Friday, May 08, 2009

Honourable Mentions: Kung Fu from Beyond the Grave

dvdOr simply Yin Ji, to give this movie its Cantonese title, this was a flick from Hong Kong, released in 1982 and directed by Zhao Li. All in all it was not the best Hong Kong movie I have seen and had an insufferable amount of Kung Fu that really didn’t go anywhere. However it did have a Supernatural element.

In the Yin month (the 7th month of the year) ghosts and spirits are especially active and on the 14th of that month the living burn money to appease the dead, less they come out and try to swap places with the living in order that they might be reincarnated. Or so says the introduction but, I have to say, there wasn’t really any indication of such events during the film.

Dad's backHowever, on the 14th Chun Sing (Billy Chong) is practising Kung Fu when a ghost appears (all the ghosts have a rotting appearance more akin to zombies). It is his father and he tells Chun that he was murdered by a man called Kam Tai Fu (Lieh Lo), who lives in Yellow Dragon Town. Chun has to travel to the town to avenge his father and gather his remains to lay them to rest with respect.

On the outskirts of the town two magicians fight, they are from the same order but one has a book of magic and the other (the evil one who works for Kam) wants it. With some cheating he kills the good magician but cannot find the book. Chun stumbles across the body and goes to bury it, using the magician's sword to dig the earth. The hilt comes away and we find that it contains the book but he replaces it, on discovery, and buries it with the body – you know it is going to come into the film later.

Chun Sing and his ghostly assassinsIn the town there is murder afoot; young couples are being murdered during sex, at the point of orgasm, and their hearts taken. This is at the request of the evil magician who is using them in rituals designed to make the skin of Kam impervious to weapons. With such a powerful magician protecting Kam, Chun realises he needs to learn magic and retrieves the book. He calls on several ghosts to be his assassins and together they go to seek revenge.

DraculaIt is here that our vampire moment comes in. The book can kill ghosts and Chun has used it to defend himself as the ghosts and he try to get past the magician. The magician in turn summons… Count Dracula. Yes, the actual Count is summoned by name. We actually see a bite, although it is one of the ghosts he bites. The summoning involves burning money – which ties into the appeasing the dead aspect mentioned earlier.

Dracula overcoming the power of the bookDracula proves rather powerful. He seems pained by the book for a moment and then develops a resistance to its powers. It seems that more Western methods are needed in order to defeat him. Luckily Chun seems to know a thing or two about Western vampires. He gets the ghosts to Cushing a cross together out of two bits of wood, this seems to work for a second and then fails. However he then gets hold of some garlic. Throwing bulbs at Dracula, one hits and causes him to vanish in an explosion.

That, as they say, is that vampire wise. The ghosts look like zombies and hop like Kyonsi but they behave, generally, like ghosts. However it is the only film I can recall where black magic is broken by throwing ladies underpants at the magician – truly bizarre. The imdb page is here.

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