Wizard next shows up. This sets up a new "training"
sequence where Kao first denies he has had sex; then undergoes
the arduous re-training regime.
sex is only a small part in the movie, there is enough nudity
to satisfy most hardcore filmgoers but the underlying message
seems to be this - for a male martial artist, having sex with
a woman is the start on the road to perdition. (Perhaps that accounts
for the emergence of those who are castrated - but then these
are also usually portrayed as villains - in films such as King
Hu's Dragon Inn and Tsui Hark's Swordsman series.)
As mentioned before, The Boxer's Omen has so much going for it
that the viewer easily accepts and overlooks the sexual politics
of the film. After all, what's a little jiggling breasts and buttocks
compared to some of the most amazing black magic sequences on
- Shot with
loving care (as if it is a sequence in CSI), using cobra venom,
the Black Wizard mixes it with mashed human brains and the mixture
is then fed to tarantulas.
- Kao vomits
out a live eel (all without the help of any CGI, mind you).
- The Wizard
slaughters a chicken, sprays its blood over crocodile skulls,
from which a flock of bats emerges.
- The Wizard
sprinkles a concoction over the crocodile skulls, which start
to clatter their jaws, which then advance to attack our hero.
- The Wizard
eats some offal, throws up some vomit, gathers it back into his
mouth, and from the resulting vomit, grows a monster.
- A crocodile
has its stomach hacked open and its innards emptied out.
- One of
the wizard's minions bites into a freshly-killed chicken (with
the feathers still intact), eats it with durian; spits the lot
out and hands the mixture to the next man, who shafts everything
into his mouth before spitting it out. You can reach for the barf
bag as this is shown as one continuous take. This process is then
repeated using banana skin!
minion cuts off the head of a live chicken and eats what looks
like the neck.
- All the
regurgitated food is fed to the naked corpse of a young woman,
which is then sewn up inside the crocodile's stomach.
- Later in
the movie, the undead woman secretes a bluish liquid while "giving
birth" to three fetuses. It then collapses and rots away in a
scene involving maggots that is reminiscent of the director's
earlier Corpse Mania (1981).
- The fetuses,
which are cocooned, grow into human-size mummies - these are the
three disciples of the Black Wizard. One of them disembowels itself,
the other two chop off their hands and sprinkles their blood over
the disembowelled body, which grow into, as a writer calls them,
"tiny four-legged, one-eyed crested monsters," which emit deadly
rays from their eyes.
crocodile sequence looks authentic, a lot of the film's special
effects are laughable but still, The Boxer's Omen is an exhilarating
viewing experience. While the film has undergone a remastering
process, it still cries out for a DVD release, and at least one
with an audio commentary.
awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping, vomit-inducing and totally laughable
(some of the special effects are chessy, to say the least, and
those black magic commands actually incorporate English words
such as "Kill him"), this once-upon-a-time much-bootlegged film
(especially in the West) probably was an inspiration to later
kung-fu-black-magic films such as Witch From Nepal (1984) and
Peacock King (1989). Director Kuei Chih-hung may be known for
Bamboo House Of Dolls (1974) and atmospheric horror films such
as Killer Snakes (1974) and Hex (1980), but nowhere does he prepare
you for this exploitation film to end all other cheapo exploitation
The Boxer's Omen (Celestial) is only reissued on VCD and is not
available in $ingapore. At press time, it has been announced that
Shaw's The Boxer's Omen and Black Magic will be reissued on Image
DVDs (Region I) later this year. Hopefully these will come with