Thursday, November 19, 2009

Chin nin lui yiu (1990)

...aka: Chase from Beyond
...aka: Demoness from Thousand Years
...aka: Qian nian nu yao
...aka: Thousand Year Ghost

Directed by:
Patrick Yeung

An elderly wizard (Hou Hsiao) does battle with an evil witch (Meg Lam) over what the subs call "the Bead of Hell," which is basically a glowing blue orb. The witch kills him with a fireball and the wizard's two acrobatic, flying female "fairy" students - Yun Yu Yi (Joey Chan) and Siu Yi (Gloria Yip) step in to defend the magical bead. The witch freezes Siu Yi, while Yun flees with the prized possession into some time warp, with the witch following hot on her heels. One thousand years later, arrogant Captain Mambo (Jacky Cheung) and the Royal HK Police Force have just successfully taken down a master criminal. While driving home later that evening, the captain stumbles upon Yun, who is still being pursued by the witch ten centuries later. Mambo takes Yun back to his apartment and allows her to stay there, little knowing what he's about to get himself into but finding himself falling in love with her all the same (and vice versa). Meanwhile, the police are investigating a series of (off-screen) decapitation murders in the area that are possibly related to the witch's emergence in the city. It's later unveiled that the only way to stop her from destoying mankind is to combine the Bead of Hell with another orange-colored one called "Heaven's Sun Bead," which still needs to be located.

The film would have been better if had stuck to the main plotline, but instead it throws in a load of side characters who are downright annoying; constantly mugging and making goofy facial expressions right at the camera. Aside from that, this has enough action and moments of endearing hokiness to keep it watchable. The blossoming romance between Mambo and Yun actually reminded me a lot of SPLASH (1984), with the man letting a strange but beautiful woman unfamiliar with the modern world stay in his apartment until her true identity is revealed. There's a love montage and a love theme song, too. But the film is at it's best when there's fighting going on and boasts some excellent stunt and wire work. A highlight is Yun and Siu's battle with the witch in a large cave at the beginning and end of the film, which incorporates lots of flips, flying, spinning, jumping and swordfighting. Eventually they even start hurtling stalactites at one another! There's also a bizarre subplot likely inspired by GHOSTBUSTERS which involves two paranormal investigators who have all kinds of gadgets they can use to sniff out ghosts. They can also call forth "The King of Hell," a goofy looking blue cartoon face with three eyeballs who says things like "Don't eat chewing gun!" and "Don't bullshit me!"

You can pretty much gouge whether you want to bother with this one by viewing the trailer...

There's no official U.S. release of this one. The bootleg version I saw (which seems derived from a VHS source) had burnt in English subtitles. The subs are white and frequently placed in front of white clothing and furniture; making it impossible to see all of the dialogue.


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