Heaven Can Help

This 1984 Cinema City production is a reasonably fun mixture of action, comedy and the supernatural that generally contains more energy than inspiration. When looking back at films from this period of time I am always surprised that even the so-so ones like this manage to be fairly entertaining. The formula for these mid-range films was pretty simple – mix the genres up like a late night cocktail, keep it moving constantly, some competently choreographed action and have some solid actors in it. Wind it up, let it go and see where it lands.  It is not necessarily a smooth landing, but usually it gets you there.
Eric Tsang and Wong Wan Si
Eric Tsang’s character is not the luckiest fellow in the world. If he jumps over a banana peel, he will likely fall down the stairs; if a cop is about to give him a parking ticket, his car key will fall into the sewer grate; his girlfriend and bra selling boss (Woo Fung) fire him on the same day because everything has gone wrong since the day they met Eric. His sympathetic sister (Wong Wan Si) goes to the fortune teller and is told that her brother was born under a bad star and nothing can be done to change his fate. Soon thereafter to prove this point, Eric is nearly killed in a car accident and while between life and death he takes a little trip to heaven or hell where two devils tell him that his fate is set. He will go back to earth for now but as soon as three people are killed Eric will know his time is approaching (wasn’t there an American film with a similar plot?). They are kind enough to give Eric both the names and the means of death for these three.
Richard Ng and Paul Chun Pui

As soon as he gets back, the body of the first person, Millionaire Wong (Fung King Man) is nearly dumped on top of him and Eric realizes that he has to stop the next two murders in order to save himself. One is a Cat. III actress that Eric has been told will die in the shower and the other is Paul Chun Pui who will choke to death on an orange. He attempts to tell the potential victims, the police (in the form of a bumbling Inspector Clouseau type Richard Ng) and Pui’s sister (who comes in the lovely form of Cherie Chung) about what will happen but of course they think he is either a pervert, a blackmailer or a nut – until they start to die of course. Then the killer (Charlie Chin) decides that Cherie knows too much and comes after her as well – with only a resigned to his own death Eric with nothing to lose able to help out.

Cherie Chung and Eric

With a set up like this, the film alternates abruptly between broad comedy and some tense action scenes. Though Cherie doesn’t really come into play until the last third of the film, her tangle with the killer is the definite highlight – it is a flurry of suspenseful narrow escapes from death and a beautiful Cherie (in some beguiling shorts) frantically fighting for her life amidst an onslaught of swords, knives, blows and shovels against a very determined assailant. Her section makes the film come alive. Eric is fine – sort of a sad everyman who slowly comes to terms with a seemingly unchangeable fate – but unfortunately the DVD has only the Mandarin track and his high pitched quavering voice is much missed. Look for the cameo from director David Chiang (credited here as John Chiang) as the crazy cab driver.

Cherie and Charlie Chin

My rating for this film: 6.0

Cherie and Cat. III actress