Shadow Master (2022)

Posted in Reviews by - December 29, 2022
Shadow Master (2022)

Low-budget horror flick with an effective, devilish, gruesome streak and great action – sort of Clive Barker meets Albert Pyun. Director Peaary Teo leans into the film’s twisted mix of neo-noir, ghost story and devil worship, leaving room for gifted martial artist D.Y. Sao (a USA national wushu team member and Simu Liu’s fight trainer for Shang-Chi) to show his stuff. Set in a vaguely apocalyptic Blade Runner-esque dystopian future, Sao plays a nightwatchman at a creepy hospital where kids are being snatched as they sleep. Their spirits are used by the ‘four horsemen of the apocalypse’ in some ritualistic voodoo which could summon the end of days. In a Faustian twist, Sao is possessed by Hanuman (played by the director himself,¬†Peaary Teo) – the Hindu monkey god who symbolises strength, courage and wisdom, represented here as a Skeletor-like demon figure who provides Sao with superhuman strength to help him fend off his spooky adversaries. Sao might not be winning Oscars anytime soon, but he shines in the fight scenes, which possess all the hard-hitting, bone-breaking, back-flipping power of Tony Jaa (Ong-Bak director Prachya Pinkaew acts as one of the film’s producers), coupled with the grace of Robin Shou in Mortal Kombat. In fact, the soul-stealing premise, outer-world elements and campy costumes are all very reminiscent of the 90s Mortal Kombat films, even if this takes itself far more seriously. The action highlight is Sao’s extended throw-down with Brian Le, one third of the incredible Martial Club stunt collective and a performer who has worked with Sao on Shang-Chi and Everything Everywhere All at Once. They tear great chunks of flesh from each other while displaying their powerful, exquisite repertoire of explosive kicks, tricks, and kung fu. This is one of those crazy genre mash-ups designed to be screened at midnight at a horror film festival and watched by a cinema full of battle-ready, openminded cult film fans. In other words, it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. But whether you like it or not, it’s undoubtedly an ambitious, admirable achievement.

AKA: Hanuman: Shadow Master.

This post was written by
Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a laptop in London, UK.

Leave Your Comment