When Hell Broke Loose
Directed by ???
When Hell Broke Loose is a crazy mess of a film involving all sorts of demons and goofy things and at some point a guy fights a giant puppet tiger and even flies out of the tiger’s butt. The story is steeped in religious philosophy and involves forgiveness, but as one of the main characters does some pretty despicable things, it is hard to have any sort of empathy for the character.
Besides the puppet tiger, the main attraction of When Hell Broke Loose is the visits to Chinese Hell. As you may already know, the concept of Hell in China is complicated, with a mix of Buddhism, Taoism, and a lot of local beliefs. Exactly what parts make up hell depends on which mixture you are using. Hell is called Diyu (地狱) and is basically a place where you go to get punished/tortured for your various sins until you achieve atonement and get reincarnated to the next life. The most common depictions of Diyu have 10 courts ruled by the 10 Yama kings, but there are also depictions of 4 or 18 levels. When Hell Broke Loose seems to follow the 18 level route, but as 18 is a simplification of the 134 levels in the Buddhist text Wen Diyu Jing (問地獄經), you can see how this is complicated. Here is an interesting article about a place called Haw Par Villa, sort of a museum/amusement park with statues of the various demons and tortures of the 10 levels of hell. Some of the creatures and tortures depicted show up in this film.
When Hell Broke Loose has a lot of random scenes of people being tortured in Chinese Hell. Not so many it can be sold as a torture porn film, but at least 10-15 minutes of scenes added just to spice up the Monk wandering around Diyu. A few scenes fit in with the movie’s story of redemption and atonement for past sins, but the bulk were just added as gonzo exploitation fare. That gets really nuts when the secret ending of When Hell Broke Loose is revealed! What is the secret ending? You’ll have to read it below!
There is precious little information about When Hell Broke Loose, I can’t find it on any database, nor the director, and the only actors IDed anywhere are Yu Tien Lung and Wen Chiang Lung.
The film opens with like 9000 words onscreen as the camera zooms into the faces of golden Buddhas, but as the words are in Chinese I can only read like 10 of them. So: Something, something, something, something, something, something, 18 gates, something something person, something, many somethings. And now you know the prologue to When Hell Broke Loose! Tell your friends! Call your enemies! Email the guy stuck in traffic next to you on the freeway!
Welcome to court – Hell Court! But there is no magic-doing judge or Bull the bailiff here, instead we have a bunch of demons and monsters and a midget and some regular guy. I am sure he is a scary regular guy. The judge also looks regular, but he might be unleaded or premium blend, I can’t tell as his octane rating is nowhere to be found. We have white horse face guys, orange horse faced guys, other guys whose rubber masks are less distinct, and people painted random colors or with horns affixed. The guy brought before Hell Court is found guilty and sentenced to the 18 instruments. I have no idea what that is, but it must be bad as the guy begs as they drag him away. Maybe the 18 instruments are all accordions!
The judge is called King Yama, and he is the ruler of the 10 courts. The various Yama attendants (the demons) include guys with white and orange horse faces. White Horseface is called Ma Mia in the subtitles, he is supposed to be Horse-face, one of the guardians of Hell. I think the Orange Horseface (called Niu-Tou in the subtitles) is supposed to be Ox-head, the other guardian of Hell. Or he could be just another horse guy (other horsefaces appear randomly during the later tour of hell.) I don’t know who the rest of the Yama attendants are, if you have ideas, feel free to share!
Superintendent Lai-Po wakes up, this was all a dream and it was his master Lai Yu-Sun getting tortured…wait, this dude dreams about his master? How very Smithers of him. Let’s make this even more Simpsons by referencing Superintendent Chalmers. Master Lai Yu-Sun is in the courtyard with his posse practicing kung fu. A woman calling herself Matchmaker tries to set up Lai Yu-Sun with the daughter of a rich family named Yen King-Hwa. Mr. and Mrs. Yen are not impressed with Lai Yu-Sun, and tell him and the matchmaker to get the hell out of their home. Lai’s friends respond by beating up Mr. Yen, which will totally win Mr. Yen over! Lai and his gang are chased off, but he regroups with an even larger gang. Lai Yu-Sun declares he will marry Yen King-Hwa by force, and his gang storm the Yen house. No one is home, as the Yens are off marrying their daughter to another dude, who is only given the name Young Master in the subtitles. There is a big fight at the wedding hall, which soon becomes the whole town rallying together to fight the gang. After some random comic moments, a group of guys dressed in gold arrive to help chase off the gang.
Licking their wounds, Lai Yu-Sun and his evil gang to come up with a new plan, and flood the town that night! They attack the survivors, but none are Young Master or Yen King-Hwa. The surviving townspeople are thrown into a dungeon, and the gang tracks down the newlyweds and Mrs. Yen. They end up stabbing Young Master and capturing the two women, who are brought before Lai Yu-Sun. He demands Yen King-Hwa marry him or both of the women will die.
A passing monk stumbles across the injured Young Master, who tells his tale. The monk heads for the bandit hideout. He’s arrested by Lai Yu-Sun, but Yen King-Hwa has reluctantly agreed to the marriage, so they have a feast
Mrs. Yen is then raped by some drunken gangmembers, and Lai Yu-Sun laughs maniacally while trying to do the same to Yen King-Hwa. He gets deadly serious when she stabs him, and slams her head against the wall, killing her.
When Hell Broke Loose then inserts a completely random sequence of some fat robber who steals a girl and kills the guy she is riding with. Not so random as a dream sequence reveals the fat robber is Lai Yu-Sun’s dad, and now dad is being tortured in hell by demons who are about to chop off his feet. Lai Yu-Sun wakes up freaked out from this dream, thinks he sees the ghost of Yen King-Hwa, and kills Matchmaker instead!
Lai Yu-Sun next declares the Monk will die, but the Monk is talking about forgiveness, impressing Superintendent Lai-Po, but enraging Lai Yu-Sun. What does impress Lai Yu-Sun is when a force field created by the Monk blocks the blows of swords. Lai Yu-Sun then let’s Monk go and even travels with him.
Shortly after, Superintendent Lai-Po starts a fire, then grabs a bunch of jewels and frees the captive townspeople, giving them the loot and then killing himself to atone for his crimes. Several of Lai Yu-Sun’s men (fleeing the burning compound) are captured by soldiers. Young Master demands to know where his wife is, but Lai Yu-Sun has already left with the Monk and are staying at an inn. Lai Yu-Sun forgoes the vegetarianism of the Monk and sits for dinner with the innkeeper and his two daughters. The daughters are whores, one fails to tempt the Monk while the other entices Lai Yu-Sun, luring him in but quickly turning into a log as the room catches on fire. Suddenly Lai Yu-Sun is in a cave getting zapped into flames by the other daughter, who is a wizard lady. Monk is also there and prays for Lai Yu-Sun’s safety, so the Other Daughter turns off the fire.
Later some robbers try to rob the Monk, and Lai Yu-Sun beats them all up, despite Monk’s begging of him to stop the fighting. Monk says that wasn’t a good thing because of violence and then leaves Lai Yu-Sun. Lai Yu-Sun tries to beg him back, but is ejected, literally. Lai Yu-Sun is studying a Buddha tract by the lake when Young Master finds him, beats him, and throws him off a cliff.
Lai Yu-Sun manages to survive and begins praying in the forest. Soon a rose appears and floats around, then turns into a girl who tries to get his attention, but he’s too busy praying. She storms off in disgust, then suddenly a two-headed dragon attacks!
What the hell….broke loose?
Okay, movie, you have made up for the rest! Next a very fake tiger tries to attack Monk, Lai Yu-Sun hears his master’s cries and tries to come to help, but the cliff is too steep. Too bad Monk didn’t have this rock I have that keeps away tigers! Monk uses magic to shrink down to tiny size, which the tiger eats. Lai Yu-Sun sees the tiger and starts to beat on it to let the Monk go, and Monk flies out of the tiger’s butt. Now that is a sentence I never though I would write. Monk goes into a cave and explodes back to normal size. While Lai Yu-Sun continues to fight (and get scratched up by) the tiger, Monk prays and leaves his body.
Monk is heading to Hell. For Hell Court! Hell Judge Yama throws a whole bunch of people into hell, while Monk asks directions from a laughing, floating head that bursts into flames. Monk saves a friend from being branded, then told his mother Szu Niang is down there, and goes to look for her.
This let’s us see a whole bunch of various tortures and horrors of Hell. It’s like the Ironic Punishment Division of Hell from that Simpsons episode where Homer is in Hell. One guy tries to run from Hell Court, is captured, and is tossed into boiling oil! Two girls who were vain get their faces hacked, two guys get their guts tore out for some reason. Monk can’t help any of them, and Lai Yu Sun is still fighting the tiger. Monk’s mom Szu Niang will be tortured by being hung by her hair and spun around while beaten. I don’t know what Szu Niang did, but what I could read of the subtitles said she ate dog meat. It’s must have been dog meat from an important dog, like Benji or Wishbone. Monk fights his way into the torture room and destroys part of it, freeing a bunch of prisoners in the process. One of the prisoners wasn’t human, but one of the white horse faced demons. Interesting.
More demons arrive to attack Monk (including one demon with a dog…a real hell hound!) Monk uses the Force to push them away, even a guy who looks like a Klingon and one of those demons with the long tongue. Suddenly the a minister guy appears with orders from the Jade Emperor. Mom gets a pardon and Lai Yu-Sun gets a new job as tiger controlling Buddha? In any even, he is seen flying in the air on the fake tiger a second later.
It turns out this whole movie was being narrated by a father to his son in the modern day about the story of the Tiger Controlling Buddha. Because this is a story to tell kids, detailed accounts of people being raped, murdered, and tortured in Hell!
Wait a minute, I want my money back…Hell never broke loose!!
Rated 7/10 (match-maker, knife-stabber, doll-maker, defense grid, gold statue, gold tiger, this whole story was told to this warped looking kid)
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