is sort of like Shaolin’s Tibetan Buddhist cousin, but it is not called
Esoteric Kung Fu for nothing. Practitioners are few and far between, but it
might be just the discipline to take on the savage tiger claw. Regardless,
vengeance will not be denied in Feng Huang’s The Himalayan (trailer here), which is included in The Angela Mao Ying Collection now
available from Shout Factory.
the high Himalayas, a martial arts competition is a fine place for a courtship.
As it happens, when Ceng Ching-lan faces Gao I Fan, they make more of an
impression on her father, Lord Ceng and his older brother, Gao Zhen, than on
each other. An arrangement is quickly struck, but when I Fan expresses
reservations, the devious Gao Zhen permanently dispatches his brother,
replacing him with a more compliant look-a-like. He was adopted anyway.
quickly becomes apparent Gao has designs to take over the power and wealth of
the Ceng house. Through his dreaded tiger claw kung fu, Gao incapacitates Lan,
framing her for the murder of the latest I Fan. Fortunately, her boyhood chum
Xu saves her from the ritual cast-off-into-the-river form of execution.
Together they will regroup in the Eagle Lama’s monastery, hoping to be deemed
worthy of learning his rare Esoteric Kung Fu.
its wide mountain vistas and Tibetan-Nepalese locations, The Himalayan is an unusually visually striking martial arts film,
much in the King Hu tradition. Similarly, it also has some highly cinematic
fight scenes choreographed by Sammo Hung (sharing duties with Han Ying-chieh). However,
since it was produced by Golden Harvest in the 1970s there are also the requisite
nude scenes featuring Angela Wang En-chi as Gao’s vixen accomplice, Man. Genre
fans will also want to keep their eyes peeled for Hung, Jackie Chan, and Corey
Yuen, who pop up briefly as fight extras.
Mao is not always front and center, she still takes a strong and steely star
turn as the wronged Lan. She meets one of her best antagonists in the form of
Chan Sing, who truly looks like he enjoys evil scheming more than any Bond
villain. His tiger claw moves are also suitably fierce. Yet, it is Han, the
co-action director, who nearly steals the show as Uncle Qu, Lord Ceng’s wise
but surprisingly spry old advisor.
Himalayan is a winning blend of Buddhist wisdom and exploitation goodies.
It is a great showcase for Mao, while getting the most from a talented
supporting ensemble. Enthusiastically recommended, The Himalayan is now available on DVD as part of Shout Factory’s Angela Mao Ying Collection.
Labels: Angela Mao, DVD, Martial arts cinema