The Phoenix (1978)

Genres - Fantasy  |   Run Time - 90 min.  |   Countries - Taiwan  |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Tapping into one of the favorite subjects of Chinese cinema, War of the Wizards tells the tale of Tai, a young fisherman (Charles Lang) who accidentally dredges up a magical Golden Vessel that functions like the Horn of Plenty -- it grants wealth whenever the fisherman needs it. Along with this precious object, Tai finds a Bamboo Book with valuable secrets written inside. Soon the fisherman is fending off assaults from villains and evil wizards alike, though he cannot resist the final "assault" -- he falls in love with two sisters and marries one while keeping the other as a concubine. Unknown to Tai, the sisters are the front line of offense for their Aunt, a sorceress of black-magic who steals the Golden Vessel and then wants the Bamboo Book as well. In the last 40 minutes, the action builds to a climactic confrontation between the sorceress, her bodyguard (Richard Kiel), and Tai, who has acquired magic powers by flying to Fairy Mountain on the back of a Phoenix. Although told at the maturity level of a young child, the themes of magic and sorcery, of wizards who are both good and evil and can call on special powers when they are in combat, are among the oldest and most popular of Chinese mythologies. For most Western audiences though, this film will seem like a Walt Disney feature gone mad.

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Keywords

alien [not human], courage, defense [military], good-vs-evil, Japan, overthrow, supernatural, wizard, world-domination