MIGHTY PEKING MAN, THE (Hsing hsing wang)
(director/writer: Ho Meng-hua; screenwriter: I. Kuang; cinematographers: Tsao Hui-chi/Wu Cho-hua; editor: Chiang Hsing-Lung; music: Yung-Yu Chen/De Wolfe; cast: Danny Lee (Johnny Feng), Evelyne Kraft (Samantha), Ku Feng (Lu Tien), Hsiao Yao (Huang Tsui-Hua); Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Run Me Shaw/Vee King Shaw/Chua Lam; Miramax/Rolling Thunder Pictures; 1977-Hong Kong-in Mandarin with English subtitles)
“Best suited for B-movie fans who can overlook all the faults.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Can atrocious acting combined with a threadbare story make for an entertaining monster rip-off film? That is the most relevant question The Mighty Peking Man asks of the viewer. This Ho Meng-hua directed and written campy mutant-ape movie was inspired by Hong Kong’s Shaw Brothers in order to cash in on Dino De Laurentiis’s remake in 1976 of King Kong, though it’s actually more of a rehash of Mighty Joe Young. There are probably some folks who will be charmed by the inconceivable genre mixture of Tarzan and King Kong characterizations, though I’m not one of those enthusiasts. Its dialogue is watered down to gurgling sounds for speech and the cheesy visuals would have you believe that the giant ape can change sizes from 10 feet tall to whatever size the film wants to make the monster for the next shot.
The story line revolves around an expedition of fortune hunters into the Himalayan jungles, sponsored by greedy entrepreneur Lu Tien and headed by adventure-hunter Johnny Feng, to find and bring back a giant ape. The ape goes by the name of Mighty Peking Man, who has emerged following an earthquake in the Himalayas, and has made its way to the Indian jungles. An unconvincing jungle romance develops between lover-boy Johnny and an orphan blonde Tarzan-like woman, Samantha (Swiss actress Evelyne Kraft), wearing an animal skin outfit and speaking in monosyllables. The lady and the beast were getting along just fine as stepfather and daughter, with the beast raising her as a young girl from the time her parents’ plane crashed in the jungle. But the cunning hunter has his way with the white woman and snags both the beast and the jungle gal, bringing them back as trophies to Hong Kong in order to make a fortune. At a freak show the ape escapes its shackles and rampages through the city. The now unlovable giant climbs the Connaught Centre, the city’s tallest building, where he will meet his maker thanks to the army.
The Mighty Peking Man in its primitive stages is a reminder of trashy Asian man and white woman romance movies. Unfortunately it never gets beyond the primitive stage of a guy in a gorilla suit and a blonde bombshell in a revealing jungle outfit. It should be noted that the ape comes from the Himalayas and not China where Peking is, –not that it matters to these movie moguls that the name is not logically a connection. The fast-paced nonsensical film is best suited for B-movie fans who can overlook all the faults and revel in how a terrible film can be so unintentionally funny.
REVIEWED ON 5/28/2004 GRADE: D