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Commentary on the
Na Cha the Great entry from
The Encyclopedia of Martial Arts Movies,
by Michael Wong


In the book, The Encyclopedia of Martial Arts Movies, by Bill Palmer, Karen Palmer and Ric Meyers, and in the book, Asian Cult Cinema, by Thomas Weisser, it was wrongly reported that Shaolin Hellgate is an alternate title for Na Cha the Great, while in reality, Shaolin Hellgate is an alternate title for Heaven and Hell. Some of the confusion stems, no doubt, from the fact that the character, Na Cha, is featured in both Heaven and Hell and Na Cha the Great.
To view the Na Cha the Great entry from The Encyclopedia of Martial Arts Movies, click here. For the Heaven and Hell entry from The Encyclopedia of Martial Arts Movies, click here.

Date: Mon, 9 Oct 2000 20:26:06 -0700 (PDT)
From: Michael.Wong@nsc.com
To: ar402004@brownvm.brown.edu
Subject: Re: HEAVEN AND HELL & SHAOLIN HELLGATE in THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MARTIAL...

Yo Steve!

> From THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MARTIAL ARTS MOVIES, p. 240:
>
> 1948.  Na Cha, the Great (1974).  (Shaolin Hellgate).  Pro.Co.: Chang's
> (Taiwan); Dir: Chang Cheh; MAI: Tang Chia, Liu Chia-liang; Cast: Fu
> Sheng, Chaing Tao, Lu Ti, Feng Ko-an, Yuen Man-tzu, Ling Hsiao.  92 min.
>
>      Based on an ancient Chinese legend from the Tang Dynasty, Na Cha was
> born 3,000 years ago to become the champion of the people and protect
> them from corrupt officials and demons.  In the legend, a Taoist god is
> in league with the Emperor to take over the area and make it the new
> capitol of Peking.  Demons reigned in the area, and Na Cha must fight
> them for the land.

The legend here is basically detailed in the classic chinese folklore/mythology
stories "Legends of ordaining the gods", it was a fictionalized account of the
war fought to end the Shang Dynasty to establish the Chou Dynasty at 1027 B.C.
Supposedly the insanity of the last emperor (he was similar to Caligula in
terms of depravity and sadisticNESS) was caused by the re-incarnated lesser
fox demon/god Tarn Gay, who became his favourite concubine.  His legendary
cruelty forced a revolt among his people, while he had help from demons and
lesser gods to defend him, the people also have help from gods and lesser
gods.  The result was something akin to the epic battle in Greek mythology of
the war with Troy.

>      In the movie, Na Cha (Fu Sheng) leaves his sheltered home to
> experience the real world.  When he sees the townspeople being abused and
> enslaved, he interferes and, using his golden ring, kills one of the sons
> (Ling Hsiao) of the Ocean Demon, King Ao Kuang (Chaing Tao).

First of all, the "golden ring" was more like a golden bracelet/wheel.  That
was used as a weapon sometimes with sharp edges and you can actually throw
them like "frisbees".  The "Ocean Demon", is actually more like the "east
ocean's dragon king", one of the lesser sea Gods.  Who are worshipped rather
than vilified as "demon".  The first victim of Na Cha was also NOT the son
of the "dragon king, but one of the lowly minions.  The "Golden Ring" and a
magical long silk scarf was given to him as a gift by Tai Yi Chen Jen when he
was born.  He was playing with his silk scarf in the ocean one day and the
the resulting waves from the scarf sent shock waves straight into the Dragon
King's palace, making it a major earthquake down at the bottom of the sea.  The
minion was sent to the beach to find out what caused the commotion.  I am not
certain whether this first minion was actually killed.

>      After being punished by his corrupt father who doesn't care about
> the people, one of the gods, Tai Yi Chen Jen, visits Na Cha and becomes

No, the father was not corrupt, in fact, he was right in punishing Na Cha
for his reckless behavior.  The "East Ocean Dragon King" was also a water
god who decides whether it should rain or not.  Incurring his wrath would
mean a prolonged draught that will devastate the people.

> his teacher.  Na Cha is protected from the evil magic of the Ocean Demon

Tai Yi Chen Jen wasn't really a god, he was a Taoist priest that became
"enlightened" and became more like a "fairy" type due to his knowledge of
powerful magic and kung fu.  I guess you can call him a lesser God.  These
"enlightened" magician type are actually out of the usual realm of Godhood,
though they have powers that rivaled the actual gods, they are content in
meddling with small affairs of mortals so they could affect a chain reaction
to change the future.  The teacher of the Monkey King Sun Wu Kung (Sun Goku
to Japanese) is another one such person.

> by his teacher, but later runs into the Demon's other son (Feng Ko-an),
> and is forced to kill him.  The enraged Demon King goes to Na Cha's

The Dragon King's 3rd son was sent to investigate what happened to the minion.
He finally tracked down Na Cha and demanded why he was causing trouble, Na Cha
argued than killed him out of rashness.  He didn't have to kill the 3rd. son
of the Dragon King of East Ocean, but he went ahead and did it anyway.  He
also ripped the "spinal tendon" out of the corpse to make it into a belt.
Which was how the Dragon King recognized that Na Cha was the killer of his
favourite son.

> father and demands that he kill his son.  If not, the entire area will be
> flooded and everyone will die.  Na Cha kills himself to protect the town,
> but is resurrected as a god by his teacher who gives him a flame-throwing
> spear and a pair of flaming wheels with which he can fly.

He in fact killed himself in rather graphic manner, supposedly he drained
himself of all his blood and "returned" it to his mother, then sliced off all
his flesh to return it to his father.  He was resurrected yet again by the
meddling Taoist priest Tai Yi Chen Jen.  He was also given the power of
"sprouting" 2 extra sets of arms and 2 extra heads.

>      Na Cha immediately attacks the Ocean Demon in his underwater palace.
> When he wounds the King, it rains blood on Earth.  Na Cha returns to town
> and makes trouble for the guards, saving the townspeople from their
> cruelty, and takes on the Ocean King and his men who bleed water!  He is
> then doomed to fight his father in the sky for all eternity.

That is untrue, he went to his father for revenge (for allowing him to die).
This act angered the Gods, and his father was subsequent also given magical
powers to defeat Na Cha.  The power of the father was wielding a magical
tower that can change size according to his will, he eventually used the
magical tower to imprison Na Cha by hurling it on top of Na Cha while increasing
it back to it's normal size.  Eventually Na Cha repented by joining the forces
of good and fought against the tyrannical emporer (but that's a later story).

>      Although magic rules the day, there is plenty of well-choreographed
> martial arts.  This is a must-see for Fu Sheng fans.  There are
> reportedly five films in this series.  (Subtitled version screened)
> 3 Stars.

The whole story had nothing to do with Shaolin whatsoever.

To view the Na Cha the Great entry from The Encyclopedia of Martial Arts Movies, click here. For the Heaven and Hell entry from The Encyclopedia of Martial Arts Movies, click here.


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