Asian martial arts star Yuen Biao stars in this eighties fantasy romp, which manages to be both simultaneously hugely entertaining, whilst displaying all the symptoms of why eastern cinema has never really cottoned onto how to make a westernised adventure movie.
Unsurprisingly originating from Manga, The Peacock King concerns two monks, Peacock (Biao) and Lucky Fruit (Hiroshi Mikami) who team up in a mission to stop the reawakening of the King of Hell and by consequence the plunging of the world into eternal darkness.
In terms of plot, there really isn't one, and the threadbare storyline appears just to be a two-dimensional excuse to stitch a series of action set pieces together as a whole. In this case, that certainly isn't a bad thing and once you accept that any sort of logical plotting really isn't the strong suit of this kind of Hong Kong cinema, then sitting back and enjoying the ride becomes addictively fun. The sheer ridiculousness of much of the enterprise, including claymation, stop motion and that particular brand of cringe worthy humour that Asian cinema specialises in, all become plus points in making this a great brainless ride.
The Peacock King is somewhat uncharacteristic in that it certainly places a greater emphasis on special-effect driven action than on getting its kicks from martial arts. This may come as a disappointment to those expecting more traditional Yuen Bio fare, but it's a welcome and interesting attempt from HK cinema to explore a less physically obsessive brand of actioner.
There's clearly a debt of influence to western cinema of the time in the films style and execution, with a mix of Giger influenced visions, Evil Dead splatter, and Ghostbusters-style irreverence. The two leads perform exceptionally well for roles of this type, striking a fine balance between maintaining the atmosphere by playing it straight whilst displaying a mischievous glint in their eye at the absurdity of the storyline.
A great movie this certainly isn't, but for undemanding fun and a few chuckles, The Peacock King is a more than respectable popcorn flick.
Our Review Ethos