Mo (1983)

600full-the-boxer's-omen-posterI don’t quite know what to make of this film, which I must say is more than meets the eye. It’s more like an action movie than a straight-up horror film, and its certainly an interesting and abstract specimen. Apparently the film has a reputation for being one of the more bizarre films to be produced by the Shaw brothers, and in many ways it lives up to that reputation. However, I felt kind of flustered by the film’s direction and inconsistent pacing, and ultimately the film was a bit too scattershot for it to be a truly effective horror film.

The film revolves around the quest of a boxer seeking to avenge the death of his brother at the hands of a corrupt boxer, and then gets caught up in an intricate web of religion and magic. I’ve heard that this is a follow-up to another Shaw brothers film called Bewitched, but I haven’t really found much corroborating information. It also appears to be the kind of film that’s so bizarre that reading into it its abstraction is a task on its own.

The film opens much like a revenge film, but then it turns into a horror film, and turns from that into a supernatural adventure film. The first problem right away is the film’s inconsistency. The plot was actually quite decent, but it suffered from sloppy pacing, and inconsistent writing. There’s a certain level of craziness I’m willing to tolerate before I start to think “dude, this is making absolutely no sense”.

What strikes me is the fact that the producers apparently couldn’t decide whether they were making a horror film or an action/adventure film, and so they ultimately tried for a film that was both, but without integrating the two seemingly disparate genres in an effective or even cohesive fashion. Added to that is the characters. Thankfully the film came with subtitles that, from the looks of it, were decently translated (not that I’m any authority on translating from foreign languages), but the characters weren’t exactly gripping, and the acting, well, let’s just say that’s one of the reasons why the film tends to be more of an accidental comedy. The other reason would be the number of insane plot twists and supernatural special effects.

The film is loaded with amusing special effects that are put to good use in depicting some of the magical creatures in the film. Sadly, the fact that they often resemble figures from a Ray Harryhausen film is a source of accidental humour, and seems to reinforce the impression of an abstract film with no real direction. The sad part is that it could have worked, and I can’t help but think that they should have pitched this as a comedy film, or at least a less than serious horror film. It certainly wasn’t very convincing as a horror film, and not much more convincing as an action film. Don’t get me wrong, it is entertaining, but for the wrong reasons.

  • Score: 63%
  • Grade: C

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