Saga of the Phoenix (1990) / Fantasy-Adventure
aka Kukaku o: Ashura Densetsu
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but probably PG-13 for violence
Running Time: 93 min.
Cast: Gloria Yip, Loletta Lee, Yuen Biao
Director: Simon Nam, S.Y. Yau
Screenplay: Leung Yiu Ming, Makoto Ogino, Hirohisa Soda
The plot: A sacred girl of Hell (Yip, The Story of Ricky) enjoys some time on Earth when she fiddles with some sacred Buddhist artifacts and unleashes some evil stuff. The girl has some muppet friend who falls down a pit into Hell, and when she and her guardians go in to save it, she upsets the gods, whereby she is sentenced to live a life in a sacred statue with no chance of sunlight. She refuses to go, instead opting for a death sentence, but is granted seven last days on Earth before having to meet that fate. Upon arriving on Earth, the queen of Hell plots to steal her life force and use it to destroy all humanity.
Saga of the Phoenix is the sequel to 1987's The Peacock King, but this is a case where it's OK to view it even if you haven't seen the first film. Actually, it would probably help if you didn't, just to avoid all confusion.
The special effects and humor are the main act in what is an impressive looking children's movie. Although not a good film by any stretch of the imagination, Saga has an infectious charm and level of cuteness that will win you over before the end.
For those looking to see this film for the action talents of Yuen Biao (The Iceman Cometh, Dragons Forever), a warning. His involvement here is pretty much wasted, as he's largely absent from most of the film once he is encased in a block of ice by the Hell queen, which happens very early.
Saga of the Pheonix is one of those films that is really dumb, yet fun at the same time..
©1998 Vince Leo