Posted on July 3rd, 2009 in Brick Prior, Movies, SHAW-A-DAY-A-THON by Brick Prior

Did you know that you can get into a fight in Heaven, get sent down to Earth, get killed and go to Hell, and beat the shit out of lots of people in the process? 

I didn’t… until tonight!

THE OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS (so awesome that it is officially in ALL CAPS as mandated by the Office of Official Synopsis’ For America)

“PLUNGE FROM THE HEIGHTS OF PARADISE TO THE DEPTHS OF HELL IN THIS HIGH-FLYING, UTTERLY WILD FANTASY ADVENTURE! WHEN AN ANGEL DECIDES TO HELP TWO OF HIS HEAVENLY COLLEAGUES WHO HAVE FALLEN IN LOVE, THE TRIO LEARN THE HARD WAY THAT EMOTIONAL ATTACHMENTS ARE NOT ALLOWED. SENT TO EARTH TO FULFILL THEIR DESTINIES, THEY FIND THEMSELVES AS AN ILL-FATED COUPLE AND A CAB DRIVER WHO PERFORMS THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE… BUT THEN THEY MOVE TO THE THIRD LEVEL OF THE UNDERWORLD, WHERE GHOSTS AND DEMONS FACE OFF AGAINST THE ANGELS IN A KUNG-FU FRENZY! IT’S A VISUALLY STUNNING, FRENZIED CULT CLASSIC FROM THE SHAW BROTHERS AND THE DIRECTOR OF FIVE DEADLY VENOMS.”

THE TRAILER (WARNING:  This is not official.  This is nine minutes of crazy that I found on Youtube.)

 

 

 

 

THIS IS WHAT I THOUGHT HAPPENED SINCE I HAD TO READ SUBTITLES AND WATCH ACTION AT THE SAME TIME, HAR HAR HAR

Pow!  The titles hit, and we start off in… Heaven!  Hooray!  Isn’t this how all life starts- all happy in the clouds, and then HOLY SHIT I’M ON EARTH NOW WHAT DO I DO mode kicks in, right?  No?  No?  Who believes in the stork theory?  Anyone?  Evolution?  Hello?  How’s about good ol’ fashioned boning, and then nine months later a mini-you is unleashed on the world?  Bueller Bueller hello?

Nothing?

Okay, good… because there are FIGHTS in Heaven when you ruin the queen’s birthday… and yes, that is how this movie starts.

First off, OBJECTION.  I didn’t know there was a queen in Heaven.  That’s like, UHHHHH, Sailor Moon territory right?  Is that the first reference to Sailor Moon that we’ve had in almost two years?  I don’t know, they all blur together.  Someone do some research.

Anyway, yeah!  There’s a fight in Heaven over two lovestruck Heavenly folks that decided to disrupt the Queen’s birthday by being all openly lovey dovey to each other, which goes to show you that PDA is frowned on even in Heaven… so yeah, you shouldn’t be grabbing your girlfriend’s ass in public because EVEN HEAVEN DOESN’T LIKE IT, YOU GROPEY ASSHOLE.

One of Heaven’s Warriors sticks up for the happy couple, and gets banished to Ear(ff)th for his troubles… where he’s reincarnated as a goddamn cab driver.  Travis Bickle he isn’t, as he falls in with a couple that communicates through singing. 

That’s right, more singing… and I can barely take it.

Our boy Fu Sheng (he being Alexander Fu Sheng, awesome talent that will come up later in my favorite Shaw Brothers film of all time) is in love with a girl named Jenny.  Unfortunately, Fu Sheng keeps running afoul of the local gangsters, with one of them wearing Michael Jackson’s suit from Smooth Criminal.  Things escalate with Fu Sheng beating the fuck out of everyone, followed by a song, and followed by some night-time asswhuppery which sees our Heavenly Cab Driver get shot and kill Smooth Criminal in the process.  Our hero then heads right on down to Hell, and this is where the movie kicks into high gear, as this version of Hell is ripe with awesomeness… and by awesomeness, I mean lots and lots of torture.

EXAMPLE:  Do you drink a lot? Like, A LOT.  More than SaikyoCrusher?  Okay, imagine kicking the bucket and getting sent to a place where there is ALL ALCOHOL, ALL THE TIME (all the time)!  But, there is a problem- you can’t drink a drop.  Sucks to be you, right?

Where’s my beer?

EXAMPLE #2:  Did you spend your rent money on the slot machine?  Bad you, cause when you’re in Hell, you’re gonna be around all the gambling you can imagine… until your hands get cut off.  Wash those stumps, let them soupbones grow back, because those goddamn hands are getting cut off again and again and again!

EXAMPLE #3:  Nothing like getting cut in half and having to fight yourself for all eternity.  Why?  Because you’re in Hell, that’s why.

So, this is the “fun” version of Hell where there are ox-like demons guarding the joint, folks getting skewered constantly, and people getting their skin ripped off for all eternity.  Our Heavenly Cab Driver immediately cuts in the Reincarnation Line and gets the chick that was with him sent to Plow Hell.

Yes, it’s called “Plow Hell”.  I… can’t make this stuff up.

So, he’s all interested in her plight and busts her out of the joint, and they find out that the Buddha of Mercy has tapped a couple of folks to rise up and get the “hell” out of there.  These people got completely double crossed in their former lives- warriors betrayed by others and getting their heads chopped off, innocent bystanders getting shot for no reason- it’s some crazy stuff.  One poor guy gets a barb shoved down his throat after being double crossed by the town official- these sequences are a good flashback to other production styles from the Shaw Brothers catalog, so it’s a nice touch.  Once all the heroes’ previous deaths are recapped, they are all anointed by the Buddha of Mercy to do one thing and one thing only: beat the shit out of everyone in their way, get out of Hell, and get reincarnated.

This is where the movie turns into AWESOMESAUCE.

Clad in white and kicking ass for Buddha, our heroes carve up the denizens of Hell like nobody’s business, until they run into THE GUARDS.  Quick newsflash- THE GUARDS ARE THE SAME PEOPLE THAT KILLED THEM IN THEIR FORMER LIVES!  Oh snap, it’s on now… especially since the floor decides to grow some swords and now EVERYONE’S FIGHTING ON TOP OF SWORDS IN HELL WHAT THE FUCK THIS IS AWESOME.

Hell’s Warriors get the upperhand on our heroes, and it gets so bad that Heaven decides to interfere, giving the Heavenly Cab Driver his power back, restoring power to everyone’s weapons, and making them fight it out in MORTAL KOMBAT.  Our Heroes mop the floor with their enemies, and hey!  They get reincarnated… and you know what?

It ends like a “Beatles” movie.

Take that as you will.

THIS IS WHAT I THOUGHT OVERALL

If there ever was a feel-good movie about going to Hell, this is it… and only for one reason: YOU GET TO BEAT THE SHIT OUT OF YOUR ENEMIES IN HELL.  There’s hope for all of us yet!

All in all, “Heaven and Hell” is a pretty daring movie- the final third of it is pretty much shot in low light with some dayglo green creeping into the shot all the time, but it feels just right considering the fact that it’s in Hell.  The fight scenes are awesome, naturally… and the sequence on top of the swords is balls-out insane.

But… I can’t get over one particular aspect of the production design.  What do I mean?

Well, here’s a picture.

 

THE MANDARIN VERSION OF “YOU CAN’T DO THAT ON TELEVISION” WAS A HUGE FUCKING FAILURE

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And I wasn’t kidding about the swords…

 

BALANCE, SON

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TOMORROW

Okay… hit me.

“The Shadow Whip”.

This is either going to be really good, or really really bad…