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摩登天師 (1982)
To Hell with the Devil

Reviewed by: dandan
Date: 07/17/2009
Summary: the bedazzling of ricky...

bruce lee (ricky hui) is a down on his luck song writer, who is going nowhere fast. flit (stanley fung) works for the devil (chung faat) and is under some considerable pressure to harvest some more souls for his master. he sees bruce as an easy target, and, he's right; bruce quickly gives up his soul in exchange for three wishes, but he soon discovers that things never seem to turn out as he thinks they will. luckily for bruce, reverend ma (paul chun) - an alcoholic priest who dies, but is sent back to earth to redeem himself by go - is at hand to help him rescue his lost soul...

yep, another whacked out, bizarre and very silly john woo comedy. this one hits as much as it misses, on the comedy front, but the nuttiness that permeates it is enough to inspire you getting through it. there's a touch of 'bedazzled', which is no bad thing, and a crazy space invaders style good vs evil showdown to finish things off. some fun special effects add a little gloss...


Reviewed by: cpardo
Date: 04/29/2006
Summary: More bizarre comedy by John Woo

A failed priest dies but God gives him another chance to redeem himself. Down below, the devil's assistant Flit is ordered to get more souls or else. Their target is a poor lad with bad luck named Bruce Lee, a starving musician trying to make it big and win the heart of his girl, only to fail time and time again. Flit tempts Bruce with any desire he wishes as long as he signs over his soul to him. He agrees, but doesn't work out as he hoped. The priest intervenes and hopes to save Bruce from his fate and to fight Flit for his soul.

I have to say if nothing else John Woo's early comedy films are interesting because they are just so weird. They take on a surreal and chaotic air off and on, with odd slapstick and sped up/slow-mo sequences. As a result, they don't provide laugh-riot moments. I do like the take on the Faust/Bedazzled tale and Paul Chun and Stanley Fong are watchable. It was kind of tedious to see Ricky fail again and again, but I'm glad Flit was able to take the annoying rock star Rocky (played by Nat Chan) down a few pegs. The best part of a movie is the great climatic battle between good and evil. THEN the battle turns into a video game for some reason, looking like Space Invaders with Donkey Kong sound effects! Looking at all of John Woo's comedies, his "everything but the kitchen sink" IS different than anything else I've seen. It just has trouble working more often than not.

The conclusion: a mixed review, but it has it's moments!

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 01/05/2003
Summary: To Hell with this movie :p

Somebody at Deltamac must like Ricky Hui a lot, 'cause there's a suspicious number of his movies in the first wave of releases since they acquired the Fortune Star/Media Asia library. Many of these are directed by John Woo, in the days before he met Tsui Hark and his star was not shining quite so bright.

Woo is famous for being a Christian, and this is quite apparent in To Hell With The Devil. It seems that to Woo, Christianity is basically about some powerful and capricious supernatural beings who hate each other and both broadly dislike humans, and that the battle between good and evil is best represented as a video game. Perhaps the utter shallowness of the treatment is simply because the movie is meant to be a frivolous comedy, but part of me suspects that this is really what Woo considers to be a profound statement about his religion!

The plot: Stanley Fung and Paul Chun play a failed demon and a failed priest, both of whom are sent back to earth by their respective bosses to prove themselves. They end up in competition over the soul of Ricky Hui, a down and out musician. If we're marking for effort, hell definitely wins this match 'cause most of the movie Stanley Fung dominates the proceedings with various tricks to tempt Ricky to the dark side.

The movie leaps about through what is basically a series of sketches, loosely strung together by this theme. Ricky tries to win the girl and squash the rival whose success he resents, and Stanley uses his magic to help him, but Ricky finds that the gifts of the devil are usually double edged or something.

The movie is clearly a Hong Kong comedy, of the sort that doesn't tend to travel well... there's lots of slapstick and physical humour, little of which makes a favourable impression. Mind you, I don't think local audiences had much time for it either, so perhaps it's not a HK thing, just a lousy thing. There's a few good moments - mainly the bizarre climactic battle, but for most of the movie I was watching the time and wondering when it would all end.

There's little sign here of any of the style that would make John Woo the box office king just a few years later, and I can't help but conclude that Woo's success was more down to who he knew than what he knew (his Hollywood decline also suggests the same). Or maybe it's just that Woo and Comedy are not a good mix!

The Deltamac DVD is a typical cheap HK disc - an old worn print run through a telecine machine with no attempt to calibrate brightness or black levels or colour saturation etc. It is widescreen at 2.35:1 and well subtitled though.

Reviewer Score: 1

Reviewed by: STSH
Date: 01/14/2000
Summary: Awful

Starts very well, and the first two scenes are a hoot. Paul Chun and Stanley Fung's journeys to heaven and hell are highly entertaining. But the film collapses in a heap when Ricky Hui comes on the scene, and never really recovers.
Ricky's one good scene is where he impersonates a middle-aged woman actress in order to try to kill his enemy Rocky. His many efforts fail, and are a scream. This scene looks like a steal from Tootsie.
It's hard to work out what went wrong. There's plenty of talent, both in front of and behind the camera. Judging by the special effects, this is a big budget production. It probably comes down to the casting of Ricky Hui in a lead role. He tries hard for pathos, but simply ends up being pathetic.
A big disappointment.

Reviewer Score: 2

Reviewed by: Darryl
Date: 12/21/1999

A hilarious bust on THE EXORCIST, Chinese style. RICKY HUI KOONYING and JOHN WOO continue their comedic chemistry in this colourful romp.

Reviewer Score: 7