Devil Woman (1970)
aka She yao jing
Article 5512 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Felix Villar and Chi-Lien Yu
Featuring Alex Tzi-Fie Lung, Rosemarie Gil, Yukio Someno
Country: Hong Kong / Philippines
What it is: Kung Fu horror
A woman is born with snakes for hair and the ability to control snakes. Ostracized for her differences as a child, she grows up to control a gang of thugs to do her bidding. Can a Martial arts master defeat her and her minions?
There are two movies with this title from about the same period that are often conflated into one movie; many of my sources list the credits for the Philippines only version but feature the plot of the Hong Kong kung fu movie, making it a little difficult for me to decide which one to use for the listing. However, as far as finding the movie, the one version is unfindable, and my attempts to locate it generally resulted in me finding the other version. So maybe it’s about time I went ahead and reviewed that one.
Because the premise is on the unusual side, the movie gets some points for that alone. Unfortunately, that’s not enough to sustain this one. It starts off well enough; the scenes of the snake-headed woman as a girl make you feel sympathetic for her plight, and you can understand her bitterness and anger. Nonetheless, once she reaches adulthood, the movie starts emphasizing the Martial Arts aspect of its story and we’re mostly treated to a bunch of kung fu fight scenes, and since our hero has none of the presence or charisma of Bruce Lee, they become rather tedious. Still, at least the movie does get around to showing us the Gorgon hair of the woman, though you have to wait till the very end of the movie for that. Beyond that, it’s always disappointing to have the hero prevail not due to his skill but to another character’s clumsiness; the ending is pretty disappointing. It’s a bit of a curiosity piece, but there are other Kung Fu / horror movies that are a lot more fun.