While adhering to the cut and paste formula when dealing with ninjas in the likes of Diamond Ninja Force, it represents the formula being steered with some actual desire and creativity. If Godfrey Ho and Richard Harrison felt tired from within the screen, we did as well so it was welcome. Then string of movies containing the word Thunderbolt happened and something good snapped in Godfrey Ho and Richard Harrison. Consciousness for one but an elevated sense of fun and just like Ninja Thunderbolt, Majestic Thunderbolt etc, Scorpion Thunderbolt is ninja-less and channels the sex- and horror-men in Godfrey Ho and Richard Harrison.
14 similar murders in and the police can't get ahead in their investigation. A theory about it being the work of a snake is being put forth and the longer Inspector Jackie Ko and colleague Miss Lee spend on it, the more likely it seems. What doesn't seem likely is that the snake in fact has a human form and that it might be Jackie's romantic interest, photographer Helen. Meanwhile Richard Harrison's character is seduced and attacked left and right by slaves to the beating drum of a vampire witch because of a ring he wears...
Connected threadbare but connected nonetheless, it's no better or worse than in prior and subsequent IFD products in terms of the attempt at making audiences believe we're dealing with one whole movie rather than a Taiwanese b-horror (1*) and IFD's sex- and action-footage which it in reality is. This addition of mystery via the attacks on Richard (and don't forget the cinema seduction and sex-scene with softcore porn footage from Majestic Thunderbolt playing at the same time) and the busy opening of the original movie, we're in no way dealing with competence across the board or anywhere on it but that's the magic of Scorpion Thunderbolt and the original as merged, it's wild, funny, busy, lacking in focus and a free for all that is largely a delight to follow. A melodramatic, gory snake terror/curse romance essentially... even though that description doesn't seem to cover it all either.
Heck, even goofy cops make it in there briefly (one pair even present their own made snake when theorizing) and being receptive to everything thrown at you (including lack of convincing effects and manifestation of the snake monster) is key to the enjoyment of the IFD product meant for the world. Lacking in focus as mentioned actually is part of the fun as the original director invents a backstory for Jackie's character about a disgruntled criminal who drugs Helen but you barely remember that once the focus is on her snake curse and the doomed romance. It may be gory and using physical snakes for an attack on a driving couple is memorable but there's nothing scored on the terrifying scale. Mainly because it seems the effects work didn't seem to stand a chance whether hidden in dark lighting, smoke or shot in plain view but it's hard to condemn the bravery of just going for it in all areas.
It may be straightfaced but a whole lot of fun that never bores and mixed in with sparse Richard Harrison footage that contains short but gritty action choreography seeming like a good fit for IFD's leading man, Scorpion Thunderbolt very much lives up to the cheesy billing of the hunt for a killer snake and the vampire witch as the orchestrator of it all hunted by Richard Harrison.
reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson
1) I say Taiwanese and am somewhat correct due to for instance the casting of Richard Cui in the lead but the movie turns up in Korean movie databases (therefore a co-production?) as Grudge Of The Sleepwalking Woman and even had a Cantonese or Mandarin dubbed VHS release at one point. Thanks to Jesus Pérez Molina and Jack Jensen for the info and check out the two blog posts on the subject here and here.