The Mighty Peking Man (1977)
By: Michael Helms on August 16, 2005  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Siren Visual Entertainment (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced). Chinese DD 2.0, English DD 2.0. English Subtitles. 86 minutes
The Movie
Director: Ho Meng-hua
Starring: Ku Feng, Lin Wei-Tu, Hsu Shao-Chiang, Wu Hang Sheng, Ted Thomas, Steve Nicholson, Chen Ping,
Screenplay: I Kuang
Music: Chen Yung-Ya and De Wolfe
Country: Hong Kong
At the Hong Kong University library a group is gathered as a man announces that he's found it. A newspaper headline claims that a giant gorilla has been sighted in the Himalayas.

We're immediately transported to a small village as an earthquake is in progress. A monster emerges and our first glimpses show a figure in a gorilla suit with a very rubbery mask. The natives catapult rocks and shoot spears at it is as they run to hide in a temple built into the side of the mountain overlooking the village. Cut back to the first group as the order goes out to get the explorer who's been blue since breaking up with his girlfriend. Next we're in a bar as a man is slumped over one. A quick word instantly pulls him out of his alcoholic haze as he agrees to leading a new expedition. A hotted up sitar soundtrack heralds the opening credits and a trip to India. In the space of five minutes we've nearly had it all: destruction, mass panic, alcoholism and one rampaging, yet visibly sexless giant gorilla. But that's okay as the first appearance of Evelyne Kraft and her itsy, bitsy, teeny, weeny, animal skin bikini is just around the corner.

A hastily convened press conference announces a new mission to seek out the giant gorilla and suddenly we're in the midst of an episode of Animal Kingdom that comes on like Marlin Perkins has just discovered meta-amphetamines. Our crew come across the deserted village only to be set upon by a pack of enraged elephants who they have to fight off with guns. Meanwhile, our fearless leader Cheng Zheng-feng (Danny Lee) has a flashback involving the discovery of his girlfriend in bed with his brother. The brother immediately starts crying. Back in the jungle a tiger attacks which forces some of the team to jump in quicksand as the tiger rips off the leg of one of their more unfortunate luggage bearers. Another crew leader steps in to put the guy out of his misery with his gun which of course causes tension between the gunman and the leader. A further crisis point is reached when some of the crew seek to abandon the mission despite standing around in a ditch that happens to be otherwise known as a giant monkey footprint. Cheng holds fast though and was that a blonde woman running through that distant clearing? The Mighty Peking Man then shows up and grabs our hero who escapes and runs for it when the stunning Evelyne Kraft appears and firmly requests Ah Wang (The Mighty Peking Man) to "stop it". The great ape then takes our two new friends back to the cave hideout that's stocked with all sorts of jungle produce which provides a base for several jungle adventures.

Firstly, the mystery of jungle girl's origins are enlightened by the discovery of her parents skeletal remains in a crashed plane. Almost constantly falling out of her skimpy jungle costume Evelyne shows off her amazing ability to climb coconut trees and plays with her pal Jiji the leopard. When a snake bites Evelyne on the upper thigh Cheng sucks out the poison (off-screen) and decides to go back to Hong Kong with The Mighty Peking Man. Enroute, with The Mighty Peking Man lashed to the deck in chains, Cheng gives Evelyne a new more civilised outfit to wear - a leather vest with matching hotpants that our heroine finds exceedingly uncomfortable and disposes of out the nearest porthole but not before chief financier Mr. Lu barges in to catch her naked. Sailing into Hong Kong the pall of doom descends when Hong Kong's tallest building the Connaught building is pointed out for no good reason. Hijinks with Cheng's brother and his ex ensues before the army, big business, all round deceit, and a rape attempt bring on the bloody, bullet riddled, and fiery finale.
Like all the Siren releases of the Celestial versions of Shaw Brother's films The Mighty Peking Man is completely spotless without a glitch and a total visual pleasure from beginning to end.
Your choice of either the original Mandarin language track or an English dub option. Either way, the film sounds as good in stereo as it looks.
Extra Features
Trailers for several Shaw Brother's films.
The Verdict
High camp is the catch-all descriptive phrase most commonly attached to The Mighty Peking Man but that to me implies intentionality. I think that all that was going on here at the time of it's manufacture was the serious intention by Shaw Brothers to produce their own version of King Kong without being sued by Dino De Laurentiis (or did they even really care?). That a few elements got lost in translation is just a trait of all Chinese filmmaking and combined with the passing of time probably makes it even funnier now and a more enjoyable experience than ever before. Whatever, it's great to view the destruction of some fine model work just to see that the Chinese could indeed compete with anything to come out of Toho at the time. In this the year of the third coming of Kong, The Mighty Peking Man provides the perfect entree. Now we just need some enterprising Australian DVD company to quickly release Queen Kong to truly ready ourselves for the oncoming onslaught of the ape.
Movie Score
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