Directed by Manfred Wong [Other horror films: N/A]
Sometimes known under the title A Tale from the East, this rather obscure Hong Kong fantasy/horror/comedy film was all kinds of odd. Was it enjoyable? To an extent, yes, but it’s not a film I’d recommend you take that much time to locate unless it’s already your type of thing.
The film feels really, really goofy at times, a lot of it due to the characters played by Eric Kot and Jan Lamb. They even sing this utterly bizarre song about the prices of food, for some reason. Note – this film isn’t a musical, so that song, the only one in the film, came out of nowhere. Again, it’s a goofy, silly movie.
When it does lean more toward dread, it does an okay job. A sequence near the beginning had the demonic Blood Devil (who is after a magic pearl) going after people in a dark house, which was welcomed. It was somewhat hard to take seriously, though, because the kung fu action in the film was just so unrealistic. The jumping alone was entirely laughable (but yes, entertaining also).
So a lot of these actors were goofy (not just Kot and Lamb, but also Billy Lau), but there were some gems in here too. Joey Wang was rather beautiful at times, and I loved her go-getter attitude. David Wu did a great job playing an out-of-place bodyguard (there’s also time travel inherent in the film, which was interesting). Wu’s fights against Blood Demon were utterly ridiculous, but I guess that’s where a lot of the fun from these types of movies comes from.
Let’s take a second out to talk about a technical aspect of the video I watched. The subtitles, which I’m entirely grateful for having, were atrociously done. So the text appeared over the ongoing movie, which is fine, but when white text is shown over white clothing, it became about impossible to read. It didn’t happen enough for me to lose focus of what was going on, but it was definitely both noticeable and annoying. Again, with as seemingly obscure as this film is, it may be the best subtitled version out there, but at the same time, it seemed an unwise design choice.
A Tale from the East (as it’s known here, I guess, though I’ve also seen this just called Tale from the East) isn’t really a movie I can accurately put into words. It’s bizarre at points, goofy at points, and pretty amusing at points. I do wish that the horror elements were used more than the comedy or action, but there’s still something to be found for fans of the genre. As it is, this movie is one that I would recommend to fans of 80’s and 90’s Asian horror, but otherwise, this Hong Kong flick might not do it for you.