Magic Crystal (HK 1986)

Rating: **
Review Date: 11/19/00
Director: Wong Jing
Cast: Andy Lau, Richard Norton, Wong Jing, Cynthia Rothrock, Max Mok, Philip Ko, Cheung Man, Chen Pai-Hsiang (?), cameos by Eddie Mahler, Shing Fui On

A stupid sci-fi kung fu comedy from Wong Jing with some spectacular fight scenes. Andy Lau is a freelance law enforcer of sorts - the cops hire him to take care of jobs that are too messy or too difficult for them to handle. His friend (Philip Ko) calls him up one day from Greece, saying that he needs his help. It seems he's found an extraterrestrial artifact, and the KGB are hot on his tail to claim it for themselves. So Andy and his partner Poncho (Wong Jing) go to Greece where they run into interpol agents Cindy Morgan (Cynthia Rothrock) and Max Mok. Eventually, the space crystal lands in the hands of Poncho's son, and he begins to bond with it. The crystal can communicate through telepathy, alter people's sensory perception, and make people incredibly strong. This makes for LOTS of silliness that is downright painful to watch. The KGB (lead by villainous Richard Norton) are still chasing down the good guys, and eventually a huge fight goes down in a secret UFO base somewhere beneath the Acropolis. We learn that the magic crystal is part of the UFO's computer system and it has the power to send the spirit of the craft's pilot (now long dead) back to the stars. We also learn that when the UFO originally crashed on Earth, the alien fashioned itself in the form of a beautiful woman, becoming the Greek goddess Aphrodite (Venus). Huh?!? (At this point Cynthia Rothrock justifiably proclaims with disgust and disbelief, "oh my god, you were Venus?!?") The heroes finally prevail and the crystal uses all of its power to send its master home, dying in the process and leaving a little baby crystal behind. Aw, isn't that sweet?

My god, who writes this crap? Actually, the kung fu is great and arguably represents both Cynthia's and Richard Norton's best work. Cynthia actually exhibits some Shaolin animal forms in and amongst her contemporary brawling techniques which is quite enlightening. Andy Lau also turns in a great physical performance - very graceful and hard hitting. Of course, Max Mok is great although he doesn't get to do much. Another great surprise was Andy's sister (Chen Pai-Hsiang?) who is a couch potato addicted to television. But when the bad guys threaten to interrupt her TV time, she turns into a serious kick-ass kung fu (tai chi?) swordswoman! She's outstanding, and when she and Cynthia Rothrock team up against Richard Norton, it's sheer delight. Also in the delightful department is the peripheral participation of lovely Cheung Man as Philip's sister and the obligatory damsel in distress. Sadly, like so many Hong Kong films, these two wonderful characters mysteriously vanish in the final reel as if they had never existed. Unfortunately ALL of the stuff involving the magic crystal is absolutely wretched, and an embarrassment to the entire HK film industry. Director Wong Jing just can't seem to resist this kind of nonsensical slapstick that always makes me cringe in agony.