‘The Mighty Peking Man’ aka 猩猩王 aka ‘Goliathon‘ might, at first, look like a cheap knockoff of King Kong, it might be a film that sharknado fans would get a kick out of. What’s incredulous to me is not how bad and laughable it is but the seriousness in which this film was made. What you see onscreen is NOT down with a tongue in cheek flare but in a sincere approach at making a film that was to amaze audiences in a more serious manner.
This was the most expensive movie made in Hong Kong at the time and it was set to cash in on the craze surrounding the 1976 US remake of King Kong (which nobody fondly remembers). They even brought over Godzilla’s special effect cinematographer Sadamasa Arikawa from Tokyo to help develop Hong Kong’s first giant monster movie.
Did they really let the Director get away with making a film like this? Even the poorest offerings in Hong Kong cinema from the 70s can’t compare with the complete audacity of what was filmed here.
From the early reveal of the Mighty Peking man you know that there is no sense of build up or reveal here. The only reveal we do get throughout the movie is the jungle girl running around with one of her lady bits hanging out which makes me question who is the film for? Is having a Giant Monster in your movie, the first of it’s kind in Hong Kong, not enough of a draw?? If the jungle girl had any kind of a character this might be forgiven as a giant flaw but unfortunately her character is more of a “Me Jane, you Tarzan!” type, little else as she runs almost naked around the jungle, climbs up trees and swings a cheetah around her shoulders (yes, a real live frickin cheetah!).
The male character, Johnny, who goes to the jungle in search of Kong isn’t all that compelling either. He catches his brother sleeping with his girlfriend and while drinking it up at a bar he is approached to lead an expedition to a jungle in India to find the Mighty Peking Man. Romance between Johnny and Jungle girl Samantha ensues with generic 70s music and a real live cheetah being flung around. A Jealous Might Peking Man watches on.
After we get past these waste of time scenes we get to see the Mighty Peking man tear it up in the city. Considering that this movie is one of the first of it’s kind to be made in Hong Kong I have to say that the miniatures are fairly impressive, the effects of Mighty Peking Man himself, from the suit, giant hand and facial expressions are not so bad. What is poor is the marriage between that and scenes filmed on location on the real streets of Hong Kong. The film makers don’t seem to know how to marry the effects with the real setting of the city, the blue screen looks pretty poor and when the Might Peking Man picks up people and throws them on the ground what you have is an effect with a cut to the real actor jumping onto the ground after being dropped from 30 feet.
Despite how much a mess of a film this is there is a good film in there somewhere. I think the final 15 minutes of the film which take place on top of the Jardine House building are pretty good, even great in some parts and there is clearly some symbolic meaning behind Mighty Peking Man getting taken down by a British colonial police force.
Ultimately what this represents is a joke to some, a interesting piece of Hong Kong film making History and a lost opportunity to see something truly special. The film makers here seem to be much like those wanting to catch the Mighty Peking Man in the movie, more concern with the monetary goals rather than film making ones.