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Film / Demon of the Lute

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The movie is much sillier than this cartoon-looking poster. Trust us.

"This is a Wuxia movie made for the kids."
— The Film's Opening Title

Demon of the Lute is a 1983 Wuxia fantasy-comedy-parody film directed by Lung Yi-sheng, released by Shaw Brothers during the period in the 80s when the studio has, after spending most of the 60s and 70s making straight, dramatic, and mostly serious wuxia period pieces, decide to try their hands in the sillier fantasy kiddie-stuff.

A powerful artifact known as the Demon Lute (hey, that's the title!) has surfaced in the martial world. Yuan Fei (Chin Siu-ho, better remembered for his later roles in The Seventh Curse and Tai Chi Master), a young warrior who recently completed training, decide to prove himself a worthy hero by seeking the only weapons that can destroy the demon. Along the way, he bumps into a colourful cast of characters, including a Red Haired Warlord armed with a massive battleax, a swordswoman named Feng Ling (Kara Wai) who knows the secret of destroying said lute, a sniveling henchman of the devil with a scrotum-like head (and this is a kid's film...), a corrupt martial arts master with extendable fists who wants the lute for himself, and an old woodcutter and his son, Doraemon (YES, really) who tags along with Yuan Fei for his quest.

"The Demon is Released! Unleash the Tropes!"

  • Action Girl: Feng Ling, the swordswoman and counterpart to Yuan Fei, as played by veteran action chick Kara Wai.
  • Affectionate Parody: Of wuxia cinema in general. Made by Hong Kong's primary maker of wuxia films, no less!
  • Anachronistic Soundtrack: An intentional example, the film is set in ancient China, and has an anachronistic rock soundtrack straight from the 80s which plays throughout the film, including the opening titles. It's as silly and as ridiculous as it sounds.
  • Anachronism Stew: As this is a wuxia parody film, it contains tons and tons of anachronisms on purpose, from it's out-of-place rock soundtrack, to various cultural references lifted from the 70s and 80s, and the most blatant of all, the film's Tag Along Kid having the nickname Doraemon and carrying a Doraemon stuffed toy on him in every scene.
  • Animated Credits Opening: The opening credits are animated and plays to the tune of a jazzy, anachronistic 80s riff.
  • Battle Couple: Late into the film, Yuan Fei and Feng Ling have accepted having feelings for each other, and are more than capable of kicking ass side-by-side in the final battle.
  • Bloodless Carnage: It's a kid's wuxia. Subverted in one of Yuan Fei's first battle, which does have blood, but played straighter later in the film.
  • Extendable Arms: The Long Limb Evil (heh) has an extendable right arm that enlarges with every fist thrown, which makes him slightly harder to defeat than the other baddies until his arm gets ripped off. No blood, though, befitting the movie's slapstick nature.
  • Clothes Make the Superman: The Eagle Lord can fly, thanks to his suit.
  • Cute Bruiser: The Woodcutter's son, Doraemon (yes, that's his name) who can kick quite a bit of ass by himself at age seven.
  • Denser and Wackier: To the point of being a borderline Self-Parody from the Shaws.
  • Energy Bow: The family heirloom of Feng Ling, a bow with three magical bolts which is the only weapon in existance which can destroy the lute. It works in the finale, with the last bolt finally destroying the lute.
  • Everything's Better with Rainbows: Yuan Fei's sword emits the glows of the rainbow when imbued with the user's energy. Same goes for the Demonic Lute.
  • Eyepatch of Power: The minor villain named "One Eyed Dragon". For some odd reason, his eyepatch is modelled after a spider.
  • Facial Markings: In his introduction scene, Yuan Fei has a black mark on his cheek, needed for a ritual. He scrubs it off one scene later.
  • Genre Mashup: A wuxia martial arts kung-fu fantasy parody film.
  • Giant Hands of Doom: In the final battle, the titular demon is finally unleashed and manifests itself as a red, transparent, ghostly giant hand with six fingers, and repeatedly tries to crush the heroes by grabbing at them. The only way to defeat said demon is by destroying the lute with a magic bow and a blessed arrow.
  • In a Single Bound: It may be a slapstick wuxia parody, but it's still a wuxia. Notably, most of the characters can scale great distances and heights by jumping, especially in the demon's cavern where the final battle occurs.
  • In the Hood: Most of the cultists early in the film wears gigantic hoods.
  • Intoxication Ensues: When Doraemon (hilariously) drinks up a gourd of wine his father left behind.
  • Instrument of Murder: True to it's title, the eponymous lute houses a dangerous demon that can destroy the world. Whomever wields the lute can gain access to the demon's powers. Most of the film revolves around Yuan Fei and Feng Ling's quest to destroy it before the demon can be unleashed.
  • Lighter and Softer: One of the Shaw's lightest output. The film literally opens with a Title In that says it's for kids!
  • Limited Animation: The opening credits, which consists mostly of still frame. It's most likely intentional however.
  • Power Glows: When Yuan Fei's sword starts charging with energy, it emits a rainbow-coloured glow.
  • Rapid Hair Growth: One of the villains, the Red-Haired Devil, can instantly sprout his hair into a massive red afro the moment he unleashes his chi, in one of the sillier moments of the film (in a film that's literally crammed to the brim with silly stuff, no less...).
  • Red Baron: Most of the characters have their own cool awesome names, including Yuan Fei the Flying Monkey, Feng Ling the Rainbow Sword, the Red Haired Devil, Long Limb Evil, and The Eagle.
  • Retractable Weapon: Yuan Fei, later in the film, gains a broadsword whose blade can retract to less than two inches, and extends itself to regular length when drawn. This is naturally the most powerful weapon he can access in the film.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The titular demon, which is housed in an enchanted lute, and unleashes itself at the end of the film to destroy the heroes.
  • Shear Menace: The old martial artist whose weapon of choice is a pair of shears. This being a slapstick martial arts-parody movie though, most of his fights involves him using those shears to strip his opponents.
  • Tagalong Kid: Doraemon, the Woodcutter's kid, who serves as the kid sidekick and is actually competent when it comes to fighting.