Friday, October 05, 2007

Heaven and Earth

I'll be offline for a few days, so I thought I'd entertain y'all with another flashback video review, dating from February of 1994.

Tonight's Hong Kong Klassic was "Royal Tramp I." (Though I couldn't read the
Chinese on the back of the video cassette, the fact that there was a sequel
reassured me that the first one was probably okay.)

As it turns out, the film should have been called "Penis, Penis, Who's got the
Penis." As the following summary will demonstrate.

Our hero, Winston Bond (Stephen Chow) , is a young 19th Century Chinese patriot.
His resourcefulness is demonstrated when, storytelling at a brothel
(apparently his profession), he is called to assist a man whose penis has
retracted entirely into his body. He calls in his sister, a prostitute named
The Sex Goddess of Peking, who knows that the cure is to jab the unfortunate
man in the buttocks with a hairpin, thus causing his member to leap out of the
body to its normal position.

What follows makes this behavior seem perfectly normal.

In short order young Winston is inveigled into joining the patriotic Heaven
and Earth Society, opposed to the Manchus, the motto of which is "Rebel Ch'ing and
Restore Ming!" Winston is ordered to infiltrate the palace of the Empress
Dowager and steal a "42-chapter Book" that details the location of a hidden
Manchu treasure. If the treasure is stolen, the entire Ch'ing Dynasty will
collapse due to "bad Feng- Shui!"

Winston is disguised as a eunuch and inserted into the entourage of Eunuch
Hoi, a plump master martial artist who carries his amputated penis around in a
jar of spirits. Hoi also is master of the "Bone-Dissolving Soft Hand"
technique, which completely dissolves the victim's bones, even at a distance!
Hoi wants the 42-Chapter Book for his own purposes, and soon sends Winston
into the palace of the Empress Dowager to get the book. There Winston meets a
beautiful young princess and her brother the Emperor, both of whom he mistakes for a pair of eunuchs, though after a good deal of crotch-grabbing all is
straightened out (as it were). "In the Palace only the Emperor can have a
dick!" the Emperor says, but eventually he relents and appoints Winston his
Intimate Undercover Agent, whereupon the princess drags our hero to bed and
deprives him of his virginity.

Unfortunately this idyll is interrupted by the evil Sir O'Brian, a Manchurian
warlord (it sez right here in the subtitles). O'Brian commands the military
and even the Emperor must obey him. Winston and the Emperor's chief spy try
to ambush O'Brian, but it turns out O'Brian is invincible due to his ability
to retract his penis entirely into his body. (I just report what the
subtitles say, honest.) Eventually O'Brian is captured by the Empress
Dowager (Brigitte Lin), who turns out to be a foxy lady who flies and does martial arts. She also turns out to be an imposter, the Goddess of the Dragon Society, who is
also after the Ch'ing treasure.

Hmmm. The climax involves an attack by the Heaven and Earth Society, Sir
O'Brian's escape from stir with the help of Flying Cheerleading Tibetan Monks
who use cymbals as weapons, the phony Empress Dowager, the =real= Empress
Dowager, and Emperor, the Emperor's Guard, the naughty princess, and a couple
of Separated Knockout Siamese Twins who I really don't have the energy to
explain but who talk in unison and really kick butt. Eventually Sir O'Brian
is defeated when our hero Winston remembers that a brisk jab up the arse will
cause a retracted penis to pop out, rendering the evil O'Brian vulnerable to
the "Bone-Dissolving Soft Hand" technique of Eunuch Hoi, who has gone mad in a
subplot that I won't bother to explain, but who is now wandering around
dressed as the goddess Guan Yu, with dealy-boppers on his head.

Everyone but O'Brian remains alive for the sequel, and the treasure remains
undiscovered. Stay tuned.

Two and a half chops. It's really not very good, and the penis jokes just
don't translate, but it's sufficiently bizarre that its general weirdness
carries the day. Nicely photographed and directed, too. The Empress Dowager
really looked good up there.

It's really amazing what six thousand years of sexual repression will do to
the cinema.

5 Comments:

Blogger Max Kaehn said...

I believe they derived substantial amounts of that from Louis Cha’s The Deer and the Cauldron, which is a fine piece of martial arts fiction. (If you want a single-volume introduction to martial arts fiction, try Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain.)

11:10 AM  
Blogger dubjay said...

I've got Swords from the Willows around here somewhere. Characters shoot "halcyon beams" from their palms, fly, and engage in other eccentric behaviors.

2:59 PM  
Blogger Max Kaehn said...

Is that available in an English translation? If so, where did you find it?

5:10 PM  
Blogger dubjay said...

I had a mind-blip. The actual title is =Blades from the Willows.= It was available in English, from Wellsweep Press. I got it from Amazon, but they don't have copies now.

The author's name was Huanzhulouzhu, which means "Master of the Ebony Tower" or something like that.

8:18 PM  
Blogger Ty said...

Guan Yu is not a Goddess, he is a God. The deification of Liu Bei's famous general during the Romance of the Three Kingdoms period.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guan_yu

5:19 PM  

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