[Country: Hong Kong; Director: Benny Chan; Writer: Tsui Hark; Producer: Tsui Hark]
Cast: Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Anita Mui Yim-Fong, Rosamund Kwan Chi-Lam, Damian Lau (Chung Yan), Kelvin Wong Siu, Lawrence Ng Kai-Wah, Norman Chu.
Running Time: 96 Min
Plot: A brush with death brings a martial arts protege into contact with a fantastical world of giant turtle monsters, powerful sorcerers, and the two dueling, bird-riding daughters of the Crane Master, who presides over all.
Everyone hates Magic Crane. I mean, as they should: it’s a terrible movie, one of Tsui Hark’s worst stinkers (he’s made everything from great to bad, and this one ends up near the bottom of the “bad” category). But I just have a great time with this one. Watching Tony Leung get chased around in circles by a biazhong bell, watching Anita Mui’s ridiculously couquettish kiss she gives to Tony and then her highly sexualized healing scene with him shortly afterwards, watching the ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS CRANE!!! The FX are pretty bad. If you hated them in Green Snake, they’re worse in this movie.
Now, some of us enjoy bad special effects–and bad movies even, when they’re done with imagination. And Magic Crane has imagination in abundance. In overabundance, in fact. That’s the film’s main problem. But even though Hark and his flunky, populist director Benny Chan, throw everything at you at blinding speed, a lot of it is creative and fun.