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John’s Horror Corner: The Boxer’s Omen (1983; aka Mo, Black Magic 4), a Shaw Brothers bazonkers Chinese horror movie about the occult and black magic.

September 3, 2022

MY CALL: Loads of gory guts, kickboxing matches, black magic curses, cheap conjured monsters, Buddhist missions, gratuitous nudity and confusing storylines. This movie is pure lunacy; an acid trip of mixed concepts shoehorned into a single script and a glowing example of what marathoning cocaine could accomplish in the film industry in the early 80s. I enjoyed it. MORE MOVIES LIKE The Boxer’s Omen:  For more bonkers Asian horror, consider Evil Dead Trap (1988; aka Shiryô no wana), Seeding of a Ghost (1983; aka Zhong gui), Lady Terminator (1989), Mystics in Bali (1981) and, of course, Black Magic (1975).

The Shaw Brothers know how to produce movies that will entertain, shock, titillate and offend. Not even 10 minutes into this movie and we’ve already seen a wild kickboxing match, a gangland double-cross is trumped by the sudden appearance of a sprinkler Water God, and a rather tumultuous sex scene with amusingly abundant boobs-pressed-against-glass. And that’s before Chan Hung’s nearly-killed brother demands that his brother defeat the Thai boxer Ba Bo that crippled him in a fight. So naturally, Hung issues a challenge and Ba Bo (Bolo Yeung) accepts.

Much to my surprise, there are actually decent fight scenes in this movie—even some long cuts with a constant exchange of attacks. They’re nothing spectacular, but far better than I’d expect from a horror movie! Watch out for Bolo Yeung (Bloodsport, Double Impact) who was basically playing a younger Chong Li, fighting just as dirty and getting just as riled up with crowd love. That dude was a force of nature.

But truly, the silly, dumb and nonsensical shifts hard into gear once we are introduced to the black magic practitioner and his undead bony pet bat. There are stop-motion bat skeletons, a cursed man appears to be covered in paste and balloon-pustules, a goopy guts-covered skull gives hacky-sack spiders a stinger and proboscis, the corpse of a murdered Buddhist holy man guides Hung, Hung literally vomits a live leopard eel, and the black magician eats guts and vomit  in order to conjure a slimy disembodied goblin head from some gross gobbeldygoop.

Amidst all this madness, Hung becomes a Buddhist monk because he’s told he must and does his best to avenge his brother and now also appease the spirit of a recently deceased higher order monk. So now Hung has two very different goals with very different adversaries. The pinnacle of weirdness is when the bad guy magically has his own head tear away from his body and attempt to strangle Hung with its dangling guts (reminding me of Mystics in Bali). This movie actually has quite a few scenes featuring lots of chonky stringy gooey guts. The crocodile disembowelment scene is truly a gross spectacle of slippery sloppy gore.

Oh, but wait, this was originally all about a kickboxing match and revenge, wasn’t it? So back to that plotline, Hung faces Ba Bo in the ring. And even though he wins, some curse means he has to now win yet another another match! Or so says a random Buddhist monk. But because Hung broke a Buddhist vow (i.e., sex with his girlfriend), he needs to go find some relic for atonement. This is so convoluted. Meanwhile, more black magic monks are at work. A maggot-covered corpse is hatched from a bloated dead crocodile to reveal a very naked woman who is revivified by black magic monks feeding her nasty goopy regurgitated food. This… is… gross!

She turns out to be some kind of scantily-clad sorceress who conjures a giant crocodile puppet and some bodily-orifice-invading death caterpillars before inducing a weird sort of birth scene which produces “Seram wrap mummies” which then immediately commit suicide to create diminutive cyclopean Brontosaurus things that shoot lasers at a sacred Buddha statue… which is bad. By the time Hung “wins” we are so lost in all the different bad guys and hurdles and goals that we don’t even realize that he’s accomplished his goal(s).

This movie is pure lunacy; an acid trip of mixed concepts shoehorned into a single script and a glowing example of what marathoning cocaine could accomplish in the film industry in the early 80s. God bless the Shaw Brothers and, of course, director Chih-Hung Kuei (Curse of Evil, Bewitched, Corpse Mania). This was really something.

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