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第三類打鬥 (1980)
Heaven and Hell

Reviewed by: j.crawford
Date: 04/14/2012
Summary: Holiday Extravaganza

The Lunar New Year Holiday season has always meant big box office returns for the Shaw studios in the Hong Kong market. The blockbuster movie of the 1980 holiday was this way out feature from director Chang Cheh featuring his young action star Alexander Fu Sheng called Heaven and Hell. Besides having every major and not so major studio star in the cast, this movie has everything in it that Hong Kong audiences loved going to the movies to see. There is a subtext of irreverance that pokes fun at the real world, the film makers, and the audience with the various views of hell, heaven, and the earth [the 1980's version of reality]. This is one of those films that has to be seen in the theater projected in glorious Cinemascope on the big screen.

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: cal42
Date: 02/24/2008
Summary: Weird and disjointed

A man and woman are kicked out of the Court of Heaven on trumped up charges of bringing shame onto the Kingdom. Reincarnated as a taxi driver, Xin Ling (Lee I-Min) courageously takes on and kills a gangster harassing Chen Ding (Fu Sheng) and his sweetheart (Jenny Tseng), but is himself mortally wounded in the conflict. Now sent to hell, Xin Ling applies for leniency when the annual heavenly Buddha happens to appear pretty much as soon as he gets there. In another stroke of luck, the Venoms themselves are in hell and keen to get out, and the heavenly Buddha allows them all to fight their way out.

I’ve always had a bit of an interest in this film as it looked like a wacky bit of fun. The reality, though, is a film just a bit too out there for my tastes.

You can’t fault the film for being different. We start off in heaven in this three act film, a section which of course has a strong fantasy feel to it, and reminded me a little of the film NA CHA THE GREAT. It soon becomes apparent that the first two sections of the film are just setting the scene for the “Hell” part as the “Heaven” section barely lasts ten minutes before switching to modern day Earth. The Mortal World is the most striking part of the film visually, which, for reasons unfathomable to me, is portrayed in a kind of theatrical way as a stage play complete with stylised sets and props (and a couple of musical numbers from Jenny Tseng which are surprisingly not too bad). Fu Sheng takes on a gang of dancers pretending to be thugs in a fight scene without sound effects of any kind and with visible lack of contact. It’s a very brave style choice, and definitely something I’ve not seen before. Unfortunately, I don’t think it really pays off. The film then confusingly switches to a more realistic, external setting for the encounter between Fu Sheng, Lee I-Min and the gang boss played by Kong Do.

The lion’s share of the screen time goes to the Hell sequence, but this is interspersed with flashbacks to various periods in the world’s history when the Venoms’ backstories are told. Hell itself is primarily made up of cheesy sets, cheesy costumes (Hell’s workers are kind of like human pigs) and ultra cheesy lighting. There are a few torture scenes and a little moralising along the way, but basically, the Hell sequence is just a prelude to the introduction of the Venoms and the film becomes a Kung Fu-fest from there on in. While the Venom stories are good, the whole film just descends into a fragmented mess and I couldn’t wait for the whole thing to finish.

You could walk in on Heaven and Hell at various points and think you’re watching a fantasy film, an avant-garde 70’s pop art piece, a comedy, a horror, a period Kung Fu flick, a modern day actioner and a musical variety show. With so many elements involved, it was sure to turn out badly, and Heaven and Hell was a real struggle for me to sit through. You’ll never see another film like it, but that’s meant more of a warning than a recommendation.

Reviewer Score: 4

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 01/25/2005
Summary: The strangest hk movie out there

Filled with stars, though a very strange movie which doesn't make much sense. Is it saying that if you got kung fu skills you can kick your ass out of hell? Is it suppose to say even though you are in hell you still got a chance to redeem yourself?

The movie starts with DAvid Chiang in heaven who escapes to earth with his lover then you goto modern times where David Chiang is Alexander Fu and then there is a mini musical. Then you movies main focus is in hell and then ending, i think someone took drugs there because it is just crazy!!

Hard to watch though i did sit through it. A interesting look at hell, the kung fu is pretty boring!!


Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 01/19/2004
Summary: 3/5

*** HEAVEN AND HELL Quite deranged and bizarre martial arts take on the Japanese film Jigoku. I love the very stylised sets and action scenes on earth.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: mpongpun
Date: 10/19/2003

Interesting flick that plays like a musical with the cheap sets. You may find the flick weird or disjointed. Maybe you might even think Chang Cheh was puffing on some of those little mushrooms. I don’t know. I believe if you have an understanding of the Chinese thinking of the afterlife, heaven, and hell, everything will come together quite easily. The flick starts off with the “heaven” story. The Chinese believe that the universe was divided up into three worlds: heaven, earth, and hell. Heaven is a fun place to be where there are Immortals and Fairies live (like Na Cha). In this flick, a couple of fairies named Zi Xiao (Maggie Lee) and Zhou Bao (David Chiang)—both who are married to each other off the set!!-- want to elope to Earth and live as regular mortals but are caught by the Heaven’s guards. One of the fairies assigned to catch Zi Xiao and Zhou Bao, Xin Ling (Li Yi Min), allows the two to escape and later pays the price by being banished to Earth to live as a mortal too. This is when the “Earth” part of the story begins. Xin Ling has been reincarnated as a cabbie. Again Xin Ling interferes in the struggles of another couple, Chen Ding (Fu Sheng) and Shiqi (Jenny)—another couple married to each other off set!!—by taking a bullet meant for Chen Ding in a dispute with a Triad boss. Again, Xin Ling dies and is sent to “Hell”. For the most part, the flick takes part in “Hell”. Chinese “Hell” is nothing like you ever heard of if you are not Chinese. Hell is a place for criminals, gamblers, sinners, and other bad people. Basically everybody goes to Hell. Good or bad. The good people who have led an honest life can cross the silver and gold bridges to escape torture while the bad souls are sent to a Judge to be dealt with. After so many years of re-fining yourself, you get to be re-incarnated, but not after you’ve been tortured pertaining to the bad deed you did. Like in the flick, if you are an alcoholic, you may be teased with alcohol. Gamblers get their fingers chopped off. If you gossip, you get your tongue pulled on. If you are a miser, you get your skinned pulled off. There are 10 levels of Hell and it takes 7 days to walk to each level to see the Judge of that level. By the time you get to the 9th Hell, you are given a potion to forget what happened to you like the torture and past experiences. Will life ever be good in Hell? If you have nice parents, buddies, or relatives, the soul can visit the living to plead for help at different festivals like the “Hungry Ghost Festival”. Also, people can burn you things like money, cars, women, cell phones, etc. to lesson your suffering. If you are not Chinese, you may be shocked at the depictions of Chinese Hell. The guys who rules and judges the souls in hell isn’t a devil or an enemy of Heaven. He looks like a regular old guy. The judge can be lenient and he can even let some suffering souls leave Hell on special occasions. The judicial system is very similar to the one on Earth if you want to put it that way. Just think of a bureaucratic Hell. Well, in this flick, the God of Mercy (Yu Yung) visits Hell and listens to the case of Xin Ling being unjustly punished in Hell so he offers Xin Ling a chance to leave Hell if he finds some “lost souls” to help him. Xin Ling finds four lost souls and together, with a little help from some Heavenly fairies, they are able to fight off Hell’s minions to make it to the stairway to heaven where the lost souls can re-incarnate and Xin Ling can get regain his status as an Immortal.

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 09/09/2001

plain stupidify. Set mostly in modern times with an unbearable plot with some major SB stars in their smallest roals I've ever seen. The poor quality of the video certainly does not contribute positively.