When greed rears its ugly head, it is the pet cobra that sets things right in Sun Chung's Fangs Of The Cobra. On hand to provide some delectable delights is the sultry Dana. Stephen Tan reviews.


Before Calamity Of Snakes wowed movie audiences (both Asian and especially Western) in 1982, Shaw Bros had their own Willard take-off in Sun Chung's Fangs Of The Cobra (1977). If a man can befriend rodents, so can a woman befriend a cobra. And let's not forget the seminal Shaw Bros' snake movie, Kuei Chih-hung's Killer Snakes (1974).

Unlike Willard and the nature-runs-amok genre, featuring films such as Frogs, Asian cinema has always included animals in its cast. For example, snake princes and princesses in Thai movies are probably a dime a dozen and just the previous year in 1976, Shaw Bros released The Snake Prince starring action idol Ti Lung.

In Sun Chung's Fangs Of The Cobra, virginal Hsiao Yao is the shy country girl whose best friend is a cobra. Viewers hoping for some hanky panky between the two will be sorely disappointed though such a movie would have been much more enticing and probably more entertaining as well. Just to show that the relationship is anything but chaste, an early sequence shows the two innocently playing on the beach.

The scheming couple... Dana (left) and Frankie Wei.

One day, Hsiao Yao happens to meet Tsung Hua, the son of the local landlord who has just returned from studies overseas. Having been away for a couple of years, he is taking a look at the family's property. Tsung Hua's car breaks down on the country road and who should happen along but Hsiao Yao. Being a gentleman, he first asks Hsiao Yao to help push the car to get it started. When that does not work, he suggests that she takes over the wheel while he does the pushing.

At the farm, Tsung Hua meets Frankie Wei, his childhood friend and who is also the farm's supervisor. Helping out at the farm is Tsung Hua's sultry cousin, Dana, who is carrying on with Wei.

Unlike other erotic Shaw movies with a much larger cast, the nudity and sex in Fangs Of The Cobra rest on Dana's shoulders... well, chest, bum, back... No stranger to Shaw's erotic films, Dana, who has appeared in Girl With Long Hair (1975), provides much needed visual and stimulating interlude to the proceedings.

It appears that Wei, who is already cooking the farm's accounts, is eyeing Tsung Hua's properties and is planning to get Dana married to Tsung Hua (with Dana's consent, of course). As he tells Dana, he's a modern man and doesn't mind sharing his woman, as long as he gets all the money. In an attempt to get Tsung Hua and Dana together, Wei's men inevitably lock Tsung Hua and Hsiao Yao alone in an abandoned house.

While nothing physical happens between the two, Tsung Hua, who has developed feelings for Hsiao Yao, decides to marry her. While courting in the woods, a group of thugs hired by Wei attacks Tsung Hua but it is the cobra which saves the day. During the wedding, a bomb is planted in the bride's car but the presence of the cobra in the car scares everyone out before anyone is injured or killed in the explosion.

When the couple has a baby, Wei lets a giant rat into the room and again, it is the cobra that is engaged in a fight to the death with the rat. And as such movies are structured, Wei and Dana get their big moment, before the cobra gives the two greedy villains the bite.

Sun Chung might have helmed exploitation films such as Big Bad Sis (1976), The Sugar Daddies (1973) and later Human Lanterns (1982), but he is better known as a director of action movies - Avenging Eagle, Deadly Breaking Sword, Kid With A Tattoo and The Kung Fu Instructor, to name a few.

While the director seemed to elicit a decent "performance" from the cobra (no snake handlers are credited) and Hsiao Yao the thankless task of handling the snake throughout the movie, viewers will still remember the love scene between Wei and Dana before they are attacked - at least they put a rocking chair to good use!

Note: The Fangs Of The Cobra DVD (IVL/Celestial) is banned in $ingapore.

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April 8, 2007


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