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The Land of Many Perfumes
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"Who smells bacon?"

It's barbeque time in The Land of Many Perfumes.
Chinese: 女兒國  
Year: 1968  
Director: Ho Meng-Hua  
Producer: Runme Shaw  
Cast: Fang Ying, Li Hsiang-Chun, Kao Pao-Shu, Irene Chin I-Ling, Ho Fan, Chow Lung-Cheung, Tien Shun, Peng Peng
The Skinny: The fourth film in the Shaw Brothers' Journey to the West series finds our heroes trapped in a land populated by beautiful, sex-starved women. Plenty of madcap antics follow in this fun addition to the series, which also boasts one of the funniest chase sequences in Hong Kong cinema history.
Review by

The adventures of the Monkey King continue in The Land of Many Perfumes, the fourth installment of the Shaw Brothers live-action adaptation of Wu Cheng-En's popular novel, Journey to the West. Faster than you can say "Xena: Warrior Princess," the Monkey King (Chow Lung-Cheung) and his band of merry monks wander into a community composed solely of women. Not surprisingly, the men-deprived locals go nuts when the Tang Priest Xuanzhang (Ho Fan) and his anthropomorphized pals show up. Furthermore, the monk Xuanzhang, who in nearly every adventure comes close to either being eaten or deflowered by a lusty female demon, becomes the object of the Amazonian Queen's affection. But strangely, the heretofore-chaste monk doesn't spurn her affections, but instead encourages them, even going so far as to agree to marriage! How very out of character for a devout monk, no?

Of course, it's not really the Tang Priest. Unbeknownst to our heroes, a quartet of nondescript female demons has used black magic to impersonate our pilgrims and arrange the taboo marriage pact. And if four devil women weren't enough, two more enter the fray with an agenda all their own. Known as the Snake and Scorpion Demons, the two witches trick the Ru Yi Fairy God, an elderly divinity looking for a retirement home, into occupying the Monkey King's former residence, the Water Curtain Cave. Why? They seem confident that the Monkey King will learn of the unwanted tenant and evict him, which leaves the Tang Priest bereft of his prize pupil and therefore ripe for the taking!

Naturally, all sorts of crazy shenanigans occur when the real monk and his two remaining disciples, Bajie (Peng Peng) and Wu Jing arrive in town. The men are forbidden to leave the estrogen kingdom, and in no time flat, we find that the Empress, the Princess, and the Prime Minister (Fang Ying) are all lusting after the pious Monk. At one point, the prime minister even tries to get Xuanzhang drunk and take advantage of him in exchange for the permits of transit! In direct contrast to the monk's resistance, there's the lascivious, skirt-chasing Bajie, who is in a virtual hog heaven thanks to his "imprisonment" in the Land of Many Perfumes. And when the Monkey King arrives and the six demon lovers show up to cause trouble, all sorts of "Three's Company" style misunderstandings ensue, and the film finally boils over into a nasty coup d'etat with cat fights galore. Eventually, the Moon King's Chicken sorts everything out. No, really.

As the fourth film in Shaw's Monkey King series, The Land of the Many Perfumes holds its own. It's a silly movie to be sure, but that's not meant to be a negative criticism. Unlike many comedies old and new, the film's humor doesn't rely solely on the mistaken belief that facial mugging and outrageous behavior automatically ensure belly laughs. While there's a good share of bawdy humor, the characters remain likeable and believable, which helps in taking the movie seriously. Well, as seriously as one takes a movie about a mystical talking monkey.

As far as being a faithful adaptation, the film adheres pretty well to the source material, but boasts some crafty alterations that save it from being just another rote, by-the-numbers rehash of a classic tale. And as a kid's movie (well, a kid's movie with lots of PG-rated sexcapades), the film even manages to squeeze in an unobtrusive life lesson or two. For example, the Monkey King's show of mercy to the Ru Yi Fairy God—who, by the way, enslaved Monkey's people while occupying his home—is paid back in spades, which once again teaches kids that kindness is always the answer.Well, it's the eventual answer; the serious ass whooping comes first. (Calvin McMillin 2003)


In a departure from the previous films in the series, the opening credit sequence is animated.
Ho Fan, the actor who portrays the venerable Tang monk Xuanzhang, went on to become a famous director of erotic films.


DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Intercontinental Video Limited
Mandarin Language Track
Removable English, Chinese, and Bahasa Subtitles
Behind The Scenes, Production Notes, Color Stills, Original Poster, Cast & Crew Information, Trailers

Also see:

Monkey Goes West (1966)
Princess Iron Fan (1966)
Cave of the Silken Web (1967)

image courtesy of Intercontinental Video, Ltd. Copyright ©2002-2017 Ross Chen