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Magic Crystal
Chinese: 魔翡翠
Cynthia Rothrock and Andy Lau
Year: 1986
Director: Wong Jing
Writer: Wong Jing
Action: Tony Leung Siu-Hung
Cast: Andy Lau Tak-Wah, Cynthia Rothrock, Richard Norton, Siu Bing-Bing, Wong Jing, Max Mok Siu-Chung, Cheung Man, Shih Kien, Nat Chan Bak-Cheung, Shum Wai, Philip Ko Fei, Chung Fat, Shing Fui-On
The Skinny: An eighties Wong Jing ripoff special, with the expected cheesy production values and annoying comedy. At least the action is good.
 
Review
by Kozo:

It's the prequel to The Wesley's Mysterious File! Well, not really, but Magic Crystal has some things in common with the egregious 2002 sci-fi stinker. One, they were both written and directed by questionable Hong Kong director Wong Jing, and both feature Andy Lau as an adventurer hot on the trail of some pseudo-science fiction hokum designed for mass appeal and a planned special effects budget. However, Magic Crystal takes itself much less seriously than Wesley's, and also features decent martial arts action from the likes of Cynthia Rothrock and Richard Norton. Comparatively speaking, Magic Crystal is probably better than Wesley's, though that's not really something to brag about. The X-factor: Wong Jing's trademark comedy, which has aged about as well as a pair of unwashed socks. Basically, the comedy stinks.

This is the eponymous Magic Crystal: a green glowing rock that houses the essence of an ancient extraterrestrial. Andy Lau is Andy, who finds himself caught between evil Russian bastards (led by Norton) and some Interpol agents (led by Rothrock and Max Mok) for possession of the glowy rock. The rock actually starts in Greece in the possession of Philip Ko, but thanks to some quick thinking, it ends up in the luggage of Andy's nephew (Siu Bing-Bing). The kid quickly bonds with the green rock, which talks via telepathy and does the E.T. finger-touching shtick via acrylic-paint special effects. The rock also plays jokes on the likes of Wong Jing (as Andy Lau's assistant) and the ever-annoying Nat Chan Bak-Cheung, who plays a scummy suitor of token hot female Cheung Man. Still, despite its resemblance to a chunk of green Styrofoam, the rock remains on everyone's wish list—enough that Andy gets thrown in jail even though he has no idea what the big deal is. Fighting and unfunny hijinks ensue.

Thankfully, the fighting largely takes precedence over the unfunny hijinks. Though the actors are obviously doubled at times, there's enough fun choreography and rough-looking stuntwork to entertain. Both Cynthia Rothrock and Richard Norton show off a few different kung-fu styles, and Andy Lau is believably nimble. He's also far from his later award-winning actor days, as his character comes off as likably vapid, and possessing of the depth of your average tidepool. Add that to the annoying performances from Wong Jing and Chan Bak-Cheung, and the horrid acting from all the kids, and you have what could be a noxious collection of actors. That they're given unfunny, uninteresting stuff to do simply makes matters worse. For the icing on the cake, you can check out the inane costumes (the Interpol agents wear bright Polo shirts), the tinny synthesizer score, and the simply terrible special effects. A lot of popular cinema came out of Hong Kong during the eighties, but Magic Crystal obviously wasn't one of the heavy hitters.

Viewed with 20-20 hindsight, Magic Crystal is pretty much forgettable stuff which probably wouldn't have been terribly missed had they left it in whatever eighties time capsule it was found in. The fighting can be enjoyable, and fans of young Andy Lau might get a kick out of his baby-faced popstar presence. However, when you factor in the simply terrible hijinks (which sometimes seem to stretch on for eternity), it may not be worth the effort. Yes, a lot of popular eighties HK flicks had sections of silly comedy between the action sequences, and even the avowed classics had their share of unfunny hijinks. However, the positives of those films (think Tiger on Beat or Mr. Vampire) usually made the slow patches negligible if not all-out invisible. This is not the case in Magic Crystal; the action here is interrupted and nearly slain by the onslaught of crappy Wong Jing comedy. If you have high tolerance to his particular brand of sloppy comedy, then maybe you'll be able to take it. The rest of us could use some help. The moral of the story: a fast-forward button can be your best friend. (Kozo 2004)

 
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Mei Ah Entertainment
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1
Cantonese Mono
Mandarin Mono
Cantonese Language
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
 

image courtesy of Mei Ah Entertainment

   
 
 
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