Battle Wizard (1977)

Directed by
Early example of fantasy wu xia
Reviewed by Simon on 2005-04-18

A young, pampered scholar adventures into the outside world to see whether you really do need kung fu to survive in it, as his father always says. In short, the answer is yes.

With its psychotropic effects and bizarre characters this Shaw Brothers wuxia was really quite ahead of its time, feeling more like the wild early 80's wuxia or wacky early 90's wuxia than its contemporaries. There's a clear influence from Japanese Tokusatsu on the film, making it perhaps the first and only Tokusatsu Wuxia.

The film is kind of dumb, if I'm being honest, but in a goofy way that makes for good fun if you're not anticipating profundity. It packs a lot into its 72 minute runtime so there aren't many opportunities to start pondering the deeper meaning of it all anyway (there definitely is none).

The ending delivers the kind of crazy spectacle that wuxia can do like no other, as the various factions face off in combat with their mystical powers on a classic Shaw Brothers set.

The manic pacing and cheesy special effects put it in the same class as films like Buddha's Palm and Little Dragon Maiden, so if you like that sort of thing it's clearly worth checking out.