Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Dwarf Sorcerer aka Magic Kid (Taiwan, 1974)

Hint: If you’re selling something on eBay, and you want me to buy it, call it The Dwarf Sorcerer (Magic Kid). It doesn’t matter if it’s a ShamWow or a collection of confederate flag beer coasters; I will find it impossible to resist.

Fortunately, what The Dwarf Sorcerer (Magic Kid) really is is neither of those things, being that it is instead a busted up old Taiwanese fantasy kung fu movie. Unfortunately, despite its essential awesomeness, I am unable to present you with any screengrabs from the movie, due to the fact that the print from which the DVD-R I got was made was so distressed that it looked like it might actually have been used by an obsessive-compulsive swami to shammy out his own intestinal tract. But un-unfortunately, I was able to find the text-adjacent poster image over at the wonderful Hong Kong Movie Database, which shows you many of the film’s highlights, along with a bunch of stuff that totally wasn’t in the movie at all. There were, for instance, no dinosaurs or dragons in The Dwarf Sorcerer (Magic Kid), though the stupid-looking apeman that is prominently featured on the poster is indeed present and accounted for, which more than makes up for the absence of the former.

The Dwarf Sorcerer (Magic Kid) is noteworthy for taking the standard kung fu plot and giving it a bit of an interesting twist. Just as at the beginning of countless martial arts films before it, The Dwarf Sorcerer (Magic Kid) begins with a small child witnessing the murder of his parents at the hands of a gang of evildoers – in this case, a band of kung fu demons dressed like cavemen, who mix things up a bit by only killing the father and taking mom captive. Said child then narrowly avoids being murdered by the evildoers himself – in this case by being carried off by a giant, deliciously phony-looking bird puppet – and comes under the care of a wizened old kung fu master, who proceeds to subject him to a rigorous training regime that will ultimately lead to him setting out, armed with a hard won set of near-supernatural kung fu skills, on a mission of vengeance against the evildoers.

Now, in most martial arts films, this aforementioned training process takes up a number of years in our young hero’s life, seeing him into adulthood and insuring that, when he does finally face-off against his enemies, it is on fairly equal ground in regard to age and physical stature. But what if it only took, say, a few weeks? What you would then have is a kung fu abled five-year-old squaring off, in his quest for bloody vengeance, against a host of adult-sized demons and people in weepingly threadbare monster costumes, which is exactly what The Dwarf Sorcerer (Magic Kid) gives us. And to clear up any confusion caused by the film’s alternate titles, let me clarify that the lead here is portrayed by an actual child. So I guess you’re simply meant to choose the title you prefer based on how convincing you found his performance.

As you might imagine, the kung fu action in The Dwarf Sorcerer (Magic Kid) is not very realistic. Martial arts purists, you have been forewarned. What you basically get here is a little kid being slung around on wires while feebly waving a sword, and all of the adults in the vicinity half-heartedly pretending that they’re being gravely injured by him. The filmmakers have chosen to give the kid that classic “so fast his opponents don’t even know they’re dead" kung fu mojo, so that all he does is glide by with his sword, after which his victim appears momentarily befuddled before realizing that his guts are pouring out of a huge slash wound in his abdomen. Further evening the stakes is the fact that the kid has the ability to fly like Superman and tunnel under the ground like a mole, this last skill offering occasion for him to burst up out of the ground and stab a not-as-vigilant-as-he-should-have-been opponent in his wrinklies.

You can probably guess from the scenarios described above that The Dwarf Sorcerer (Magic Kid), despite starring a child, is not a film for children. Or, at least, not for your children, if you’re anything like most of the parents I know. Indeed, seeing The Dwarf Sorcerer (Magic Kid) might have just enough of a detrimental effect on your child to veer him away slightly from his destiny of becoming the single most important person in the universe, which is why we were all so desperately counting on you to procreate in the first place. (Well, and also because I was still able to traverse the block of 24th Street between Noe and Castro while narrowly avoiding having my foot being run over by a twin-loaded baby carriage. I mean, where’s the danger and excitement in that?)

I myself have selfishly denied the world the privilege of being home to my spawn, but if I were to sire a child, I am confident that he would be much like the hero of The Dwarf Sorcerer (Magic Kid). Unfortunately, after the years of grueling training at the hands of a wizened old kung fu master that it would take to get him to that point, the first thing he would probably do with his newly acquired skills would be to burst up out of the ground and stab me in the groin. Fucking kids, I’m telling you.


Anonymous said...

Ahh man... those twin-loaded baby carriages are the worst!

The bright side of your not having children is that you can channel your fatherly love to all the neglected bastards of world cinema like The Dwarf Sorcerer aka Magic Kid.

Todd said...

That reminds me of something I forgot to mention: The fact that, throughout the movie, the villains keep referring to magic kid as "the little bastard". Funny!

houseinrlyeh aka Denis said...

Hm. Goes to show that you shouldn't call someone a bastard who is small enough to stab you into the groin, lest your own bastard-producing capabilities be ended.

Todd said...

After "Sheroo, Moti & Pedro", the next onscreen team-up I'd like to see is one between Magic Kid, Weng Weng and Little Superstar. Between the three of them they could do a lot of damage -- mostly to people's groins, but Little Superstar could at least climb up a guy's tie and punch him in the face while the other two work the lower body.

Keith said...

I'm taking bets now: Sheroo vs. the murderous vulture from Black Samurai, Pedro vs. the murderous monkey from Mother of Tears, Magic Kid vs. that dwarf who shoots acid out of his goiter from Buddha's Palm, Weng Weng vs. the cowboy midget from Black Samurai, and Little Superstar vs., oh I don't know. How about one of the midgets from a Champions of Justice film?

It'll be like Destroy All Monsters.

Word verification: enombro. Didn't Enombro wrestle Mil Mascaras a few times?

Adam Smasher said...

Ha Ha, great write up. Sounds like a classic.