HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Morfalous, Les
Dreambuilders
Everything Went Fine
Lux AEterna
Rum Runners
Fairy and the Devil, The
Mad God
Outside the Law
I Remember Mama
Superman Unbound
Lawrence of Belgravia
House Across the Lake, The
Wonder Park
Hornsby e Rodriguez
Operation Mincemeat
5 Kung Fu Daredevil Heroes
Scoob!
Earwig
Offseason
Peau Douce, La
Double Indemnity
Na Cha and the Seven Devils
Deep Murder
Superman vs. the Elite
Adam Project, The
Osamu Tezuka's Last Mystery of the 20th Century
Horse, La
Buffaloed
Train Robbers, The
Let Sleeping Cops Lie
Abominable
Funeral, The
Burning Sea, The
Godzilla Singular Point
Ace of Aces
Innocents, The
Beast and the Magic Sword, The
Last Hard Men, The
Found Footage Phenomenon, The
Night Trap
   
 
Newest Articles
3 From Arrow Player: Sweet Sugar, Girls Nite Out and Manhattan Baby
Little Cat Feat: Stephen King's Cat's Eye on 4K UHD
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
   
 
  Black Lizard, The Speaks with forked tongue
Year: 1981
Director: Chu Yuan
Stars: Derek Yee, Sun Chien, Helen Poon Bing-Seung, Yueh Hua, Wong Yung, Chan Man-Na, Goo Goon-Chung, Yuen Wah, Yeung Chi-Hing, Lau Wai-Ling, Ng Yuen-Jun, Wang Sha, Lui Hung
Genre: Horror, Martial Arts, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Not to be confused with the campy Japanese transvestite crime comedy made in 1968, this Black Lizard is yet another Shaw Brothers wu xia (“swordplay”) mystery from genre maestro Chu Yuan. Mind you, a Japanese transvestite criminal mastermind would not exactly look out of place here. According to legend, a one-thousand year old lizard able to assume human form returns every three years to claim another victim. Newly-married detective and kung fu expert Long Fei (Derek Yee) learns of this legend from his comely spouse Zi Zhu (Helen Poon Bing-Seung). Not the most romantic topic to be discussing on your wedding day, but then the pair have just seen Xiao Lik (Yueh Hua), chief of the local security bureau, leading the villagers in their tri-annual peace offering to the Black Lizard.

En route to escort a prisoner into custody, Long Fei receives a cryptic message from a stranger calling himself Visitor from Hell (Goo Goon-Chung) warning if he does not return home, his wife will die. Along the way, Fei has a scary encounter with a hideous ghoul in red robes (Yuen Wah) and a mysterious woman in white (Chan Man-Na), whom he discovers is Xiao Lik’s wife, except she has been dead for days. Now this ghostly duo wander the countryside bearing a coffin containing a coffin that looks exactly like Zi Zhu! What is going on? Local constable Tieh Fu (Sun Chien) assists as Fei interrogates Xiao Lik. It turns out Xiao slew the Black Lizard years before, but the monster swore vengeance and was reincarnated as his only son, Ruo Yu (Ng Yuen-Jun). Having killed his own mother, the reincarnated reptile boy is on a cross-country rampage. At least that is what everyone comes to believe, or is there another explanation?

Most of Chu Yuan’s swordplay movies were wildly fantastical but now and then he stirred a little horror into the mix, as was the case with his peerless Web of Death (1976) and not-so-hot Bat Without Wings (1980). Black Lizard has a marvellously spooky atmosphere combining garish EC comics by way of Mario Bava visuals with a synthesizer led score mimicking Bernard Herrmann’s Psycho strings everytime something scary happens and touches of Edgar Allan Poe, as when one character finds herself buried alive. There is an eerie frisson to scenes where an opium-addled undertaker meets the coffin-carrying creatures, Zi Zhu follows her undead aunt inside a cobwebbed crypt, or whenever the red-robed fiend leaps out of nowhere. All of which compensates for the storytelling being somewhat too esoteric for its own good, although the complex mystery upholds Yuan’s history of crafting stories that stand as a perfect riposte to anyone who thinks all martial arts movies have simplistic plots. The key to unlocking the mystery hangs on a Rashomon -style incident retold from multiple perspectives, but the Scooby-Doo solution fumbles the sword-fighting climax with a lengthy “why I did it” speech and a few more last minute revelations, before the villain exits, unsatisfyingly, bumping his head on a big rock.

Yuan touches on some of his familiar themes: deception, illusion, wedded to the compelling idea of a perpetual liar no longer able to recognize the truth. There are the usual outlandish martial arts superpowers on display with characters falling victim to the “Black Sand Palm” and “Ice Palm” - see also, The Spirit of the Sword (1982) - but the film lacks Yuan’s trademark poetry and allusions to Chinese classical literature, while the female characters are uncharacteristically weak. On the other hand, you get to see Yueh Hua grappling with a stuntman in a shoddy lizard costume.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 5240 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
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
Mary Sibley
  Desbris M
  Sheila Reeves
Paul Smith
   

 

Last Updated: