November 22, 2012

The Mighty Peking Man (1977)

Directed by Meng Hua Ho. Starring Evelyne Kraft ("Samantha"), Danny Lee ("Johnnie Fang"), Feng Ku ("Lu Tiem"), and Wei Tu Lin ("Chen Shi-yu"). Rated PG-13. Body Count: 14 on-screen kills, an elephant, a snake, and a Peking Man.

Source: Region 1 DVD (Miramax/Buena Vista)
Running time: 01:30:28
Country: Hong Kong

A group of anthropologists and whatnot from China embark on an expedition to the Himalayas to track down the mythical creature known as "The Peking Man". I would also throw the word "elusive" in there when describing the Peking Man, but considering he regularly comes down from the mountains to terrorize poor villagers and is so huge you could probably see him from miles away, that wouldn't be the aptest of descriptors. Anyway, the anthropologists get more than they bargained for with their search for the creature; members of their entourage are killed when the Peking Man goes berserk, and the rest of them flee for their lives with nothing but stories to take back to China. A member of the team named Johnny is left behind amidst the chaos, but he's rescued by a feral woman who wears very little clothing and apparently has an endless supply of make-up and hairspray.

The feral woman, who's name is revealed to be "Samantha" (listed on IMDB as "Ah wei" and probably renamed Samantha for American audiences), nurses Johnny back to health (and vice versa when she's eventually bitten by a poisonous snake) and the two become romantically involved despite the language barrier. It's also revealed that Samantha can communicate with animals and that she's the only person who's able to tame and control the Peking Man, which makes sense since she's basically the female Tarzan in a Shaw Bros. KING KONG rip-off. Cheesy romantic montages accompanied by awful love songs ensue, but that's alright because we're treated to Samantha running in slow motion as one of her nipples is exposed. Speaking of which, wardrobe malfunctions are a regular thing in this movie in regards to Samantha, so it at least has that going for it.

Johnny somehow convinces Samantha to leave the jungle, and she in turn convinces the Peking Man to be willingly taken by the team of anthropologists who show up to escort Johnny back to the mainland. I already mentioned that this is a KING KONG rip-off, so I think rest goes without saying. The back end of the movie is pretty much KING KONG to a tee.

THE MIGHTY PEKING MAN was sort of rescued from obscurity by filmmaker and cult movie aficionado Quentin Tarantino, who released it on his now defunct Miramax sub-label Rolling Thunder Pictures. Knowing his tastes, it makes sense that he'd champion such a weird movie like this. MIGHTY PEKING MAN is an undeniably bad film, but it's not to say that it's without redeeming qualities, and there's a certain level of charm to the film despite how unashamedly exploitative it is. The problem with the film, though, isn't necessarily how bad it is, but how inherently predictable it is. Once the Peking Man is captured, caged, and put on a boat, you already know how the rest is gonna go down because of how similar it is to KING KONG. Thankfully, the gorgeous Evelyne Kraft is around long enough to keep things interesting with her amusing antics (and assets).

The highlight of the movie - for me anyway - is Samantha's outfit for obvious reasons. The close-up shots of the Peking Man are petty hilarious as well because of how bad and cheap-looking the gorilla costume is. The special effects are pretty terrible and the miniature sets and models are far from convincing, but this is an exploitation movie and bad special effects are part of what gives these movies their charm. Despite its technical flaws and the fact that it kinda drags in spots, THE MIGHTY PEKING MAN is an easy movie to enjoy, especially if watched in a group setting. This isn't the type of movie you watch if you're looking to be stimulated in some way (from the waist up that is), nor is it a film that's meant to be viewed with critical eyes. Shaw Bros. produced it solely to make money, not to win awards, and it has since become this weird oddity on the famous Hong Kong studio's back catalog. If you're in the right frame of mind, check it out and you may find yourself laughing just as hard as some of the Indian extras who appear in the background when the Peking Man is being captured.

Score: 5.5


  1. That Mask Is (unitetenionally I'm sure) Horrifying. I'm a complete mark for cheese fests like this. In fact I have a new project on the horizon which this may be right for

  2. A new project huh? Interesting. Looking forward to it, whatever it is. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, Dynamo. Hopefully it wasn't too much of a pain in the ass for you this time!

  3. Two highlights for me: Samantha, and the love song that plays somewhere in the middle that's all "I DON'T WANT THIS NIGHT TO END!"... I think I laughed for twenty minutes.

  4. Yeah, that song and the romance montage was pretty ridiculous. I think my favorite Samantha moment is when she imitated an airplane.

  5. If you're interested in a little more on the lovely Ms. Kraft: