Little Dragon Maiden

Director: Hua Shan

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Little Dragon Maiden In Little Dragon Maiden (Yang guo yu xiao long nu, 1983), Yang Guo (Leslie Chung) is a dirty forest beggar who grew up without parents & doesn't even know how to take a proper bath. He'd had an criminal father who'd been killed when the Yang Gyo was a child.

He meets an old hermit, Ouyang Feng, who wants to be called "Dad" (Lo Lieh) & who is either senile or crazy, but quite amusing. He teaches Yang Guo the unusual Toad Kung Fu.

When people of a nearby town figure out whose son he must be, they worry he may decide to avenge his dad, which could involve some good families in unnecessary violence. So Guo Jing (Chen Kuan-tai) takes him in as a nephew to educate him to know right from wrong.

As Yang Guo expresses a strong interest in being taught martial arts instead of letters, he's sent to a Taoist academy which Guo Jing failed to recognize as unnecessarily abusive & cruel.

Yang Guo's father Yang Kang (also played by Leslie Cheung in brief flashbacks) had been of the same Taoist academy. He had come to be regarded as a traitor & had been cast out.

Little Dragon MaidenThe sensei or teacher given charge of Yuang Guo's training retains such a grudge against the young man's dead father that he tries to undermine Yang Guo's learning & might even kill him.

Nearby is the mysterious Dragon Maiden (Chinese American actress Mary Jean Reimer aka Yung Jing-jing or Weng Ching Ching) of the Ancient Tomb Sect.

She lives in a tomb with an old woman (Liu Hsueh-hua) skilled at martial arts, who has been keeping an eye on Yang Guo. She eventually saves him from his own sensei, giving her life for him. On her last breath she asks Dragon Maiden to protect him.

Now he undertakes rigorous martial training with Dragon Maiden. She's very beautiful, has mystic powers, like the ability to sleep on a clothes line.

Little Dragon MaidenOf course they fall in love, but through misunderstandings Yang Guo will eventually go away, by the novel method of falling off a cliff.

There's a second female martial arts woman who has witchy powers & greedy disposition. She's Li Mochou (Tanny Tien Ni) who wants the secret texts of the Ancient Tomb Sect & so troubles Yang Guo & Dragain Maiden in their tomb.

In the end there's a big encounter with the bad Mongolians led by the Tibetan monk Jinlun Guoshi (Lung Tien-hsiang) with his wacky circular weapon. Throughout Little Dragon Maiden has been four-fifths comedy & almost entirely awful. It isn't supposed to be primarily a children's film, but the fantasy elements are so ridiculous that only the smallest children could be convinced.

Little Dragon MaidenBefore the final confrontation which is the usual mindless action, Yang Guo becomes best buddies with a giant bird with an enormous beer-belly.

The bird costume looks less real than Big Bird on Seseme Street but more real than Barney the Purple Dinosaur. The guy in the chubby bird suit hops & flaps its wings & in one flying sequence swings on wires.

The story had seemed really bad even before it added really silly to its lists of crimes. It's a ridiculous retelling of Jin Yong's heroic fantasy epic Return of the Condor Heroes aka Giant Eagle & Its Companion (Shen Diao Xia Lu), originally published in 1959 as a newspaper serial.

The story is way too trivialized in this condensed version, & much that might have given characters depth is left out. For a single example Ouyang Feng the master of Toad Kung Fu was actually a famous villain in a pervious installment of the martial world serial. His senility has rendered him at worst eccentric. But his full background story is never really told, so we just see a comic relief crazy man.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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