While Dino de Laurentiis was spending millions of Hollywood dollars on his lavish creation of King Kong, the Shaw Brothers of Hong Kong used spit, grit, baling wire and lots of stock film of terrified city dwellers pointing at the sky to bring you (cue major echo effect) The Mighty Peking Man!
Bad special effects, bad acting, bad script, cheap looking model set-ups, cheesy bloody special effects, sloppy continuity, mismatched color correction on the blue screen shots, the King Kong of Hong Kong … how could it go wrong?
Ha. Ha! HAHAHAHAHA!
When an earthquake awakens the 100-foot tall Mighty Peking Man from a deep sleep, intrepid Asian adventures don jungle gear to journey into the deep Himalayas and capture the beast. Their plan? Bring him to the big city and make a fortune showing him to gawking spectators. Nobody bothered to report the dress code to fearless leader Johnny, still wearing the leisure suit he had on when he caught his girl in bed with his brother.
After a series of mishaps – falling off cliffs, drowning in quicksand, attacks by “wild” jungle beasts, by which, I mean large stuffed animals, Johnny’s partners and crew run off into the night. Most will be stomped by the big effects foot of Mighty Peking Man as would Johnny, who is rescued at the last moment by Samantha, the beautiful blond in the animal skin bikini who just happened to be in the neighborhood. Whom Mighty Peking Man had raised from childhood, after her parents burned to death in a plane crash.
Forbidden Jungle Love! Yes! Frolicking in the jungle! Yes! Snake bite in the lower nether regions. Yes! Man in a monkey suit envious of a love that can never be his! Yes! Rampaging ape in a major city! Yes! Explosions and fireballs and destruction, oh my!
When the Army helicopters pump round after round into the monkey suit, the beast screams with Godzilla’s roar. GAAAAHHHH. Trust me, that’s the closest part of the movie to make sense. My own ambivalence toward the giant ape movie still puzzles me – perhaps because it is assumed that, since the main character is a monkey, I will Awwwww! Monkey!automatically feel sympathy toward it; that I will go, Aaaaaaaw! Monkey! and blubber when it is done wrong and cry when it dies. It bespeaks a certain amount of laziness when I am not given a reason to feel for the big monkey, and I certainly do not in the case of The Mighty Peking Man.
Roger Ebert praises it as “Genius! Crazy demented weirdness!” (or so claims the video box). I’ll agree to the crazy demented weirdness, but genius? There is a large amount of entertainment potential in The Mighty Peking Man, with two-dimensional characters doing amazingly stupid things, all in badly-dubbed glory, the movie seems to exist only to be ridiculed, not even trying to tell a convincing story. It fails as a solitary pleasure.