Directed by: Fong Ho
Written by: ?
Producers: Chang Tin-Chu, Hsu Tsai-Lai & Yeh Ying-Han
Starring: Pearl Cheung, Chung Wa, Gua Ah-Leh, Wang Hsieh & Peng Kong
A trilogy was made up of Pearl Cheung's most memorable, out there, dizzying and colourful Taiwanese fantasies of the early 80s, with Miraculous Flower coming in third as Wolf Devil Woman 3. Released before both the first, second (original title Matching Escort), it expectedly isn't connected other than the fact that "the trilogy" all are reference material for the iconic on- and off-screen Taiwanese crazy lady of kung fu. All three movies were also picked up by IFD, with Miraculous Flower getting the title Phoenix The Ninja but was either delivered cut to IFD (cover depicted above) or they performed such themselves as it's sadly a version missing much of the extensive gore (reviewed here via the Ocean Shores laserdisc of the original version).
Crystal (Pearl Cheung) is a poor girl obeying her mother's last dying wish of looking up the secrets of her fate. Taken in by friendly swordsmen (among others by Chung Wa who plays a character who doesn't like getting his white robe dirty) and taught to be a flying swordsgirl by her new family, Happy Fairy (Gua Ah-Leh) as well as a mysterious monk repenting his crimes are going to play crucial parts on her path of revenge...
While it is very clear that amidst these three forming an unofficial trilogy Matching Escort gets the balance right, all of them including Miraculous Flower form quoteable, colourful fireworks of Taiwanese fantasy that latches on still today. For Fong Ho's movie, there's certainly pedestrian direction and the story stumbles all throughout without gaining much of a connection with you. But with a strong edge in design and a comfortable leading lady not falling into comedy-traps as per other times in "the trilogy", there's individual, winning elements standing on their own in Fong Ho's frame.
While clearly low budget, overall a terrific sense of design is present. Everything from costumes, to sets with background elements such as waterfall (all often shot on indoor stages), within this you get several tastes of fast wire action that may add the power of techniques learned via jump cuts but nails the energy anyway. Through some flimsy transitions after training, Pearl becomes The Flower Of Revenge equipped with The Bowel Cutting Blade and imagine that being put to use in a literal sense and you'll know exactly why Miraculous Flower raises eyebrows. Through gore, fights in snow, at a waterfall a finale set in a volcano and prolonged scenes of bowels cut by said weapon, Miraculous Flower excels finally after not avoiding some rocks on the road getting there. Taiwanese energy when put to use in the fantastique martial world, all is present in a trilogy being steered by Pearl Cheung in front and behind the camera.
reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson