Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Vendetta/Morbidia/Zai shi zhui hun (1992, Hong Kong)

(Spoiler alert.) Director Tony Leung Siu Hung delivers one of those cheap, unknown Hong Kong films that you don’t regret buying providing you stumble upon it at some second-hand shop and only pay a buck or two for it. An odd hybrid of horror and police action film, Zai shi zhui hun would be a truly good film were it not for its unbelievably idiotic and out of place happy ending. Not half as glossy or clean as the type of Hong Kong sock-‘em chop-‘em one usually hears about, Morbida (aka Vendetta) is enjoyable in its own way. It ain’t much of a Hong Kong Kung Fu ballet in that the hand-to-hand combat is kept a minimum, but the violence is intense; and, but for the important shootout in which the two “evil ones” first get killed the violence is relatively realistic.
Zai shi zhui hun begins aboard a boat which three psycho siblings are being smuggled into Hong Kong. Arriving on mainland, they first blow away a complete stranger, his pregnant wife and young son so as to commandeer his car and soon after send a cop or two into early and total retirement. Next, these experienced (?) psychopathic criminals pull a bloody and laughably unprofessional robbery of a jewelry store and suddenly have half the police force of the island following their bloody trail of bodies. Ray Lui plays the cop called away from the bedside of his pregnant wife who finally nails the three, killing the two youngest psychos (twins) in the process. Returning to the hospital, he seemingly sees the smiling, bloody and very dead bank robbers constantly turning the next corner ahead of him. Forever a closed elevator door behind them, he chases them all the way to the delivery room of his wife, where she has just given birth to twins, both of which have a strange, bullet-hole shaped birthmark on their foreheads.... Swearing revenge for the death of his brother and sister, psychopath number three is jailed in some high-security jail where he manages to seriously injure more than one guard before he finally makes good his escape. In the meantime, the twins have grown into two obnoxious little brats who never call their father “papa” and seemingly are forever out to hurt or kill their daddy—or could it just be a series of coincidences and accidents? It doesn’t help that Daddy still occasionally sees the bloody dead psychos smiling at him from his children’s bed, or that the two kiddies start chanting “Brother! Brother!” when they unexpectedly see Psycho #3 drive by in a police wagon. In short order, Good Cop starts to crack, Bad Psycho escapes swearing revenge, mommy ends up unconscious in the hospital after the kiddies scare her down the stairs, Good Cop’s best friend gets butchered by Bad Psycho and, finally, there is a big show down between Good Cop and Bad Psycho in the cop’s booby-trapped house....
Predictable and derivative? Well, mostly. Violent? Yep. Scary? Yep again. Suspenseful, entertaining and fun? Sure. A good film? Well, almost. Regrettably, as mentioned before, the filmmakers lacked the balls to give the film the proper downbeat ending it calls for, relying on a truly insipid supernatural sequence at the Vendetta’s end in which, once Psycho #3 is finally really dead, Daddy’s love and his tears save his kiddies’ souls. Gag me with a spoon and poke that guys eyes out, please.

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