Holy Flame Of The Martial World (HK 1983)

Rating: **
Review Date: 10/30/99
Cast: Max Mok, Philip Kwok, Leanne Lau (Liu Hsueh-hua)

This Shaw Brothers kung fu fantasy was a rare gem to stumble across. Its fast paced, mind numbing insanity will leave your brain aching and your gut quivering from uncontrollable laughter. In the world of martial arts, two villains (one who looks suspiciously like Moon Lee) kill an innocent couple in an attempt to steal their family kung fu secrets. The kind hearted Philip Kwok rescues the unfortunate couple's son while the villainess runs away with their daughter. Eighteen years later, the son (a young a lively Max Mok) learns about his heritage and retrieves the Holy Flame as his family heirloom. He learns how to use it in order to avenge his parents' deaths. Meanwhile, his sister obtains the other half of the Holy Flame, and the bad guys manipulate her in order to fight the good guys. Eventually the truth comes out, and brother and sister take their revenge on the devious villains in a mind blowing and confusing special effects extravaganza.

No matter how many Hong Kong movies you've seen, nothing can prepare you for stuff like this. Its break-neck madcap lunacy never lets up, and after a while your brain is forced to give up. The kung fu is high flying and frenetic, with lots of exagerrated acrobatics and wirework. There's also a good amount of well executed swordplay, and a rewardingly healthy dose of girl fu. Out of all the craziness, the one fight that stands out above the rest is a battle between Max Mok and a host of flying kanji characters. What the hell?!? Then there's the Blood Sucking Clan, who resurrect an English speaking demon in a green body suit and fight with paintings that come to life. Okay... There's also a girl who sticks her finger into a dead snake's gut which gives her the power to shoot energy beams out of her finger. That comes in handy. There are pools of acid, animated ghosts, flying carpets, decapitations, virgin swordplay, deadly laughter, and weapons that turn into giant spatulas which smack their enemies into the ground. (too bad there aren't any kung fu gorillas - darn) One hell of a good time - just turn it on and tune out for ninety minutes.