Sunday, June 12, 2011
MIGHTY PEKING MAN
Meng Hua Ho, 1978
Starring: Evelyne Kraft, Danny Lee, Feng Ku, Wei Tu Lin
Though Mighty Peking Man aka Xing Xing Wang aka Goliathon aka Colossus of the Congo is absurd and flawed, I absolutely loved it. I'm sure the Shaw Brothers have made a film I dislike, but this attempt to cash in on the '70s King Kong remake isn't it.
A heartbroken adventurer, Johnny (Danny Lee), is enticed to track a giant ape through the jungles of India. He discovers that it has been raising and protecting a human woman, Samantha (Evelyne Kraft), who survived a plane crash as a child. Johnny and Samantha fall in love and he convinces her to bring Utan, the giant ape, to Hong Kong. Of course everything that could go wrong does. A sleazy promoter displays Utan in chains and attempts to forcibly put the moves on Samantha. Johnny goes back to his ridiculous ex-girlfriend and Samantha and Utan are left to fend for themselves. Predictably, Utan goes on a mad rampage in his attempts to free Samantha and keep her from harm. Watch out, Hong Kong.
Mighty Peking Man is trashy, funny, full of sexual innuendo and even has a few tearjerker moments. Plus, LOTS of stuff gets smashed. There's a monster, a babe, and an action hero. What more could you want? Be forewarned that, like much of its cinematic brethren, this movie is about as un-PC as it gets. I found the numerous visual references to a sexual relationship between Samantha and Utan hilarious, but I'm sure it will offend someone. Plus, there are obvious connections between Samantha and Utan as equally exploited objects of otherness. It's kind of amazing to see the rampant pro-Asian racism at the heart of the film -- namely that Samantha is constantly reduced to a sexual object, as she can't really speak for most of the film and refuses to wear clothes -- and to add insult to injury, is eventually abandoned for a well-dressed, well-spoken, and otherwise more civilized Chinese woman who wants a wedding and not just a roll in the hay.
Thanks to Quentin Tarantino, it got released on region 1 DVD through his Rolling Thunder label. For fans of exploitation, King Kong, kaiju and, honestly, for anyone with a good sense of humor.