Saturday Matinee: The Boxer’s Omen

“The Boxer’s Omen” (1983) is a gonzo Hong Kong horror film directed by Kuei Chih-Hung and produced by the Shaw Brothers. Phillip Ko stars as Fei Kao, a boxer whose brother is nearly killed in a match by a rival from Thailand (played by Bolo Yeung). To get revenge, Fei travels to Thailand where he discovers he happens to be a spiritual twin of a revered Buddhist monk whose temple is under siege from a black magic cult. In a series of spiritual battles, the protagonist and his fellow monks must overcome demonic bats, spiders, snakes and caterpillars, floating human heads, animated crocodile skulls and statues, and a she-devil among other obstacles. While some of the puppetry work may seem amateurish by today’s standards, the often strikingly bizarre visuals evoke psychedelic fare such as Altered States and The Holy Mountain as well as aspects of giallo cinema or the supernatural genre films produced by Tsui Hark.

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