Those Merry Souls

Merry Souls (aka From the Great Beyond) felt like uncovering buried treasure – perhaps not a case of gold doubloons – but a lovely discovery nonetheless. I have never heard mention of this Yuen Biao film from anyone, but it turned out to be an enjoyable genre mixture of comedy, action and the supernatural. All three genres are handled quite well and the movie is a fast enjoyable 90-minutes of fun.  It has the additional pleasure of having some of the Golden Harvest stars walk through for a quick cameo.

Yuen Biao’s family has had a long tradition that he was unaware of as he grew up. But when circumstances change and now it falls upon him to uphold the duties, he is not particularly thrilled. This tradition is being a collector of the souls of the dead !

Yuen praying for his soul and a prettier outfit !
Yuen and his buddy Eric Tsang are both stuntmen for a HK film company and they spend much of their time chasing girls and getting into neighborhood fights. Life is pretty simple for the most part except for those times in which they have to leap off of a building or perform some other stunt. On the set, Sammo, Moon Lee, Wu Ma and Richard Ng make cameos.
Richard Ng, Wu Ma and Moon
Eric does his typical slightly frazzled and not too quick comic persona, but it is quite appealing here and his friendship with Yuen has a good feel to it. His father might seem a bit strange as he doodles in the supernatural. He is a bit of a pain at times because he is always warning Eric that today he should stay away from wood or water and that his life is already on the borrowed time of his dead mother. Later of course it turns out that having Lam Ching-Ying as a father can be very useful !
Lam Ching-Ying
Yuen’s father (Stanley Fung) is a bit odd as well. From time to time he gets a migraine headache and has to go home and sleep. When he does this his apparition comes out of his body and goes to collect the souls of the recently departed. It turns out that there are people on earth who have made a bargain in which they are soul collectors (not sure how much it pays in case you are interested). This deal passes from generation to generation. One stipulation though – if you bungle up a soul collection then the ghosts of all those souls you collected come looking to collect you. So if you know anyone who suffers from migraines, you may want to keep a close eye on them. Wait a second  . . . my mother gets them all the time!
Stanley Fung - good work if you can get it
In fact a soul collection is bungled and things start getting a bit sticky. Soon Yuen is called into the family business and he, Eric, their girlfriends and Lam Ching-Ying all decide to fight for his soul and his life.
Yuen and his buddy - Eric Tsang
In terms of action Yuen has two good fights against a group of neighborhood roughnecks and then in the final showdown with Death there is some action from both Yuen and Lam Ching-Ying.  The film is quite enjoyable and it takes time to develop the characters and the relationships of everyone.

My rating for this film: 7.0

No kicking sand in Yuen's face