Released by: 88 Films
Released on: March 13th, 2017.
Director: Meng Hua Ho
Cast: Evelyne Kraft, Feng Ku, Danny Lee
Year: 1977 Purchase From Diabolik DVD
This 1977 Shaw Brothers production, also known as Goliathon, introduces us to a young man named Johnny Fang (Danny Lee). When he finds out that his lady friend has been making the rounds with other guys, he decides to accompany an entrepreneurial type named Lu Tiem (Feng Ku) to India. Their plan is to find The Mighty Peking Man, a gigantic monster kind of like King Kong (okay - a LOT like King Kong!), in hopes of cashing in on what is sure to be the massive public demand that will be there - people want to pay to see giant monkeys!
On the way to find him, there's an elephant stampede and then later a tiger attack and before you know it, poor Johnny is left all by himself in the middle of the jungle where he learns the hard way that this creature really does exists. The Mighty Peking Man is none too happy with Johnny's unexpected arrival and it looks like his days are numbered until a jungle woman named Samantha (Evelyne Kraft) convinces the ape to set him free. So how did a blonde haired, blue eyed woman come to be the queen of the jungle? Well as a child she and her family were flying from one place to another and the plane crashed. Everyone died except her, and she was raised by The Mighty Peking Man, who we learn is actually named Utam.
Soon enough, all three are the best of friends, spinning around with leopards on their shoulders and climbing trees to get fruit (the movie never misses a chance to show off Samantha's rump!) and Johnny convinces Samantha and Utam to head back to Hong Kong where it would be impossible for anything to go wrong. They agree, and once they've made the trek, things more or less start to go instantly wrong - surprise! Lu Tiem shows up and shackles Utam! Johnny, who had fallen in love with Samantha, rekindles his torrid romance with his ex-girlfriend! Lu Tiem gets fresh with Samantha in front of the overly protective giant ape monster and with that being the straw that broke the camel's back, The Mighty Peking Man breaks free and goes on a rampage. The army moves in and Samantha gives chase, all while Johnny realizes what a jerk he's been and tries to set things right.
The Mighty Peking Man is every bit as ridiculous as it sounds. Lots of great miniature sets are destroyed, plenty of bizarre innuendo occurs between various characters (at one point Samantha is bitten on the leg by a snake, Johnny dives in face first and sucks the poison out), and a giant ape gets to trash stuff and howl a lot. Logic has no place in this universe and so much gets lost in the translation of this odd Chinese take on an American movie that it becomes less like a foreign film and more like something from another planet. Danny Lee, probably best known for his role opposite Chow Yun Fat in John Woo's The Killer, gives his all here. He actually delivers a pretty solid performance, even if it looks like if the wind hit him the wrong way he'd glide off on the lapels of his shirt. Evelyne Kraft is absolutely gorgeous here - obviously why she was cast for the role, because she doesn't really emote very well, while Feng Ku seems to be having fun as the sleazy promoter. The real star of the show, however, is Utam. Played (most of the time) by a guy in a suit whose size seems to change every few minutes (sometimes he's the same size as a tree, other times he's the same size as a skyscraper) he gets up to all sorts of trouble, occasionally with his eyes inexplicably bugging out for good measure. It all amounts to a ridiculously fun movie that has enough of its own ideas in place to stand on its own as more than just a blatant low budget repackaging of King Kong, even if that is basically what it is.
The Mighty Peking Man arrives on Region B Blu-ray from 88 Films in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 2.35.1 widescreen on a 25GB disc. Generally this looks quite nice. The color reproduction is gorgeous, especially during the scenes that take place in the jungle. Detail is pretty solid here too, and while it seems obvious that some mild noise reduction has been applied (resulting in some slightly waxy looking skin tones and a noticeable lack of grain), the image is fairly pristine, showing virtually no print damage. This isn't perfect, but it's pretty good and it is a pretty substantial upgrade over the previous U.S. DVD release that came out via Quentin Tarantino's short lived Rolling Thunder Pictures.
Audio options are provided in LPCM English 2.0 or LPCM Chinese 2.0 with optional subtitles in English only. These subtitles translate the Chinese (Mandarin) language dialogue, not the English language dialogue. The Chinese language track sounds a bit more full and a bit more robust than the English dub, so it wins in terms of quality and clarity, but the English dub is pretty fun in its own goofy way. Both tracks sound fine, no problems with any hiss or distortion and with properly balanced levels.
Extras on the disc begin with an audio commentary featuring Bey Logan, who goes a mile a minute here cramming in just about as much information as you could hope for. He details the film's history, talks up the participation of Danny Lee and notes where the film falls in his filmography, offers up lots of insight into Evelyne Kraft's involvement in the picture (apparently she did a lot of her own stunts) and also discusses the locations, noting what was shot on a sound stage and in a studio versus what was shot outside on the streets of Hong Kong and other interesting locales. It's a good track, just packed with information, but it's also got a good sense of humor about it as well.
Aside from that, the disc includes a trailer for the feature (not an original theatrical trailer but the Celestial Films trailer that first appeared on the R3 DVD release years back), menus and chapter selection.
Inside the clear Blu-ray case alongside the disc is an insert that contains an essay by Calum Waddell that focuses primarily on Danny Lee's participation in the film. As this is a combo pack release there's also a Region 2/PAL format DVD version of the movie included in the case alongside the Blu-ray. All of this is wrapped up in some nice reversible cover art and a cardboard slipcover.
The Final Word:
The Mighty Peking Man is a whole lot of good goofy fun, a monster movie with plenty of heart and plenty of the requisite chaos and destruction you need to make a picture like this work. 88 Films has done a nice job bringing this one to Blu-ray with a good transfers, fine audio, a great commentary and some slick packaging.
Click on the image below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!