Sunday, October 16, 2016

Mo jie (1982)

... aka: Hell Has No Boundary

Directed by:
Yang Chuan (Richard Yeung Kuen)

Cute young policewoman Wong Lai Fun (Leanne Lau Suet-Wah), or just May for short, is having a birthday. To celebrate, her boyfriend Cheung (Derek Yee Tung-Sing) takes her out to a small, uninhabited island to camp out. She hears a disembodied echo voice calling out her name, seems to know where things are even though she's never been there before and is startled out of her sleep that night by visions of some ugly green-faced ghoul. Upon leaving the tent to investigate, she's startled by a green flashing lights that chase after her, throw her to the ground and then knock her out. When she comes to, she's not quite the same girl she used to be. The following morning, when Cheung gives a few kids who stumble upon their camp sodas (I think Coke and Sprite must have co-sponsored this thing considering the amount of times the cans appear onscreen), May attacks one of them with a fork (!) and attempts to drown him in the ocean. After being shaken out of her trance, she can't remember anything she's just done. She does however finally master a Rubik's Cube in record time on the drive back home.

May returns to work at the Criminal Investigation Department, where her boss Inspector Wong (Hua Yueh) is up in arms about a serial rapist / killer on the loose in the city who's already claimed four victims. Conveniently, they get a call that the psycho is holding a woman and her kids hostage in a slum apartment building and then rush to the scene. There, May manages to shoot the killer but it requires her bullet to make a 90 degree turn to hit him. Reporter / photographer Koo (Ken Tong) from the Tin Tin Daily News catches sight of her miraculous shot from the balcony, becomes convinced she has “super powers” and starts to investigate her. Back at work, May's reckless behavior gets her in hot water with her superiors (who were about the promote her) and the sex maniac case is handed over to her colleagues Lady Killer (Chui Gai-Heung) and Dumb Sis (Si Ming). The two ladies don't have too much time to celebrate though when they're both killed in a bizarre accident falling down a shaft after the elevator floor falls out.

Whatever has possessed May has given her something of a “death glare” in that anyone who rubs her wrong ends up dead afterward. A visit to see blind priest Ban Xian (Wong Ching-Ho), who specializes in telling fortunes by feeling bones, ends with his pet bird dead, his vision restored, his face erupting in boils and him falling down the stairs to his death. When Inspector Wong tries to deny her promotion, she traps him a room with a rabid dog and a cobra, but he manages to survive. Now marked with an omen (an ever-growing black mark on his back), Wong's “seventh sister” Madam Chi (Teresa Ha Ping) attempts an exorcism. May regains her powers by drinking her own vomit out of a toilet (!) and then throws a match at Madam Chi that turns into a knife mid-air and sticks into her throat. After altering papers to get her promotion, May then decides to get back at horny police chief Peter Ho (Lo Yuen). She accompanies him to dinner and the disco then invites back to her apartment where he's castrated by a crab (!!) in the bathtub and wrapped up mummy-style with toilet paper.

Madam Chi's ghost returns to warn Cheung and to explain while all of this is going on. It involves a vengeful ghost who opts for revenge over reincarnation because she suffered a horrible death in a past life. That horrible death (shown in a flashback) occurred during the war with Japan where her impoverish mother sold her to a psycho who gets off smothering kids with pillows and then ripping out their guts (!) After her body was dumped in a field, another guy stumbled across it, dismembered it with a cleaver and then sold it as “fresh goat meat” to unsuspecting guests to his restaurant. Madam Chi gives Cheung a “Pluto Stick” that's used to subjugate evil spirits and then sends him on his way. He, the reporter and the inspector then all get into crazy confrontations with the evil spirit.

There's spiked fireballs, cannibal stew with a chopped off nose and eyeballs, a decapitation, blood drinking, maggot eating, doppelgangers, surreal hallucinations, a suicide, a guy taken out of commission by a toppled air conditioner, a blood drenched car, lots of erupting fire, a real snake and chicken killed, a fist fight, a nude nurse strangled to death in the shower, a human torch, hazy soft focus shots, spell papers, exorcisms, blue, red and (especially) green lighting everywhere and much, much more in this typically busy, fast-paced and colorful Shaw Brothers production. Unfortunately, it's also a bit much to take in and the director (who made the much more popular Seeding of a Ghost the following year) doesn't know when to quit. The amount of times this builds to a climax only to keep on going becomes tiresome by the time the last scene finally does arrive.

One thing that's perhaps most interesting of all is that a very popular later movie ripped off one aspect of this and hasn't been called on it. As it turns out, Shutter (2004) did not actually invent the ghost-riding-on-shoulders-captured-by-a-photograph bit because it was done here 20+ years earlier. The DVD from Celestial Pictures offers English subtitles.

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