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  Kung Fu Wonder Child You Can Do MagicBuy this film here.
Year: 1986
Director: Lee Tso Nam
Stars: Lam Siu-Lau, Oshima Yukari, Chen Shan, Jack Lung Sai-Ga, Lam Yue-Git
Genre: Comedy, Martial Arts, Historical, Fantasy
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Chu Hse (Oshima Yukari) is on a quest with her father when they are stopped one night by an evil priest who demands that they hand over the magic skull made of precious metal that is the source of the father's power. An explosive fight ensues that ends with Chu Hse unconscious and her father defeated, his spirit confined to a special jar. Now she must track down the jar but first she must contend with a hopping vampire who is out to stop her. The vampire's two children assist him as they want to find their mother, but it doesn't take much for Chu Hse to defeat him, literally walking all over the entity. However, she will need assistance herself if she wants to beat the evil priest...

...and she will find that help in the form of the Kung Fu Wonder Child of the title, who, it transpires, is Hsui Chuen (Lam Siu-Lau) - a lowly young boy with magical skills who is in fact played in a pantomime principal boy fashion by a woman. She may have large sideburns in the Alvin Stardust tradition, but she's not fooling anyone. Anyway, this is an entry into the martial arts-fantasy-comedy genre made in Taiwan, virtually indistinguishable from the similar Hong Kong efforts, but looking as if they did the best with the low budget they had, and there are certainly enough pyrotechnics to keep fans amused.

Hsui Chuen works for her, sorry, his grandpa (Jack Lung Sai-Ga) while the two bumbling boys he grew up with attend the local temple to train in the ways of kung fu. This is one of those films where you imagine if the film makers had to explain the finer points of the plot they would be somewhat stuck for coherent explanations, but as it bullets along from set piece to set piece it doesn't really matter. Slapstick is the order of the day here, with a sense of humour that is nothing short of bizarre (see the thunderous fart that blows a man across the room such is its force), and references that are no less strange.

For example, when Hsui Chuen is fooled into pushing the assistant priest's dinner into his face, he has to face a nasty punishment that means the removal of one eye, so Grandpa jumps in and suggests that the boy take a life or death trial instead, which has him being shrunk inside a model temple and fighting with a face hugger from Aliens. There's even a reference to Rambo later on. Basically, anything that they can work into the film to stop you getting bored, they will, so when Hsui Chuen and Chu Hse combine forces to fight against the evil priest, who it turns out is also the head priest at the temple in disguise, all hell breaks loose. Kung Fu Wonder Child has an ambiguous relationship with authority, so Grandpa is fine, but everyone in a position of power at the temple are bullies or maniacs or both. Eccentric is one word for the film; barmy is another, but it is entertaining - watch for the cartoon dragon as well.

[55th Chamber's DVD release sees a worn but watchable widescreen print, and extras that consist of a cobbled-together trailer, a stills gallery and a plug for selection of other releases on the label.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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