... aka: 你要活著回去
... aka: Marianna
... aka: Ni yao huo zhe hui qu
... aka: You Have to Come Back Alive
Pak Tong Cheuk
Hong Kong shaving cream salesman Peter Yu (Han Chin) travels to the Philippines for business. After finalizing a deal late one night, he gets in his car only to startled when a panicked young woman starts banging on his window and asking for help. Some men she describes only as "rotten bastards" are after her. Peter lets her in and takes off back to his hotel. The girl, Marianna (Anna Maria Gutierrez), is vague about what's going on and refuses to talk about any of it. She asks to spend the night and then sneaks out by morning while Peter is still sleeping. A friend meets her right outside the hotel, kills a couple of the men who've been after her and then the two take off in a jeep and go back to their village. Mention is made of a man named Kirk from a rival village and there being some kind of fight over who gets to "possess" Marianna.
Back in Hong Kong, Peter's exercise instructor wife Nancy (Sally Yeh) starts becoming insecure when some gossipy women in the sauna talk how about Filipina women like to seduce Chinese men away from their wives while The Pointer Sisters' "Slow Hand" (!) plays on the soundtrack. When Peter returns home, his coworkers ask if he's caught a new v.d. called "Luzon Cauliflower" while Nancy drills him about his Philippines activities to make sure no affair took place. Despite Peter's denial, doubt is cast once Marianna shows up at his office in Hong Kong looking for help. She was sent there by her tribe to hide and meet up with an aunt who's out of town herself. With no friends or relatives in the area, Peter feels compelled to help her.
Seeing how is wife is stressed and overworked dealing with her job and their two kids, Peter decides to kill two birds with one stone by hiring Marianna as a live-in cook, maid and babysitter. However, Kirk has a sinister older female spy in Hong Kong who spots Marianna around town. She starts shadowing her and the family, gives Marianna a threatening letter and hands her a package containing rice and a human ear presumably belonging to her father. Marianna confesses some of her troubles to Peter and both prove all the gossips correct by indulging in a little affair. Leaving work early, Nancy walks in on them having sex, kicks Marianna out and then goes on a downward spiral of depression, locking herself away in her room, completely ignoring her hubby and frequenting a disco with her coworker Rose. After Kirk's men break into the Yu's home, kidnap and terrorize their kids and try to rape and kill Nancy, she decides to flee the city to stay with her uncle in the Philippines.
On the plane trip, a wealthy half Filipino / half Chinese playboy named Amando (Mark Joseph) flashes a larger-than-she-already-has diamond wedding ring at Nancy as a way to say "Hey, you can do better!" He finds out where she's staying and starts romantically pursuing her. Though she shrugs him off at first, Peter shows up to try to win her back so Nancy uses Amando as a way to make him jealous. The two men get into a fist fight but it's settled the following day when Nancy decides to work things out with Peter. Before they leave the country, the two go on a romantic sightseeing trip to Baguio when things finally - after nearly an HOUR - take a turn for the horrific.
The two stop at a rest stop where locals sing the African-American spiritual "Michael Row the Boat Ashore" (!!) and they have their gas siphoned out of their car, which leads them to becoming stranded in the jungle. First, they encounter a village filled with white-faced, hooded zombies, then stumble upon a rest stop where weird lobotomized locals in the middle of a cockfight stare at them. From there, they end up in another seemingly abandoned ghost town filled with corpses. But wait, there's more! The couple are then kidnapped by a cannibal tribe which also happens to be Kirk's tribe (what a coincidence!) who are now in possession of Marianna. A hog is slaughtered and a witch doctor spits blood in Nancy's face before trying to sacrifice her. Thankfully, Marianna's tribe shows up just in time to save them. The two tribes then start slaughtering one another with machetes, spears, arrows and spiked booby traps while Marianna, Peter and Nancy try to survive the carnage.
Suffering from one of the most extreme cinematic identity crises ever, it's almost surreal how this bizarre little mystery / jungle adventure / marriage melodrama / horror flick can never quite decide what it wants to be. And the characters who populate this are all kinds of unsavory. I would say its portrayal of Filipinos (with most of the men shown to be brutal, murderous and thieving savages and the women home-wreckers desperate to escape their presumably awful country) is offensive, except its portrayal of the Chinese characters isn't much better. Hell, the wife finds her kids bound and gagged in the bathtub and is out drinking and disco hopping in the very next scene! However, this is filled with all kinds of entertaining, random nonsense, and it's not at all predictable, so I never found it boring.
Lead actress Yeh (who also starred in Ronny Yu's ghost comedy The Occupant, the critically acclaimed Peking Opera Blues and John Woo's highly influential The Killer) went on to become a hugely popular, award-winning pop singer with a successful international career. In fact, even though most of the music is stolen or recycled, several of the original songs heard here are probably hers. Directors Dennis Yu (THE BEASTS, THE IMP) and Jeffrey Lau (THE HAUNTED COP SHOP and its SEQUEL) were the producers.
The Asian releases on VCD and laser disc (on the Mei Ah Laser Disc Co. Ltd. label) come with English subtitles, though the dialogue is a mix of Cantonese, Filipino and even quite a bit of English. There's been no DVD release to my knowledge.