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 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.
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
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!
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.
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