At the Yin Yang Clan where students practice Taoist kung fu, prank-loving Ko Sheng (Yuen Yat Chor) drives his teachers crazy. Facing expulsion, Ko steals an ancient manual from a secret lair guarded by talking turtles and teaches himself the bizarre art of “Separate Body” kung fu. His first attempt ends in disaster when he inadvertently expels his soul from his body and has to chase it round the room, somewhat like Peter Pan! Meanwhile, beautiful sword maiden Lee Chien Ngo (Hilda Liu Hao-Yi) is on the trail of a sinister sorcerer (Kwan Chung) draining urine from local children in a black magic spell that leaves them withered husks. He delivers the kids’ pee to Fu Luen (Yen Shi-Kwan), crazy-haired leader of the evil Tien Wu Men School, who slurps it down with a side order of human placenta to become an unstoppable kung fu dynamo. Eventually Ko and Miss Lee team up to stop the urine-quaffing freak from wreaking havoc round the Martial World.
Beginning with the magnificent Miracle Fighters (1982), the Yuen Brothers, led by their most famous sibling Yuen Woo Ping, made a string of loopy martial arts fantasy comedies showcasing their unique combination of jaw-dropping acrobatic stunt-work and fanciful, Georges Méliès style, camera trickery. Young Taoism Fighter was the fifth and final entry in the popular series, preceded by Shaolin Drunkard (1983), Taoism Drunkard (1984) and Drunken Tai Chi (1984) - which marked the screen debut of a young Donnie Yen - and was produced by the notorious Lo Wei.
Although veteran Chen Chi Hwa, who made Ape Girl (1979) and a pair of unsung Jackie Chan classics: Half a Loaf of Kung Fu (1978) and Snake and Crane Arts of Shaolin (1978), is credited as director, the Yuen Brothers directed all the fight sequences. Their demented genius is stamped all over the film’s mix of slapstick fu, Taoist magic, bizarre gadgetry and zany humour that runs the gamut from witty wordplay to fart-in-your face crudity. The madcap plot scores major points for creativity, but proves harder to absorb on first viewing than that of its spellbinding predecessor, while Chi Hwa has a slipperier grasp of pace than Yuen Woo Ping resulting in lulls amidst the episodic story.
Nevertheless there are plenty of magical moments including a riff on Fantasia (1940) where Ko Sheng and his dopey sidekick Bohunk (Tai Bo) conjure mini duplicates to carry out their household chores; a battle with a kung fu zombie; and a charming sequence where Ko and Miss Lee flirt between flinging each other around the underground pool where those talking turtles dwell. Animal lovers beware, the film contains snake snuff footage and the turtles are suspended on wires for a spot of impromptu disco dancing! Listen out for the surprise use of Roxy Music’s “Love is the Drug” in one memorable scene. Co-stars Yuen Yat Chor and Hilda Liu Hao-Yi were partnered in previous instalments and make a most engaging and athletic kung fu couple. The Yuen Brothers pull out all the stops for their breakneck showdown with the maniacal Fu. He rips Ko limb from limb - which is when the fun really begins!