Magic of Spell (Chui Chung-Hing, 1988)

In case you were wondering, the sequel to Child of Peach is even weirder than its predecessor.
Yes, the title is misspelled on the Fortune Star VCD

I well know that some people consider remarks about the strangeness of children’s fantasy movies from the eighties, particularly when one comes to them as an outsider, useless or trivial or redundant when much of the strangeness is played for laughs. But come on. Child of Peach really was weird and Magic of Spell outdoes it, likely intentionally. Really, how can anyone not make note of weirdness in a movie that provides an opportunity to contemplate the morality of an anthropomorphized Peach eating an anthropomorphized Ginseng root? Does it still count as cannibalism if the characters involved are technically magical fruit and magical root?

Even though Peach Boy defeated the demons on their island at the end of the first film, they’re back, with a new plan to subjugate the world by rejuvenating their demon leader with the blood of children and feeding him magical thousand year old ginseng which manifests itself as a little kid in a funky ginseng costume. This means that Peach Boy must interrupt his busy life of benevolently saving cute little bunnies from hunters to save innocent children from getting murdered for their undead-rejuvenating virginal blood.

The first half of the movie dedicates itself to slapstick while the second is all action, but the slapstick is so wildly exaggerated and driven by physicality and the action so relentlessly absurd that the transition between the two is probably smoother than it sounds. In the first film, director Chan Jun-Leung set a record for the most representations of urine and urination in a single movie. Magic of Spell’s director, Chui Chung-Hing, doesn’t challenge that record. He was the action director for the first film, and taking command of the second (along with not following a preset narrative) apparently allowed him to show off even more bizarre fight choreography than in Child of Peach. Magic of Spell is actually filled with even more action, wire work and animated effects.

The film also bears Chui Chung-Hing’s visual style, as seen in Heroic Fight and Twelve Animals (and to a lesser extent, his early, Yuen clan style fantasy kung fu movie, Exciting Dragon). Chui favors wide angles and a mostly static camera. Since cinematographer Chong Yan-Gin worked on most of Chui Chung-Hing’s films but doesn’t utilize those visual elements to any great degree in the other films he worked on, I’m assuming that the preference is Chui’s.
It’s difficult to explain the appeal of a cheap, stupid movie like Magic of Spell. Like fart and pee jokes? This has lots of them. Like long action scenes? The last twenty minutes are just one long fight scene. Like well defined characters and coherent plotting? Well...

But it ought not be necessary to explain a movie’s appeal. Part of the joy of a movie like Magic of Spell is taking all of its uninhibited, goofy imagination at face value. One of the worst habits of current action film makers is trying to explain the fantastical elements of their stories when suspension of disbelief depends on the maintenance of a paradox (it's easier to believe when less is explained). Some fantasy makes less sense the more it is explained and interpolated. Magic of Spell certainly doesn’t do that.


  1. We at the Washington Psychotronic Film Society screened Magic of Spell from a video CD last year. I made a programme to accompany the film, and later left a post regarding the credits listed and my translation of them.

  2. Cool stuff. Thanks for sharing, primofex.