The Mighty Peking Man
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|Utam:King of the Orangutans (The Mighty Peking Man)|
Hong Kong theatrical release poster featuring Evelyne Kraft
|Directed by||Ho Meng-hua|
|Produced by||Runme Shaw|
|Written by||Kuang Ni|
|Music by||Frankie Chan|
|Edited by||Chiang Hsing-Lung|
|Distributed by||Shaw Brothers Studio|
|Budget||HKD 6,000,000 (estimated)|
The Mighty Peking Man (猩猩王) (Mandarin: Xingxing Wang - which translates to "Gorilla King" in English) is a 1977 monster film produced by Shaw Brothers Studio to capitalize on the craze surrounding the 1976 remake of King Kong. The film was originally released in the US in 1980 as Goliathon.
The film was directed by Ho Meng Hua and produced by Runme Shaw; the special effects were directed by Sadamasa Arikawa, with Koichi Kawakita as assistant FX director, who would move on to the Heisei Godzilla movies, the Heisei Gamera trilogy and the Yonggary remake. It starred Danny Lee and Evelyne Kraft.
A party from Hong Kong headed up by Johnny (Danny Lee) are exploring the Indian side of the Himalayan mountains and discover the eponymous Peking Man, a Yeti, along with a beautiful blonde wild woman named Samantha (Evelyne Kraft) whose parents had been killed in a plane crash. Samantha was raised by Utam (the Peking Man) with nothing to wear but an animal-skin bikini. Like Tarzan, she has learned both to swing through the trees on vines and to communicate with and command the jungle animals, with the exception of a venomous snake who bites her on the inner thigh, requiring the hero Johnny to suck out the poison while Samantha's leopard friend and Utam fight the snake. Shortly thereafter, they fall in love.
Johnny and his partners bring Samantha and Utam to Hong Kong, where Utam goes on display to the incredulous public. While in Hong Kong, Samantha doesn't seem to prefer women's clothing and continues to wear her animal-skin bikini. Johnny, meanwhile, reconciles with the girlfriend whose romantic betrayal with his brother had been the impetus behind his sudden decision to explore the Himalayas. Samantha sees this and runs off, nearly getting raped. Utam goes berserk and squashes the rapist. During Samantha's running, Utam ends up on a rampage. Utam then goes to the tallest building he can find (namely the Jardine House), and climbs it. Johnny and Samantha catch up to Utam and plan to get him out of Hong Kong and back to their jungle. Utam is burned/shot to death by several helicopters and planes in a scene greatly reminiscent of the ending of Kong, and falls off. Samantha is seemingly killed in an explosion during the conflict while Johnny receives a minor gunshot wound to the lower leg.
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- Danny Lee - Johnny Feng
- Evelyne Kraft - Samantha
- Ku Feng - Evil Capitalist
- Lin Wei-tu - David Chen
- Norman Chu - Ah Lung
- Wu Hang-sheng - Ah Pi
- Hsiao Yao - Huang
- Chen Ping - Lin Chang
The Mighty Peking Man was distributed by Shaw Bros. in Hong Kong.
On 23 April 1999, Quentin Tarantino re-released The Mighty Peking Man in North America through his Rolling Thunder Pictures distribution company with Miramax; similar to its original release in Hong Kong, when it was an attempt to capitalize on the craze of the 1976 remake of King Kong, this re-release capitalized on the craze of the American Godzilla remake, the Mighty Joe Young remake and the Yonggary remake
Variety reviewed a 100 minute long Cantonese-language version of the film stating it was an "interesting if not unique Hongkong-made escapist entertainment for the inquisitive middle-of-the-roaders audience of other countries." and "it is high camp, chinese style and for this reason it just might make it in less demanding markets."
In retrospective reviews, Roger Ebert gave the film three stars out of a possible four in the Chicago Sun-Times, and, incidentally, actually upgraded his rating for the thematically similar Infra-Man:
"Mighty Peking Man is very funny, although a shade off the high mark of Infra-Man, which was made a year earlier, and is my favorite Hong Kong monster film. Both were produced by the legendary Runme Shaw, who, having tasted greatness, obviously hoped to repeat. I find to my astonishment that I gave Infra-Man only two and a half stars when I reviewed it. That was 22 years ago, but a fellow will remember a lot of things you wouldn't think he'd remember. I'll bet a month hasn't gone by since that I haven't thought of that film. I am awarding Mighty Peking Man three stars, for general goofiness and a certain level of insane genius, but I cannot in good conscience rate it higher than Infra-Man. So, in answer to those correspondents who ask if I have ever changed a rating on a movie: Yes, Infra-Man moves up to three stars.