Disc Reviews

The Human Goddess (1972) Blu-ray Review

The Human Goddess (1972) is one of the most unusual releases by 88 Films. It has everything in it. At one moment its a ‘Bewitched’ kind of light hearted piece of fantasy kitsch, it’s a comedy, while elsewhere a musical and even has some chop-socky in it to keep its usual audience happy. It’s like a psychedelic Mary Poppins (1964) with elements of Lewis Carroll and even Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1969) thrown in for good measure. Directed by Meng Hua Ho, director of such classic horrors as the two Black Magic films, The Oily Maniac and the fantasy, The Mighty Peking Man (1977) (all of which have been released by 88 Films), this film is much lighter in tone and brevity than most of his other efforts.

The light and fluffy story has a goddess sister who arrives in modern day Hong Kong. There she is like a siren, irresistible to the opposite sex. She is a nice girl, sporting a modern Western hairstyle. She has men in her tow and creates conflict with her allure although she always wants to do the right thing. She carries herself like Samantha Stevens in ‘Bewitched’ and casts the odd spell or two, including in a nightclub when someone spikes her drink and turns it on them.

I defy that you will ever see a film as eclectic as this. As Calum Waddell points out in his as ever engaging sleeve notes, that there is a relation here with the zany ideas and eclecticism coming out of popular Italian cinema in the 196os. Indeed the Western influences are pretty strong with this film as we have already been noted. Much of the film is driven as much by the enigmatic and enchanting performance of its star as well as that of director Meng Hua Ho. The lead was played by established actress Lee Ching who had starred in a couple of wuxia more traditional martial arts films including Have Sword, Will Travel and The New One-Armed Swordsman (both 1971). Her hairstyle, as already established is quite Western and her clothes chic. In other words although she is an ethereal goddess, she is also the epitomy of modern Hong Kong woman, highlighted further by the bright colours and the High Definition presentation on the disc.

As a comedy, as Waddell notes, there has often been a good deal of reticence to show Hong Kong comedy as it might not translate to Western audience sensibilities. However, the lightness of the comedy does translate well, if you like the kind of fluff in such shows as ‘Bewitched’ or ‘I Dream of Genie’ say, but goes even further than either of these shows would ever dare. There is even a martial arts custard slapstick fight as the films finale set piece. Of course the special effects are not up to much, but this only adds to the films endearing charm. The widescreen 2.35.1 aspect ration works well for the film and gives it added style and sweep.

There are no extras on the disc other than Calum Waddell’s screen notes.

Chris Hick

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