Sunday, June 10, 2012

Yan gui fa kuang (1984)

... aka: Possessed II
... aka: Yim Gwai Faat Kwong

Directed by:
David Lai

Director David Lai and star Gary Siu both return for this sequel to the previous year's POSSESSED (1983); also a Johnny Mak production. I suppose the original did well to prompt this follow-up, though it's a sequel in-name-only and has nothing to do with the first one. It's also that rare sequel that improves upon the first. Things begin with an amusing sequence of a zombie-like brothel madam and her little boy and some equally undead-looking American soldiers eating a pot of cooked dog meat. When they hear a noise, the entire crew quickly clear out and erase any trace of them being there. As it turns out, they're all ghosts. The noise turns out to be a realtor showing the place to a young couple; Inspector Siu (Gary Siu) and his wife Li Chun (Mabel Kwong). They already have a little girl, Ling-Ling, and Mrs. Siu is very far along in her next pregnancy. The apartment is a complete wreck and it'll need a lot of work to fix up and renovate, plus it sits right next to an old cemetery... but it's cheap so Mr. Siu talks his wife into moving in. The place is whipped into shape in no time, but there are several problems that can't be fixed with a coat of paint and some vacuuming. The first is an unhappy marriage. And the second, of course, is that the place is haunted, leading to several nasty possessions.

Inspector Siu, though he may work as a respected homicide detective, isn't going to be up for a Husband of the Year award any time soon. He's been carrying on an affair with a female coworker Michelle (Pauline Wong) and has no problem humiliating and berating his wife whenever possible. The Inspector even tells his young daughter that he plans on divorcing her mum if she's not pregnant with a boy! During an ultrasound, it appears Li Chun is indeed going to have a son but her glee doesn't last long after a ghost shows up and pushes her down the stairs, causing her to miscarry. Mr. Siu naturally doesn't believe her story and blames it all on her. Other ghosts show up and it isn't long before both mother and daughter start showing signs of possession. For mom, she puts away her frumpy clothes and glasses and starts dressing and acting sexy to lure men, whom she promptly shreds after transforming into a fanged, clawed werewolf like-creature. Two of her victims include a fat butcher (Chun Wong) who she seduces on a truck hauling pig carcasses and a black guy with a fro lured to a zoo. For the daughter, her new powers come in handy taking on a chubby schoolyard bully. During one hilarious scene, little Ling-Ling turns into a blue-faced ghoul, levitates off the ground and beats the living hell out of the kid who's been trying to rub his boogers on her and steals her Hello Kitty watch.

Mr. Siu finally decides he's had enough and wants his family back. He calls off his affair with Michelle (who Li Chun ends up killing, anyway) and enlists the aid of some exorcists who come to his home armed with an owl, a rat, black dog's blood and knowledge of fung schway to drive the spirits away. Unfortunately, their attempts to clean the apartment of the evil don't quite work and Li Chun and Ling-Ling revert back to their possessed ways. Siu finally seeks the aid of a Hare Krishna (Jayson Case), who explains what Siu is up against. The malicious spirit causing all of the problems, Lucy, was romanced by an American soldier - named Tim Burton! - during the Korean War. He abandoned her while she was pregnant and never came back, so she decided to kill her son and then commit suicide by jumping off the rooftop. She's now buried behind the home and wants revenge against the soldier who spurned her. What this has to do with Siu and his family is pretty much anyone's guess.

Possessed II is a lightning-fast, very busy effort that zips right along from one crazy scene to the next. While the first film had its share of dull stretches, there's never a dull moment in this one. It's more entertaining and more imaginative than the first, the entire cast is enthusiastic, it's frequently hilarious and full of creative special effects and gory make-ups. However, the sheer overkill of this frequently hectic and noisy movie is going to have a polarizing effect on most viewers; some will be delighted by the insanity of it all and others are going to be turned off and find it monotonous after awhile. There's definitely more good here than bad, though the film grows tiresome and seems repetitive at points. The writing is confusing and unfocused. From a structural standpoint, this thing is an absolute mess, though I'm not entirely sure what hand the English subtitles have in that. Oh well. If nothing else, it has the best use of a Hare Krishna since John Waters' classic comedy Female Trouble (1974) and that has to count for something, right?

Supposedly, one of the sailors is played by Toby Russell, the son of late director Ken Russell! DVD is from Fortune Star Entertainment, who also released a nice print of the original.


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