Journey Of The Doomed (HK 1984)

Rating: **
Review Date: 7/4/20
Cast: Wei Tung, Fu Yin-Yu, Alex Man, Max Mok, cameos by Regina Kent, Wei Ying Hung, Li Tien-Lang, Tony Leung Ka Fai

A young woman named Shui Erh (Fu Yin-yu) lives in a brothel, but doesn't actually work there. She's actually the daughter of one of two princes who are vying for the emperor's throne, so the brothel madam dares not soil her in case they come looking for her. When the two brothers learn of her existence, one brother orders her to be killed while the other brother orders her to be protected. All of the girls in the brothel are slain by the evil prince's henchmen, but Shui Erh miraculously manages to escape into the woods where she's rescued by Wei Tung, who is simply referred to as "Knight." Even though she brings ruin to his family, romance eventually blooms between them and they find an abandoned hut to live in. But the honeymoon doesn't last long, as jealousy causes Shui Erh to run away, only to be captured by the good prince's henchmen, and then handed over to the bad guys. A fiery showdown takes place at a fort that's rigged to explode, with the doomed lovers trapped inside.

The film is not at all what I was expecting, and is a mash-up of multiple genres, including romance, adventure, kung fu, exploitation, and royal intrigue. There's a surprising amount of nudity, and the hard rock soundtrack is jarring and inappropriate. The action is disappointingly sparse and boils down to only a handful of brief fight scenes. The highlight is a fight between assassins Wei Ying Hung and Li Tien-Lang, but both characters are short-lived and only show up at the beginning of the movie. Unfortunately, the unconvincing romance between Shui Erh and Knight dominates the majority of the film, which is tedious and uninteresting. Fu Yin-Yu is cute and pretty, but her character is so whiny, helpless, and hot-tempered that it's hard to connect with her. On the plus side, the cinematography is gorgeous and the film looks fantastic. The explosive climax actually goes a bit overboard with all of the fireworks, and unfortunately sabotages itself by recycling too much of its own footage. Overall, it's not a bad movie, but the pacing can be challenging and the meandering story isn't particularly engaging. If you go into it looking for kung fu action like I did, you're bound to be let down.