An Eternal Combat
Like a drunken driver on New Years Eve, this film
weaves all over the road and seems to have no idea where it is going. From
a flying fantasy film to a time travel comedy to a stalker slasher film
and finally back to fantasy, it still somehow manages to retain its charm
and kept me fairly entertained. Much of this rests on the charming performances
of Lam Ching-Ying, Joey Wong and Shing Fui-On.
The film begins with some lovely shots of Joey
Wong making herself up to attend the funeral of her parents back in ancient
times. After the funeral she is escorted back through the forest and the
film creates a wonderful mood – runners carrying lanterns in the fog, wolves
howling in the distance, a wind coming up from nowhere – and then the frightening
form of the Japanese Ghost comes out of the fog. Soon the forest is littered
with dead bodies and exploded heads and only Joey remains. The Ghost is
in love with her and wants to make her his Evil Woman.
Fortunately, a Taoist priest (Lam) and his assistant,
Gabriel Wong, are nearby and they come to her rescue. In a clash of magic,
swords and flying the two fight to a draw and retreat. Soon the magistrate
(Shing Fui-On) of the province comes to Lam and asks for his assistance
in catching the Ghost – Lam agrees but only if Shing will be his second
Soon a trap is set for the Ghost, but things go
very wrong and Lam, his two assistants and the Ghost fall through Hell’s
Gate and find themselves in present day HK. Here Lam is not surprisingly
taken for being insane and is put into a mental institution where the psychologist
is Joey Wong. Is this a co-incidence or is there some cosmic connection
between the past and the present?
Lam turns himself into a puppy to get out of the
asylum and ends up in Wong’s house where she is being stalked by an ex-boyfriend
– Anthony Wong doing one of his patented psychotic characters. Soon the
Japanese Ghost comes looking for Joey as well – and we are back to a terrific
fight between him and Lam.
It strikes me that this film might have been better
off sticking to and maintaining the initial premise for the film. Once
it comes into the modern day it turns into a fish out of water comedy.
Then the stalker segment seems so unnecessary and out of place – but the
charisma of Lam and the beauty of Joey somehow overcome all of this to
make it decent film.
My rating for this film: 7.0
Just as a note - Weisser's summary of this
film in his Asian Cult book could not be further from the facts- almost
as if he had not watched this film - something that many have accused him
of not always doing.