The Snake Prince (1976)

The Snake Prince [蛇王子] (1976)

Starring Ti Lung, Lin Chen-Chi, Helen Ko, Fan Lei, Wong Yu, Ng Hong-Sang, Wong Ching-Ho, Cheng Miu, Leung Seung-Wan, Lam Wai-Tiu, Norman Chu Siu-Keung, Tsang Choh-Lam

Directed by Lo Chen

Expectations: Excited, but I’m not sure what to expect.


The Snake Prince is easily one of the most unusual Shaw Brothers films I’ve seen. It combines a full-on musical with fantasy and folklore to create an unforgettable film you’ll either love or hate. I love a good musical, so to have one with funky ’70s music, the usual Shaw Brothers feel and a bunch of snake-driven fantasy, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. There’s also a bit of martial art action here and there, but it’s not treated like the fights of more traditional films. They aren’t edited for tension at all, instead there are a lot of long, unbroken takes that allow the physicality of the actors to really be appreciated. But don’t expect anything too exciting in this regard, it’s more like a few sprinkles on top of a donut instead of something more substantial. If you aren’t diggin’ the rest of the movie, the fights aren’t going to be enough to make it worth it.

A small mountain village is in the middle of a severe drought. The villagers pray (via a funky song, of course) for the rains to return so their crops can thrive again. After the opening credits introduce us to the Snake Prince, we return to the villagers, again in song. During this celebration, the Snake Prince (Ti Lung) and his two snake friends (Wong Yu & Ng Hong-Sang) enter the town disguised as villagers. They dance and sing with the humans, and a trio of sisters catches their snake eyes. The Snake Prince is especially smitten with Hei Qin (Lin Chen-Chi), but a trio of men from the village (who I assumed were the boyfriends of the sisters, but they never said they were) run the snake guys out of town. This is where one of the bigger action scenes happens, but it’s more like stage fighting than anything resembling what was occurring in the other films of 1976.

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Bewitched (1981)

Bewitched [蛊] (1981)

Starring Ai Fei, Chen Li Li, Hussin Bin Abu Hassan, Melvin Wong, Lin Wei Tu, Fan Lei, Jenny Leung, Leung Gwing Wan, Chow Kin Ping, Chan Laap Ban, Lee Sau Kei

Directed by Kuei Chi-Hung

Expectations: Moderate. Poster looks cool, heard it was crazy.

fourstar


Holy shit! This is how you do a magic movie! I haven’t seen a lot of films concerning black magic, but I can’t imagine many of them are able to top this absolute tour-de-force of occult cinema. I went in with some fairly tempered expectations, as both Oily Maniac and The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires were lots of fun in their own ways, but ultimately not all that mind-blowing. Right from the get go you know you’re in for something completely different though, as the first few minutes feature some children uncovering a dead child’s body while playing in the park. The body is taken to the coroner who removes the cause of death, a nine-inch steel spike driven through the child’s skull! Directly before this we get the ominous credit of “Introducing: Renowned Malay Sorcerer Hussin Bin Abu Hassan” and the spooky opening narration on the mysterious nature and uses of witchcraft, leaving the truth of the tale up for the viewer to decide. Oh yes, this is gonna be good.

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