Plot: Lord Chin Kuan (Ku Feng) is an evil tyrant with numerous enemies, but his biggest threat at present is a festering boil on his back. As it happen, it is no ordinary boil, but a boil of legend and if a rare rattan herb isn’t used to treat him, Kuan will be killed by this powerful boil. With his life on the line, he dispatches master warrior Szema Chun (Lo Lieh) to venture out and bring back the herb, knowing that if anyone can complete this kind of crucial mission, it is his trusted bodyguard. While he is a loyal servant, Chun finds himself joined by a group of mercenaries to assist in his mission, though they plan to ambush him and steal the herb when the time comes. At the same time, it must be kept quiet who the treatment is for, as no one likes Kuan, let alone the herbalist who can create the herbal remedies. What will happen when all these forces collide and will the epic boil be slain?
Entertainment Value: This one is light on narrative, but more than delivers when it comes to action and oddball moments. The pace is brisk and the movie runs just over 80 minutes, so little time is wasted and the emphasis is on action, with frequent and fun set pieces throughout. I do love the premise however, with a rich asshole no one likes being victimized by a boil known as “100 birds worshiping a phoenix” and that leads to the madness and decapitations. The story does weave in enough double crosses and such to keep things interesting, so while the plot is thin, it does what it needs to do, which is set the table for the wild action sequences. The movie also has a good sense of humor, so even when people’s heads and limbs are being lopped off, the film has a brisk, light mood to it. I also love the visuals here, as The Dragon Missile has some beautiful sights to soak in. The cast is led by Lo Lieh, who shines in the role and comes off like a bad ass, which is what the role needs. He’s given a little more depth than you might expect, which helps. While this was an obvious play on Master of the Flying Guillotine, The Dragon Missile is a super fun movie and well worth a look.
One scene has a brief topless glimpse, but otherwise, little sleaze here. The focus is on martial arts action, as opposed to boudoir hijinks. This movie offers some hilarious and super fun kills however, with the dragon missile weapon a source of wild head and limb removals. This happens often, so heads do indeed roll and extremities are sliced off, but the bloodshed is minimal. Even so, the scenes are awesome and insanely fun, so the lack of blood geysers is no concern. In addition to the lethal boomerang-esque weapon, the movie also provides a clawed hand, linked ring attacks, and other colorful, very fun weapons and styles. In addition to the weapon battles, there’s also a good amount of hand to hand, martial arts style action involved. I appreciated the variety within the action scenes, as well as the mystical elements, such as enhanced movement speed and jumping abilities. The dialogue is often humorous, which adds to the good times and since some of the characters are quite colorful, this leads to some fun moments. The tyrant has some funny exchanges, as do Nancy Yen and Lo Lieh, so while not loaded with memorable lines, some good stuff crops up. On the insanity scale, the wild weapons and decapitations, frequent zaniness, and colorful characters pump a few points of craziness into this one.
Overall Insanity: 4/10
The Disc: 88 Films released this with a new restoration and it looks fantastic, with a print that seems brand new. The detail is a little soft at times, but that seems to be from the source, not this treatment. I was surprised to see The Dragon Missile look so pristine and well detailed, excellent work. On the audio front, Chinese and English language tracks are offered, as well as English subtitles. The extras includes not one, but two audio commentaries from Asian cinema experts, each of which seem packed with information on the cast, crew, and similar features.