Monday, September 16, 2013

Chinese Evil Technique, aka Chinese Magic 2 (Taiwan, 1985)

I don't know if Chinese Evil Technique earns the alternate title Chinese Magic 2, but, like 1983's Chinese Magic, it does star former Shaw Brothers starlet Shih Szu and feature a lot of Taoist craziness. Much is accomplished in the movie by means of flying scraps of parchment with Chinese writing on them. These can freeze an attacker in his or her tracks, turn into an army of zombie ninjas, or allow the villain to fly through the air and snatch his innocent prey from the arms of her protectors.

Said villain is a traitorous disciple (Ko Keung) who, in cahoots with his master's philandering wife, steals the Dragon Incantation Manuscript, a powerful primer on magical kung fu techniques that the master (Cliff Ching Ching) keeps locked in a vault protected by the aforementioned all-purpose parchment scraps. In it's place, he substitutes a phoney whose spells have anything but the desired effect. One just issues an unpleasant smell ("What a stinking shit", exclaims the master.)

In response to this insult, the master dispatches loyal disciple Shih Szu -- who has mastered such techniques as invisibility and splitting herself into two -- to retrieve the manual, pairing her off with a male counterpart who has unresolved romantic feelings for her. Later, when the traitor rapes the daughter of an aging gambler he has been exploiting (Suen Lam), the daughter's young paramour (Yau Kwok-Tung) joins the fight. Many visual wonders follow, from flaming voodoo dolls that transform into full size fighters to flying, laser firing statues. As Chinese Evil Techniques is directed by Yu Hon-Cheung -- he of Dwarf Sorcerer, the Pearl Cheung Ling version of The Burning of the Red Lotus Monastery, and the apparently lost but increasingly legendary Monster from the Sea -- you can rest assured that these wonders are represented in all the graphic splendor that a very modest budget will allow.

As with the original Chinese Magic, much lip service is given to the power of untapped sex mojo in the practice of magical fighting techniques. The importance of a virgin's menstrual blood is once again touted, as is something called the "Carnal Fire" that manifests itself pretty much as just regular old fire. The villain also lords over a whorehouse whose concubines, with the application of those handy parchments, can be transformed into a flouncy kung fu army. Despite all this randy talk, however, Chinese Evil Technique, at least in the cut I saw, is pretty chaste in its presentation, without a hint of nudity and only the most coyly realized simulated sex.

If you're no stranger to Taiwanese fantasy martial arts films, you'll find little in Chinese Evil Technique that you haven't seen before. Still, it's nice to remind oneself occasionally that there is a seemingly endless supply of such films, no matter how repetitive they can sometimes be. For those like  myself, who are eager to be whisked away into a world of palm fired lightning bolts and people flying around in the lotus position, they're like a magical incantation in themselves.

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