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Review Prince of the Sun a.k.a. Tai yang zhi zi (1990): Hongkong's take on he Golden Child.

genre: martial arts, fantasy, comedy

Cynthia Rothrock was used to comedic antics in Hong Kong films. But I think those in Prince of the Sun most likely was even too much for her. Pure speculation of course still not hard to imagine.

Prince of the Sun is a weird film. Somehow it tries to combine the story of The Golden Child with many different genres including horror and martial arts. The martial arts I am fine with as it is excellent. Unfortunately apart from some good fights the majority of the time is spent on comedy. Sure I managed to laugh a couple of times. But that was purely because of the blatant banality and weirdness that is displayed on the screen. It often misses the mark. One would assume the humour is childish and aimed at a younger audience. Except most of the jokes aren't suited for kids nor teens. Conan Lee makes the comedy bits quite tolerable. And even the child actor was decent. However the same can't be said of Sheila Chan. Her character is easily one of the most annoying persons ever put on celluloid and I wished they had killed her somehow.

There are also some horror elements that can be quite disturbing even for adults. Like how the evil monk / demon is thrown in hell and is given a chance to redeem himself. Very dark and disturbing. So again who was the intended target? Lam Ching-ying who people will recognize from the Mr. Vampire films also has a role. His character is killed off in the beginning but then manages to turn up as a ghost where he continues to guide the child and his students. 

So how does Cynthia fit in all of this? She doesn't. For somebody who is first billed in the credits she is not in this film as much as I would have liked to. When she does get the chance to kick ass she often is replaced by an obvious stunt double. For some stunts I understand why they had done that. But for others I am puzzled. Because they involved some flips and kicks I know Cynthia is capable of. This was back when Cynthia was still relatively young and eager to kick some booty. You can tell in the moments when it is her and she does some of her trademark moves. And I have to add that Cynthia looked quite cool and attractive in her outfits. A Buddhist monk one and a black suit that even made her look super deadly and dangerous. Cynthia plays the most serious character in the film and very luckily has nothing to do with the goofiness. Still it very well could be that she had asked director Welsson Chin to be spared from it.  But as the story goes that Welsson was so focused on the comedy that he had forgotten that Cynthia Rothrock was still sitting and waiting to shoot the action scenes. Normally not a huge problem if not for the fact that she was about to fly off to another project so they had to hurry her scenes. Perhaps this the reason for the stunt double. In Hong Kong they take four or five weeks to shoot fighting scenes. So if she was rushed to shoot these scenes then very likely they replaced her in the moments she wasn't there. 

Overall Prince of Sun has some real entertaining fights that are well worth the wait. Unfortunately you will have to sit through some real bizarre comedy and very likely will drive you insane long before the fights start up again. A must for martial arts fans. For everyone else this is one to avoid.

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