Our good friend Marie Lascu went to see The Boxer’s Omen for us and she wrote down a few thoughts about the film and the experience seeing it on 35mm
There are midnight movies, and there are midnight movies. For those who’ve long grown tired of the same five films or so being constantly paraded as midnight fare (The Big Lebowski, Goonies, Fight Club, crap that won Oscars, etc.) NYAFF ’12 is gifting the public with some late night flicks that satisfy the wild, unknown, and WTF palette of midnight movie yore.
As a total noob to both the festival and this godforsaken film, I state with no bias and total mental clarity that the folks at NYAFF have programmed some good times. Capping off the opening night events was the stunning Shaw Brother’s class act The Boxer’s Omen (1983), directed by Chih-Hung Kwei and starring Phillip Ko. In his great introduction to the film, Grady Hendrix very earnestly explained that this film is “truly bizarre.” Such accuracy rarely accompanies a film description, but the man was spot on.
On IMDB, The Boxer’s Omen is tamely described as a film about a man avenging his brother, who is crippled (or has had his “neck ribs” cracked) by a corrupt Thai boxer. He then “gets caught up in a web of fate, Buddhism and black magic.” Oh, ladies and gentlemen, you don’t even know. And if you do, I dare you to explain it to someone. How does one dare to describe or review such a hot mess of awesome?
Among the film’s plethora of highlights was a stunning use of bat puppets. Bat puppets with only a hint of resemblance to actual bats, yet filmed with such vigor and perpetual close-ups you can’t help but champion how proud the film is of its bat puppeting achievements. If you were ever curious about how long it might take a skeleton bat to shuffle across a temple floor (hint: not fast enough), this film has answers. Not to mention: Gratuitous female nudity, truck loads of intestines, insects, vomit, and sloppy seconds food sharing. To top it all off, the rising of the sun has not been so nick-of-time fortuitous since Murnau’s Nosferatu.
The Boxer’s Omen was projected in 35mm, provided by the good folks of The Alamo Drafthouse direct from their stash of Asian cinema jewels. The crowd was a healthy size considering the suffocating wet-blanket heat. The great fun of midnight films, particularly those that aren’t mainstream and played constantly, is the vibe of camaraderie amongst people who have dragged their tired asses to a theater, as one day passes into the next, to absorb some crazy film from the good ol’ silver screen.
We were graced with one trailer before The Boxer’s Omen claimed us, the truly unique vision of Miami Connection (1987) directed by Y.K. Kim, which will be next weekend’s supreme delight. Kim will be there to give the lucky audience a martial arts demonstration prior to the screening. I saw this movie recently, and strongly support its presentation in a midnight movie environment.
You can see Miami Connection (1987) at 11:15PM with special guest Grandmaster Y.K. Kim on Saturday July 7th. Go see it if you can, it’s an amazing time.