Holy Virgin vs. The Evil Dead (1991)

Rating: C+

Dir: Wong Jan-yeung
Star: Donnie Yen, Ben Lam, Pauline Yeung, Ken Lo

Certainly ranking in the top ten titles of all-time, no movie could possibly live up to such a name – though in the final third, this does come close. First, however, we have to go through a chunk of fairly tedious detective work, as teacher Shiang (Yen) and friends struggle to clear his name, after a picnic for him and some students ends with him the sole survivor. This turns out to involve somehow – details are absolutely not this movie’s interest – the Moon Monster, a Cambodian demon which every 30 years comes back and blah, murder, blah. Cue foreign location shooting, as Shiang, along with sword-wielding local heroine and Holy Virgin, Princess White (Yeung), must confront the Moon Monster and his master before they can blah, sacrifice, blah

Our fondness for Donnie Yen here is immense, but in the first half, there’s just too much sitting around chatting, despite the welcome presence of Sibelle Hu as a cop always on the edge of violence; she resigns mid-way through, and then vanishes from the movie. Okay, there’s a fair bit of naked flesh, and some gore too, but it all seems to be lit using a torch with dodgy batteries (surely they aren’t trying to hide the cheap effects, are they?). Once the focus shifts to Cambodia, things improve, with enough action crammed alongside the nudity and blood to make up for earlier slackness. The end result is a film that largely hits the mark – if only because it’s not aiming very high to begin with.