Boxer’s Omen (Mo) (Kuei Chih-Hung, 1983)

Words don’t really do Boxer’s Omen justice.   Boxer’s Omen doesn’t really do Boxer’s Omen  almost a visionary film, blending horror and action with abstracted narrative and visual elements.  Yet, there’s a cheapness to it, one that doesn’t necessarily detract from the movie in and of itself (but rather adds to it), but which also makes it feel like something less than it could have been.  That said, what it is is pretty amazing.  The plot is secondary to a series of increasingly bizarre setpieces, fluctuating between gross-out horror, mystic/religious ritual and psychedelia.  At times it feels very expansive and it other times it feels like they were making it up as they went along, using whatever was on hand for special effects (rubber bugs and plastic wrap are used extensively).  Visually, it’s pretty gripping, and the best moments are transcendental- the protagonist absorbing religious texts into his body is a highlight.  The ending brings to mind the last moments of Kubrick’s 2001.  Some of the more memorable moments, though, draw on horror imagery- a slimy green disembodied head monster, a gutted crocodile, bats flying out of the eye sockets of crocodile skulls…This was one of the last movies by Kuei Chih-Hung, director of the more formal Ghost Eyes and Hex, and you can feel him straining to burst out of the traditional narrative and generic conventions and create something otherworldly, and he almost does.  The only thing you really need to know about Boxer’s Omen is to see it.


Imagine sitting in your living room, huddled up on the couch under a blanket. A raging thunderstorm has knocked out all the power in your house, and you had to grope in the dark to find a flashlight–with the batteries half-dead–and a handful of mismatched candles and a mini-box of matches. You have the candles scattered around your living room, and the mingled scents of lavender, pine, candy canes, and “Vampire’s Blood” are making your head ache as you try to block out the deafening thunder outside.

The noise is so loud you don’t hear the front door open, and you have your eyes squinted closed so you don’t see the figure looming over you until a frigid hand comes down on your shoulder. 

You shriek, throwing the tea you’d been nursing into the face of the towering figure, who splutters, gags, then curses.

“Honestly,” mutters Rowan as you shrink back against the couch. “That was totally uncalled for.”

The Prince pushes his hair–now soaked with tea in addition to the rain water–out of his face, and glares at you.

You stare at him, then jump up and grab him around the waist in a bone crushing hug as a flash of lightning and an explosion of thunder send your nerves jangling.

“You are totally pathetic,” he sighs, smiling as he sinks onto the couch with you trembling in his arms. 

He waves a hand, and shimmering blue faerie lights spring into existence around the entire room. The thunder seems to quiet, and you can’t see the lightning through the windows anymore. 

“Better?” he asks. You nod, burrowing your head under the blanket as he pulls it over both of you.