Review by: Mountain Monkey
SCUM Rating: ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Available on DVD as part of Quentin Tarantino’s Rolling Thunder Pictures Triple Feature, and also on Blu-ray from Japan (warning, no English subtitles available with the Japanese release), I finally got round to catching The Mighty Peking Man. Despite ticking all the boxes of potential SCUM greatness — seal of approval from Tarantino, rare Shaw Brothers creature-exploitation feature, directed by Ho ‘Oily Maniac’ Meng-hua — this movie really stinks.
The plot is a complete rip-off of the original King Kong (I can imagine drugs being involved when this movie was pitched). Replace the name ‘King Kong’ with ‘Xing Xing Wang’ (猩猩王, aka Orang Utan King), the jungles of Africa with India and New York City with Hong Kong, and you get the picture.
To summarize, a white Jane-like woman (Samantha) is raised by our giant ape hero in an Indian jungle, and she falls in love with a Chinese Tarzan-like man (Johnny Feng). Johnny wants to bring Xing Xing Wang back to Hong Kong to be put on show like a circus freak. For some reason, Samantha agrees (she’s in love?), and Xing Xing Wang is put in shackles and quite literally shipped over on top of a container ship — unsurprisingly, a giant ape and a big city don’t mix and we get the inevitable climax on top of a tall tower.
If this sounds uninspiring, it is. Why then would you want to waste your time and money on this movie?
For hardcore fans of Shaw Brothers, this is one of the studio’s only creature flicks, and is certainly worth catching if only to get complete view of the studio’s diverse output.
Fans of high-camp will also love the primitive effects (even by 1977 standards) and free-wheeling, insane way in which the movie is put together. One minute we’re enjoying a stroll in the lush Indian forest with the central characters, next minute they’re being trampled over by a herd of elephants for some unknown reason. I almost hate to point out that even a king of orang utans should have orange fur (not black) and live in Borneo (not India).
But in that monumental screw up of facts lies the unintentional humor of the movie, and dare I say, forward-thinking, cosmopolitan nature of the movie. Where else would you find a movie from the 1970s that has a multiracial, multi-species love affair but in The Mighty Peking Man?