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During a safari in Nepal with his girlfriend, Joe is unbelievably chosen as the chief of a mystical tribe and is filled with magic power. When Joe is back to Hong Kong, a slave girl from the tribe helps him and gives him the token of authority. The two also fall in love. The Messenger of Evil from Nepal comes to attack Joe for the token. The sacrifice of the slave girl compels Joe to fight desperately against the Evil. Written by
Liem Bui <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I really love magic cinema of film maker Ching Siu Tung, the martial arts director/choreographer and director genius of films like A Chinese Ghost Story series, Swordsman series, Terra Cotta Warrior and Duel to the Death, his debut. His films are as fast paced and over the top at the fight department as you'll ever experience in any film. So I was very curious to see Witch From Nepal aka Nepal Affair as it is one of his earlier works as a director, and I'd read some positive comments about the film.
Then I ordered the DVD from Hong Kong at ridiculously low price and watched the film. It stars Chow Yun-Fat as Joe, an artist who is visiting Nepal with his incredibly beautiful girl friend Ida, played by more than sweet Kit Ying Lam. Soon Joe meets mysterious girl Sheila, played by Emily Chu, and he learns that with the help of the girl, he has become able to commit supernatural things with the power of his mind, like lifting things on the table and do other things with the power of thought. That is fine with Joe as he plays with his new skill (watch the funny dinner scene!), but soon things start to go to wrong direction as Joe falls in love with Sheila and some very evil force/demon/The Warrior (played by Dick Wei) is after Sheila..
So what if the story seems not to make too much sense? These films are not watched and made because of believable story and plot; these are fantasy films without any need to follow rational rules but many people seem not to understand or accept this for some reason. They should not watch these films (applies to horror films, too, of course) because they don't understand those films and thus cannot review them noteworthy and find the films' real merits. Witch From Nepal is a combination of horror, fantasy, martial arts and mere action, but the result is not as great as I was hoping.
There are great fight scenes and action choreography, and the director's early wire work is fantastic. Camera angles are weird and the photography is great and original, so the film looks fine, and Ching Siu Tung shows once again his abilities as visually talented film maker. There is one memorable horror sequence, that ranks very high in the most scary moments in Hong Kong cinema, and the scene is near the end, where a misty cemetery becomes possessed and soon zombies start to wake up. And these are not hopping ghosts and ghouls like in Mr. Vampire (very great film!), but similar to Italian flesh eaters and so they reminded me of Lucio Fulci's work in zombie films. That scene is very fantastic with all its horror atmosphere and possessed evil and is not likely to be easily forgotten.
There are, however, many negative points in the film, too, and that's why this was a minor disappointment for me. The demon/warrior is some cat like human, so he sounds like cat, too. But as he screams all the time he's in picture, it becomes first very irritating, and then laughable, as it is meant to sound scary and threatening. The film is also occasionally too slow moving after the very promising and interesting first 30 minutes. The films looses its interest and becomes boring to watch. The last fight and last 10 minutes are again pretty interesting and very stylish, so it saves the film from leaving a total taste of disappointment in the mouth.
The music is okay, but occasionally reminded me DISTANTLY of Fabio Frizzi's music in Lucio Fulci's immortal Italian horror films, but I'm not saying Witch From Nepal copied Frizzi or something; it is just interesting to hear such a similarities that are probably purely coincidental and non-intended. The main merits of the film are photography and great fantasy elements which together create the atmosphere of the film, and because of those merits, this film is worth watching for Hong Kong fans.
Witch From Nepal isn't as near as great as Ching Siu Tung's masterpieces, but still an interesting piece in his filmography and among many Eastern fantasy films. I'll give this 6/10 and am glad I've seen again one Ching Siu Tung film more.
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