Bloody Parrot (1981)

Directed by
Very entertaining!
Reviewed by Simon on 2021-03-08

The Prince of Dian sends thirteen cases of treasure to the king as a tribute, but it goes missing. The prince sends his chief to find the cases, but instead he encounters The Bloody Parrot - a spirit created to celebrate the Demon King's birthday. The parrot offers to make three wishes come true, so he wishes firstly for help finding the treasure - lo and behold the treasure is promptly returned, but no sooner does it happen than the chief's son dies in an accident. Turns out wishes are like fishes... they're cursed.

BLOODY PARROT is a highly entertaining piece of wuxia, with a convoluted conspiracy, super-cool heroes and super-bad villains and - relatively uncommonly - buckets of gore. The story doesn't make a whole lot of sense but it is absolutely relentless, twisting and turning so you never know what's going to come next. Chances are good that it'll involve people fighting and/or dying horribly though. Actual quote:

When a vampire appeared at the parrot brothel I should have known you faked your death.

Is that a spoiler? Maybe, but it could have been addressed to any number of people.

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Definitely not that guy though.

The film does get a little bogged down towards the end when a "trapped in a room full of mirrors" sequence outstays its welcome, but it otherwise moves like a juggernaut. People fight each other at the drop of a hat, and the choreography from Hsu Hsia and Yuen Tak is excellent, acrobatic and elaborate with some unusual weaponry involved. It's wuxia style so more fantasy than authentic. A very welcome appearance by Yeung Jing-Jing does feature some more traditional moves, but she also uses a weapon made out of a person's face so it's not exactly Bruce Lee.

It's a surprisingly good looking film, mostly studio bound but featuring the kind of luscious set designs and impressionistic lighting that would make Chor Yuen proud, and some particularly interesting camera work. The camera moves around a lot and takes up some unusual positions, with clever use of light and shadows it makes for some great compositions. It's not the best looking Shaw Brothers film, but it's a quality production.

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The film features a fair amount of nudity, though all of it is from Jenny Leung, who definitely fails to follow the Amy Yip rule of "leave them wanting more".

I'd forgotten how much fun this film was, arguably how much fun Shaw Brothers films are in general, though there aren't too many that are quite as mad as this one. Human Lanterns is an obvious comparison, being another one that is both a good wu xia film and a good horror film - I don't think BLOODY PARROT is quite as good a film as that one, but it is certainly a very entertaining watch.