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Film / The Battle Wizard

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Killer snakes, immortal frogs, legless kung-fu, laser fingers, oh my!

The Battle Wizard is a 1977 fantasy-kung fu-wuxia film directed by Pao Hsueh-li and produced by Shaw Brothers, starring Danny Lee, and very loosely based on the Jin Yong novel Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils.

Twenty years after being betrayed by his lover, and losing his legs in a failed battle for honor, a disgraced martial artist known as the Yellow Robed Master has returned for vengeance on the clan who made him who he is, as well as declaring war on the martial world.

Prince Tuan-Yu (Danny), a young protégé from the Tuan clan, refused to follow his father's footsteps into becoming a warrior, intending to be a scholar instead. But after a run-in with a Snake Sorceress, Zhong Ling-erh, as well as a black-clad mysterious lady assassin Mu Wan-qing, Tuan Yu realize he's destined to defeat the returning great evil.

There's also laser-fingers, giant snakes, underground pits containing a kung-fu fighting gorilla, and chi powers which can be multiplied by ingesting live frogs. It's as weird and awesome as it sounds.

For a similar psychedelic kung-fu experience, check out Buddha's Palm, Holy Flame of the Martial World, Demon of the Lute and Descendant of the Sun for more fantasy-wuxia craziness.

The Battle Wizard contain examples of:

  • An Arm and a Leg:
    • The Yellow Robed Master lose his legs from his kneecaps in the opening scene after confronting Tuan Zheng Ming; after a Time Skip, he's shown moving about using raven-like metal claws attached in pace of legs.
    • Tuan Yu, after gaining extra strength from consuming the enchanted toad, defeats the Yellow Robed Master's Killer Gorilla pet by ripping off its arm.
  • Artificial Limbs Are Stronger: The Yellow Robed Master, returning after the opening pre-credits Time Skip, now has a pair of metal legs which upgrades his strength, dexterity, and even serves as an impromptu weapon for impaling.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: Tuan Yu, nephew of a childless emperor, is told that if he wants to be a worthy successor he will need to learn both the civil and martial arts. His clan also have a specific fighting technique associated with their bloodline - see Finger Gun below.
  • Badass Bookworm: Prince Tuan Yu, whose father is one of the greatest martial artists that mastered the Yin Yang Finger skills intending to pass it down generations, but he would rather be a scholar instead. But he's still a capable fighter, and after eventually learning the Yin Yang Finger, uses it to kick copious amounts of ass when the plot demands him to.
  • Bad Powers, Good People: Zhong Ling-erh, the snake sorceress-in-training, one of Prince Tuan Yu's first allies whose powers involve unleashing poisonous snakes capable of tunneling through human flesh, and have caused the agonizing deaths of several mooks... but she's one of the heroes.
  • Bad with the Bone: Mu Wanqing uses a bone club as her secondary weapon. One with hidden projectile launchers inside, fired by her chi.
  • Beam-O-War: Towards the end of the film, Prince Tuan-yu managed to empower himself by eating an immortal toad, which allows him to fire a red energy beam from his hands using his chi — to counter Yellow Robed Master's yellow energy. Cue battle of the chi beams... later however the Yellow Robed Master switches to breathing fire instead, so it then turns to Tuan's chi energy beam against raging fire.
  • Body Horror: Any victims who gets hit by Zhong Ling-erh's "Flying Snake Projectile" gets hit by a hefty dose of these, since these snakes actually ends up burrowing into the target's flesh and internal organs, which the film feels the need to display close-up of snakes tunneling out of flesh.
  • Breath Weapon: The Yellow Robed Master can breath fire from his mouth thanks to his internal qi. A few unfortunate heroic Red Shirts end up being Man on Fire after failing to defeat him.
  • Cloth Fu: Mu Wanqing uses a long, black sash as her preferred weapon, which she uses to slap around enemy mooks, including wrapping a few in their place while she takes them down. It helps that by using her chi, she can make her sash ultra-strong and capable of deflecting swords.
  • Create Your Own Villain: The Yellow Robed Master wouldn't be an enemy of the Tuan family if not for the Plot-Inciting Infidelity opening the film; catching Tuan Zheng Ming bedding his wife, the Yellow Robed Master ends up flying into a rage trying to attack both of them, having his legs severed underneath the kneecaps in the process, and ends up a vengeful cripple of the martial world.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Mu Wanqing, despite her dark clothing and veiled face, is ultimately a good person - though Good Is Not Nice, in her case, and she's pretty mean and resentful early on.
  • The Dragon: Yellow Robed Master's reptilian right-hand man, Yue Canglong, who's a part-human, part-reptile, part-scorpion hybrid to boot.
  • Even Evil Has Standards / Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Lord Zhong hates the Tuan family and is glad to be part of the Yellow-Robed Master's plan to kill Tuan Yu... but when he and his family walk in on Yue Canglong attempting to rape Mu, they're horrified.
  • Fed to the Beast: After capturing Tuan Yu alive, the Yellow Robed Master intends to feed him to the beast under the dungeon, a Killer Gorilla monster.
  • Finger Gun: Practitioners of the Yin Yang Finger skill can, by using their chi, fire lasers from their fingertips while making a finger gun pose. Note that this movie takes place before invention of laser...
  • Gorn: Granted, it's not as gory as the Shaw's previous outputs from the early 70s, but there's quite a bit of bloody stuff as well. Such as snakes tunneling through human flesh, people getting sliced up by swords, ripped apart by the Yellow Robed Master's leg-claws, losing limbs...
  • The Great Serpent: Prince Tuan Yu must learn the skill of the Yin Yang Finger by drinking the blood of the Red Sacred Snake. The Prince eventually finds the Red Sacred Snake in the mountains, only to realize its an absolute behemoth some hundred of meters long anf large enough to attempt swallowing the Prince alive. The Prince still manage to win by biting, successfully drinking the Snake's blood in the process.
  • I Know Kung Fu: Tuan Yu is completely useless in a fight until he drinks the blood of the serpent, at which point he proclaims the name of this trope and becomes a martial arts master.
  • I'm Melting!: The Yellow Robed Master dissolves into puddles of foam after being slain by Tuan Yu at the end of the film.
  • In a Single Bound: Most characters, in classic wuxia style. Justified for the Yellow Robed Master however, since his legs are powerful spring-loaded metal appendages.
  • In Name Only: Say what you want about the source novel, that one at least doesn't contain finger-lasers, giant snakes, kung-fu fighting killer apes...
  • Killer Gorilla: The Yellow Robed Master's Right-Hand Attack Dog is a flesh-eating, kung-fu fighting gorilla, which he sics on Tuan Yu late in the film.
  • Like Reality, Unless Noted: Okay, granted, this is a fantasy-wuxia film, and the Shaws have made plenty of odd wuxia flicks at this point (see Web of Death for a really psychedelic example) but this movie contains finger-lasers, a scorpion-reptile-human hybrid serving as The Dragon (who's Ambiguously Human at best), a snake-controlling sorceress who can teleport snakes into her victim's bodies, chi powers that can be enhanced by drinking snake blood (and eating a live frog!), flesh-eating, kung-fu fighting Killer Gorillas...
  • Poisoned Weapons: Yue Canglong's Red Right Hand, his scorpion claw, which inflicts poisoned gashes on victims.
  • Power-Up Food: Tuan Yu's final powers are unlocked by eating an enchanted, immortal toad. Somehow. While he's clearly disgusted, but after chewing up the toad he becomes strong enough to eventually defeat the Yellow Robed Master's Killer Gorilla pet and later take on the Yellow Robed Master and win.
  • Rank Scales with Asskicking: Both Tuan Yu's father and uncle are established as pretty talented fighters in their own right.
  • Riding into the Sunset: Tuan Yu and Zhong Ling-erh ride into the sunset at the end of the movie, suggesting that they might get together.
  • Shout-Out: Tuan Yu's energy beam can be enhanced by folding his arms into an L-shape, where his beam is then magnified by his foerearms. Like Ultraman.
  • Snake Charmer: Zhong Ling-erh, one of Tuan Yu's first allies, who is a sorceress-in-training capable of commanding and controlling snakes by whistling, and hides hundreds upon hundreds of snakes in her sleeves. She's introduced to audience fondling a dozen reptiles draped all over both her hands, and later in the film she can even launch poisonous snakes from her robes like projectiles as weapons.
  • Snakes Are Sinister: Tuan Yu is horrified by Zhong Ling-erh's snakes, initially refusing to be her friend because of them. When she sends a snake to his father's castle bearing a message, all the guards have Eek, a Mouse!! reactions to it.
  • Suck Out the Poison: Tuan Yu needs to suck out the poison from Mu Wanqing's shoulder, after she gets injured by Yue Canglong's poisoned claw. The scene is blocked out like a sex scene.
  • Surprise Incest: Tuan Yu and Mu Wanqing decide to become engaged, not realizing that they're half-siblings. Luckily, his first move is to introduce her to his parents, who quickly figure out what's going on before it gets too bad, although Mu is so disturbed she is almost Driven to Suicide.
  • Wall Crawl: One of the last powerful chi abilities displayed by Tuan Yu, when he's trapped in a pit underneath the Yellow Robed Master's dungeon, where by concentrating energy to his foot, he can then escape from the bottom of a pit trap by walking vertically upwards.
  • Wuxia: With plenty of dazzling light effects thrown in for good measure, to the point where it resembles a flat-out fantasy flick.
  • Your Head A-Splode: Yue Canglong The Dragon after Tuan Yu deflects and overloads his cranium with chi.