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衛斯理之霸王卸甲 (1991)
Bury Me High

Reviewed by: Masterofoneinchpunch
Date: 06/27/2016
Summary: Bury Me Low

In the small country of Carrinan (an obvious allegory to Vietnam; though filmed in Mainland China), a rich traveler Nguen (Paul Chun: also a bad guy in All for the Winner) is looking for a burial spot, according to the rules of feng shui’s sepulchral veneration (aka good burial spot of family that will increase fortunes of descendants.) Helped led by Wei Tien-hsien (Corey Yuen, another All for the Winner connection) who warms him of the catastrophe of his plans (one might wonder if Nguen knew so much why he would use Wei.) However, its usefulness is only good for 24 years and will expire like the pineapple cans in Chungking Express which itself is an allegory to the upcoming handover. Wei creates a map so a future individual may destroy the burial ground (though it seems that it would run out of potency if you just let the time pass). He also ends up burying his friend into a wealth spot and himself into a wisdom spot (though apparently both with timelines as well). Argh my head is hurting from this logic much like the mostly inoperable tumor of Wisely which will possibly make him insane one day, most likely caused by the dad or reading the screenplay.

Wisely* (Chin Ka-lok: Operation Scorpio) is an orphan who was adopted out to the United States. Upon happenstance he meets Anna Wong (Moon Lee: Mr. Vampire) the sister of his Dad’s friend who also happens to be in United States. She believes that the change in fortune between her family and him happen to be because of something changed in the burial grounds or the fact that the 24 year period is about up and the graves have to be disinterred. This does seem to be a rather large impediment to the positiveness of burying someone, especially in a hard-to-get to country. It is not just a coincidence that Wisely is probably dying, Anna Wong’s fortune and company is dwindling, and a psychopath General Nguen like any good martial art villain is a wearing a cape (guess who he is related to; played by Yuen Wah in a role analogous to Eastern Condors) is taking over Carrinan all at the same time. But they need help and they find a somewhat rotund but adroit UCLA professor in the director Tsui Siu-ming (The Buddhist Fist).

So when they arrive in Carrinan, with mountains that remind me of Monument Valley, they are in the middle of a civil war led by General Nguen, his sister (Sibelle Hu: The Inspector Wears Skirts) and militant brother (Cho Wing; also one of the action directors). The plot does get a bit murky, sometimes overly sappy, but I feel that it becomes rather obvious what will happen as the film commences and who live/die. It just does not hold up especially watching it more than once. Some or most viewers I expect are probably just looking forward to the action scenes.

Unfortunately Chin Ka-lok puts in a milquetoast performance and undermines the role by his ineffectual presence and acting. Luckily he can fight though. So can Tsui Siu-ming, even with a few extra pounds. While he does comment on his weight in the film, he is no Sammo Hung in size. Now Yuen Wah may be playing a one-dimensional character as the military leader/dictator, but he acts it with relish.

The hacker scenes were as unrealistic as Hackers (1995) or most films involving computers. Though it is cool to see an earlier 8-bit version of Google Street View. The early police scenes were no better. Cops, usually, do not fire upon an unarmed fleeing person especially for a non-violent offense. Also their quick arrival was pretty hilarious, especially for just a hacker. Also why turn in a person if you are just going to rescue him? Most of the gun battles were pretty unrealistic and sometimes hilariously inept with some obvious influence (though without the gravitas) from Rambo: First Blood Part II and Rambo III. Another item that is either fun or annoying is the amount of product placements you can find in 1990s Hong Kong cinema. Coca-Cola, Pepsi (the drink of rebels) and McDonalds are three of the usual suspects and all present here with a multitude of others.

But there are some good aspects to this film. The cinematography by Peter Pau (The Bride with White Hair and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) who was nominated for a Hong Kong Film Award is superb with helicopter shots, crane shots, nice composition and use of color. It is the most consistently superlative aspect of the movie. It is the only consistently superlative aspect of the movie. Luckily, there are also some good fight sequences and stunts in here which is the primary interest of many people reading this. The first major fight in the discotheque is decent with a couple of nice stunts and combination fighting especially with an uncut sequence with Chin Kar-lok doing a breakdance sweep, to a sweep to a jumping spinning kick. He also (I think it is him and not his stunt double) does a nice painful jump to the floor earlier on. Chin also has a nice little fight with Cho Wing which was too short. The last action scenes are good and crosscut between weaponry, some nice stunts, and hand-to-hand fighting. Finally you get to see Yuen Wah in action who is awesome with combinations, especially against Chin Kar-lok and Moon Lee. It is nice to see so many good side-kicks (the move not an actor like Rob Schneider.) Then there is the most unlikely use of brain surgery you will ever see outside of The Man With Two Brains.

I really cannot recommend this except for the fighting (especially the last fight sequence) and cinematography. But I do not think you have to stay away from it either. I noticed most reviews I read were pretty much the same on this film. It is nice to see a Hong Kong film to try a big budget type of action adventure. It was not a box office hit though making under 11 Million HK Dollars.

This was watched on the Universe R0/NTSC DVD. It has a trailer for the film and one for The Miracle Fighters. It has Cantonese and Mandarin dubs with Traditional, Simplified, English and Bahasa subtitles. I wish some of the written Chinese was translated. I always dislike when English is spoken and yet the subtitles translate it incorrectly. The print is so-so at best with some damage and a washed out look which hurts the fine cinematography. The night scenes sometimes are close to. The DVD is letterboxed and not anamorphic. There is a Legendary Collection R0/NTSC release of this which I would have to believe given their past releases is better looking. However, given their past releases I have the subtitles might even be worse.

* The Wisely character can be seen in other films like The Seventh Curse, The Legend of Wisely and The Cat all played by different actors. It is based off of a fictional character by prolific author Ngai Hong (Ni Kuang). Most of his books are not translated in English, but I have seen a few like The Return of the Hermit that were.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 05/15/2010
Summary: Your Feng Shui is weak...

“Bury Me High” makes no sense as a narrative, even a discontinuous one, either in the universe created by the filmmakers or in any “real” world in which causes and effects are linked. There is only one thing that really makes sense—General Nguen is successful as a rebel leader and then consolidating his power because he owns the only helicopter in Carrinan. There isn’t much to choose between The President and General Nguen. Both are energetic, charismatic and ruthless leaders with no policy other than to maintain or seize power. The confrontation between them, ended when Nguen’s helicopter appears outside a window and fires a few thousand rounds into the President’s forces with about half of them hitting the President himself, is based on personal antagonism and score settling.

What makes “Bury Me High” a fun movie to watch are the fights, particularly between Chin Kar-Lok and Yuen Wah with Moon Lee jumping in toward the end of the ultimate battle between them. The hand to hand fighting is brutal, continuous once it starts and extremely well choreographed, lit and shot. Much of the action takes place on bridges or balconies, so there is plenty of work for stuntmen jumping or falling into rivers or being thrown from the second level of a disco to smash into the floor.

The plot is set up in the very beginning with some easy to understand exposition about why feng shui is important and how it works. This is followed by a flashback in which an all important secret and magical tablet with the secrets of a huge and distinctive rock formation, known as the Conqueror. If one is buried properly in the dizzying heights of the Conqueror his descendants will have wisdom, wealth or power. But only one of them, and only for 24 years. If the corpse isn’t disinterred after that time everything gets reversed. This is happening as the current day action begins and everything gets completely ridiculous immediately. If there was only one copy of the final shooting script that was accidentally fed through a shredder and then painstakingly put back together by people working from a bare outline it might have made more sense.

But with exemplary action, a uniformly excellent cast and exceptional cinematography it is well worth seeing. There are moments of inspired lunacy: when General Nguen grabs some ancient firearms from a display, two of them are loaded and primed so that they actually fire including the one he uses to shoot Wisely in the head, a wound that cures a malignant tumor that had been growing in his brain. Anna Wong and her feng shui team from Los Angeles go from traveling software sales reps to leaders of the insurgency against the General without explanation. Where that group of rebels, well organized, properly armed and willing to die for their cause came from is never explained—they must be some kind of third force, opposed to both The President and the General although their real function seems to blow stuff up and get butchered by Nguen’s soldiers. Professor Chen, one of Miss Wong’s cadres of feng shui practitioners, had to be lured away from his job at UCLA where he taught the history of geomancy and had a green card courtesy of the university. Nguen Van Vong is the sister of General Nguen and of Capt. Nguen Van Bao, his second in command. She thinks the General is too brutal but has no problem with the Captain when he summarily executes prisoners by shooting them in the head.

A strange but beguiling movie

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: Graeme Noble
Date: 04/18/2004
Summary: Boring Film, but 3 Fight Scenes...

The first fight, is with Kar Lok and Tsui Min fighting a bunch of hooligans on a dance room, some nice moves from Kar Lok but a poor fight.
The next fight takes place on a bridge, and it's pretty good, minute long, crisp movement.
The end fight is good, Yuen Wah vs. Chin Kar Lok, you can't go wrong with those two, very good!

5/10 - Just for the end fight!

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 09/18/2003

Bury Me High has a fairly unique plot -- an evil general is trying to use feng shui (the art of placing things in the proper place in order to obtain power) to take over a small country, and it's up to a small team of rebels to stop him. While this kind of stuff might be a bit confusing, the movie moves along at a quick clip, so things don't become too muddled. More emphasis is placed on set design/lighting and action, rather than geomancy -- which is really not a bad thing. Bury Me High looks great, almost like a comic book at times, and the action (especially the bits done by Chin Kar-Lok, one of the more under-rated actors in HK action movies) is pretty damn exciting. Of course, when you have Moon Lee and Yuen Wah (once again proving why he is one of the best villain actors in HK) duking it out, you really can't go wrong.

Some plot quibbles, low budgets, and bad gweilo actors (Moon's English is better than the white guys in here) aside, Bury Me High is overall a well-made action movie.

Reviewed by: S.A. Winters
Date: 12/19/2002
Summary: A good premise that doesn't pay off

A brother and sister must preform a sacred ritual in order to carry on a magic spell cast by their father 24 years ago. It's not so easy when they head to the mountains and walk into a military coup. Hey, why not? With a cast like Moon Lee, Sibelle Hu and Yuen Wa you expect some good fights at least. However they are minimal and the story more or less strolls along at a decent enough pace. This should have been much better than it was and in the hands of a more skilled action director it would have. Because we must admit, we don't watch this type of film for it's articulate story telling. We watch for the Bam! We watch for the Pow! We watch for the OWWW!! and we like for the story between the BAM! POW! and OWWW! to interest us as well. Rent before you buy.

Reviewed by: CaptainAmerica
Date: 06/07/2002
Summary: Supernatural hoo-ha goes bombastic!

Moon Lee...cuter than a bag of teddy bears but deadlier than the male! Moon's sifu and filmmaker Chui Siu Ming produced, cowrote, directed, and costars in this epic-scale supernatural action-thriller in which Moon gives one of her best performances as...well, let's get some exposition out of the way first so as not to confuse!

Although the rapid-fire exposition we're treated to in the film's first ten minutes might as well be called "Feng Shui For Dummies", one can't be faulted for still feeling dumb for not being able to follow the kind of info that would better be treated to us over the space of thirty minutes! (But then, we'd have a longer movie.) In a nutshell, the beginning of the film is flashback to when an avaricious scumbag uses his brother (Corey Yuen in a cool cameo) and their combined knowledge in Feng Shui, a system of geomancy, to find the Holy Grail of Feng Shui sites in an obscure Asian nation -- a place where if one's ancestor is buried will receive incredible power, intellect and/or wealth, depending on where that ancestor is buried. Corey's character doesn't like his unstable brother's ideas and escapes from his sibling's mercenary forces, but in the process a local native is fatally wounded saving his life. Both in gratitude and to obey the man's last request, he promises to bury him in the locale where his about-to-be-orphaned son and daughter will reap wealth. Corey's character resolves to have himself buried in the area which will bestow his son, Wisely, great intellect.

Fast-forward to the present day: the native's surviving daughter (her brother died in the intervening years of an unspecified disease, it will later be revealed) grows to be Moon Lee...she is an American businesswoman in charge of a massive Los Angeles-based conglomerate. Also living in L.A. is Wisely (Chin Kar Lok), who has indeed become brilliant, especially where computers are concerned. (A far cry from the version of the Wisely character seen in the classic THE SEVENTH CURSE!) But recently there have been problems for both: Moon's business is slowly but steadily getting in financial fact, things have getting so bad she can't afford to donate a shipment of computers she promised for charity; this irks Wisely, who hacks Moon's mainframe out of spite...but he finds that he has problems, too, when he's diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor! Both realize this may somehow be linked with their parents' burial sites, and literally wrangle a UCLA professor and expert in this geomancy (Chui Siu Ming) and together the three travel to the old country. They meet one of the country's top officials (Sibelle Hu) who regrets to inform them that a lot of instability is going if to illustrate this, Moon and the others barely escape an assault by rebel guerillas!

Believe it or not, this is where things get complicated. This Asian nation is now home to a repressive government led by a peacock-struttin' President...whoops! I should say it WAS led by this guy, because just before the trio can ask El Presidente to do some digging his number one general (Yuen Wah) makes a power play and pretty much takes over the country! It turns out he's using the local Feng Shui for his own evil ends to make his nation into the number one superpower on Earth, and to make himself a latter-day Hitler! And from the looks of his machinations (which seem to come straight from a James Bond movie) and nasty intentions, he might just do it. But can Moon, Wisely, and the Professor (with the needed help of Sibelle's character) decode exactly what's going on, stop Yuen Wah, ensure Moon's prosperity, and keep Wisely from going to that big databank in the sky?

I won't lie: your head WILL spin from all this hoo-ha, but you'll also be impressed by one of the best actioners, as well as one of the best Moon Lee films, from HK. Believe it or not, martial arts don't comprise most of this movie's fact, it isn't until the film's climax when things become bone-jarring in the department of martial action. Moon Lee fans will cringe involuntarily to see her receive so much punishment...fortunately, it's equal to what she dishes out! But that's not all that's jarring: the climax is also a set-piece for an amazing all-out battle involving tanks and the heaviest of artillery...this easily rivals a lot of American war films, the action is so intense!

Note: you can find it at Tai Seng letterboxed and subtitled on VHS. Definitely required viewing, even if you're not a Moon Lee fan!

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 03/07/2002
Summary: Ok -ish

I don't remember too much about this movie, but i do remember it was a above average movie. Yuen Wah almost steals the show from Chin kar Lok but this movie is nothing special but worth a look.


Reviewed by: Kevin Chan
Date: 01/17/2002
Summary: Big budget actioner

Entertaining action film with supernatural overtones thrown in for good measure. The cast is great and this film obviously had a massive budget - the lavish sets, nice cinematography (Peter Pau - Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon), hundreds of extras and not to mention the big scale half hour long action set piece at the end. The movie is also recorded in Dolby Stereo - somewhat of a rarity for HK films made back in 91. Worth a look

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 01/12/2002
Summary: Confusing but funny

Bury Me High is a very confusing story, and most of the time I was not sure what was going on. Started off looking like a ghost movie, then a comedy, then action. Over all though, despite it making little sense at times, the comedy and action were very good, and I must admit to likeing this quite a lot. I would almost rate it a 4, if only the story had made more sense.

Rating (of 5): 3

(This rating is based on the year & genre, so don't think it's based as a comparison on new releases etc.)

Reviewed by: foleyisgravy
Date: 01/05/2002
Summary: Feng Shui for dummies

OK action flick starring Chin Kar Lok, Tsui Siu Ming, Yuen Wah, Moon Lee, Sibelle Hu, and delightful Cho Wing. Plot is too complicated to explain in a short review but bascially Yuen Wah is an evil general and Chin Kar Lok and some friends have to stop him. God, how I love a cheap by-the-numbers action plotline. The action takes a while to start up in this one with the first fight being about 25 minutes in. After that, there is another short one 20 minutes later and a big finale to close her off. The ending has some good fighting with Wah and Kar Lok going at it while Ming faces Wing. It rhymes! I wasn't blown away by it and the way Wah bites it is really stupid. The action is worth seeing, but the rest of the movie had me bored for the most part. With such a great martial arts cast, you'd think that there would be more fights.

Reviewed by: danton
Date: 01/03/2002

This one was a disappointment. It's another movie featuring Wai Se Lee, but never seems to get going. Watch Seventh Curse instead, or even Legend of Wisely.

The plot is a mess, and I found myself not paying much attention after a while. Decent fight scenes, and Yuen Wah is always great as a villain, but overall, this is a pretty forgettable affair.

Reviewed by: Cissi
Date: 06/17/2001
Summary: 7/10 Nonsensical but fun

The film's plot made little sense, but I liked the mish-mash of action, thriller and the supernatural. Besides, who needs a comprehensible plot when you have great action and explosions? Very enjoyable, and generally fast-paced.

Reviewed by: MilesC
Date: 12/09/1999

I found this movie a pretty satisfying actioner. Although I had some trouble with the story, (my knowledge of feng shui is pretty minimal, and the subtitles were severely cut off on the edges) this rather bizarre supernatural/adventure/war/political thriller/kung fu movie was pretty enjoyable. A bit slow at times, but some interesting cinematography and a great ending gave it a boost. Pretty good light entertainment.

Reviewed by: hokazak
Date: 12/09/1999

Complicated plot, involving the supernaturally influencedfates of the descendents of various people buried in different spots on a sacred mountain. Also involves a small country which experiences a military coup led by bad-guy / dictator Corey Yuen. Some good FX, and fight scenes, but unfortunately Moon Lee doesn't quite get her share of kung fu action, and Sibelle Hu doesn't really do any hand-to-hand fighting.

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

Enjoyable actioner a-la Indiana Jones. The thing that surprised me the most in this flick was the budget, I don't know how much money was invested in this film but it look expensive for that kind of film. The plot is fun but sometimes erratic. My main complaint is about the lack of characterisation, I would have enjoyed it more if I could have cared for the "good guys". Not that they were annoying or something, it's just that I had sometimes the feeling of watching a "live" video game. But beside that it's matchable. The final "twist" itself worth the rental price.

[Reviewed by Martin Sauvageau]