Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Megaforce 2 / Devil Hunters / Lie mo qun ying (Hong Kong, 1989)

(Spoilers.) This is the second flick on a cheap German double DVD entitled Megaforce 1 & 2 which, as we mentioned in our review of Killer Angels (1989), "we bought alone due to the wonderful cover art: with its big-boobed white babe with Farrah Fawcett hair [...] and macho male Caucasians bearing big guns." As in that movie, no big-boobed white babe with Farrah Fawcett hair is found anywhere in Megaforce 2 aka Urban Force 2 aka Devil Hunters aka Lie mo qun ying, the last title being what this flick was called upon its original release (we think). Nor, for that matter, are there any macho Caucasian men with big guns — though there are a lot of guns in the movie in general.
Despite its release in the West as a sequel to the equally stupid but far superior and much more fun Killer Angels (aka Megaforce 1 aka Urban Force 1 aka Sha shou tian shi), Devil Hunters has nothing to do with Killer Angels, the only commonalities being that both movies were directed by Hong Kong film factory director Chin-Ku Lu (as Chun-Yeung Wong or Tony Lo) and feature, among others, former Hong Kong sock-em chop-em girl-with-a-gun favorite Moon Lee.
We like Moon Lee. She's the second-best thing in the movie. The best thing in the movie, oddly enough, is the actor Francis Ng, an actor we don't normally like. He's found in many a movie good and bad — e.g., the classic The Bride with White Hair (1993 / trailer) and its only slightly less commendable sequel The Bride with White Hair II (1993 / trailer),  The House that Never Dies / Jing Cheng 81 Hao (2014 / trailer), Devil 666 (1996 / trailer), A Wicked Ghost / San chuen liu see (1999 / trailer), Wu Ye Xin Tiao / Midnight Beating (2010 / trailer),  Zu zhou / Curse of Lola (2005 / trailer) and much more — but we've never liked him, dunno why. But in Devil Hunters, as Chiu Shing, the real bad guy of the flick, he's great: slimy, vain, greedy, dishonest, wacko and ever-so-slightly effeminate — a thin, Asian Donald Trump, you might say, though he has much better hair than the blob on the golf course — he's the type of guy you want to see lose but won't, and who will probably just end up cutting off your balls. (One thing for sure, he won't waste his time on Twitter.) For most of the movie, in any event, Chiu Shing doesn't lose.
We can only assume that the Western DVD version of the flick is cut, for Devil Hunters is much shorter than the supposed 130 minutes IMDB lists. Perhaps the missing footage might have added a bit to the lacking continuity of the movie, but considering how oddly lethargic whole swathes of the movie are (even during some actions scenes), it is perhaps doubtful that the missing footage would make the movie better. For most of Devil Hunters, the viewer is lost: while key aspects of the plot are easy enough to catch — indeed, they are almost all clichés of the genre — there are so many characters that for much of the movie one doesn't know who's with whom or who is who or why this or that person is doing what they're doing. (Often, even when your find out why someone is doing something, it still makes no sense.)
Devil Hunters drips of being written on the fly, scene by scene, very much as if everyone involved started the movie knowing the tropes but without a script. The result is a string of scenes, many seen a thousand times before, with generic characters and interminable (if well-choreographed) fight and shootout scenes and absolutely inane alliances and betrayals and actions that initially have no real interconnection but slowly interweave into a relatively linear if ridiculous story and an extremely abrupt end.
Devil Hunters is definitely not top of the barrel, and barely cuts the mustard as fun trash. In fact, its trashiest aspect, a totally gratuitous and poorly filmed and somewhat revolting torture and rape scene of a woman (Pui-Kei Chan, also of Killer Angels), comes across as so wanton and mean that it achieves a level of unmitigated misogyny.
Seriously: we don't like, we absolutely love, gratuitous nudity in movies, and even seriously believe that violence directed towards women can be necessary to advance the plot — see, for example, the original version of both I Spit on Your Grave (1978 / trailer) and Last House on the Left (1972 / trailer), or even almost any given episode of Game of Thrones (2011-2018 / 2011 trailer) — but the prolonged torture/rape scene in Devil Hunters advances nothing, and simply conveys a joy of hurting women that is gross. And that despite the fact that it is poorly filmed, edited, directed, and acted. Definitely a low point in a movie that has few high points.
Despite what one might perhaps infer from the title, Devil Hunters is not horror flick, it is an assembly-line, cookie-cut gangster vs. special-forces police flick with a bit of the girls-with-guns spicing thrown in. The non-plot begins as a police team out to bring down two gangster bands, which of course results in a major shootout at a popular amusement park. As is typical of so many of this type of movie, the people supposedly out to protect the masses (i.e., the police) don't give a flying fuck about collateral damage involving civilians — hell, civilians die left and right throughout the movie, with absolutely no repercussions anywhere. From there, the plot segues into a tapestry involving a betrayed gangster boss, Hon San (Wong Wai), who wants to save his diamonds, daughter and life from his duplicitous and usurping second-in-command (Francis Ng); a mysterious, ass-kicking woman (Moon Lee), who turns out to be San's second daughter (not that anyone is nonplussed by that revelation); a mildly handsome, ass-kicking man, Yuet (Ray Lui of Zai shi zhui hun [1993], 7 Assassins [2013 / trailer], and much more), out for revenge for the killing of his gangster-boss dad; and a whole police special force unit that finally whittles down to the tall, ass-kicking Tong Fung (Sibelle Hu), who's out for justice. A variety of other secondary and tertiary characters, mostly police or associates loyal to death to Hon San, flit through the events and die along the way.
Indeed, one of the biggest unintentional laughs of the movie is when the prissy but capable police boss Tsang (Alex Man) bawls his eyes out over the death of one character whom, to that point, one figured to be the main female: but up till then, who would have thought he cared? Also, how Chun Bing (Moon Lee) keeps revealing where her dad is, and to whom she does it, makes even less sense than how she then always prevents that given person from taking her dad in. And what a dad he is! He's oh so concerned about his other daughter, but would rather keep his diamonds than to stop her from being raped and tortured (and, one assumes, killed). And then, finally, at a drop of a hat Chun Bing (Lee) and Yuet (Lui) are permitted by the prissy police chief to team up with Tong Fung (Hu) for an armed, three-person special mission taking on Chiu Shing (Ng) and his armed army in a deserted house.
Time is also amazingly fluid in Devil Hunters. Things that should take days, weeks to transpire occur in minutes. Tertiary character Yin Fu (Michael Chan of Ren zhe wu di / Super Ninjas [1982 / trailer], Ma tou da jue dou / Chinese Hercules [1973 / trailer], Xia gu ying xiong zhuan / Wu Tang Clan [1980 / trailer],  Po jie / Broken Oath (1977 / trailer],  Bi gui zhuo / Ghost Snatchers [1986 / trailer], Xiao ao jiang hu / The Proud Youth [1978/ trailer] and much more), for example, manages to get his family on a boat, sends a letter to the cops (telling them stuff he wouldn't know), organizes and buys a ton of weapons, takes part in a major shootout and dies even as the letter arrives to the police station — and all that in mere minutes. Still, he remains one of the most sympathetic characters of the flick, and one regrets that he basically sacrifices himself for nothing.
In all truth, even in Hong Kong or among sock-em-chop-em and/or girls-with-guns fans, Devil Hunters probably would've been long forgotten like so much other third-rate product were it not for its infamous final scene, after which the movie ends exceedingly abruptly. The final shootout climaxes with a major explosion, an explosion that in reality would probably never have happened, for in real life the bad guy would have just shot the three heroes (or at least one of them) in the back after they turned to run.
But in the film, he doesn't do that and instead blows up the house — and the last scene is of how Bing (Lee), Yuet (Lui) and Fung (Hu) jump out of the house, not only engulfed in flames but actually on fire themselves due to a real-life technical fuckup. Lui came away relatively unharmed, but both Lee and Hu suffered serious third-degree burns and had to be hospitalized. Hu and Lee eventually recovered, and the film accident became legendary; it is even exploited at the films end, with a written epilogue telling the details of the accident and commending the actors for their work and courage.
One can only be happy that the three survived and recovered, for the only thing sadder than the event itself would have been had any or all been killed or permanently injured or disfigured for a movie as low in quality as Devil Hunters.
There are definitely worse movies out there, but for that many better ones, too. Worth watching if you've got nothing else around, Devil Hunters ain't nothing special — but for the final scene.

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