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Rating: 7 stars


Hong Kong female martial artist martial arts Kung fu

Seen 1 time

Seen on: 04/30/2020

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The Magic Crane (1993)

Directed by Benny Chan

Action | Fantasy | Adventure

Most recently watched by sleestakk


On his way to a congress of kung fu masters, an initiate falls from a high cliff, only to be rescued by lovely Tien Lam (Anita Mui), who rides a huge (and sorry-looking) crane. The rest of the movie features a battle between warring martial arts factions, an equally fierce rivalry between the two daughters of the Crane Master, the accidental empowerment of an unprincipled master after having eaten half of a secret scroll, a battle with an immense tortoise whose spleeny vapors save a group of poisoned swordsmen, lots of great aerial fights against nearly invincible villains, and the usual blood spurting from assorted mouths.

Length 93 minutes


Tony Leung Chiu-Wai | Anita Mui | Lau Shun | Rosamund Kwan | Norman Chu | Damian Lau | Lawrence Ng | Zhang Tie-Lin | Jay Lau | Wai Yee Chan

Viewing Notes

Early Tsui Hark ‘90s fantasy action adventure that falls right into the middle of the pack of period costume wuxia flicks from that time (Tsui Hark is the producer w/Benny Chan behind the camera). This one is great because it features Tony Leung Chiu-Wai as a reluctant hero who gets rescued by the mysterious Pak Wan-Fai (Anita Mui), the one who rides on the big crane. Yes, there is a giant crane! Then the story gets super complex to the point of me just watching and enjoying and not really knowing what the hell is happening. There’s the gorgeous Jay Lau who shows up as the feisty Lady Jade Flute. This is where it reminded me a lot of Deadly Melody b/c of the strong female leads.

There’s some congregation of martial arts factions and one big bad legion that wants to take them all down. The leader of this legion is the brother of Lady Jade Flute, I think. Then there are the women pirates with Butterfly Lam (Rosamund Kwan) as their leader (I dunno if they are pirates but they have a big pirate-like ship). Rosamund is striking and an absolutely perfect beauty. She and the Crane Princess have a battle involving only their musical instruments. Butterfly Lam’s lute can cause some serious damage.

It gets even more wild with more fantastical elements that ultimately culminates in a big battle at the end with all the heroes and anti-heroes.

Seriously. It’s trip to watch something and give it complete attention and still have no idea what is really going on other than minor beats like “oh now he’s evil” or “oh she’s having a redemption arc” or whatever. It’s crazy. I read a review afterwards that tried to explain it also noting how overly complicated it is. I’m glad I own this so I can revisit and maybe after a few viewings I will be able to piece it all together.

Sadly it’s one of those cheapie DVDs that has a VHS transfer (there’s a point in the film where the onscreen display appears w/the time marker!). I really wish this had a nice 2K or 4K restoration for a blu release. Maybe it does but I feel like a lot of these old titles no longer get attention since there’s no market for physical media in HK/China. It’s especially sad given the talent here and insane amount of special effects and wire-work.

This movie totally makes me wanna go back and revisit a bunch of those early to mid-90s HK fantasy flicks. Some I haven’t seen for so long and haven’t logged here even. There are so many!


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