Wu zi tian shi (1978)

You can call this War of the Wizards or The Phoenix but either way, this movie is astounding. It was co-directed by Chang Mei-Chun (DynastyRevenge of the Shogun Women) and Sadamasa Arikawa (the director of special effects for films such as Destroy All Monsters; Son of Godzilla and The Mighty Peking Man).

This played in the U.S. with a horrible dub but that doesn’t matter. What does is that this movie has fantastic visuals and seems closer to a fantasy children’s movie. I have no idea why it doesn’t get discussed at all because it’s just stunning.

Tai (Hsiu-Shen Liang) is a poor fisherman who reads all he can to become a better person. He finds the Magic Vessel of Plenty and the Bamboo Book of All Knowledge, which allows him to become a rich man, but he shares his wealth by buying his fellow townspeople food. This doesn’t impress the woman he’s in love with, Jasmine (Hoi Si-Man), who wants nothing to do with him even if he is rich and successful now.

One after another killer comes his way to take his life but end up killing one another first. He’s saved by Violet (Terry Hu) and Hyacinth (Chow Chi-Ming), who promise to protect him so he decides to marry them both. That’s stopped by two old wizards who claim that Tai is filled with lust and has no idea that fate is coming for him.

The sisters really work for an evil alien called Flower Fox (Betty Pei Ti) and Tai is going to need to transform into a silver-costumed sword-wielding hero if he hopes to break the sisters away and save his people. Then, he fights a rock monster and Richard Kiel, dressed as if he were in a Sinbad movie, which makes this movie so much better as he battles Tai with giant claws.

There’s also an incredible looking phoenix that yes, is a puppet, but who cares? Perhaps fantasy doesn’t need to look perfect to be perfect. When I read negative reviews of this, it upsets me because the people who feel that way have no joy inside them.

You can watch this on YouTube.

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