First of all, let’s note that this movie is in Cantonese and is deeply steeped in Chinese culture, so I know that a lot of it was way over my head. But from what I did understand, it’s the story of a guy who moves into a really depressing apartment building and hangs himself within the first 5 minutes of his arrival (literally). He’s cut down before he dies by a very spry old man, and ghosts swirl around the two of them as mystical kung fu occurs. There’s a bunch of that in this movie, and when I say mystical kung fu, I don’t actually mean any kung fu at all, which was kind of surprising. In truth, the few fight scenes in this movie would’ve been cooler if they had actually done serious kung fu in them, but it was much more about the mystical - they threw a punch or two, but mostly they’d scrawl bloody symbols on their hands and touch the enemy, or tie them up with bloody string (blood was definitely a big factor). So don’t get me wrong, it’s not a kung fu movie, it’s more of a violent-exorcism movie.
Anyway, back to the plot: there’s an old guy who dies falling down the stairs, whose body is used as a vessel for the twin ghosts who almost possessed our hanged hero, and he becomes a vampire. And yes, this is China, so vampires hop! The few people who are still alive at the end (including a retired vampire hunter) have to battle the vampire with crazy mystical powers, and it’s quite a special effects extravaganza.
There’s a final ending tacked on after our hero sacrifices himself to beat the vampire, which possibly reveals that he did die when he hanged himself, and actually the rest of the events were more of a dying delusion than reality. The guy was a famous actor and he was sort of wanting his death to be the heroic stories he played in movies, rather than a mundane forgotten fade-away. At least that’s my interpretation. It definitely added a layer to the movie, though it also felt seriously tacked on, since it only occupied about one minute of running time.
Overall, it was pretty interesting, and the people on IMDB seem to think that if I understood Chinese culture and mythology, I would’ve gotten a lot more out of it. There were plenty of things I didn’t understand, that’s for sure, though for the most part the mythology was delivered in a pretty clear way, just as it would be in a movie that made up its fantasy for itself.
3/5 Coin Masks.
My Movie Idea:
You know how in some movies, there’s a building that’s been around a hundred years and people check out the blueprints and realize that it was designed from the ground up to be some sort of demonic temple, or spiritual resonator, or other evil thing? Ghostbusters is one example. Those movies always take place years later, when the building is done. In my movie, we have the story of such a building being created, in the early 1900s. Maybe we flash-forward to after it’s built sometimes too, but the real story is about the creation. All the intrigue and backstabbing (and satanic rituals) as the crazed megalomaniac funding the creation keeps different teams working on different parts and never revealing the full picture to anyone, so they can’t piece together what is actually happening.
Our hero is one of the contractors working directly under the owner, and he figures things out gradually. In the dramatic finale, the building is finished, an apparent success, which is bad news for our world, as the madman summons a demon in the penthouse. He expects it to go flying off and kill stuff or whatever, but it turns around and eats him, as we cut to the contractor in a coffeehouse elsewhere (perhaps he was telling this story to a friend in voiceover the whole time?) who says “Yeah, I did my job alright. I mean, I cut a corner or two, I guess, but hey, what contractor doesn’t?” And we probably get a cutaway view into the floorboards where we see the steel pentagram under the floors is missing one piece, which is where the demon got out.