Magic Crystal [Mo fei cui ] (1986)

This is what you get when Hong Kong Schlockmeister Jing Wong decides to make his reply to E.T.  And Raiders of the Lost Ark.  As you can imagine, the end result is odd.  Very odd.

Jing Wong has made a ridiculous number of these kinds of films, including at least two other mostly SF efforts, the incredibly dumb Future Cops — and the surprisingly good sorta remake, Future X Cops.  I’m not sure, considering his track record, how that last one happened. Maybe he had an off day.

So we have a young and arrogant Andy Lau as a hero for hire of some vague and undefined sort, named “Andy Lau”.  He and his inept (but smart) partner Pancho (played in a decidedly irritating fashion by Jing Wong himself) are the Fighting Eagles, whom the police hire to do entirely deniable jobs.

After the usual action sequence to show just how good he is, one of his friends asks for help in Greece.  The KGB is after him, but he won’t say why.  But it has something to do with the suitcase everyone is after.

Which means that we’re pretty much in standard HK Chopsockey territory for most of the film as Andy and two Interpol agents after the same man find excuses to get in one fight after another.

But somewhere along the line the cute kid finds the mysterious McGuffin, which turns out to be a big, greenish lump — the “Magic Crystal” of the title — which communicates telepathically with the kid.  It really looks…terrible.  It is pathetically lumpy and unattractive.  Nor does the “finger” that comes out of its top, or the six tiny feet it sprouts from the bottom, or the mouth with big tongue that appears on one end turn this blob into something we can sell to the kiddies in Toys “R” Us.  Add to this its annoying, overly cute voice in the Dubs, and a dull, but descriptive name the kid slaps on it (“Jade”) and you know that E.T. isn’t going to have to worry about the competition.

Oh well.  It finally gets to the Indiana Jones bits, when they end up in a trap-filled cave that nobody has noticed, even though it is in a major tourist destination.  And, of course, there are yet more fights.  And then more fights.  And finally, the big fight at the end with the evil KGB leader, Karov.

This is where it turns into a Science Fiction film, with an ancient alien in a secret base, with a painfully cheap alternative to an actual spaceship taking off (and it doesn’t even look like a giant dragon!).

Some have noted that this has the same plot as The Legend of Wisely which came out a year later (but was, I believe, based on one of the original Wisely novels).  Which is…well, kinda true, if Magic Crystal can be said to have anything as coherent as a “plot”, and not just a string of incidents loosely strung together.  But the later film is one of the HK classics, and this…isn’t.

However, you have Cynthia Rothrock (playing an Agent named Cynthia who just happens to carry a spear around with her on duty) and Richard Norton as Karov, who both have incredible fighting skills.  It’s hard to believe that Cynthia blew out her knee just before this production as her performance is incredible.  At least as long as she is fighting.

Hardcore  HK fans will probably love this one, although it’s a bit silly for the rest of us.   Its cute E.T. character is truly terrible, as are the two comic relief characters.

But the fighting is good.

Which is really the point of the whole exercise, after all.



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