Kung Fu From Beyond the Grave (Yin Ji)
Director – Lee Chiu, Screenplay – Lo Fung, Producer – Pal Ming, Photography – Cheung Tak Wai, Music – Shing Wai Ip & So Chun Hau, Art Direction – Ting Yuen Ta. Production Company – The Eternal Film (HK) Co., Ltd
Billy Chong (Chun Sing), Lieh Lo (Kam Tai Fu), Chin-Lai Sung (The Wizard)
It is during the seventh month of the Chinese calendar, the time known as the Ghost Festival when ghosts are free to roam the Earth. Chun Sing is visited by the ghost of his father imploring him to take revenge against his murderer Kam Tai Fu. Chun Sing sets out to Yellow Dragon Town to confront Kam Tai Fu. An exceptional king fu practitioner, Chun Sing singlehandedly defeats Kam Tai Fu’s men. Kam Tai Fu employs his sorcerer but the ghosts of the dead come to aid Chun Sing. However, Kam Tai Fu employs disguise to obtain a book of magic that Chun Sing found on his journey and obtains even greater power.
Hong Kong cinema of the 1970s was dominated by the kung fu movie after the massive breakout success of Bruce Lee in the Hollywood-produced Enter the Dragon (1973). For years after, Hong Kong cinema pandered to this market. In the mid-1970s, Hong Kong filmmakers also discovered the horror film and produced a variety of demented efforts drawing on Eastern beliefs. Towards the end of the decade, the two began to merge in efforts like this, Black Magic (1975), Encounters of the Spooky Kind (1980), Kung Fu Zombie (1981), The Spiritual Boxer (1981), Human Lanterns (1982) and others – there was even a Hammer co-production The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974). Kung Fu from Beyond the Grave came out the year before Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain (1983), which created a new synthesis, blending supernatural elements with swordplay, martial arts and over-the-top wirework to create a wholly fantastique mix all of its own.
Kung Fu from Beyond the Grave can be considered a forerunner to the Hong Kong fantasy films that followed Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain throughout the mid-1980s and 90s. It is not a terribly good film, although it has a level of dementia that gives it a certain bad movie fascination and makes it undeniably watchable. This is something that typically terrible English dubbing even further boosts, reducing the characters to simple-minded figures speaking in sotto voce or with cartoon-balloon taunts. Much of the plot consists of serial martial arts sequences (as the kung fu films of the day were wont to do). These are adequate and fast-paced but nothing standout. However, it is the moments of the bizarrely fantasique that make the film watchable – like the scene where Billy Chong is fighting Lieh Lo and the ghosts come to help Billy out whereupon Lieh whips out money and cries “Count Dracula come to my aid.” Naturally enough, a vampire flies in to the attack – how and why Dracula is doing mixed up in the midst of this is anybody’s guess as he is never seen again. We have various hopping ghosts turning up throughout. Not to mention crazed scene that involves attack by flying Chinese lanterns and facecloths.
Full film available online here:-