Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain (1983)

When I first heard about Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain I was very intrigued.  Produced by Raymond Chow, Directed by Tsui Hark, and staring Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Corey Yuen, Brigitte Lin, Damian Lau, Adam Cheng and many others.  It took me several years before I was able to rent a copy of the movie and even then it was edited down to just 55 minutes out of the original 110 minute movie.  Why do western publishers/distributes insist on editing movies down!  They could have used the same budget that it takes to splice and reconfigure the film into proper subtitling that explains cultural differences like I’ve seen in some movies from the Criterion Collection or in almost every fan subbed film where they subtitle dialogue, writing, cultural meanings that help foreign viewers understand and enjoy the film better.

Yuen Biao as Di Ming Qi

Yuen Biao as Di Ming Qi

The Movie starts out with Di Ming Qi (Yuen Biao) who is a scout for the western army (who wear blue uniforms) and reports to the two generals that the Eastern Army (who wear red uniforms) have scattered before them.  One general says attack by land, the other says attack by water they both ask Di Ming Qi who he will obey. Di Ming Qi replies, “Both of you!” Traitor they shout, so Di Ming Qi replies, “None of you!” again the two generals shout traitor and order the Western Army to kill him. This should set the tone for most of the movie light humor mixed with great martial arts action!  The next action scene is between Di Ming Qi and a Eastern Soldier played by Sammo Hung (I wonder if the mustache he is wearing is real or not?).  I you have ever watched movies such as Magnificent Butcher (1979) and The Prodigal Son (1981) then you already know how fantastic any scene these two veteran actors appear in together can be.

From left to right Sammo Hung as Chang Mei / Red Army soldier and Yuen Biao as Di Ming Qi

From left to right Sammo Hung as Chang Mei / Red Army soldier and Yuen Biao as Di Ming Qi

Not too long after Di Ming Qi gets attacked by an evil sect and must be saved by a celestial warrior Din Yin of Nam-Hol (Adam Cheng) from here on in it’s celestial warriors and fantasy encounters on an epic scale. The film was nominated for five Hong Kong Film Awards in 1984 Best Action Choreography – Corey Yuen, Best Actress – Brigitte Lin, Best Art Direction – William Chang, Best Film Editing – Peter Cheung and Best Picture.  I’ve read reviews where they complain about the special effects but this movie is over thirty years old and such complaints are hold no ground with me.

Brigitte Lin as Ice Queen

Brigitte Lin as Ice Queen

Sammo Hung (Encounters of the Spooky Kind, The Legend Is Born – Ip Man, Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon) as Chang Mei / Red Army soldier

Yuen Biao (The Prodigal Son, A Man Called Hero, Mr. Vampire 1 & 2) as Di Ming Qi

Adam Cheng (Shaolin and Wu Tang, Fong Sai Yuk 1 & 2, Painted Skin) as Ding Yin / Ding Yan

Mang Hoi (Heart of the Dragon, Deadful Melody, Kung Fu Jungle) as Yi Zhen / Yat Jan

Moon Lee (Mr. Vampire 1 & 2, ) as one of the Ice Queen’s guards

Brigitte Lin (Dragon Inn, Royal Tramp 1 & 2, Handsome Siblings, Swordsman 2, East is Red, Bride with White Hair 1 & 2, The Three Swordsmen) as Ice Queen

Damian Lau (Duel to the Death, Royal Tramp 1 & 2, 14 Blades) as Xiao Ru

Norman Chu (The Flying Guillotine,  The Sentimental Swordsman, The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, The Duel) as Heaven’s Blade

Corey Yuen (Fong Sai Yuk 1 & 2, Moon Warriors, Red Cliff, The Iceman Cometh) as Devil Disciple Leader

Tsui Hark (Dragon Inn, Seven Swordsmen, Once Upon a Time in China 1-3 & 5, Green Snake, Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame) as Blue Army soldier (don’t blink you might miss him)


Trivia:American filmmaker John Carpenter has stated that Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain was an influence on his 1986 film Big Trouble in Little China.

Trivia: Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Cory Yuen all went to the same Opera School together as children

Trivia: Tsui Hark remade the movie as Zu Warriors (2001) staring Ekin Cheng, Cecilia Cheung, Ziyi Zhang, and Sammo Hung

Trivia: Adapted from Lee Sau-Man’s martial arts novel, the film manages to squeeze 50 volumes into a 110 minute film.

Love HK Film review

RetroFlix review

BBC Review



19 thoughts on “Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain (1983)

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