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  Fangs of the Cobra Make Friends with a Snake
Year: 1977
Director: Sun Chung
Stars: Tsung Hua, Hsiao Yao, Frankie Wei Hung, Dana, Cheng Miu, Yeung Chi-Hing, Fan Mei-Sheng, Wong Ching Ho, Lee Sau Kei, Yeung Chak Lam, Jia Lang, Lui Hung, Ko Hung, Hsu Hsia, San Kuai, Tsang Choh Lam, Lee Hang, Cheung Chok-Chow, Tai Gwan Tak
Genre: Horror, Sex, Thriller, Romance, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: “Don’t believe all snakes are scary”, intones our narrator. “You could have a good relationship with a snake if you treated it nicely.” Ah Fen (Hsiao Yao), heroine of this bizarre Shaw Brothers thriller, enjoys just such a relationship with her pet snake Xi Xi. We see them frolicking in the fields over the opening credits. Can snakes frolic? This one does. Returning from college to help run his family farm, geeky rich boy Tang Shi-De (Tsung Hua) is instantly smitten with Ah Fen. This annoys his beautiful cousin, Man-Ling (Dana) whose sleazy boyfriend Hu Lin (Frankie Wei Hung) wants her to seduce Shi-De and land the Tang family fortune.

Hu Lin stages a phoney kidnapping to bring these two together, but his dumb thugs abduct Ah Fen by mistake. Now deeply in love, following their escape Shi-De and Ah Fen decide to marry. Hu Lin plants a bomb in the bridal limo and only the heroic intervention of Xi Xi saves Ah Fen’s life. This doesn’t impress Shi-De, who suffers a pathological hatred of snakes since one killed his mother. He forbids his wife from seeing Xi Xi again. So, Ah Fen visits her childhood friend in secret, while Hu Lin and Man-Ling hatch another murderous scheme.

Fangs of the Cobra (originally titled Cobra Girl) is a really weird movie. There is no denying that. Snake-themed horror movies were quite plentiful in Hong Kong cinema around this period, including Shaw’s earlier, relentlessly grim Killer Snakes (1974). But Xi Xi is definitely the hero of this picture and the plot forms a strange love triangle between the heroine, her husband and her slithery friend. Despite having his life saved a dozen times, dim bulb Shi-De isn’t convinced the serpent is a good guy. Okay, the man lost his mom, but Xi Xi must wonder what a snake’s got to do to get some love? The serpent’s outlandish antics - which include rescuing a baby from a rabid mongoose - enliven a movie that is occasionally plodding and ponderous. Much of the screen time revolves around Ah Fen and Shi-De’s tediously melodramatic courtship, yet both remain rather colourless characters.

Sexploitation is also on the cards, with Man-Ling and Hu Lin re-enacting the Karma Sutra in numerous episodes. Hong Kong sex goddess Dana was quite a box-office draw at the time and the camera caresses her slinky, naked form almost as lovingly as the snake’s. Thankfully, the film kicks into high gear for a frenzied finale with surprise snake attacks, copious nudity, and a crazed three-way fight between Shi-De, Hu Lin and Xi Xi. Yet coming from the inventive Sun Chung, this is a slight disappointment.
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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