Written and Directed by: Man Kei Chin
Starring: Bobbie Au-Yeung, Ellen Chan and Kwok-Pong Chan
Reviewed by: Brett Gallman
ďOnce you are enchanted, you will suffer much!Ē
If nothing else, Iíll never be able to claim that my Fantastic Fest experience wasnít educational. Thanks to their ďMovies on FireĒ Hong Kong series, I discovered that Hong Kongers have a disturbingly deep-rooted xenophobia that was projected in the meth-addled experiences they considered movies for a couple of decades. Hardcore horror fans are familiar with certain rules--donít drink, donít do drugs, donít explore abandoned, foreboding houses, and, most importantly, donít have sex while doing any of these things. In fact, you probably shouldnít do much at all in a horror movie except hope for a swift, painless death. At any rate, the Hong Kong scene had one overwhelming creed: donít go anywhere else in Asia, ever, unless you wanted to run afoul of evil wizards or contract some disease that will kill you (and thatís not to mention the STDs you might contract from a Thai hooker).
A group of guys from Hong Kong donít heed this warning at all when they head off to Thailand for a boyís weekend out. Despite the booze and prostitutes, itís a rather innocuous trip until they stumble upon a wizard. Luckily for him, heís not an evil wizard; in fact, heís quite amiable and takes the guys in so they donít get enchanted. See, heís at war with a couple of evil sorcerers, and their battle is imminent, and our four heroes end up helping out the fair wizard in his plight. One of them catches the eye of the wizardís sister, who orders a love potion; however the other three guys end up getting charmed, gangbang the sister, then accidentally kill her. Understandably, our wizard is no longer congenial and decides to stalk the guys back home to exact revenge.
One of Hong Kongís infamous Category 3 (the most hardcore rating the country has to offer) flicks, The Eternal Evil of Asia strikes with the force of a Category 5 hurricane. It leaves everything devastated in its wake: good taste, logic, and your brain. Like many other low-grade HK movies, itís the equivalent of inhaling Sudafed, dropping acid, then having the most lucid, delirious nightmare imaginable. Sleazy, violent, and completely deranged, this is one of the most interesting horror movies Iíve ever seen, if only for its complete disregard for limits. Other films have likely gone to more despicable places than this one does, but Eternal Evil of Asia does it with such an impish charm and imagination thatís rather infectious.
As this is a bad film by usual standards (letís make no mistake about that), I expected it to be unintentionally funny. Imagine my surprise when long stretches managed to be legitimately hilarious. The boysí ill-fated trip to Thailand is marked by ribald humor whose gags are as good as any sex comedy. In fact, the guys from The Hangover II would blush at some of the havoc thatís wrought; forget losing a tooth or getting a tattoo--one guy gets his head literally turned into a penis (which is actually preferable to what eventually happens to his head). While certainly juvenile and tasteless, itís hard not to giggle at the sight gag, particularly when the guy gets excited and pisses himself in a way he never imagined he would. All of this is happening while their wizard friend battles his arch nemesis, a husband and wife duo who use a fornication hex to wreak havoc. One of many unique variations on copulation to be found here, this one involves the guy mounting his wife as they fly through the air and drop bombs. This is some awesomely gonzo stuff with wicked camera work and stunts; imagine a kung fu movie crossed with sword and sorcery by way of a crystal meth lab.
The horror elements are also surprisingly effective, as the thrust of the story (the wizard dispatching his foes in gory ways) provides an avenue for some spectacular gore centerpieces. One guy butchers his own family because he thinks he believes the ghost of deceased parents are goading him to do so, and the butchery is bloody as hell. Like most of the horror sequences, this stuff is well realized by some Raimi-style ďevil camĒ that swoops and zooms around. Scary faces assault and fill the frame, leaving your mind completely disoriented. While one can definitely poke a lot of fun at this flick, itís hard to deny Man Kei Chinís sense of style, as this is hardly an uninteresting movie to look at.
Then again, the script all but guarantees your interest; a true example of a screenwriter tossing a bunch of stuff against the wall to see what sticks, the screenplay is filled with absurd moments, like a man-eating placenta and a sorceress who randomly uses hairspray to make a blowtorch to rid herself of a ghostÖin the middle of a beauty parlor. Because these movies were more hacked up than carefully edited, it carries a distinct disjointedness and jumpiness that leaves few dull moments. A fine example of this is the filmís preamble, which explains the rules about how sorcerers can claim the souls of their unsuspecting victims. The sequence climaxes with the assurance that even children can be co-opted, so you should never trust them or take them to the bathroom at a movie theater. Yep. (Do I even have to mention that the film never, ever returns to this concept?)
The openingís madness is matched only by the filmís outrageous climax, which involves invisible fellatio and attempt at homicide via screwing. Conveniently, our heroes just happen to know a sorceress with a magic dagger that was created specifically for killing the now-evil wizard who is attempting to rape his way to victory. Unfortunately for them, this flick has one of the most demented variations on the ďitís not overĒ final scare--letís just say that the evil of Asia is considered eternal for a reason. Completely bizarre and ridiculous, yet barely coherent enough, this movie is a total blast. While it was released on DVD several years back, I can only imagine the digital experience paled to seeing this at Fantastic Fest with an enthusiastic crowd. Though the subtitles were riddled with broken English, it only added to the charm, and the beat up, mangy print contributed a true grindhouse quality. This is probably the closest Iíll ever come to 42nd street, and I couldnít imagine a better movie for it. Even if you have to track it down on DVD, itíll probably be worth your while, especially if youíre already acquainted with the eternal madness of Hong Kong. Buy it!
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