Boxer's Omen

Hong Kong, 1983
Original title: Mo

Director: Chih-Hung Kuei
Starring: Philip Kao Fei, Lin Hsiao-yen, Bolo Yeung
IMDB: 7.2 (!)

I've seen far more than my share of fucked up, twisted and utterly bat-shit movies in my time - after all this blog ain't called Twisted Flicks for nothing. But this little gem may be one of THE most twisted movies I've ever seen. And I do not say this lightly.

Coming from the Shaw Bros studios, Boxer's Omen is even more schizophrenic that you'd expect from a country famous for throwing multiple genres into their movies. It starts out as a martial arts movie, segues into a triad theme, introduces a supernatural ghost-monk, and cuts to a completely gratuitous sex scene ... all within the first 15 minutes!

This is the kind of movie that all 'normal' people should steer well clear of. But lover's of surreal, shocking, and outright bizarre film will absolutely lap it up. If I could draw any comparisons, I'd say the overall weirdness mixed with moments of insane genius and stunning visuals is most akin to Jodorowsky's Holy Mountain. Mix into that a bit of Rocky/Bloodsport, South-Asian supernatural mayhem, Buddhist shenanigans and some fairly disturbing gore, and you'll get an idea of the experience that is Boxer's Omen.

This scattergun approach means that almost everyone will find something to enjoy here, and equally likely will find something they won't. One word of warning - some of the gore scenes are disturbingly realistic and may involve cruelty to animals.

The plot is convoluted, but here's a basic snapshot ...

After Thailand's champion kickboxer Mr. Bubo (Bolo Yeung) loses a bout to Hong Kong's Chan Wai, he doesn't take it well and viciously trounces him after the fight is ended, breaking his back and paralysing him for life. Chan Wai asks his brother Chan Hung (Philip Ko) to take revenge for him. Meanwhile, Hung is seeing visions of a mysterious ghost monk who seems to be trying to tell him something.

Hung takes off for Bangkok where he issues a challenge to Mr. Bu-bo, a revenge fight to be held in three month's time. But while he is in Thailand he is drawn to a Buddhist temple, where he meets (the dead) Abbot Qing Zhao - apparently his twin-brother from a previous life. As their fates are intertwined, Hung agrees to become a monk and help fight evil.

After completing his training, Hung then becomes embroiled in all manner of voodoo shenanigans, forcing him into battle against a witch doctor and his devilish minions including animated bat skeletons, crocodile skulls, and robot buddhas. In another scenario, a crocodile is eviscerated and a mummy placed inside its carcass, to emerge somewhat later as a naked witch.

And if that sounds fairly strange ... believe me, that's not the half of it.

This is a patchy and scattered film in every sense of the word. Moments of sheer creative brilliance are interspersed with shockingly woeful effects, the mostly stunning cinematography is punctuated with scenes that could've been shot by a beginner, and the soundtrack is at times gloriously psychedelic, but contains sound effects as basic as someone wobbling a sheet of tin.

Obviously budget was an issue here and the film-makers were forced to be creative. But for all its flaws, you will certainly come out of this movie knowing you've seen something unique. There are also some nice locations featured including Hong Kong, Bangkok and Katmandu - the last even including a mini-travelogue segment on the temple.

I can't say I'd easily recommend this film to anyone I know, its just too far out there for most tastes. However for the more adventurous viewer, the film's flaws are more than compensated by many spectacular scenes, and sheer film-making audacity.

Rating: 7/10


Ventilation Shaft said...

I've never heard of "Boxer's Omen" before, but it sounds wonderfully hilarious. I'm putting it on my to see list for sure. I have some films to catch up with, so it may not be soon, but I'm going to see it or I'll be damned!

venoms5 said...

BOXER'S OMEN is an awesome, one of a kind movie. It is the sequel to the Shaw Brothers horror film, BEWITCHED from 1981. It is also directed by Kuei Chi Hung who directed some of the darkest and most violent HK horror and action films.

OMEN was released as a VCD release only in HK a few years ago but thankfully got the DVD treatment from Image here who licensed the title among over 30 others from Celestial Pictures. BOXER'S OMEN was rather successful during its initial HK theatrical run.

You should seek out BEWITCHED. It's far less "bat shit", relying more on straight horror and some gruesome gore. It has some wild moments, though. The scene in OMEN where you see the magician melting at the airport is the ending of BEWITCHED.


Hey Venom, thanks for the heads-up. I didn't know that Boxer's Omen was a sequel ... I will have to track down Bewitched now and check it out!

venoms5 said...

I reviewed BEWITCHED at my site if you are interested in seeing what it looks like.


hey thanks, great review - definitely a film I need to hunt down!

For other readers, check out Venoms5's review of Bewitched here:

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