Review of Magnificent Bodyguards (1978)

7 Jun

Fei Du Juan Yun Shan also known as Magnificent Bodyguards (1978) is a Hong Kong martial arts/action film, it was the first Hong Kong movie filmed using 3D technology.

Directed by Wei Lo (Fist of Fury (1972), Dragon Fist (1979)).

Written by Lung Ku (The Magic Blade (1976), Butterfly and Sword (1993)).

Starring: Jackie Chan, Peng Cheng, Siu-Lung Leung, Kuo Chung Ching, Fang Fang, Yuen Hsu, Kuang Kao and others.

First scene of the movie I was really confused, they kept jumping and swinging sticks right in the camera. I thought “oh, this looks like it’s a 3D movie, what’s next? Am I going to get a yo-yo thrown in my face.” And then I found out it was an actual 3D movie. I wished I’d seen in 3D.

This is one of those few Chan movies, where he has long hair and I remember from my childhood that if I saw one of these on TV, I never quite understood what was going on in them and not surprisingly, since even now I found it terribly confusing, the bad English dub didn’t help either, I only could make sense of about half of what was said. So yeah, I didn’t get it as a kid and I don’t get it now, so I just watch it for the fight scenes.

Chan’s acting is unusual for him, he does play a cocky guy in other movies, but usually in a silly kind of way, here he is both an asshole, looks cool and kicks ass.

In some of the fight scenes there’s this over-the-top gore, which I like, but it seems a bit out-of-place, there’s a scene where a guy’s face is ripped off during a fight. The fights themselves are quite impressive, the choreography is tight. And it’s kind of weird, in some scenes people get stabbed and shit, it’s all serious and then there’s a scene where people just pick up boulders like in some cartoon and chuck them at other people.

The fighting sound effects are generally a lot more realistic than in other movies of this time. They all have some kind of echoing effect going on, so they have some sense of space and don’t feel just flatly put on in the editing room. Ok, they do, but less so than in, for example, Snake In The Eagle’s Shadow. Originally it had music from Star Wars used in its soundtrack, but my version of the movie sadly didn’t.

On a side note, one guy is wearing a pink robe. I wonder if in Hong Kong it doesn’t have these implications, but could he be a gay character?

I’m sure no one cares about the spoilers, so I’ll just go ahead and reveal the ending. It turns out that a short stocky woman was wearing a mask, pretending to be a tall, lean and strong white-haired man. She even fights the man she is impersonating, while in disguise. It makes very little sense.

Also the movie doesn’t really end, there’s a big fight scene with a lot of people and then another, smaller one in the woods and the fight doesn’t end, at one point it just freeze frames and the credits roll. I mean, I could kind of guess what happens next, but not really. Were they attempting an ambiguous ending? I’ll never know.

Overall, it’s confusing and the fight scenes after a while feel a bit repetitive. It’s a pretty bad movie. Definitely not recommended.

“You want me to stick this thing right into the camera?”
“Yes, that’s right!”
“As you say, Mr. Kha-Mer Uon.”

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