When Hell Broke Loose (Review)

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!

Lai Yu-Sun (???) – A gang leader who is an evil rapist murdering jerk for most of the movie, and he’s the hero. Yep. He learns forgiveness or something after a few minutes of meditating and fighting a tiger. If the Unabomber fights a tiger, he’ll become magically powered and blessed by the gods. Think about that as you slave away at work not bombing people.
Monk Mu Lien (???) – The Monk who helps everyone learn about forgiveness because he’s a cool monk. And he goes for strolls in Hell.
Young Master (???) – Names are for losers, hence Young Master never gets a name. He does get his fiancee Yen King-Hwa kidnapped and murdered on his wedding day by Lai Yu-Sun.
Yen King-Hwa (???) – The object of affection for Lai Yu-Sun who goes into a murderous rage after two minutes of meeting her and being denied her hand in marriage. He kills her in a fit of rage when she responds to her attempted rape by him with a stabbing response. Once again a woman does nothing wrong and is horribly humiliated and murdered.
Superintendent Lai-Po (???) – Lai Yu-Sun’s chief Lieutenant, who has many dreams about his master being tortured in hell. Thus, he tries to save his evil master.
Tiger Puppet – The most realistic tiger puppet ever made.

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