Magnificent Bodyguards (1978) Review

"Magnificent Bodyguards" American Theatrical Poster

"Magnificent Bodyguards" American Theatrical Poster

AKA: Magnificent Guardsmen
Director: Lo Wei
Writer: Gu Long
Cast: Jackie Chan, James Tien, Bruce Leung, Wong Ping, Lau Ming, Wong Gwan, Lee Man Tai, Chui Yuen, Fang Fang, Ching Kuo Chung, Chu Siu Wa, Ko Keung, Mau Ging Shun, Shikamura Yasuyoshi, Wong Ching, Yau Pang Sang
Running Time: 78 min.

By Numskull

Another corny kung fu melodrama from the cinematic mastermind who brought us Killer Meteors and To Kill With Intrigue. This is far superior to those two, though… actually, I thought it was pretty enjoyable for one of Lo Wei’s cheese-flavored excretions. The only ones I like more are Dragon Fist and maybe Snake & Crane Arts of Shaolin. The general consensus on this movie is not good, but, it’s a permanent part of Jackie’s filmography and, much like the corn it’s filled with, it won’t go away no matter how hard you push…

From Lo Wei’s recycling bin: Jackie gets beaten up by a woman; Jackie’s father was killed by the main villain; Star Wars music (it was Lo Wei who first recognized John Williams’ star potential! Got that? Lo Wei! And then he runs off and signs a contract with George Lucas! Ingrate! Lucky for him he got in touch with Jimmy Wang Yu before the Triads got medieval on his ass!!!).

From Lo Wei’s acid trips: death by bell-ringing; a guy who supposedly has six fingers on each hand (they only had the budget to show ONE of his hands for 0.4 seconds); the synthetic face technology of “Darkman” hundreds of years before its time.

From Lo Wei’s intestinal tract: the toxic green smoke used to poison our heroes in the trap-filled temple. Justification for shooting this movie for 3-D: a weapon being thrust towards the camera; another weapon being thrust towards the camera; another weapon being thrust towards the camera; another weapon being thrust towards the camera.

From Lo Wei’s pre-production conversations with Jackie:

LO WEI: Here’s the script for our next movie. It’s called Magnificent Bodyguards. It will be so good, people will wait in mile-long lines to kiss my ass!

JACKIE (leafing through script): What the hell is so magnificent about this?!? It looks just like all the other movies we’ve done.

LO WEI: Not so… we’ll shoot it for 3-D and force people to wear those retina-damaging fashion accessories from the ’50s. And anybody who doesn’t like it can kiss my ass!

JACKIE: Yeah, whatever… but what’s this here about me doing Bruce’s yell? What a stupid idea!

LO WEI: I keep telling you, people want to see the next Bruce Lee! Even I’d like to see it, and the bastard had the nerve to run away after I told him to kiss my ass!

JACKIE: But I’m not a Bruce Lee type of person. Why can’t we put some humor in here instead?

LO WEI: What?!? Preposterous! If people want to laugh at the movie theater, let them stick the refreshment stand boy’s head in the toilet. I’m the boss of this company and people had better pucker up when I tell them to kiss my ass!

JACKIE: I don’t believe this. Suck my shlong Lo Wei!

LO WEI: You suck mine! And kiss my ass while you’re at it.

JACKIE: Grrr… all right, I won’t complain if you let me do a movie with Yuen Woo-ping after this one.

LO WEI: Kiss my ass and it’s a deal!

I wonder why this movie isn’t in any of those notorious 2-packs? If a Jackie Chan neophyte sees this next to a box of two equally panned movies for the same price, there’s really no decision to make…just like all of Lo Wei’s movies wtih Jackie, this is one block of cheese that won’t get better with age.

Numskull’s Rating: 6/10

By Alvin George

I can’t believe I paid two lousy bucks to rent this crap. “Magnificent Bodyguards” just happens to be the first Hong Kong movie to be filmed in 3-D, but that doesn’t make it much better. In fact, it’s even lamer than “Jaws 3-D.” The fight scenes often have parts where some object is thrust at the camera; I heard that Jackie Chan’s job as stunt coordinator was very difficult coz he had to concentrate on kicking and punching the camera, not the other guy.

Despite the fact that the video I saw was in Chinese (complete with oft-unreadable subtitles), I seriously doubt that I heard Jackie’s real voice. I must admit to not watching the whole movie. Since I am American and English is my first language, it was a sheer pain in the padded ass to sit through this shit and listen to people yell at each other in Chinese while the subtitles go off the screen.. Therefore, the fast-forward button became my best friend. In fact, I just skipped to the now-infamous fight scene toward the end where “Star Wars” music plays. It may be copyright infringement, but I felt better as memories of much better movies flooded my head.

Other than that and a scene where a woman’s face is torn to shreds by a sword, this movie sucks ass. I’d rather watch one of those various ninja films the Cannon Group churned out during the ’80s, or even watch “Jaws 3-D” all over again. Lame as the 3-D effects were on an ordinary TV screen, at least THAT movie had something to keep me going. (Read: a cute blonde woman in a scuba diver’s wet suit.) I should’ve known better than to rent a Jackie Chan movie that was directed by the notorious Lo Wei.

Alvin George’s Rating: 1/10

By Tyler

Another high flying adventure from Lo Wei. This is yet another attempt to mold a young Jackie Chan into Bruce Lee. The ending resembles the ending in the man in the iron mask (with somewhat of a twist). The only thing halfway interesting about the film is it was shot in 3D. You can really tell because every few seconds a weapon or a fist will thrust towards the camera.

Now for the highlights:

1. Bruce Liang
2. A catchy theme song
3. Star Wars music
4. A drunk woman
5. Wire and trampoline tricks
6. A six fingered merchant
7. Chinese magic that allows oneself to copy someone’s face

Tyler’s Rating: 3/10 – Corny movie watch it once for a good laugh

By Ro

This is a ‘period piece’ that I read some good things about so I rented it, basically because I was starved to find any Jackie Chan movie that I hadn’t seen yet that I could rent. Big mistake! I should have known better when the reviewer said that Jackie himself didn’t like it.

It’s boring, with a stupid plot. I know you shouldn’t hold plot deficiencies against it (God knows we don’t in any of his other movies), but who said life is fair? They also used a lot of ‘supernatural’ stunts using wires, like people jumping into craters the size of the Grand Canyon and landing on their feet. Why, I ask you, do they resort to this fakery when they have people who can practically do stuff like that for real!?!?! And the music is surreal! First, you hear a lot of Western music, and then in the middle, they play the theme from Star Wars!

If all that wasn’t enough for you to avoid the ‘M’ aisle of your favorite video store, the movie was made in 3-D!!! And it shows.

Ro’s Rating: 3/10

By Marcia

The initial fight scene with 3D effects should have warned me, but it wasn’t until the flying twins coming in to try to kick ass in the second scene that I realized it was one of “those” movies. I thought it was hilarious. (Consider the fact that I have a near-complete collection of Godzilla flicks, and take that last statement for what it’s worth.)

The plot’s a little twisted, there’s some blatant copyright violation, and the 3D fights can give you a headache, but I found it interesting that the straight man/trouble-maker/bumpkin trio seems to be universal. If nothing else, give Jackie kudos for not going insane trying to choreograph fights that have the fighters aiming at the camera as well as their opponents.

Marcia’s Rating: 6.5/10

By Jim Carrey

I like this movie even better the third time, you know after it was called the “Hidden Fortress” and “Star Wars”, now I’m not saying it was influenced, oh wait, yes it is, it even steals the “Star Wars” music used in the film.

Actually, this one is well known because it was actually made in 3D, and was the only time Jackie starred with one of those Bruce Lee copies, Bruce Liang.

It’s about… 90 mins. Jackie plays the greatest hand to hand fighter in the land (hey that rhymed), who is hired by this foxy chick to be a bodyguard for her sick brother. Jackie agrees, but only if he takes along his little friends, Bruce Liang – “master of legs” and James Tien – “master of sword”. He also takes along with him these two twin sword sisters (you think Royal Tramp had some inspiration), the foxy chick, and the sick brother who stays in a little carriage like Michelle Yeoh’s in “Butterfly & Sword”. The strange part is that no one is even allowed to see the brother – not even glance at him in the little carriage.

The reason for bodyguarding this brother is that they will be taking this invalid path in the mountains that contains all these deadly thieves. From there a battle of cool fights ensue, I’ll leave the rest to the viewer.

Now although I might have made the film sound bad when I was raggin’ on it in the beginning, I actually kind of liked it. I saw this film way after I had already seen all of Jackie’s greats and I still found interest in this one while watching it.

Even though the 3D goggles aren’t there, you still sort of get the same neat effect from the camera angles, plus, it only helps to have 3 great martial artists on the screen the whole time: Jackie and Bruce Liang did the action design.

It is definatly one of the best Lo Wei films along with Dragon Fist. Although I won’t give it away, there are quite a few unexpected surprises in this film. EXTRA — Bruce Liang also did the action design for Chow Yun-Fat’s “Rich and Famous”. It’s one of James Tien’s best performances and one of the suprises is that he actually isn’t really the bad guy.

Jim Carrey’s Rating: 6/10

By Dusty

Yup, another old chop-socky Jackie movie. This one is different though. This one, I thought, was actually all right. The subtitles fell from the screen once in a while, so I didn’t pick up on all the dialect.

Basically, it goes like this: Jackie needs to escort a “sick man” across the Stormy Mountains, from which none have survived. Jackie meets his two brothers on the way, and they go together. There are some strange entanglements, and Jackie’s little brother is pretty funny at times.

What stood out to me in this movie was the music. There was an actual theme song during the middle with words, and it was cool! Also, (and this is the strangest thing), in the middle of the movie, the soundtrack suddenly turns into Star Wars: A New Hope. I was ecstatic!!! However, isn’t this illegal? Using other soundtracks in your movie? It wasn’t just the opening title track. There were many tracks used in the last half of the movie.

Anyways, in true Hong Kong tradition, there is also a surprise ending, so don’t turn it off if you hate it! I liked this movie both because of my love for Star Wars and the cool ending.

Dusty’s Rating: 7/10

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