Kong count #26 – The Merciful Buddha

While not as transparently cashing in on King Kong ’76 as say, A*P*E or Mighty Peking Man, I imagine the fact that the 1979 Taiwanese fantasy film The Merciful Buddha has a big gorilla/chimp on the rampage was probably not a coincidence. Existing subtitles are that obnoxiously illegible borderless white, so it’s a little hard to decipher the film’s plot (kudos to Tars Tarkas for their review!), but at least we can tell that the flick opens with Stone Monkey village, overseen by a giant monkey statue. When a fairy/goddess is incarnated as the daughter of one of the town’s nobility, either that angers the primate god, or the fact that one of the townspeople claims that the god is angry actually angers it. Either way, the statue comes to life and goes on a rampage… briefly, before turning into a regular-sized chimp (and a tiger. And then two tigers, among other things) and getting trapped in a magic bottle, never to return to giant form until the last minutes of the movie.

merciful-buddha

It’s a little weird for the flick to have the giant monster rampage at the start; it’s basically the inverse of Daimajin, subverting convention by frontloading with the biggest effects sequence. The rest of the movie does include plenty of optical effects and fantastic sequences (a bear gets turned into a statue by underwear, only to immediately turn back! Plus, there’s a horrifying horse with a human face!), but the element that the filmmakers seemed to want to focus on more was the martial arts, and, presumably, the story. If only it made a little more sense…

merciful-buddha-4  merciful-buddha-1merciful-buddha-2 merciful-buddha-3

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