|The Plot: After our decadence here on earth has gotten the best of us, the gates to the underworld open up in Asia unleashing the Hell Virgin and the inevitable return of the Hell King on the ill prepared subjects of our realm. Leaving only two defenders who have the magic to do anything about it, Lucky Fruit and Peacock, two Buddhist monks who will do what it takes to stop these demons. Lucky Fruit is a very serious Japanese young man who has been sent by his master to put an end to this scourge on humanity, with similar orders Peacock (who is Chinese but doesn’t take things as serious) looks to do the exact same thing. When this odd couple get together they make the perfect combination to put an end to this! But will they be able to stop the Hell King, or will they let their own differences get in the way of forming the perfect combination to help put an end to all of this? You’ll have to watch to find out!|
The Review: Do you ever go out on a whim and buy a DVD or netflix something, then by the time you’re actually ready to sit down and watch it – you completely forget what it is supposed to be about or why you even grabbed it in the first place? Such was the case with Peacock King. When it arrived on my doorstep, the only thing I could even remember was that it had Yuen Biao in it. For those of you unfamiliar with the man he starred alongside Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung in a few different films together and is generally considered one of the most underrated martial art talents in film. He’s a highly flexible and entertaining performer who just never seemed to get those leading roles that should have propelled him into massive international fame. Being a Yuen Biao fan and all, I still wondered exactly why I had this coming in. Then I saw the director’s name and it all made sense. Ngai Kai Lam. Director of both Ricky Oh and The Seventh Curse. A pairing of these two together, good or bad, a film geek has to check it out no matter what, right? Well, I almost wish I wouldn’t have at this point. Not that it was such a bad film, but it just did so very little for me.
Peacock King, as it turns out, was a co-production between film agencies in Hong Kong and Japan. A similar situation as to Ngai Kai Lam’s future success with Ricky Oh. Based off of a Japanese manga, like Ricky, Peacock King however focuses not on extreme violence or anything of that sort. Instead it takes on the mythological, like in films such as Sonny Chiba’s Legend of the Eight Samurai. So, it has that sort of feel to it and I won’t lie to you right now, I’m not a big fan of Chiba’s film and so far I’m not a big fan of the genre. What probably bugs me most, and what is also very much to the forefront in Peacock King, is the fact that these magical powers that these characters have: we never really have any clue as to what their full extent is. If someone knows magic in these movies, they essentially can do everything until they are apposed by someone with more magic power than they do. When your characters have neverending power with few glaring weaknesses, it keeps the audience at a distance. Even with Superman we know that Kryptonite will leave him completely human. We also know he can fly, has x-ray vision and can move faster than a speeding bullet. What’s the beginning and end for Peacock’s powers? You got me. Dude has amazing agility, can summon stop motion creatures and can see spirits. I’d also bet he can do just about everything else in comic history as well, just as long as he bows his head and says a prayer first.
Although this review would probably be pretty easy to just sit here and tear apart over the course of one thousand words, I’ll try to do my best and be fair. I mean, Lucky Fruit and Peacock? These are our heroes names? I digress, even though Peacock King sure isn’t going to be making it onto my list of favorite Hong Kong films any time soon – it’s not like I was ever close to shutting this one off. Despite the excellent cast and the multinational appeal from the intense Japanese influence on the film, this is still a total piece of Trash cinema. Which isn’t neccesarily a bad thing and can be seen as one of the more fun qualities of the film! There are total exploitation elements here and the overall silliness of it can make for a fairly entertaining little watch if you’re in the right frame of mind. Which I assume for most people would be some point of inebriation. You just have to kind of sit back, take the brain from your head and place it on a counter before even pressing play. After that, as long as you’re laughing AT the movie and not WITH it, you’re all good. This should be easy, as the special FX work is so campy that you’re either going to cringe or go into bursts of laughter. The claymation on display isn’t exactly the greatest in the world, but that’s not what kills me. I think the scene that will best be remembered by myself is the Dinosaur exhibit, where Yuen Biao actually rides atop the most obviously latex dinosaur ever seen. Aside from that, I think if you started a drinking game where you take a shot every time you see a laser light show, you and your friends would die from alcohol poisoning. Remember kids, watch Peacock King responsibly.
I don’t want to keep ragging on the movie, but overall it is about as subtle as an episode of The Mighty Morphing Power Rangers, which as has been stated by Yuen Biao himself, pretty much shares the same target audience. Yeah, apparently Biao isn’t really much of a Peacock King fan himself and didn’t really seem to enjoy the Japanese interference. His words were something along the lines that the only people who could possibly enjoy the film would be children because they don’t have the understanding to realize that the movie sucks. Although I won’t go that far, as I’ll bet that this movie does have some intelligent fans out there, but I can certainly see his point. However, this flick is WAY too violent for the majority of kids out there. We have cannibalism, characters strung up by intestines and a transformation sequence where a woman’s face splits open into a very vaginal looking Venus flytrap beast. I know I wouldn’t want my little nephew checking this one out for sure. Aside from all of that, some of the hokey Hong Kong comedy could certainly draw in the attention of the kids. Along with the tons of lasers and magical powers thrown about.
I would regret it if I didn’t mention the fact that yes indeed, we do get a Yuen Biao vs. Gordon Liu showdown here in Peacock King. Liu doesn’t actually show up until roughly thirty minutes into the film and his part feels like a glorified cameo at times, but the man has certainly never seemed cooler! He looks great here and Biao’s martial arts are as always in top form, so the two do have a good sequence together even if it is more of a giant brawl with Liu’s forces taking on Biao. So what, I’ll take what I can get and it definitely left me appeased. With all of this said, I don’t think you’ll find me checking out Saga of the Phoenix for at least a couple of months at this point. It’s a semi-sequel featuring Yuen Biao playing the same character, but I just don’t think my psyche could handle it at this point. I’m giving the movie a two out of five, which is probably better than you might have even expected from me. It does have that pretty decent fight scene, Yuen Biao carries his own and some of the locations are interesting enough to kee you watching. Besides, there’s a vagina faced woman who eats people. That has to rake in SOME points, right? If you’re into the whole magic and sorcery type of stuff, then perhaps this will be up your alley. Myself, I just don’t really think they’re all that hot and Peacock King just didn’t do anything for me.