Zu: The Warriors from the Magic Mountain (1983)
Reviewed by: Gaijin84 on 2005-07-22
Summary: Epic storytelling...
Although it's plot is very complicated, Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain is a fabulously fun movie that represents some of the best of what Hong Kong movies bring to the screen. China is in the midst of a massive war, with multiple factions fighting for control. Ti Ming-chi (Yuen Biao) is a messenger for West Zu Army, but in the midst of a battle flees... only to find himself lost in the dark woods and haunted caves of the surrounding area. While being attacked by vengeful ghosts, he is saved by Ting Yin (Adam Cheng), a mystical warrior equipped with swords of serious spirit-busting power. Owing his life, Ming-chi vows to follow Yin forever, begging to become his student. Yin eventually gives in and they are joined by Abbot Hsiao Yu (Damian Lau) and his student Yi Chen (Mang Hoi). Although it's never fully explained how they come to be involved in the quest, their mission becomes to save humankind from the Blood Demon, a supremely evil spirit determined to rule the land. After their first encounter with the Blood Demon results in Abbot Yu becoming poisoned, Yin and the other two bring him to the Countess of Jade Pond, hoping she will cure him, allowing them to continue their quest. However, his sickness (more like a possession) is too strong, and the Countess (an excellent Brigitte Lin) is forced to seal her fortress to keep him enclosed. With demonic ferocity, Abbot Yu bursts from the stronghold, forcing Yin, Ming-chi, Chen and one of the Countesses guards (Moon Lee) on a final quest to Heaven's Blade Peak. There they hope to find the mysterious Twin Swords... giving them the power to defeat the Blood Demon and save Abbot Yu's life.

Tsui Hark does a great job imbuing a sense of wonder and reality-bending fun to Zu, making it completely enjoyable to watch from start to finish. Not your typical martial arts movie with tons of choreographed one on one battles, Zu is a fantastic adventure with interesting characters, funny writing and an intricate plot. Adam Cheng and Damian Lau do wonderful jobs portraying the two powerful leaders of the group, but the real stars are Yuen Biao and Mang Hoi. They are hilarious as the apprentices and play off each other to perfection, creating perfectly timed, hilarious scenes. Probably one of the most under rated performers in Hong Kong cinema, Yuen Biao is especially good in this film, creating a witty, lovable character that you enjoy watching in every scene. Look as well for Sammo Hung, playing two different roles in this star-studded epic. Z also represented one of the first times Hollywood special effects experts were brought in on a Hong Kong film, and although they are raw compared to modern movies, they are enjoyable in the sense that movies such as Clash of the Titans and Superman are fun to watch... even though the effects are admittedly cheesy. Pop in the DVD and sit back for a couple hours, suspend your disbelief and take pleasure in Tsui Hark's groundbreaking film.
Reviewer Score: 8