HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Strangler's Web
Host
Nimic
House of Bamboo
Murder Me, Monster
Hell and High Water
Possessor
Flint
Miserables, Les
Ritz, The
Patrick
Cemetery
Girls of the Sun
Princess and the Goblin, The
Skyfire
Upright
Incredible Kung Fu Mission
Dirty Cops
You Cannot Kill David Arquette
Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on The Exorcist
Son's Room, The
Evil Hits Evil
Agency
Blue My Mind
Thumbelina
Proxima
Aprile
Assassination Nation
Golden Key, The
Image Book, The
On Body and Soul
Unhinged
Eyewitness
Girlfriends
Danger Within
Rent-A-Pal
Battle in Outer Space
H-Man, The
Painted Bird, The
Finding Steve McQueen
   
 
Newest Articles
Bad Love: The Night Porter on Blu-ray
Brevity is the Soul of Weird: Short Sharp Shocks on Blu-ray
Get Your Ass to Mars: Total Recall on Blu-ray
Call the Professionals: Le Cercle Rouge on Blu-ray
When There's No More Room in Hell: Dawn of the Dead on Blu-ray
The Butterfly Effect: Mothra on Blu-ray
Living Room Theatre: Play for Today Volume 1 on Blu-ray
Didn't He Do Well: The Bruce Forsyth Show on DVD
Blood Wedding: The Bride with White Hair on Blu-ray
The Inhuman Element: The Ladykillers on 4K UHD
As You Like It, Baby: Breathless on Blu-ray
Stargazing: Light Entertainment Rarities on DVD
Down to the Welles: Orson Welles Great Mysteries Volume 2 on DVD
Herding Cats: Sleepwalkers on Blu-ray
Confessions of a Porn Star: Adult Material on DVD
They're Still Not Sure It is a Baby: Eraserhead on Blu-ray
Werewolves are Real: Dog Soldiers on Digital
Rose: A Love Story - Producers April Kelley and Sara Huxley Interview
Phone Phreak: 976-EVIL on Blu-ray
Living the Nightmare: Dementia on Blu-ray
Becky and The Devil to Pay: Ruckus and Lane Skye Interview
Big Top Bloodbath: Circus of Horrors on Blu-ray
A Knock on the Door at 4 O'clock in the Morning: The Strangers on Blu-ray
Wives of the Skies: Honey Lauren Interview
To Catch a Thief: After the Fox on Blu-ray
   
 
  Zodiac Fighters Polly wants animal crackers
Year: 1978
Director: Hou Cheng
Stars: Polly Shang Kwan, Lo Lieh, Sek Fung, Ngok Yeung, Yee Hung, Gam Sai-Yuk, Lee Keung, Chan Sam-Lam, Lam Chung, Yeung Lit
Genre: Comedy, Martial Arts, Weirdo, Fantasy, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: A poor orphan girl (Polly Shang Kwan) earns a living as a professional mourner. She’ll blub beside the grave of anyone whose relatives will stump up the cash. Yet her heart is pure. While trying to return a lost wallet to a deaf swordsman, she stumbles onto a cave full of fabulous treasure. Instead of grabbing the gold, she decides to bury the skeleton of what she presumes is its rightful owner. A wise move, as a note reveals the dead man placed a booby-trap around his treasure to punish the greedy and left a reward for the virtuous: a magic sword.

On the advice of the note, our nameless heroine - let’s call her Polly - seeks out the Heartbreak Girl (Yee Hung), a princess in hiding, who guides her to a mystic cave lined with twelve totemic symbols from the Chinese Zodiac. Eleven animal heroes already mastered the other styles, but only the wielder of magic sword can penetrate the twelfth chamber and learn the all-powerful Dragon style. One year later, Polly emerges with a glam makeover (maybe its Maybelline?) and supernatural kung fu skills. Which proves handy when the Five Elements, a quintet of colour-coded villains in big bamboo hats, attempt to abduct the Heartbreak Girl for their master, the evil Tiger Shark (the ever-oily Lo Lieh) who, of course, wants to rule the world.

Although Angela Mao remains the most famous kung fu diva of the Seventies, the most beloved was arguably Polly Shang Kwan. Pretty Polly shot to stardom at eighteen in the classic Dragon Gate Inn (1967) from legendary director King Hu and won the prestigious Golden Horse award as best actress with Back Alley Princess (1972), but truly endeared herself to a generation with a string of outlandish fantasies in which she routinely fought killer kung fu squid, golden robots or talking animals. She wore skimpy outfits and projected a spirited combination of sweetness and good humour quite unlike her more intense kung fu film contemporaries. Polly kicked ass and looked good doing it. Zodiac Fighters is a fine example of what she did best.

The film, which was sold to American video under the name: Dragon Zombies Return, is a precursor to the popular Hong Kong-Taiwanese children’s fantasies of the Eighties and Nineties. Like the elaborate Twelve Animals (1990), this draws on the fabled twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac but the episodic plot makes less of the squabbling animal heroes than one would imagine. They range from a cute girl in a bunny costume (Rabbit) to a grown man clucking and flapping his wings in a chicken outfit (Rooster). In order to summon the eleven animal heroes Polly performs an array of barnyard noises, which she does with gusto, and at one point even shakes her ass to attract the horny rooster. Now that, folks, is what you call committing to a role. Each of the animals practices a distinctive kung fu style, though one imagines real students of Dog style kung fu don’t pee on their enemies. At least, I don’t think they do...

Typical of Taiwanese fantasies, goofy humour sits alongside straight melodrama, though amidst the zaniness there are moments of surprisingly heartfelt pathos. Director Hou Cheng had a few other Polly Shang Kwan vehicles to his name, including the rather more sober Seven to One (1973) and equally zany Fight for Survival (1977). He also made the notorious Shaolin Invincibles (1977) which features kung fu fighting gorillas - in other words men in shoddy ape costumes - and evil sorcerers with extendable giant killer tongues. His zany chop-edit style of action is not the best showcase for Polly’s considerable skills (she held black belts in tae kwon do, karate and judo), but the set-pieces remain lively and entertaining. The mind-boggling plot builds up to an epic scrap on the beach wherein special guest star Lo Lieh (wearing a ridiculous albino fright wig) unleashes his army of kung fu lobster men. He also sits on a throne that shoots lethal shark jaws and flying rubber sharks that chase our heroes around the beach till Polly and the animals form some kind of kung fu conga line, their actions strangely dubbed with the sound of motorcycles revving engines. No, you are not hallucinating. This stuff is actually happening. Music stolen from Ennio Morricone’s Satanic disco score for Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), which somehow fits this perfectly.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 2554 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 is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
  Lee Fiveash
  Mick Stewart
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg
   

 

Last Updated: