Saturday, October 16, 2010

Cherie Chung Week: Descendant of the Sun (1983)

Cherie Chung and future director Derek Yee star in 1983's Descendant of the Sun, a loopy martial arts epic. If you've ever wondered how Superman: The Movie (1978) could be ripped-off and set in the world of Chinese myth, this might be the film for you.

Yuen Jan Ji (Derek Yee) is a priest who has been in meditation for 500 years. Or something.

Goo Goon-Chung is the evil Mo Ying, a sort of fairy witch.

There are special effects that echo Star Wars (1977). I said "echo," not on the same level as.

If you're still reading, I fear for your sanity as this flick makes Inframan (1975) look subtle. That Descendant of the Sun was directed by Chor Yuen is a bit surprising.

Hey, it was the 1980s. Krull (1983) was rocking American theaters so why shouldn't Hong Kong theaters have something equally ridiculous?

And at least this bit of nonsense is only 83-minutes long. And Cherie Chung is in it.

Okay, from what I could understand -- and this is my second viewing of this flick! -- Derek Yee's guy is born on earth to Cheng Miu and his wife. The kid does stuff like lift the cart off his dad's legs, and make fire with his hands, and shoot laserbeams at other kids. It's all generally ridiculous AND the score and sound effects actually make things worse.

Shue Shang (Derek Yee) goes to a cave of ice -- just like the Fortress of Solitude -- and finds a crystal that tells him who he really is and all that stuff -- not in Marlon Brando's voice, but still...

The score even rips off John Williams in this segment!

So Cherie Chung shows up as some fairy princess whose attendant servant girls Shue Shang has somehow offended or annoyed. Cherie is decked out in a lot of glitter and jewels and she looks like she should have been an extra in Xanadu (1980) instead.

Shue Shang recovers the princess' talking parrot -- shades of that stupid owl in Clash of the Titans (1981) -- and things progress from there.

Back at the cave, the non-Marlon Brando voice tells Shue Shang that he's completed his training and must now fly out and serve humankind but also that he's got to destroy the bad guy's kingdom.

Mo Ying's plan includes killing off babies and raising new ones that will serve him. Or something. It's all beyond ridiculous and I'm actually making this sound a bit more coherent than it is.

Descendant of the Sun is sort of enjoyable because of the silly effects and blatant Superman steals. I wouldn't recommend looking for anything beyond that.

As for Cherie Chung: she was probably about 22 or 23 when this was shot and she looks lovely but is clearly not a leading lady yet; any pretty face could have played this part.

As it's a period piece, it is a bit odd to see Cherie in a role like this as I seem to be used to seeing her in a modern setting -- Peking Opera Blues (1986) even counts as a modern setting, I guess.

Anyway, this thing ends with Cherie tied to a white cross by the villain and Derek Yee set to fly in and shoot laserbeams at the guy and free her. Stuff blows up and then it just ends.

Descendant of the Sun literally ends with Derek Yee in flight almost as if the makers ran out of film.

Maybe they, like the audience, just ran out of patience with this silliness?

You can buy Descendant of the Sun on DVD here.