HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Jules Verne's Rocket to the Moon
Man They Could Not Hang, The
Final Days
Frightened City, The
Assimilate
Sequin in a Blue Room
Common Crime, A
Into the Labyrinth
Power, The
Wake of Death
Night Orchid
Mortal
Iron Mask, The
Dinosaur
Personal History of David Copperfield, The
Dove, The
Collective
Charulata
Minari
Violation
Defending Your Life
Champagne Murders, The
He Dreams of Giants
Lost in America
Take Back
Honeydew
Banishing, The
Drifters, The
Gushing Prayer
Escape from Coral Cove
Swan Princess, The
Shortcut
Stray
Butterfly Murders, The
Pimp
Feedback
Lady is a Square, The
Zack Snyder's Justice League
Dark Rendezvous
Silk Road
   
 
Newest Articles
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
Network Double Bills: All Night Long and Ballad in Blue
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
Network Double Bills: The Best of Benny Hill and The Likely Lads
Network Double Bills: Some Girls Do and Deadlier Than the Male
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
   
 
  Bat Without Wings Is that Gene Simmons?!
Year: 1980
Director: Chu Yuan
Stars: Derek Yee, Ching Li, Wang Jung, Tang Ching, Au-Yueng Pui-San, Goo Goon-Chung, Ku Feng, Jason Pai Piao, Lau Wai-Ling, Liu Lai-Ling, Ngaai Fei, Shum Lo, Yeung Chi-Hing, Yuen Bun, Yuen Wah, Cheng Miu, Chan Shen
Genre: Horror, Martial Arts, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Somebody at Shaw Brothers must have been a fan of Seventies glam rockers KISS, because the titular villain of this martial arts horror-mystery is a dead ringer for Gene Simmons. The top twenty-eight fighters of the Martial World - that mythical setting for so many swordplay movies - fight an earthshaking battle against flying, fright-masked supervillain Bat Without Wings, whom our narrator informs us is “a notorious lustful, horny man who raped and killed many women.” He’s also lethal at kung fu and kills twenty-six of his opponents before heroes Iron Palm Szma and Thousand-Faced Scholar Lang Qiuyun (Ngaai Fei) settle his hash.

Five years later, sword maiden Lei-Feng (Au-Yueng Pui-San) is journeying through Maple Woods when her entourage are poisoned by a man (Ku Feng) claiming to be the supposedly deceased Bat. Luring Lei-Feng inside his underground lair, he uses her resemblance to a mysterious woman in order to coerce a crazy, cave-dwelling hermit (Tang Ching) into revealing a long-hidden secret. Since it was his name on a phoney letter that drew Lei-Feng to her grisly fate, handsome hero Broken Heart Sword Xiao Qi (Derek Yee) resolves to trap the bat and teams up with the girl’s father Lei Xuan (Wang Jung) and bereaved fiancé (Goo Goon-Chung). Their investigation unearths a tangled web of lies, deceit and death-dealing booby-traps, with the identity of the Bat not as clear-cut as it seems.

Chu Yuan brings us another mind-bogglingly convoluted wu xia mystery, high on atmosphere, low on sense. This one was not based on a novel by his usual source Gu Long, but springs from the pen of Huang Ying, the Taiwanese writer who also gave us Mr. Vampire (1985). Bat Without Wings is a rare case where the narrative proves too complicated for even Yuan to handle.

Fair play to Derek Yee. No matter how outlandish things get he always plays it deadly straight, if a trifle blandly. Coming from a showbiz family (his brothers where Shaw superstars David Chiang and Paul Chin Pei), Yee made forty films at Shaw Brothers, including the classics Buddha’s Palm (1982) and Descendent from the Sun (1983), but is best known today as a critically acclaimed film director. Among his many great works are groundbreaking asylum drama The Lunatics (1986), drug-smuggling thriller Protégé (2007), The Shinjuku Incident (2009) which marked a rare straight acting role for Jackie Chan, and the love story Chinese critics consider his masterpiece: C’est La Vie, Mon Cheri (1993).

His co-star, award-winning actor Wang Jung had a comparatively less stellar directing career prior to rejoining Shaw Brothers when he was living in the United States. Aside from The Street in New York (1973), he also co-directed under a pseudonym The Old Master (1979), an action vehicle for Jackie Chan’s onetime sifu -Yu Jim-Yuen.

Although the surreal set-pieces are often thrilling (including our heroes suspended above a poisonous pond, trapped in forest of mechanical bamboo (?!) and an exploding musical death-trap), the plot lacks momentum and takes left-field turns that are frequently puzzling. One moment the Bat is on a revenge-killing spree, the next he’s after that old martial arts movie standby: the kung fu manual with secrets everybody wants. With two Bats to keep track of, the plot then springs two more surprise villains and suddenly everyone is searching for hidden treasure.

Ching Li, Yuan’s favourite actress, plays the enigmatic Szma Dongcheng - daughter of the man who supposedly slew the Bat - who has secrets of her own. All head-scratching stuff, but Chu Yuan cranks up the horror atmosphere with swathes of eerily coloured fog, Mario Bava lighting and a memorably fetid, cobwebbed lair where the Bat sculpts statues of his favourite victims. It’s certainly bizarre seeing Tang Ching, formerly suave Sixties star of Interpol (1967) and Summons to Death (1967), as a crazy, cackling madman with even crazier hair.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 4309 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
Stately Wayne Manor
   

 

Last Updated: