» » Shen tong shu yu xiao ba wang (1983)

Short summary

Taoist Priest Yu Ji (Cheng Tien-Chi) is a victim of Magistrate Xu Gong's (Wong Lik) desire to kill General Sun Ce (Chiu Gwok) in a grab for power. Gong's plans go awry, as Yu Ji's spirit seeks revenge, after being publicly executed.

User reviews

  • comment
    • Author: Cae
    Among the last of Chang Cheh's Shaw productions before he went independent. While listed as being released in 1983, the film's title card gives a date of 1982. Regardless this film is very typical of late Shaw Bros. and of late Chang Cheh. Confusing and full of chintzy special effects.

    The first 10 minutes of the film is very confusing and it wouldn't surprise me if the film was based on a popular novel. Once the exposition is out of the way the plot sort makes sense. Near master Taoist disciple Yu Ji is commanded by his superior to sacrifice himself to General Sun, an arrogant super martial artist, whose growing power unnerves the regent of the Han empire. The regent sends Xao, a cunning bureaucrat, to manipulate Sun into a situation where he is killed. General Sun puts Yu Ji to death after the monk creates rainfall the save the starving townspeople. The rest of film revolves around Yu Ji's dead body mediating (!) until it can regain his spirit and be reborn. Yu Ji's five young disciples have to protect the body while resisting Xao's tricks to get them to kill Sun for the murder of their master.

    At least that's what I think it's about.

    The film is first and foremost a ghost film with a large helping of martial arts. The special effects are wires, simple camera stops and starts so people appear and disappear, smoke, bubbles (yes bubbles) and colored lights. Yu Ji is apparently the "Weird Man" of the title and he looks it with an unruly mop of tangled black hair and beard. His spirit however is represented by a young man in typical Chang Cheh hero fashion. That is, he shows a lot of shiny chest and wears a Roman style man's dress the shows a lot of leg. Yu Ji's disciples are first seen doing a flaming sword ritual in their underwear and when they finish they quickly put on their Roman style dresses. True to almost all of Chang Cheh's later films the men are in revealing clothing or get their shirts pulled off to reveal a fishnet style undershirt. Yu Ji's spirit is first seen flying thru the air dressed only in underpants!

    Discussion of Chang Cheh's leanings aside, is this a good film? If you are looking for goofy Chinese ghost shenanigans with martial arts without concern for plot or character development, this isn't terrible. The martial artists in this film are all very very good and the spirit played by Ricky Cheng Tien Chi (who also choreographed) just bounces around the set with great glee. The action scenes are very good except when the "spooky" effects get in the way. At one point the spirit is stabbed by a spear but instead of blood, bubbles shoot out. Then the bubbles turn into inflated latex gloves! I'm not kidding, it looks like cow udders bouncing around. Unfortunately unlike other Shaw films from this time the craziness is not enough to overcome the lack of concern I had for the characters. Film insanity like "Holy Flame of the Martial World" has better character development.

    Fun for some, a confusing mess for others.
  • comment
    • Author: Uste
    THE WEIRD MAN is a Shaw Brothers adventure notable for being director Chang Cheh's last production for the studio; sad times for me, given that he's my favourite Shaw Brothers director as well as favourite Chinese director in general. As with many of Shaw's early 1980s efforts, this one flirts with the supernatural in a big way; the titular character is a wizard who spends most of the film in a trance while his mischievous spirit, played by FIVE ELEMENT NINJAS Cheng Tien-Chi, goes on a rampage of revenge against the corrupt official who nearly killed him.

    I'll make no bones about it, this is a really bizarre movie. For all of Tien-Chi's scenes he acts as a naughty spirit who can appear and disappear at will, fly, and who goes around annoying virtually every character in the cast. There are some more traditional kung fu elements in the story too, such as the five loyal fighters who vow to protect the wizard's body until he can regain his strength, and some of the weird ritual type stuff that I always love. As usual, the production values are very strong. Why the lower rating, then? Well, it's because the storytelling is quite choppy here, and the narrative is very confusing particularly at the outset. There isn't a great deal of action either and while the action we do get is perfectly fine it's not the best of the studio's output. It's only at the lavish and mind-bending climax that THE WEIRD MAN becomes really good.
  • comment
    • Author: Faebei
    A monk returns from he grave with supernatural powers to fight the wicked and corrupt men who killed him. Directed by the great Cheh Chang, I was a little disappointed with film that turned out to me more of a Chinese ghost story than a martial arts film. There are certainly fight sequences and they are decent, but nowhere as good as Chang's heyday with the Venom Mob. I think the fight scenes suffered by the inclusion of too many supernatural elements (flying, transforming, disappearing, etc.), and combined with not so great of special effects, really tweaked the film. If you're wanting a supernatural martial arts film, stick with films by producer Tsui Hark who took western quality of special effects and mixed them with eastern martial arts to a much better effect than what you get here. Still, this film is certainly worth watching for fans of Chang.
  • comment
    • Author: Flower
    I think I am correct in saying that this kung fu oddity is one of director Chang Cheh's less celebrated works, and for good reason: the plot is convoluted, quickly losing those unfamiliar with Chinese literary classic Romance of the Three Kingdoms (on which it is loosely based), while the supernatural shenanigans that make up most of the movie soon become tiresome.

    After an opening guaranteed to bewilder Western viewers with its rapid fire of Chinese names and places, political scheming, and Taoist magical trickery, the film eventually settles into semi-intelligible mode with the introduction of fearless General Sun Jia (Chiu Gwok), who proves to be unbeatable in battle, even shrugging off several arrows to the chest.

    Sun Jia proves to be less than heroic, however, when he orders the execution of wizard Yu (Cheng Tien-Chi) whose amazing powers include healing the sick and controlling the weather. After Master Yu is beheaded, his body is taken by five of his loyal students (all of whom wear dresses!), who help the dead man's mischievous spirit (Cheng Tien-Chi again, minus facial hair) to torment the general. The plot also involves a devious magistrate Xu Gong (Wong Lik), who is planning to kill Sun Jia to become lord of Wu, but this only comes into play after lots of really silly spiritual nonsense that sees Cheng Tien-Chi grinning like a loon while swathed in red light.

    As with many a Shaw Brothers production, the martial arts is impressive when it happens (which, unfortunately, isn't often enough), Cheng pulling off some impressive acrobatics, as one might expect from a student of the Peking Opera School. The finalé, which pits Yu's students (now wearing nappies) against Sun Jia and the treacherous Xu Gong, delivers some superbly choreographed martial arts, some less well-executed wire-work (clearly visible in some shots), and a spot of bright red gore, but overall, the film simply lacks the cohesion and impact of Chang Cheh's better known efforts.
  • comment
    • Author: Yozshujinn
    To me it seems like the early 80s killed "kung fu" flicks...who needs red Sonja when you have ....NO Sonja...the flash and cheap fx...make a more expensive movie look worse...tinfoil swords?.i don't't hate this movie in fact i like the...protagonists playfulness...but it all gets convoluted in the mix...fx aside ... 2 or 3 times i was just trying to figure out the "bad guy" and good guy"...does this movie mirror a biblical anyone else...awesome movie if you are only trying to find fringe ....and likable enough, even though it took me 3 days to bros. have done better!!! and they have...i get my fix on elrey!!!
  • Credited cast:
    Tien-Chi Cheng Tien-Chi Cheng - Taoist Yu Ji
    Kuo Chao Kuo Chao - General Sun Ce
    Yu-Po Liu Yu-Po Liu - Da Qiao
    Min-Yi Huang Min-Yi Huang
    Li Wang Li Wang
    Ke Chu Ke Chu - Guo Rang, Taoist Yu Ji's pupil
    Jason Pai Piao Jason Pai Piao - (Guest star)
    Fei Ai Fei Ai - (Guest star)
    Kuan-Chung Ku Kuan-Chung Ku - (Guest star)
    Feng Kuan Feng Kuan - (Guest star)
    Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
    Yung Chan Yung Chan - Sedan carrier
    Bing-Chuen Cheung Bing-Chuen Cheung - Xu Gong's thug
    Yiu-Sing Cheung Yiu-Sing Cheung - (as Yao-Hsing Chang)
    Szu-Ying Chien Szu-Ying Chien
    Kwok-Keung Choi Kwok-Keung Choi - (as Kuo-Chiang Tsai)
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