The Mighty Peking Man is a 1977 monster film whose Mandarin title, Xingxing Wang, translates as “Gorilla King” in English. Yep, you guessed it: made to cash in on the 1976 King Kong remake. While Quentin Tarantino’s Rolling Thunder imprint reissued the film in 1998, MPM initially rolled out as a second-biller on the U.S. Drive-In circuit in 1980. It’s the same old story — only told with tongue firmly planted in cheek — featuring greedy explorers who exploit a very large Himalayan Yeti — with a twist: Peking Man raised a beautiful, Tarzaneque woman orphaned in a plane crash who pals around the jungle with a pet leopard. The climax: The Peking Man takes a header off Hong Kong’s Jardine Tower in a hail of helicopter gunfire and jet bombers.
And that Roger Ebert “Thumbs Up!” on the VHS sleeve ain’t no scam: it’s the real deal, as he sites MPM as “favorite Hong Kong monster film.” And mine too, Rog. Mine, too, as it’s a very well made film. And it should be, as The Mighty Peking Man had a budget of six million Hong Kong dollars under the Shaw Bros. studio (Corpse Mania). The film took over a year to complete — and that time and care shows, in spades — and it was shot in Mysore, India.
While I love it equally, the Shaw Bros. didn’t fair as well with their Hammer Studios co-production of their martial arts vamps going against Peter Cushing vamp hunter in The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires. Their other co-production — the lesser known Shatter — was intended as a weekly TV series, but ended up being a theatrical film dovetailed into the U.S. martial arts drive-in craze of the mid-70s. Oh, and Roger Ebert enjoyed The Mighty Peking Man so much that he re-watched — and upped on his two and a half star review for — the Shaw’s 1975 release, Infra-Man — 22 years after his initial review. That’s the power of the Q: you gotta love it. And when it comes to Hong Kong cinema, none meets the power of the Shaw Bros.: you gotta love it. As you will this film. Pure awesome.
In a production twist only a B&S Movies reader can love: Koichi Kawaktia, MPM’s assistant director, later worked on Yonggary, the 1999 South Korean remake by Hyung-rae Shims of Yongary, Monster from the Deep (1967). Yonggary ’99’s co-scripter is Marty Poole, who wrote the 1997 Richard Lynch-fronted Rollerball homage, Ground Rules (oh, you gotta watch that film!!).
There’s a lot of online opportunities to watch The Mighty Peking Man, but you know us: we always try to find you the freebie. So watch it on You Tube. It’s campy, it’s whacked, it’s funny and entertaining. Strap on the popcorn bucket and snap the caps off the Dr. Pepper sixer and roll it. It’s the perfect “must watch” of this week’s “Hong Kong Week” tribute of reviews to pencil into your schedule.
Don’t forget that you can learn more about the Q’s Rolling Thunder imprint with our “Exploring: The 8 Films of Quentin Tarantino’s Rolling Thunder Pictures” featurette.