HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Kat and the Band
Echo
Perfect 10
Octaman
Red Penguins
China Syndrome, The
Babyteeth
Round-Up, The
Around the Sun
Once There Was Brasilia
Peripheral
Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street
Ice
She Demons
Good Girls, The
Hail, Hero!
Faces in the Crowd
Tamango
Traitor, The
Tomorrow
Third Generation, The
Saxon Charm, The
Spy Intervention
Moonrise
Mulan
Killer with a Thousand Eyes, The
Vigil, The
Liberation of L.B. Jones, The
Wizard of Baghdad, The
Ride
Good Manners
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo
Sweet Home
Big Score, The
Siddhartha
Three Outlaw Samurai
Echoes of Fear
Guinea Pig, The
Truth, The
Good Die Young, The
   
 
Newest Articles
Network On Air: Nights in with ABC 2 - Your Faces are All Blurred!
Eve Knew Her Apples: The Lady Eve on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Tempo - Gallery One
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 1 - Welcome Once Again to Manchester!
Transformative Apocalypses: Phase IV and Southland Tales
The Happiest Days of Their Lives: The Guinea Pig on Blu-ray
Faced Poe: Three Edgar Allan Poe Adaptations Starring Bela Lugosi on Blu-ray
Hard Luck, Buster: The Cameraman on Blu-ray
At the Hop: Mr. Vampire on Blu-ray
Divine Madness: Female Trouble on Blu-ray
Country Matters: Further Out of Town on Blu-ray
Bat-Damn: Was Joel Schumacher's Batman Really That Bad?
The Beat Goes On: Takeshi Kitano Collection on Blu-ray
Dream Treats: Scorsese Shorts on Blu-ray
It's Only Money: Laughter in Paradise on Blu-ray
A Regular Terpsichore: Dance, Girl, Dance on Blu-ray
Teenage Trauma: Baby Love on Blu-ray
The Happening: Pet Shop Boys It Couldn't Happen Here on Blu-ray
Who Watched The Watchmen?
The Golden Age of Colonic Irrigation: Monty Python Series 4 on Blu-ray
Lady of Pleasure: Lola Montes on Blu-ray
Take You to the Gay Bar: Funeral Parade of Roses on Blu-ray
Hit for Ms: Mark Cousins' Women Make Film on Blu-ray
Look Sinister: The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse on Blu-ray
Star Wars Triple Threat: The Tricky Third Prequel and Sequel
   
 
  Mad Monk, The Mixing it up with mortals
Year: 1993
Director: Johnnie To
Stars: Stephen Chow Sing-Chi, Maggie Cheung, Ng Man-Tat, Anthony Wong, Wong Yat-Fei, Kirk Wong, Michael Chan, Anita Mui, Gabriel Wong, Lau Kong, Kingdom Yuen King-Tan, Lo Hoi-Pang, Lau Tin-Chi, Phillip Chan, Chan Gan-Wing, Cheng Ka-Sang, Wong San, Pau Hei-Ching
Genre: Comedy, Weirdo, Historical, Fantasy, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Fed up with Dragon Fighter Lo Han (Stephen Chow Sing-Chi) tormenting them with practical jokes insisting he can do a better job guiding humanity, the ancient Chinese Gods beseech the Jade Emperor (Lau Tin-Chi) to teach him a lesson. However the Goddess of Mercy (an in-joke cameo from Cantopop icon Anita Mui) intervenes. Sparing Lo Han's life she instead challenges him to alter fate of three seemingly doomed mortals: a beggar (Anthony Wong), a prostitute (Maggie Cheung) and a villain (Kirk Wong, better known for directing gritty crime thrillers). All whilst walking the Earth in mortal guise with no magical powers. Reincarnated as a baby the now mortal Lo Han matures rapidly, to the dismay of his hapless human parents, and together with his amnesia-riddled heavenly sidekick Tiger Fighter (Ng Man-Tat) muddles his way through one fine mess after another.

A rare Nineties release from Hong Kong's then-mostly defunct Shaw Brothers studio, The Mad Monk saw Cantonese comedy icon Stephen Chow Sing-Chi tackle material previously adapted by legendary auteur Li Han-hsiang back in the Seventies. At the time Chow, already a huge box office draw, was on the cusp of becoming Asia's foremost comic auteur. Meanwhile director Johnnie To was another genre-hopping work-horse still a good few years away from a run of acclaimed crime thrillers that eventually established him as arguably HK cinema's most feted filmmaker in the early twenty-first century. Star and director clashed behind the scenes to the point where To considered quitting the industry altogether. Happily he stuck it out and was rewarded with a substantial hit while Chow moved on to directing his own vehicles so this kind of creative conflict would never hamper his art again.

Inspired by the Chinese folk hero Ji Gong - a twelfth century Buddhist monk renowned for his dedication to fighting injustice and protecting the poor, supposedly supernatural powers, and wildly eccentric behaviour (you can see why they cast Stephen Chow) - The Mad Monk is a zany, likable comic fable much beloved in its native land. Yet likely to prove hit or miss with viewers less versed in the source material. In many ways it is a forerunner to Chow's superior subsequent vehicle A Chinese Odyssey (1994) where he played another mythological hero (Sun Wu Kong the Monkey King) also reincarnated as a mortal and embroiled in a star-crossed romance and supernatural shenanigans. The plot, which only barely coheres, is largely an excuse to string together a bunch of skits with Chow doing his patented fast-talking schtick opposite perennial comic partner Ng Man-Tat. Much of the humour derives from the anachronistic clash between the prim period setting and Chow's rowdy Cantonese street humour, as Lo Han takes a decidedly unorthodox approach to spreading peace, love and enlightenment. Most of which involve bullying, hectoring or punching would-be converts in the face.

Refusing to fade into the background as a token love interest: beautiful Maggie Cheung, an excellent comic actor in her own right (reunited with Johnnie To after the fine martial arts actioner The Barefoot Kid (1993)), yokes pathos and sympathy for her tragically abused prostitute. However the romantic subplot is a stranger beast than in Chow's past and subsequent ventures. Lo Han is less interested in wooing Maggie than redeeming her soul. Though the tone remains largely breezy, in true schizophrenic Hong Kong filmmaking fashion the plot often lurches into disarmingly darker territory culminating in a grisly sequence where key characters are respectively beaten to death and raped before Lo Han's horrified eyes. Johnnie To also throws in sporadic high-octane wire-fu set-pieces choreographed by Ching Siu-Tung, director of A Chinese Ghost Story (1987). While entertaining these do not gel satisfactorily with the bulk of the plot. Unlike Stephen Chow's later triumphs, The Mad Monk is a little too disjointed. Nonetheless the plot's musings on the subject of karma are compelling, even moving at times, foreshadowing To's later, more artful genre mash-up Running on Karma (2003). And the third act kicks things up a considerable notch plunging Lo Han into hell itself to confront a wall of human bodies writhing in mud, dramatic twists that raise the emotional stakes for our flawed hero, a spectacular battle with a giant demon rampaging through the city, and a hilarious parody of the Miss World final.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 546 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
  Lee Fiveash
  Mick Stewart
Enoch Sneed
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg
   

 

Last Updated: