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Mighty Peking Man, The

Entry updated 7 November 2022. Tagged: Film.

Hong Kong film (1977). Original title Xīngxing Wáng; vt Goliathon; vt Colossus of the Congo. Shaw Brothers Studio. Directed by Ho Meng Hua. Written by Ni Kuang. Cast includes Ku Feng, Evelyne Kraft and Danny Lee. 90 minutes. Colour.

A Hong Kong businessman (Feng) plans to capture the Peking Man, here a 50-foot ape (see Apes as Human), who had been seen in the Indian Himalayas a few years previously. The expedition is led by explorer Chen Zhengfeng (Lee), currently depressed after catching his girlfriend in bed with his brother. On arrival they are promptly charged by a herd of elephants, run into quicksand and are attacked by a tiger – a porter loses a leg to the latter and is shot by the businessman, who does not want to waste medical supplies: Chen hits him. After more men are lost climbing a cliff the businessman and other survivors have had enough and sneak off in the middle of the night, leaving Chen to fend for himself. Shortly afterwards he is attacked by the Peking Man, but is rescued by Ah Wei (Kraft), a blonde jungle-girl (in the style of Sheena, Queen of the Jungle). When a child her parents died in a plane crash, but she was found and raised by the Peking Man – called Ah Wang. The pair fall in love: the Peking Man feels some jealousy, but gets over it.

After re-contacting the businessman Chen, Ah Wei and the great ape go to Hong Kong (see Cities), where the latter is put on display at a stadium. Ah Wei discovers he is being mistreated, but when she protests the businessman tries to rape her: this angers the Peking Man who breaks free and goes on a rampage, stomping on the businessman and destroying much of Hong Kong before climbing to the top of the Connaught Centre. The authorities deceitfully use Ah Wei to calm the ape down before blowing up the building. In the end Chen, carrying the apparently dead Ah Wei in his arms, gazes over the ruined city as the Peking Man breathes his last nearby.

The Mighty Peking Man was a cash-in on the 1976 version of King Kong, though having a young woman as the ape's friend is presumably a nod to Mighty Joe Young (1949). Much loved by Quentin Tarantino and Roger Ebert, this Monster Movie is mainly non-stop action, interrupted by scenes with Kraft in a very skimpy bikini (see Fan Service). Though some attempt is made to give the ape a personality, the film is not really that good until its final quarter when the Peking Man starts destroying Hong Kong, which is done with some brio.

This film should not be confused with the kung-fu movie Bei Jing Ren (1974), about the fight between Japan, China and Europe for possession of a Peking Man fossil, whose English title is usually given as Peking Express, but is sometimes called Peking Man. [SP]


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