Heaven and Hell | aka Shaolin Hell Gate (1978) Review

"Heaven and Hell" Chinese Theatrical Poster

“Heaven and Hell” Chinese Theatrical Poster

Director: Chang Cheh
Writer: Yi Kuang, Chang Cheh, Chou Lang
Producer: Sir Run Run Shaw, Mona Fong
Cast: David Chiang, Alexander Fu Sheng, Maggie Lee, Jenny Tseng, Lee I Min, Lam Jan Kei, Phillip Kwok, Chiang Sheng, Lo Meng, Kong Do, Goo Goon Chung, Johnny Wang, Sun Chien, Chan Shen
Running Time: 88 min.

By Mighty Peking Man

If you don’t think drugs have done good things for us then do me a favor: Go home tonight and take all of your VHS tapes and DVDs and burn them, because all those Hong Kong directors who made all those great movies that enhanced your lives throughout the years? They were rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreal f*cking high on drugs.

Chang Cheh was so high he directed a movie called Heaven & Hell.

According to Shaw Brothers’ historian Joe909, Heaven & Hell was made on and off throughout the 1970s. This was supposedly done because of issues regarding Chang Cheh’s budget problems. As a result, it caused the movie to be disjointed, uneven, and choppy. Not only that, some of the film’s main credited stars – such as David Chiang and Alexander Fu Sheng – apparently had crucial roles, but with limited screen time (?).

The plot of Heaven & Hell is a lot more interesting on text than it is on film. A guard of Heaven, named Xin Ling (Lee I-min), is banished to Earth because he let an eloped couple off the hook (the couple, which we never see again, are played by David Chiang and Maggie Lee). When Xin Ling becomes reincarnated as a taxi driver on Earth, he is immediately sent to “Hell” for killing a gangster while defending yet another couple (played by Alexander Fu Sheng and Jenny Tseng; and like the previous couple, we never see them again…).

Xin Ling, now in Hell, decides he wants to try and escape Satan’s stronghold. He befriends a Go Go Yubari look alike named Red Dress (Lam Jan-kei), who, for some odd reason, was sent to Hell for getting high and thinking she can fly. The two manage to get to the City of Lost Souls where they meet some of the well-known Venoms (Phillip Kwok, Lo Meng, Sun Chien, and Chiang Sheng). From that point onwards, Xin Ling and Red Dress team up with them and together, they fight off an array of Hell’s warriors.

Heaven & Hell is sh*t and gold at the same time. One minute, it’s a high school musical, the next minute fingers are chopped, people are skinned, and Venoms are fighting off mutated humans. Heaven & Hell may be pure camp, but visually, it’s a trip.

If you’re in it just for the action, you’ll be pleased with Heaven & Hell, but as an overall film, it’s without a doubt, one of Chang Cheh’s weirdest films.

Mighty Peking Man’s Rating: 5/10

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