Starring Ching Li, Tina Chin Fei, An Ping, Wai Wang, Chen Hung-Lieh, Yu Lung, Got Heung-Ting, Yeung Oi-Wa, Chang Feng, Yueh Yang, Got Siu-Bo, Ho Fan, Lam Lam, Ngai Chi-Wong, Aai Dung-Gwa, O Yau-Man, Law Bun
Directed by Tetsuya Yamanouchi
Expectations: Moderate, but I think it’s gonna be fun.
Na Cha and the Seven Devils is the type of movie that only certain people will like. It’s essentially an FX movie — nearly every scene has some form of supernatural shenanigans going on — and while the FX are quite ambitious, they don’t necessarily hold up well to modern standards. To be honest, they don’t even necessarily hold up to 1973 standards; everything looked at about a similar level to the work seen in Ho Meng-Hua’s four-film Journey to the West series, and those were all made 5–7 years prior to this. But when a film considered low-budget by American standards has such a plethora of supernatural delights, it’s unfair to think that they’re all going to look fantastic to someone 43 years in the future. And besides, I love these sort of special effects, especially in Hong Kong films, so I loved every minute of Na Cha and the Seven Devils. I merely seek to give you an idea of what we’re talking about here.
Our story begins on Mt. Kunlun, existing high in the sky between heaven and the mortal world, where there is a peach tree that only blossoms every thousand years. It takes another thousand years for the peaches to appear, and another thousand years still for the them to ripen. But, if it’s not already apparent, these are no ordinary peaches! We get our first taste of their power when the mischievous child god Na Cha (Yu Lung) decides he’s hungry. He devours a peach, his eyes glow a bright yellow, and suddenly he can see right through the clouds and into the mortal world! He can also crack rocks & trees in half and cause earthquakes with a single blow! The only problem is that when Na Cha shook the tree to get his peach, he knocked loose the remaining seven peaches. These rogue magical peaches landed on the Earth, and now Na Cha and a pair of his brothers are tasked with retrieving the peaches before the devils can eat them and become immortal.
Most relevant to this review would be 1969’s Feng Shen Bang, a Taiwanese production based on Investiture of the Gods, a classic Chinese novel that Na Cha and the Seven Devils is also based on! Further digging revealed that Feng Shen Bang uses a lot of the same cast as Na Cha and the Seven Devils, including Yu Lung as Na Cha! So I guess this could be considered a sequel to that film. Also in Yamanouchi’s filmography is the 1966 Japanese film The Magic Serpent, which has been noted as a possible/probable influence on George Lucas when he was crafting the first Star Wars film.
Oh, and if the ideas of the film sound fun but the old FX turn you off, I have good news! A brand new adaptation of Investiture of the Gods, titled League of Gods, releases in China on July 29, 2016! It has an all-star cast, too, including Jet Li & Tony Leung Ka-Fai!
Next up in this chronological journey through the Shaw Brothers Martial Arts catalog is Ho Meng-Hua’s stab at a Wong Fei-Hung film, starring Ku Feng as the fan-favorite Chinese folk hero: The Master of Kung Fu! Really stoked for this one. See ya then!