The Mighty Peking Man DVD was found for $3 at “The Beat Goes On”, a used video store. Two things immediately stood out though. One, it was presented by Quentin Tarantino’s rolling thunder pictures. Two, the description was over the top and campy. As result, this title was purchased for immediate viewing.
To put it shortly, this film was hilarious and brilliant! The packaging was understating the campiness factor.
For a fair review, checkout Roger Ebert’s Mighty Peking Man (three out of four stars).
Evelyne Kraft, was the star of the movie. First, despite the outfit, she acted with a straight face and sweet innocence even in the most gloriously daft scenes. Evelyn had carried the “Samantha/Ah Wei” role well beyond her fellow cast members, who were also memorable in their own eccentric ways. In particular, her interaction with Peking Man was endearing despite the difficulty of the role. Second, in addition to her acting skills, she fearlessly interacted with a tiger, a leopard, an elephant, and a king cobra. Third, Evelyn was athletic as she climbed tress, ran through the jungle and city, swung from a rope, and scaled hills. In the end, Evelyn Kraft was truly memorable in this film as she had a stunning amazonian look, decent acting abilities, a fearlessness with dangerous animals, and athleticism.
Anyway, this film has become an instant classic and favorite of mine due its originality. As a result, the Top 25 Campy Moments in chronological order are presented below!
1. Peking Man
No time was wasted by debuting the mighty Peking Man in the opening sequence of the film! Clearly the Shaw Brothers were cashing in on the King Kong franchise with this film. Moreover, they spared no expense. Gorilla costume it was! Well make that costumes. Distinctly different gorilla costumes were used in this film. And they appeared as big, bigger, or huge depending on the scene.
2. Boulders Changing Size
In the opening scenes, the mighty Peking Man towers amongst the mountains and trees. To combat the villagers, he picks up a giant sized boulder and tosses it at them. In the next scene, the boulder has mysteriously shrunk to the size of a man, and crushes a single tiny skinny villager. Yet, in another scene, he can easily crush the homes and a villager by stepping on them.
3. Johnnie Feng’s Debut
An expedition is suggested to some Hong Kong investors. A financer says to Lu Tien, “I know a hunter here in Hong Kong . . . an explorer. He just lost his girl and he wants to get away.”
Afterwards we meet a drunk Johnnie Feng. Lu Tien tries to cheer him up, “Hey, come on, Johnnie. Johnnie, come on. You’re going to head our expedition into the Indian jungle, Johnnie. You’re the only one I trust!”
So the solution for Johnnie’s woes, is to go on a distracting suicide mission!
4. Elephants Stampede
In the village, the expedition team encounters an elephant stampede. It features a dizzying number of cuts and splices between fast motion scenes, actors against a projector screen, and staged sets. More surprisingly, as quickly as the elephants stormed the scene, they ran away.
5. Lin Change (Johnnie’s Girlfriend) and Charlie Feng
After the elephant stampede, Johnnie is sitting there depressed. Two expedition members approach him and cheerfully laugh while asking “Johnnie, what’s wrong?” “It’s about your girlfriend, isn’t it?”
In an extended flashback, Johnnie catches his fiancee Lin Change cheating on him with his brother Charlie Feng. Lin collapses in tears, and Charlie explains “Wait a minute! Listen! We began as a joke, really!” Our hero Johnnie does not buy it. In a rage he tosses the flowers onto Lin and declares to Charlie, “No, I hate her!”
But that’s not the end of the absurdity. Later in the movie after the expedition, when Johnnie encounters Lin Change, his first words were “How you been?”
Roar there’s a tiger. The expedition team fleas and some members unexpectedly end up in the quicksand. Only problem is the actors ran and jumped into it, while turning to face the camera!
7. Rolling with a Tiger
This scene was as impressive as it was crazy and dangerous. A tiger attacks the expedition team, and one of the villagers rolls and flips with the beast. In addition, Johnnie Feng (actor Danny Lee) later has to hold the tiger from behind.
8. Lu Tien is a Bad Guy
The villager who rolls with the tiger and saves the expedition team, get his leg bit off in comical scene. Afterwards, Johnnie and the others scramble to get medical attention. Except for Lu Tien, as he shoots the villager in the head. When confronted by Johnnie he explains, “He was suffering so I put an end to it”.
9. Peking Man’s Right Hand
Johnnie Feng was abandoned at night by the expedition team at the top of the mountain out in the open. Undeterred, he presses on in the morning to find the Peking Man.
10. Jungle Girl – Samantha/Ah Wei
Johnnie sees the jungle girl up close for the first time. Her name is Samantha/Ah Wei. As a child, she was in a plane crash that killed her parents. It was Peking Man who found and raised her in the jungle. Fortunately, her savage appearance has been masqueraded by lip stick, eyeliner, and permed hair.
11. Ferocious Tiger
Oh no! A ferocious tiger is back and in attack mode. Oh wait, Samantha is friends with the tiger.
12. Ferocious Leopard
Oh no! A ferocious leopard is ready to attack. Wait, Samantha is also friends with the leopard.
13. Samantha Climbs a Tree
Samantha climbs a tree to get some fruits for her and Johnnie to enjoy. Let’s just say the tree climbing left Johnnie stunned as the camera switches to Johnnie’s viewpoint.
14. King Cobra Attacks Samantha
A king cobra does not like Samantha. It slithers up from behind and strikes Samantha on the upper thigh. Poor Johnnie to the rescue. He has to suck the poison out, as Samantha moans in pain!
As an aside, normally such scenes would garner a much stricter rating than PG-13. However, no objectionable act took place. Let’s just say, the Shaw Brothers were brilliant in skirting the ratings system!
15. Romance Montage Between Johnnie and Samantha
Samantha has recovered from the venomous attack. She and Johnnie celebrate in joy by running through the woods in a hilarious romantic montage. There is even a slow motion scene of Samantha running and jumping for joy, which puts Baywatch the TV show to shame.
16. Samantha Spins a Leopard Around
The romance montage does not end. Samantha spins a Leopard around on her shoulders and then swings the leopard around from behind.
17. Peking Man Watches Johnnie and Samantha Celebrate
Peking Man catches Johnnie and Samantha in the cave. As a result, he sulks and walks off kicking a few trees in the process. Sensing the sorrow, Samantha calls Peking Man back to demonstrate that her friendship and affection still remains for him.
18. Samantha in Hong Kong
Samantha wanders the streets of Hong Kong and no one reacts or bats an eye. They all ignore her. Yep, this is an everyday normal appearance.
Even funnier is Samantha asking a couple, entering their car, to take her to the stadium were Peking Man is performing. The women and man do not react in anyway to her appearance. “You take me to Utam. You take me Utam. Yes?” “Oh, yes, the Peking Man. I see. Get in.”
19. Peking Man Unleashed in Hong Kong
Peking Man breaks from his chains and goes on a rampage in Hong Kong to save Samantha. Miniature model building and bridges are smashed with rage. While miniature model vehicles are stomped on with a fury like no other as remote control cars drive by.
20. Peking Man Kills Lu Tien
Peking Man finally captures Lu Tien in his hand and swings him around as people watch in horror. Finally Lu Tien is thrown to the ground with force, but he some how survives unharmed as he bounces and rolls off the cement. To finish the process, though, Peking Man stomps on Lu Tien.
21. Damsel in Distress is Shot Repeatedly
Peking Man has scaled the skyscraper as the military pursues him. Samantha and Johnnie then convince the general to ceasefire as Samantha can talk to Peking Man. The general agrees.
Well after scaling the skyscraper, Samantha meets up with Peking Man and climbs onto his hand to calm him down. The general then instantly tells his troops “To all units, he’s calmed down. It’s our best chance to get him. Bring the helicopter into action. Your orders are to shoot. All units shoot. Do you hear? Shoot to Kill!” Guns fire, as Samantha screams, “Stop it”, and waves her hands. She gets shot in the leg, the arm, and the shoulder!
22. A Soldier Tossed From a Skyscraper
Peking Man saves Johnnie and tosses a soldier from the top of the skyscraper. The soldier hits the ground, rolls, then lays flat on his back as the troops below watch in shock.
23. Peking Man’s and Samantha’s Demise
The full military force is unleashed on Peking Man as they bombard him with gun fire from helicopters. In addition, the military blows up the top of the building to set Peking Man ablaze. In the process, he fights to release Samantha’s lifeless body into the building. However, Peking Man also succumbs to the explosion and falls ablaze from the skyscraper onto the general post office building!
24. Johnnie Remembers the Gunshot to His Leg
In a previous scene, Johnnie was shot in the leg and limping. Here he awakens to the aftermath and sees Samantha laying lifelessly in the building. He runs down the stairs and jumps the railing, then suddenly remembers to start limping along.
25. Admiring the View at the End
After the fall, Peking Man still moves his head and hand until he finally gives way. Samantha is found dead. Poor Johnnie carries her body to admire the peaceful and scenic view of Hong Kong as the end credits suddenly appear.