June 3: Junesploitation’s topic of the day — as suggested by F This Movie— is martial arts! We’re excited to tackle a different genre every day, so check back and see what’s next.
Chi-Hwa Chen directed Jackie Chan in some of his earliest successes, like Half a Loaf of Kung Fu and Police Story. For this movie, he enters the fantastic and tells us the legend of Ming Ling Shur (Kam Fung-ling), a girl raised by apes and in the world of Hong Kong martial arts cinema, that means that she also has a fighting style based on the monkey that allows her to oufight nearly anyone.
Sadly, she falls for the wrong man, the prince (Chen Sing) that she serves as the guard for. He’s just using her to become emperor, but she wants love, so she gets a makeover — some have called this She’s All That mixed with Wolf Devil Woman and you know, yes as many times as I can say yes — and loses most of her powers. That means that she needs to relearn all of her martial arts abilities in time to battle a killer (Lo Lieh) and prove that the prince was the one behind the scheme to steal the crown.
Better titled The Ape Girl, we can consider Ming Ling Shut the Iron Monkey in fighting style and trickster ability. Despite being only a feral girl, she also somehow has a taile, yet the film never explains where she came from. You just accept these things and enjoy things like the opening where she does monkey style kung-fu intercut with a chimpanzee.
Luckily, even when our heroine becomes a gorgeous human, she retains her tail and remembers that everyone shunned her when she was more simian in appearance. Her master didn’t want her to become human, as he knew she’d have her heart broken, and there’s a lesson there for all of us.
So how does she make the great change? Her master’s wife puts her in a barrel for three days and pours special chemicals on her that make her transform into a woman with a tail. It’s pretty astounding.
Not many movies have flying monkey women who can choke men out with their prenhensile tails, so you should take this one and hold it close to your heart.
You can watch this on Tubi. The print is battered into oblivion and sometimes, that makes a movie that much better.