Cleansing the doors of cinematic perception, for a better yesterday

Monday, July 16, 2018

Criterion's Dietrich Box's Masochist Supplement (Verboten!)


The arrival this month of Criterion's Dietrich-Von Sternberg Blu-ray boxed set (all six of their pre-code Paramount collaborations) answers an unspoken prayer I made a few years ago. I envisioned a different cover to the box, and some different extras, and MOROCCO looking slightly less faded, but only a Herbert Marshall-style ingrate squawks when prayers get answered. God--it seems--really is on speaking terms with everybody. BUT - what it really needed, or I would have loved to see, was an extra via Gaylyn Studlar. Let this humble post at least fire a salvo towards redressing that wrong.

THE MASOCHISTIC SPECTATOR / DEATH DRIVE:

The excellent liner notes and extras explore all sorts of great elements, both thematic and texural, except for a glaring omission. There is no exploration of the very obvious masochistic subtext running through these films like a hot river. The extras are guilty of shamefully ignoring the work of progressive film theorists like Steven Shaviro and--especially--Gaylyn Studlar. Her book In the Realm of Pleasure (left) deconstructs the Dietrich Sternberg films' kinky symbolism via a theory of the cinematic spectatorial gaze as inherently masochistic. This is a theory far different from, say, that of the sadistic gaze postulated by feminist film scholar Laura Mulvey. It's Mulvey's theory that has been not only utilized but rigidly enforced in feminist film studies the last few years, to the point the masochistic gaze is almost heresy. In fact, feminist film theory has been under such brutal siege by the Mulveyan male gazers that--like ISIS in ancient Babylon--all the great old edifices are in danger of being torn down. Even Mulvey herself is like, whoa, chill, it's just a talking point, a theory, not some buzzkill holy writ. (I paraphrase).

Studlar's book, alas, is rare enough that even the more open-minded academics don't often know about it. But they should, for it is like opening a magic window into these films that makes them glow and resonate far beyond the--admittedly true and enticing--consensus of the historians, critics and academes on hand in the chosen melange of extras. Was Criterion scared Studlar's approach was too academic, too controversial (bucking the Mulvey doctrine), or just too kinky? Or were they worried Camille Paglia wouldn't be roused from her deep vampire slumber in time to rescue them from third wave feminist reactionary clawing with a potent Salon essay?

As it is, I heard Studlar's name mentioned only once in the extras. Homay King's excellent extra accompanying Shanghai Express mentions her concept of the 'heterocosm' i.e. an enclosed dream world outside space and time in which the film exists (i.e. it's not the 'China' of reality, but a kind of dream repository centered around the mystique of the 'Other').

Rather than just try and sum up the deep points Studlar makes in The Realm of Pleasure in this post, I'll urge you dig up a copy, and failing that, point you back towards some of my previous posts exploring cinematic masochism, i.e. the voyeur as masochist - subject to having no control of the events in his experience and how that relates to infancy and fear of abandonment by the mother and the embrace of death as pleasure being the ultimate act of pure control, of conquering death and moving past the pain-pleasure rim of the wheel right to the center.

50 SHADES OF GREY, 9 1/2 WEEKS, EXIT TO EDEN, SECRETARY + SHE DEMONS, Franco, Bunuel, Josef von Sternberg, Alain Robbe-Grillet (7/31/14)

According to Gaylyn Studlar (4), true masochism can only exist in dreams, conjured more out of a need to safely experience the abyss, to trick out the satisfactory endorphin rush that surges to accommodate sudden pain (as in the heroic measure of wasabi or hot sauce undergone as a food fair rite of passage); it must be done in person or in the mind where we can imagine a transformational ecstasy that ordinary movie watching doesn't accommodate. Seeing is never believing - that's why sadomascohistic literature is often more arousing than bondage films, which seem merely silly or misogynist.  The shocking Times Square marquee, coming attraction, or the film capsule review might enflame or awaken masochistic desires, but the actual film will never measure up; it's the difference between remembering your own crazy, erotic dream and hearing about someone else's. It's the difference between seeing the covers for films like Kitten with a Whip or Naked Under Leather vs. the actual--inevitably disappointing--movies themselves. Death can exist only as a promise. In practice, it's just not as sexy.

As per Studlar:
"The fatalism of Von Sternberg's films is not simply an acceptance of death as an externally imposed inevitability but the expression of the masochistic urge toward death as a self-willed liberation. In choosing death, an illusionary triumph is created: the illusion of choice... (48) 
"...masochism's obsession with death may be interpreted either as the expression of a universal instinctual urge or as the result of the masochistic wish for complete symbiosis with the mother and a return to nothingness,.... Eros is desexualized and resexualized; death becomes the ultimate fetish that fascinates with the promise of a mystical unity." (p. 123)
Only Bunuel and Von Sternberg ever seemed to use this concept in romantic surrealist cinema, and it's interesting that both adapted the same masochistic text, Pierre Louÿs "La femme et le pantin." For Bunuel, two different actresses play the Dietrich character, Conchita, in That Obscure Object of Desire: the sweet girl who entices him and the cold calculator who continually manipulates him into bankrolling her mercenary mother (and then bailing on him with a younger man). Teasingly withholding sex, but always promising it, she instinctively understands he needs and appreciates this long-term unfulfilled longing (he's rich and respected, she may be the only objet petit a he has - all other desires are already met, and thus failed). He might have some sexual liasons with her but they're never long enough to make him feel 'satisfied.' Some lovers are 'done' as soon as they climax. Well, some characters never want to be 'done' - it spoils the game, turns a long elaborate twisted ritual into a disappointingly short-lived gratification followed by shame and emptiness (be that due to impotence, premature ejaculation, or other). Similar to the two-faces of Concha in Bunuel's film, Marlene's Concha wears two outfits for separate seductions - pure white to lull the guards into letting her see the prisoner; a black mourning outfit to sway the prefect.

Maybe the whole trick to getting what you want is to deliberately want to want it rather than to have it (and so want your old wanting back, which is a double negative). Most magic tricks are part sleight-of-hand and part misdirection, but in masochism, misdirection is the trick. The slighted hands of the clock are frozen at bedtime, right before mom comes in to kiss you goodnight and turn out the lights. If you never get the kiss, the lights stay on and the demons under the bed can't get you. The guy who comes too quick or is impotent or just falls into deep depression after orgasm, for him especially is the lesson drilled home. A sexual desire's fulfillment is never a good thing. It's fatal. (2014)


If you know Marlene’s history you know she liked to sleep with a lot of different people, and broke the hearts of adoring males (and females) when they realized they would never “own” her totally had to learn to share (which her husband well knew, as he archived all her various love letters for her), and that’s where masochism and sublimation comes in. Imagine being Von Sternberg and you’re basically living at Marlene’s estate, painting a picture out on the lawn and here comes Gary Cooper’s car and you know that you wont be sleeping with Marlene all weekend, and will just have to wait til he leaves for the set on Monday, or she gets bored of him. But hey, he's gorgeous, and taller and younger than you, etc. Do you throw your canvas to the ground and have a fit? Get a gun and run around the estate like the thuggish gamekeeper in Rules of the Game? Neither one will get you anywhere but in jail or laughed at. But if you can sublimate that jealous sting into your artistic vision, ah - mon ami- you are reborn in a. The artist Von Sternberg lives for that moment, that flush of Oedipal rage and shame, harnessing its power, converting the emotional energy via artistic sublimation, Sternberg’s painting merely becomes darker and more twisted… better, in short. (full - 2009 - Bright Lights)

From: (Butterfly Moanin: DUKE OF BURGUNDY and Faerie Bower Cinema)
(2015)

And so it is that these films show us a variation of sex we are, as single perspective organisms, forever denied in real life: we get to find out what our moms were like before we were born. It's something we'll just never know in real life, except through keyholes, screens (projections, paintings, pictures) dreams, and rebirth. In these films we finally understand, perhaps, why the patriarchy, the male gaze as per Mulvey's sadistic definition, is so terrified of the female orgasm. I don't mean the little 'sneeze' girls get, or even the cherished involuntary vaginal contraction versions, but the one--eternal female orgasm--that comes later, and last forever, and increases and increases, feeding its own orgone energy flame until the alchemical awakening of the Kali destroyer / creator goddess, a withering force as devastating to the phallic tower as a great flood. When this occurs, the male gaze is blinded in the flash, and not even Oedipus' stiff braille guide rope can help him find the door, let alone that old pined-for keyhole. (More)

AUS:















WEITER MIT DEN MÄDCHEN:
Cinema's Naughtiest Germans, Part 1
Mecha-Medusa and the Otherless Child: THE RING, SHERLOCK JR., VIDEODROME (2004)
Death Driving Ms. Henstridge: GHOST OF MARS, RIO BRAVO (2003)
Naomi Watts: Cinema’s Post-Modern Mother of Mirrors
Hope vs. the Scandanivian Svengalis: THEY CALL HER ONE-EYE; I'LL TAKE SWEDEN














ANGELS OF DEATH, the Series
ANGELS OF DEATH - I
ANGELS OF DEATH - II: Great Women of Horror
ANGELD OF DEATH III: Badass Brunette Edition
ANGELS OF DEATH IV: Lynn Lowry Special Edition 
ANGELS OF DEATH V: Magic Slut Split/Subject Maenad Edition


Friday, July 06, 2018

Wild Wild Wuxia: Amazon Prime Streams the Shaw Brothers



It's July --perfect time to cozy up in the AC with a seemingly limitless stream of cool Hong Kong fantasy cinema from the late 70s-early 80s streaming free on Amazon Prime. Thanks to the popularity of Star Wars and its HK vairants like Zu, Warriors of Magic Mountain, this period was rife with wild weird wuxia films dozens of steps more fantastic and unhinged than the usual kung fu plots and storylines (all those intergenerational wars between marital artists ever vying to be number one in the martial arts world). But these were a solid step away and/or above, with sweeping romance, monsters, myths, dangerous challenges, pursuits of ancient magical weapons and kung fu skills, etc. Way more fun. And above all - there are women in them. Not just accessories or damsels needing rescuing, fair princesses and dutiful moms, but warrior women - snake girls, expert in the handling and throwing of deadly serpents, or spiders, and even clans of martial arts nuns, the Er Mei, often led by a deadly ruthless leader with a strict 'no men' policy. These women are all granted respect, and the guys have no trouble fighting with them out of some misplaced chivalry.

from Bat Without Wings (Battle Wizard, top)
In general the classical wuxia output of this period, especially the work of director Chu Yuan, displays loads of atmosphere in vast ornate, gorgeous sets in which indoors and outdoors cease to be relative terms, as restaurants lead out to cliffs and small pond oases lie like ledges halfway down steep drop-offs. The films I mention here have a few things in common, recurring characters, directors, fight coordinators and above all atmosphere, strong female characters and roots in Chinese mythology. Chu Yuan's stress of atmospherics and focus on the novels of Gu Long, thus the Jungian resonance and horror atmospherics, the approach of Bava level-lighting on ornate mist-enshrouded sets to the point it's like Black Sabbath spilled over onto a Chinatown train set. Since the Shaws clearly reused, expanding and adjusting, their beautiful sets ceaselessly, each film is able to generate ornate vast sets of perfect beauty and just wiz through them as characters pursue clues and each other all around mystical landscapes.

To my eyes it makes a huge difference. In largely outdoor photography of many productions (as in King Hu film like Dragon Inn) the imagery often comes across as washed out and drab on DVD while the indoor studio bound world of the Shaws gives the impression of a vast perfectly modulated miniature world full of lush waterfalls, cliffs, mist, cherry and plum blossoms, and ever-setting suns, where huge beautiful restaurants stand ever ready to become scenes of crazy group fighting, or secret passages lead to huge beautiful caves filled with glistening skulls, coffins and spiderwebs and where the forests at night are dappled with cornflake snow amidst the cherry and plum blossoms. The effect is like an alternate reality dreamscape - a vast roofed ancient China-themed miniature golf course-style paradise. In other words, my kinda escape from summer heat. So blast the AC and move your chair so the vent is blowing right on your face, and get ready for weirdness, Hong Kong-style.


Special Note: People watching Prime through Sony Blu-ray players--at least the older models--won't be able to access closed captions on these for the English subtitles (they're in Cantonese); it's just a discordant note between Prime and Sony still unresolved. However, you should just invest in Apple TV or a stick or something, as it's worth the upgrade. I know I'm glad I did, especially since we moved to Crown Heights where the cable doesn't get El Rey - which is the great channel that used to show all these. A thousand curses on the inferior and out-of-touch Optimum! 

1. BAT WITHOUT WINGS 
(1980) Dir. Chu Yuan
*** 1/2 / Amazon Image - A+

Even if they have no familiarity with the wuxia genre, Fans of the colorful atmosphere-drenched 60s horror of Mario Bava, those classic horror fans like me who swoon over the beautiful the colors of his Black Sabbath and Kill Baby Kill, should seek out Bat Without Wings, for the patience and creativity with colored gel spots to create rich atmosphere is very similar, with vast caverns of cobwebs and (terrible) statues made by a crackpot mad artist--a former mad rapist-murderer--who's allegedly being held on a remote island full of elaborate traps after being apprehended or supposedly killed years ago by a barrage of martial arts masters in a wild, confusing prologue. If you don't mind occasionally losing the threads of the elaborate tapestry plot as it zips around from place to place, you can just soak up the atmosphere and bizarre horror touches like the ghost of one of the Bat's victims appearing at the gate of her homestead, all bathed in green and holding her severed head. Not only that, but the titular bad guy (Feng Ku), made up like an Asian Gene Simmons, storms in and out of ladies' chambers with the heavy lightness of a roadshow barnstorming evil villain come for his rent. He's delightful! A round little maniac who flies around slaughtering whole parties of trained security guards just because a girl in their party looks like another girl. Mwahahah. With Chen Shan as the leader of the easily slain Hell Gang. The inescapable Derek Yee is the master swordsman endlessly tested for skill and sent on wild missions to find out what the hell is going on -- is the Bat really dead or what? There's something far more complex and sinister, naturally involving a missing 'Bat' blade that can render its user ultra-powerful. Some want it found and destroyed, others have secret agendas for power. Mwah hahha!

 I kept trying to take some decent screenshots to show how gorgeous this all looks on the right size HD TV, but it doesn't translate as well to small screen snapshots - still you can get the idea.

 Special note for sensitive viewers: there's talk about the Bat being a serial rapist-murderer, but we never see him actually rape anyone. We do find his early victim sent home in parts and as a mysterious green ghost, but that's just wuxia, and the limbs look so fake you can all but see the mannequin serial numbers. The actual plot turns out to have a whole mess of Scooby Doo-style turns and tricks and all ends in a giant, beautifully-lit cavern, full of magic and the clanging of swords, no subjugation and misogyny. It's way cooler than that. In fact, in the right mood, in the right environment (like home in the AC during a sweltering heat wave) sheer gonzo heaven, just don't worry if the plot gets away from you. In a Chu Yuan production you can always just trip out on the swirling mist and gorgeous landscapes, eerie caverns and ghostly green figures in the distance...

2. THE BLACK LIZARD
(1981) Dir. Chu Yuan
**1/2 / Amazon Image - A+

It's pretty to look at, with some funny and strange characters and complex machinations so over-the-top they're like every old dark house mystery from the 30s pureed together with Wilkie Collins frosting, but the greens glow valiantly and Bava fans should rejoice - once again director Chu Yuan keeps the fog machines and colored gel lights on, enriching nearly every frame with mood, as a man in a dark red cloak and lizard skin keeps carting a coffin around with a talking wooden effigy of swordman Lung Fei's fiancee inside. The indefatigable Derek Yee is a detective swordsman swept up in an intergenerational mystery having to do with an ancient curse by a black lizard demon living in a misty lake -- has he emerged and possessed a young son (in a flashback he looks like a giant black lizard with green eyes but--- well, anything is possible). There's also another mysterious woman, this one all dressed in white, who disappears and appears with dire pronouncements. The lizard zips around, women become wooden statues and back and forth; people are buried alive in wooden effigies of themselves by a madman. A man wearing lipstick, sheathed in fog, warns our hero his fiancee is going to die; there are secret panels and an array of disguises and intrigue, and--jeeze--don't even worry about the byzantine inter-family paranoia that evidently underwrites the weirdness. Just do like Kim Newman tells you in his Mark of the Vampire DVD commentary, just soak in the ample atmosphere and savor the horror elements and don't let the Scooby Doo denouement sour it with a lot of twists and reveals. It may not all add up, but does it need to? If you said yes then I'd suggest an hour of deep meditation on the transience of all things. Even the web, in its full entirety, shall pass in time.... I think. 

3. FULL MOON SCIMITAR
(1979) Dir. Chu Yuan 
***  / Amazon Image - A

The love between a fox spirit and a martial artist, carrying a parallel to one gone on in the previous generation without either of their knowledge - the scenes taking place in the spectral world are so gorgeous and ethereal that you'll want to find your way there more than you would Shangri La (I love that it's always night and the ornate soundstage indoor/outdoor magic of it all. And the spooky comeuppance against earth's rival - this just makes it all the more heartbreaking when our hero becomes a dick obsessed with fame, but such is the way of men). Derek Yee stars as Ding Peng who gets hoodwinked on his way to a big duel for mastery of martial arts when his rival's wife seduces him and steals his martial arts manual in the middle of the night -thus informing the treacherous Ruo Song (Wong Yung) of how to counter the chumps' moves, and to imply then that the martial arts manual was his etc. It all sets poor egotistical Ding into a suicidal despair but--as so often in these things--he's prevented at the last minute by ghostly intervention, in this case, a green-lit fox spirit (in the Chu Yuan universe, the realms of the dead are always bathed in a haunting green light) named Qing Qing (Lisa Wong). She takes him to her mysterious land between the living and the dead, a kind of secret Shangri La paradise all shot on those marvelous expansive soundstage landscapes of cherry blossom and lantern lit night -- who would ever want to leave? Well, once he starts practicing with Qing Qing's magical scimitar, Ding Peng does wants to leave - he convinces his now-wife to come with him and help arrange revenge on Ruo Song, and for some reason she takes the upper hand, posing as her own treacherous sister (?) and betraying Song with supernatural trickery that ensures an easy victory. But naturally old Ding isn't satisfied. He wants to keep going and be the best in the martial arts world, little knowing how much damage he's doing to his home life in the pursuit of wealth and fame and just how truly treacherous Ruo Song really is. Naturally it all ends in a big grievance-airing international duel.

Love that setting sun spotlight
And though that's kind of inevitable for a Shaw Brothers movie, once again it's the mist-enshrouded magical ancient landscapes, like gorgeous life-size dioramas, that haunt the mind and make these so worth seeing on a big HD screen with deep blacks. On my 60" Sony Bravia they're impeccably haunting. And his dick moves to Qing Qing (he even remarries claiming he can't be with a fox forever) carry a rough sting but you know it will end happily. Alas, like all the Shaw Brothers films, the ending is--for my money--way too abrupt. They should have a groovy party afterwards, but Shaw Brothers movies tend to end within seconds of the final bad guy dying. Such is the way of the Tao.

A girl and her snakes

4. THE BATTLE WIZARD
(1977) Dir. Hsueh Li Pao
*** Amazon Image: A

It's so insane it has to be based on some old legend - Dan Lee plays a young scholar son of a respected general runs away to avoid learning kung fu (he'd rather read books). On the road, naive and even a trifle thick-headed, he meets a pretty young girl named Lin (Chen Che Lin) who uses snakes as weapons/couriers, and after some antagonistic bickering they team up, and then promptly run afoul of 'the poison gang.' There's much back and forth of poisonous attacks (she launches a venomous sneak into the leader's body) the scholar must find her ninja sister (Ni Tien) to rescue her and then well, he winds up gaining super powers through drinking the blood of a giant red snake while hiding out on one of those mysterious hidden cliffside oases. You got to respect a guy who--when a girl tells him to drink the blood of a giant red snake that's trying to suffocate him in the middle of a pond, he promptly bites down on its neck like a vampire, and then, later, when he tells him to swallow a  poisonous toad whole--he does too! No questions asked! Dude, drinking snake blood is one thing, shooting a live, venomous (glowing) toad like it it's a cold oyster, that's crazy courage. Other foes include a gorilla (a hilarious ape-costumed dude in a pit), the titular battlesome wizard (friends of Lo Pan from Big Trouble in Little China will recognize he's got a lot of the same skills, including fire breathing), a crazy rapist bald green fanged monster with a detachable claw arm who can outrun horses, and a complicated tale of brothers and sisters across two family dynasties that--through some uncool philandering 20 years earlier--led to the original confrontation and all the bad blood that must out in the children, etc. Based on a fantasy novel by Jin Yong.

5. BUDDHA'S PALM
(1982) Dir Taylor Wong
***1/2 / Amazon Image - B+

With a great 80s synth score, lots of animated fire and magic effects, this is a fine companion piece to THE BATTLE WIZARD. Like that film, our callow lead-Lung (Tung Shing Yee) starts out a churlish heartbroken brat but the dopey dragon that rescues him from a plunge off the cliff looks like a kind of mix of a parade Chinese dragon and a muppet, and on a mysterious outcropping halfway down a cliff (Asia must be full of these little magic oases you can only access by jumping off a cliff) he meets the fallen hero Flaming Cloud Devil (Alex Man) who wants to teach him the unbeatable Buddha's Palm precisely because he doesn't want to learn it (churlish brat that he is). Here's a film that's clearly got some Star Wars influence to it, but Lucas would never have so many strong female characters, nor an evil henchmen kid with a huge acid pus-spraying facial tumor, or a villain with a super extendable giant killer foot, of course I mean Heavenly Foot of the 10,000 Swords Clan (Shih Kien)! Other foes are named: Flying Bells (Chen Szu-chia), Flying Loops (Yum Yum Shaw), and The Thunderbolt Devil (as he uses sound wave combat). Now that he knows the Palm, and has partially restored Flaming Cloud Devil's sight (via a magic dragon egg), he must help bring them all down in spectacular laser, sound wave, and spinning kick-filled brawls.


Special shout out to the great Lieh Lo -- a joy as the mysterious, ever-clowning (but never obnoxious) martial artist who tends to arrive at just the right time, proclaiming "Bi Gu of East Island is here!" as in now the party can start. Far too much crazy stuff happens to tell, and there's even the old all-girl Er Mei school again, but a standout is the sight of Heavenly Foot using his percussion set up to drive his daughter crazy (turns out he controls her via a poisonous internal centipede). Just watching him in sped up motion playing with his foot and hands, dopey grin on his face, is a priceless privilege. He's so evil! And that crazy foot! Flaming Cloud Devil ends up converting a few of her cast-out girl students (they help Lung after he helps them steal a relic for their master to fix her acne). And eventually they all even patch up their differences without fighting - and have a big celebration - but there's still trouble a Foot!
---

6. HOLY FLAME OF THE MARTIAL WORLD
(1983) Dir. Chin-Ku Lu
*** / Amazon Image - A-

American critics of HK fantasy films often note that they seem to be on fast forward, and to make that argument here's exhibit A, a film that zips along like it's running a well-practiced relay race, making us all wonder what kind of coffee they serve at the Shaw Studios. (My viewing strategy: just presume your first guess on what's going on is correct--it usually is). At any rate, even those who can handle the dizzying narrative progression of Battle Wizard and Buddha's Palm might be in trouble for Holy Flame of the Martial World but if you catch it in just the right frame of mind it's a pretty wild time. The flame of the title is a weird looking weapon with a gem in the center so better believe it's got magical powers; naturally the hero is a pretty young orphan whose parents died protecting the secret of the flame's hiding place from a wittily-subtitled gang of greedy kung fu clan leaders. The secret is hidden somewhere in the mind of skin or something of the boy guarded by a hilarious old master named the Phantom (Phillip Kwok) with his devastating sound wave attack 'ghost laughter' - the sight of him making weird gestures and rolling around on his lotus position legs roaring with 'ghost laughter' is pretty edifying, right up there in hilarious oddness with Heavenly Foot's magic percussion attacks in Buddha's Palm. One of the nicest of all kung fu teachers, nothing fazes or annoys the Phantom. He never has a single negative thing to say, and his good-natured laughter is infectious.


Best of all, one of the main villains is a white-haired woman Tsing Yin (Leanne Lau), the master of the Er Mei school -- as seen in Heavenly Sword and Dragon Sabre --they're an all-woman kung fu school whose first rule is no congress with men. (Naturally that law gets broken a bit). One of the Er Mei students is helped out of a jam by our hero and soon it's clear she's being trained for a very special purpose; there's a similar student (Siu Chung Mok) with the other villain, a golden haired lion man  Monster Yu (Jaso Pal Piao). The big climactic battle is full of dizzying spins, lasers (by then the girl rescued from the Blood Sucking Clan has aquired a magic laser-shooting finger thanks to touching a magic snake bladder.) as young yin/yang brother sister duo square off against the pair of sorcerers who killed their parents, a kind of negative shadow parent set - Monster Yu and Tsing Yin, each using their magic yin/yang skills in an effort to destroy each other. There's nothing remotely like it in the US, except maybe the sorcerer duel in Corman's The Raven, but that was old man walking around the park feeding pigeon stuff next to this wild wild madness. Same goes for, well, almost everything. Western filmmakers, find out what kind of tea these cats were drinking and bring it to your feeble sets! Praise be to merciful Buddha, The Shaw Brothers may have been as ethical as some would like, but they've left us some beautiful, and truly weird, things just waiting for more of the wicked west to discover, for free on Prime. So long as they can read, and don't watch it through a Sony Blu-ray
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