The Eight Hilarious Gods (Review)
The Eight Hilarious Gods
Hong Kong does their take on Hakkenden, the tale that gave us Legend of Eight Samurai and Message From Space. Except it is a pure comedy and no one marries a dog. That’s good, as this film is about as related to the traditional Japanese story as Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter is to the Gospel of Luke. It does have some recognizable Hong Kong stars (even to Western audience members only slightly familiar with Hong Kong cinema) and some nice fantasy fights for a comedy, but isn’t afraid to dwell in the poop jokes or to murder children just so the audience can go “WTF?” So let’s all go “WTF?” together!
This version of the film comes from one of those double-VHS tapes, found in the double-size VHS boxes that old-school video stores had. The only video store I know by name that still carries those is Le Video in San Francisco, but some of the old-school Chinatown rental stores have this as well. The double-tape explains why there are numbers after the title, because there are two title screens, one for each tape. Old school is the best school, baby! There ain’t no forced commercials here like on DVD. Sure, the picture quality isn’t the best, but it’s not like this film is begging for a remastered DVD. It should be remastered.
We begin in ancient China with a caravan heading through the woods with kids that are to be sacrificed to Lucifer. The caravan encounters Buddy Wall, who says she will rescue them. Buddy Wall claims she is sexy, but the caravan is all about vomiting as she writhes around. The caravan lays the sacrifice, and Lucifer flies up and opens the tent, only to see Buddy Wall inside. He vomits all over her when she tells him she’s the last virgin in town. Ah, vomit jokes. The two fight, but Buddy Wall is not a match for Lucifer, so she runs to a nearby temple that luckily has a statue of her fellow fairy god Ben that she can pray to and ask to come out and help her. Good thing she isn’t in India with their millions of gods, otherwise she’d get some random elephant-headed guy. But that might make a cool movie. In America, she’d get a Jesus still nailed to the cross, which she’d have to wait three days for!
The statue of Ben comes alive, and begins a large fight with Lucifer. Kung fu-tastic, with swords and claws! Ben has magic mirror that keeps Lucifer from moving, but Buddy Wall does some “Red Light, Green Light” antics with the mirror on Lucifer and Ben. Lucifer retreats but isn’t killed, because the movie just started. Plot begins as Buddy mentions Ben’s six magic pearls that were stolen, and then Buddy accidentally breaks the mirror shield by sneezing into it. I can’t tell if it is an ugly joke or a klutz joke. Maybe a klugly joke.
At town, Ben and Buddy Wall discuss the missing pearls and the prophecy that they will get six helpers, who will be marked with symbols matching the six pearls: mercy, justice, filial piety, obedience, loyalty, and faithfulness. But all of that pauses as Ben tries to impress some passing beauties by dancing around and catching them when they slip on banana peels. Ben and Buddy Wall walk and talk, all while seeing evil humans and have a discussion as to why they should help such people. This is punctuated by passing a dog that has a sign saying his mistress was raped by 17 people and killed, and if anyone will pay for her funeral the dog will offer his delicious meat in exchange (i.e. eat the dog!) There must have been no Koreans in ancient China that day.
Meanwhile, Smart Hon and Lousy Han are playing mahjong, Lousy Han cheats after being told to by Smart Hon by creating a fake tile and is beat senseless as Smart Hon walks away. Later, Smart Hon tells Lousy Han to get some milk from a stall, but Lousy Han misunderstands and thinks he meant from a nursing mother, and his awkward attempt to ask for milk from her enrages her husband, a gigantic bodybuilder, who pounds Lousy Han even more. Now his face is covered in bumps. Next, Smart Hon tells Lousy Han to pickpocket so they’ll have some money (why does Lousy Han keep listening to him?) and thus Lousy Han ends up pickpocketing from Buddy Wall, who notices Lousy Han’s obvious attempts to take her money bag and soon Ben is beating the tar out of the two criminal masterminds. Ben also notices the passing beauties from before have returned so he dances around again, only this time his pants tear and Lil’ Ben hangs out for all the world to see. D’oh!
Meanwhile, a cheap tour group arrives in town, with a large number of people who get off of a single-person carrier (it’s the clown car of ancient China!) The tour is led by a mole-packing Uncle Cheung, who is less than straight. He’s so unstraight he makes one of those novelty twisty straws look like an arrow. He leads the group to the Dragon Gate Inn for food. The inn is run by the beautiful Lotus, who serves bad food and beats up anyone who complains or even looks at her with a lustful gaze (and also those who DON’T look at her!) Uncle Cheung shoves every guest into the same room (I think this tour group is based on a real travel experience the writer had…) It turns out Uncle Cheung and Lotus are cousins, and collude to blow freezing mist into the room, resulting in everyone frozen in place. Soon everyone is robbed and put in scandalous positions.
Ben and Buddy Wall go to the Dragon Gate Inn to eat, and witness Sheriff Lee attempt to bribe an informant named Uncle Tsao so he can solve a case, or Sheriff Lee will get demoted below Sheriff. The bribe is to be his mother’s jade bracelet, but it’s one of those jade bracelets that you can’t just take off. So Sheriff Lee tries to grease it, then burn it off. Ben and Buddy look on in disgust. Buddy blows ashes in the Sheriff’s face, then he gets the idea to use acid and tries to get his mom to wash her hands in the dangerous bowl. Ben and Buddy replace the acid with water, then Sheriff Lee then decides to chop off his mom’s hand. He’s a good son. This time Ben grabs the sword, and that enrages Sheriff Lee, so it’s fighting time. Sheriff Lee gets beat up, and his mom takes off her bracelet to give him because she thinks he can’t afford the bill. D’oh! Ben and Buddy run into Lotus and Uncle Cheung on the way out.
Meanwhile at the other village, Lucifer grabs a small boy, tells the town to sacrifice three virgin boys and girls to him in three days, or he will kill everyone. Then he throws the boy off the roof and the boy lands, dead. They killed the kid! In a comedy! WTF???
Ben and Buddy are in a room at the Dragon Gate Inn, but Ben puts a line of bowls filled with water between them on the bed, so Buddy can’t cross the line and get inappropriate with Ben. I’m not sure how that works, but then I’m not a Chinese fairy. Sheriff Lee runs into Uncle Tsao again at the Inn, and Uncle Tsao is lovesick. He wants Lotus, but Sheriff Lee thinks he wants Uncle Cheung so he offers to hook Uncle Tsao up in exchange for the information he wants. The unknowing Uncle Tsao agrees, getting snuck into Uncle Cheung’s room, where Uncle Cheung pretends to sleep. Then Uncle Cheung takes over, and Cheung is all about love by pain. So Tsao is beat up and possibly more, and in his crying wails he vows to never forgive Sheriff Lee.
More mixups happen with Lousy Han and Buddy Wall, as every character seems to be staying at the Dragon Gate Inn for one reason or another. What is the Dragon Gate Inn, the nexus of all realities? Lotus uses her freezing mist on Ben and Buddy’s room, but Ben isn’t frozen and confronts her. Which leads to a fight, of course!
Lotus closes Ben’s accupoint by her pointing at him, and Lotus is frozen by some escaped freezing mist, so it’s a standoff. Ben will break free in two hours by force of will, but Lotus is aware that her cousin Uncle Cheung is free and can help her before the two hours are up. Except the person who comes by is Smart Hon, who is sleepwalking while carrying chamber pots filled with urine and feces. He thinks the two are tree men who grew after his fertilization, so he gets a bucket of crap to feed them in their mouths. But the only one who gets any nasty dinner is Uncle Cheung who wanders by at that point. This film has become one gigantic poop joke!
END OF TAPE 1
As Tape 2 begins, Sheriff Lee and Uncle Tsao are chained to the wall in a secret room, while Buddy and Lousy Han are tied together on the floor. But ignore that, as Smart Hon wakes up from his sleepwalking adventure, and asks Ben and Lotus to each give him a reason for him to help them over the other. Lotus piles on the charm, which is disgusting enough that Ben breaks free. By now the imprisoned people escape, and soon everyone is together in the garden, where Ben says he should have met 6 people to help him fight Lucifer, but no luck. Except there are six people, and everyone has markings at random places on their bodies…
Uncle Cheung – Mercy
Smart Hon – Justice
Sheriff Lee – Filial Piety
Uncle Tsao – Faith
Lotus – Love for one’s elders
Lousy Han – Loyalty
So the team is born. Some of those markings seem to be on the wrong person…
Soon they see the villagers from the town that Lucifer attacks walking through town with their virgin children sacrifices. They didn’t go this way before during the last sacrifice, but whose paying attention to that detail? The team will stop Lucifer, but Ben tells them they need to work together. So of course they immediately begin having problems with each other. We get those hilarious misunderstandings that seem like plots from Fraiser: a bet about square-shaped testicles, someone drinking urine, and extra confusion thrown in by Lucifer impersonating members of the team. We need to pad the running time to 90 minutes, so there we go. After much fighting, confusion, and rape accusations, Ben outs a fake Ben, who is really Lucifer, and the fighting begins.
They are no match for Lucifer and begin getting beat up. The team members that are actually fighting Lucifer and not cowering behind carts, that is. But the hiders get flushed out and thrown around as well. Lousy Han runs off when Lucifer uses an ugly face on him, and as the rest of the team is beaten up, Ben and Buddy Wall are taken away by Lucifer.
The next morning the remnants of the team regroup. Everyone is injured and Lotus dies. Yes, dies! Her death is so undramatic there must be something wrong. I am suspicious. She makes them promise to rescue Ben and Buddy Wall before she dies, and all agree except Lousy Han, who refuses to help because he is scared. Time to rename him Yellow Han. So the remaining four must go fight Lucifer when eight of them failed before. I don’t think that’s how you spell success.
Lucifer is hanging out in Hell, and by Hell I mean some place where it’s dark, the ground is filled with pikes randomly sticking out, and there is a giant wooden tower build filled with crazy people (tortured souls, I guess) that Buddy and Ben are chained to as Lucifer stands atop it waving his arms around like a maniac. And he’s illuminated by a green light. The wooden tower has six glowing lights like eyes, which are the pearls. Basically, Hell looks just like Burning Man. The wooden tower is later called Devil’s Tower, but it is not in Wyoming or carved in Richard Dreyfuss’s mashed potatoes, so I call foul!
Lucifer has the pearls and is attempting to use their powers to unite Heaven and Hell. Which will end the world, somehow. It’s complicated. You see, when Heaven and Hell get together–Look at that dog! ::runs away::
The four surviving free heroes arrive and immediately get beat up. But then Lotus appears, not dead, having faked it to get the rest to go, and helps, but it is still not enough. In fact, people start dying, Sheriff Lee chops off his own legs (which have been grabbed by condemned souls bursting up their arms from under the ground) and still dies. Lousy Han returns, and when Lucifer shows him a scary face, he responds with a mirror (which only shows Lucifer the face of Stephen Chow) and then stabs Lucifer in the butt! Then everyone but Lousy Han (and Buddy and Ben) are dead. Buddy and Ben are freed, but Lousy Han is killed right after. That’s what happens when you stab Lucifer in the butt.
It’s eclipse time, which means a solar eclipse happens and Lucifer must eat the Six Golden Pearls, and as Buddy and Ben are beaten out of the way he prepares to do so. The pearls rise…and then head right for the six dead chosen ones, and revive them transformed into gods! And Ben and Buddy get transformed as well for reasons unknown! It’s magic! Lucifer tells them it doesn’t matter, because he’s opened the gates of Hell and they can’t stop him. Why did we need the pearls, again? So everyone runs around and throws lines of cloth over Lucifer atop Devil’s Tower, which binds him in place. That’s useful, as the energy of the eight hilarious gods turns into flaming meteors or something and crashes into Devil’s Tower, blowing it up like only a set in a movie that explodes would explode. Complete with multiple angle shots of the explosion. The day is saved. This ending makes about as much sense as the whole “star child” thing that ended V: The Final Battle.
The newcomers may be hilarious gods, but they can’t be fairies yet, until they cross the sea. In a boat. Made of flowers. The end! Seriously, that’s how it ends! Crossing the sea in a flower boat. Are they the Lord of the Rings elves? At least the credits have outtakes, including some stunts gone wrong while running on chains that look painful.
So we come to the end of another adventure of hilarious gods, chosen people with birthmarks that are Chinese characters, glowing orbs, Lucifer tossing babies, puke jokes, sleepwalking, jokes about travel tours, and exploding towers. Just in time to start the next hilarious movie featuring the same things! Just kidding….or am I?
Rated 7/10 (Sacrifice, Street girl, angry husband, blowing smoke, killing kids, Tape 2, Notice how I resisted giving this film a rating of 8 )
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