Devil's Vendetta (HK 1991)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 8/15/09
Cast: Cheung Man, Vivian Chow, Billy Lau, Fung Shui-Fan

As much as I abhor Hong Kong comedy, I simply could not pass up an opportunity to see both Cheung Man AND Vivian Chow in the same film. Tracy (lovely Vivian Chow) is the "daughter of evil", born of the demon Twiggy. When she is united with Twiggy, the demon gate will open and something bad will happen. Sheesh, it's only been an hour since I saw the film and I can't even remember the central plot... However, if Tracy marries a certain man with a "golden body" when she turns 18, the evil within her will be negated. Unfortunately, neither Tracy or her betrothed want to get married and they both abandon the ceremony. As a result, Tracy's adopted sister and caretaker Mandy (delightful Cheung Man) must kill her at an appointed time. But before that can happen, we're treated to nearly an hour of goofy slapstick comedy courtesy of Billy Lau, a sex-starved Taoist con-man who is constantly trying to sneak into Mandy's palace of hot babes. Eventually, with the power of love and a little help from Buddha, the good guys finally manage to send Twiggy back to hell.

This is an interesting film in that the Taoist mysticism angle is fascinating and very well done, but the screwball comedy is intolerable and out of place. Billy Lau's over-the-top antics nearly ruin the film, which is otherwise pleasantly entertaining. Cheung Man and Vivian Chow are superb and spectacularly gorgeous. Cheung Man's wirework and choreography are astounding and she has amazing physical grace. Vivian Chow is beautiful as always, and all the more delightful when she's performing magic. Even more impressive is when she becomes evil at the end of the movie, proving that's she's much more than just a pretty face. Taoist master Fung Shui-Fan plays his typical sad sack role, but his physical performance is sloppy and lackluster. But perhaps that's part of the joke. Billy Lau really goes crazy in this film and is completely annoying. He also shows up in drag twice, in case it wasn't funny enough the first time. Production wise, the film looks great apart from a handful of embarrassingly tacky visual effects. The cinematography and pacing have a classically frantic Hong Kong feel, which I sorely miss. Overall, I found the film to be far better than I expected, with just enough fantasy elements and beautiful women to offset its comedic trappings.