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THE MIGHTY PEKING MAN

In light of Peter Jackson’s popular KING KONG remake, there’s no better time to revisit this bad movie classic that likewise attempts to remake the immortal KING KONG.  An agreeably trashy Hong Kong production from the seventies, THE MIGHT PEKING MAN is a camp classic of Kong-sized proportions.

The Package
     KING KONG remakes/parodies/tributes were all the rage during the sixties and seventies--in addition to the Japanese KING KONG VERSUS GODZILLA (from 1962) there was KING KONG ESCAPES (1967), KONG ISLAND (1968), APE (1976), QUEEN KONG (1976), the animated TV series KING KONG (1966) and of course the big budget Dino De Laurnetiis KING KONG (1976), of which 1977’s THE MIGHTY PEKING MAN (a.k.a. GOLIATHON) was conceived as a blatant rip-off.  It was created by Hong Kong’s ever-opportunistic Shaw Brothers, who it seems never encountered a movie property they couldn’t exploit (fans of the present film might also want to check out the Shaws’ shameless ULTRA MAN copy INFRA-MAN, which stars PEKING MAN’S lead Li Hsui-Hsien and is actually more fun than its inspiration).
     THE MIGHTY PEKING MAN is also notable as a sterling release of Quentin Tarantino’s late lamented Rolling Thunder Pictures, which actually gave this jaw-dropper a theatrical release in 1999.  Rolling Thunder did the same for other essential films like CHUNKING EXPRESS, SWITCHBLADE SISTERS, HARD CORE LOGO and THE BEYOND…at least until Tarantino and Miramax lost interest (sniff). 

The Story
     An earthquake occurs in a rural Indian village, opening up a large hole in the ground and releasing a giant dude in a cheesy ape suit who wastes no time destroying everything in his path.  Years later the sleazy Hong Kong businessman Johnny Feng leads an expedition into the jungle in search of the “Mighty Peking Man,” where he and his companions are beset by rampaging elephants, a vicious tiger and a steep cliff that claims several lives.  Eventually the expeditioners decide to turn back, but Johnny stays on, having fallen for the “charms” of Samantha, a way-hot blonde whose parents were killed in a plane crash several years earlier and who now lives in the jungle wearing an animal skin bikini.  Her companion, it seems, is the Peking Man, and Johnny somehow convinces her to bring the PM back to Hong Kong so he can be put on display.
     As you might guess, this is the beginning of the end for all.  The trip back is a disaster, with the Peking Man chained to the deck of a ship while inside Johnny tries to entice Samantha into ditching her increasingly skimpy animal skin wardrobe in favor of something “more appropriate”: a skin tight leather mini-dress!     Back on land the Peking Man is forced to perform at a monster truck rally as Samantha is wined, dined and eventually raped by horny locals.  It’s the latter act that really sets the Peking Man off, inspiring him to break free of his confinement and embark on a rampage of mindless destruction through the streets of Hong Kong.  Eventually he climbs to the top of a tall skyscraper, where he’s shot at by planes and blown up(!), crashing to earth in a fiery ball.  Johnny and Samantha, of course, live happily ever after.

The Direction
     Like all truly bad movies, everything in THE MIGHTY PEKING MAN is of a piece.  This is to say that every element is uniformly inept, unintentionally hilarious and insanely wrongheaded, from the outrageously clumsy performances, ridiculous dialogue (rendered even more so by worse-than-usual English dubbing), mismatched stock footage and mind-bogglingly crappy “special” effects (dig those blatantly fake-looking miniature sets the Peking Man plows through).  The real special effect is of course the mouth-watering Evelyne Craft as the female lead, who spends literally the entire movie running around in various states of undress (for which I’m NOT complaining!).
     The orchestrator of all this was director Ho Meng-Hua, a Shaw Brothers regular who also helmed BLACK MAGIC, THE FLYING GUILLOTINE and THE RAPE AFTER, and was already a twenty year veteran when he made THE MIGHTY PEKING MAN--NOT that it shows!  Throwing all notions of taste, logic and continuity out the window, Ho makes a point of concentrating on wholesale destruction and sex appeal above all else.  Whenever the action threatens to flag he simply has the Peking Man destroy something or inserts a gratuitous close-up of Kraft’s ass…which in this movie turns out to be more than enough! 

Vital Statistics

THE MIGHTY PEKING MAN (a.k.a. HSING HSING WANG; GOLIATHON)
Shaw Brothers Limited/Rolling Thunder Pictures 

Director: Ho Meng-Hua
Producers: Yi Kuang, Vee King Shaw
Screenplay: Yi Kuang
Cinematography: Tsao Hui-chi, Wu Cho-Hua
Editing: Chiang Hsing-Lung, Thom Noble, Pepita Noble
Cast: Evelyne Kraft, Li Hsui-Hsien (Danny Lee), Chen Cheng-Feng, Ah Wei, Huang Tsui-Hua, Lu Tien, Chen Shi-Yu, Ah Lung, Ah Pi, Chen Ping
 


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