Beware of that huge mechanical crane!
morgoth | omaha, NE | 01/20/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"MAGIC CRANE-Benny Chan directs this odd love story produced by Tsui Hark. Well I guess it would best be considered a love story there is really a lot more going on. With a Tsui Hark wuxia film you know that it will be interesting, have great music and cinematography, and decent sets. You also know it will contain that unreal stylized wire action. The interesting part in this one is this big crane that Anita Mui rides on.
Tony Leung is part of a small martial arts school and doesn't even care about the arts much himself though he does prove to be somewhat useful by the end. Him and his master(Damian Lau) go to a meeting to find out that a new clan leader is looking to take over all of the schools so that he can rule everything I guess. When they arrive at the inn for the meeting they learn of how there will be a negotiation with the new leader and if things fail, there will be riots in the martial arts world and many will die. One thing that seperates Tsui Hark wuxia movies is the sexual advances always going on. Like one woman who looks to rape Tony Leung. This of course is looked at as the opposite by troops staying at the inn and Anita Mui comes in to save him with her superior kung fu skills. After all the trouble dies down the girl lets it be know to the 50 people that are standing around exactly what room she is staying in and that anyone is free to come up. Oh man I was dying. Now along with the crane we have all types of weird animals. Bats come and attack on behalf of this evil clan and it gets bloody. The bats look fake flying but it was a bit disturbing how real they looked when being killed. It was probably because a lot of them were real, pretty sick. When some elders are poisoned by the bats, Tony goes with Anita to get the antidote. This is where it gets really weird and takes a new turn. They have to kill this huge fire breathing tortoise and take it's gallbladder. Rosamund Kwan shows up and steals it right after the Godzilla type of fight. She plays Butterfly Lam and reveals that Pak Wan Fai(Anita Mui) tore apart her family when Butterly was a child. Her father left her mother and her to save Pak Wan Fai who was a princess of a falling empire. Butterfly is a master of the musical martial arts. I don't really know what to call it but she is able to hypnotize people. After they get the gallbladder back Pak Wan Fai does a dance and it starts breathing smoke out the top of this huge thing. While this is going on there is conflict with the school leaders that are at the inn for the negotiation and it leads to a huge fight. There are a lot of fights but they are all very short. Damian Lau does show some nice swordwork. Butterfly Lam takes to the side of evil to take revenge on Pak Wan Fai. Norman Chu(Butterfly's father) shows up to save Pak Wan Fai(again). There are all sorts of characters and they spend over half of the movie indroducing them. The characters have a lot of odd things happening to them like a nice miracle moment. Maybe the weirdest thing of all is when the women need to have sex so that they don't die because they took a special drug. I for one was confused. So we get the huge showdown between everybody and it keeps up it's weirdness until the end. This is a pure fantasy film and don't expect anything else.
The special effects with the animals and animated graphics that pop up on screen are very crude but they still work for the most part. It is a very low budget movie thas is trying to act like it has a very large scale. The battle sequences don't contain a lot of actual fighting but are helped out greatly by wind and other spcial effects and even more by the music. Anita Mui's presence alone makes any scene good and the theme song from her and Jackie Cheung is wonderful. AND SUBTITLED! The story is not great by any means but moves along at a pretty good pace and is enhanced by having all types of crazy things going on. 2.5/5 If it was just this movie I was rating here it would get a 3 since I am stuck in the middle.
The picture quality is widecreened in a 16:9 format though you can tell it was transferred from video tape. There is a bit more than you average amount of speckling but still more than watchable. Below average quality but fine if you are looking forward to just seeing the movie. The subtitles are all readable. Sound quality is good with no hissing(none I could hear) but you will need to turn the volume up a little more than normal.
RIVALS OF THE DRAGON-Ouch. This thing ws as bad as it gets. Directed by the top disciple of horrible ninja film maker Godfrey Ho so you know it is going to be bad coming into it. His movies(if you call them that) are gauranteed to have a horrible plot line with horrible kung fu and a movie that will just leave a bad taste in your mouth. Lai lives up to all of the qualities that Ho and he carried on for way too many years. Lai's best master shot in the whole movie looks like a pond at a golf course where the villians have their table set up. I guess they sit and conduct business all day. If this film company and the Sho Kosugi stuff never happened, it would have made the genre would be a whole lot better. All of these films of course led people to believe they could make money doing Z-grade movies. It worked all too often obviously as there are hundreds of martial arts movies out there of this quality.
The movie starts out with a kid spying on an old kung fu master. Maybe it is the dubbing that causes the movie to make no sense but this thing made absolutely no sense AT ALL. This movie is really weird because it is set in modern times. I am guessing they did this to save a few hundred dollars on travelling to make the movie for under a grand. The people just mostly walk around and do nothing. They get in fights sometimes but the director isn't trying to give you a story at all. It is like he wants you to try and fgure it out except there is really nothing to figure out. Seriously, nothing really happens and nothing makes sense. The action overall is far below average but the movie has some corny fun in it. An unwatchable movie that bad movie fans may find a classic. I have never really understood those people cause movies seriously don't get any worse than this. 0.5/5
The picture is full screened and just about as bad as you can find. The dubbing is from probably the best old school guy ever but he just can't help this one out. I think it was the same 2 guys that did all of the voices on this. Just an awful movie all around and one of the worst hack jobs ever."