The Witch from Nepal

(QI YUAN) 1985

Director: Ching Siu Tung

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

In a film remarkable chiefly for its stupidity, Chow Yun Fat is Joe, who is on holiday in Nepal with his girlfriend Ida (Kit Ying Lam) when he sees what may be only the apparition of a beautiful woman outside his hotel window. He later falls off a run-away elephant & has an apparently hallucinatory & largely meaningless journey down a river.

The Witch from NepalThe film is very badly edited so that it is not always possible to know what Joe is hallucinating & what is really happening to him. The apparition not long after turns up in his life as a beautiful young priestess or witch, or slave-girl according to the box text, by the name of Shiela (Emily Chu aka Chu Po Yee). She represents some never-well-defined Nepalese tribal cult. Joe is immediately smitten & has no qualms about cheating on Ida.

The witch stows away among jet cargo to follow Joe back to Hong Kong. She is being pursued by a goofy supernatural cat-man (Dick Wei), who the box but not the movie defines as a "messenger of evil," who opens his mouth to the accompaniment of badly looped cat growls, & is a supernatural warrior. He's quite powerful & Chow Yun Fat will have to fight him a couple of times, although it's never at all explained why or to what purpose, though the magic kung fu sequences are better staged than just about anything else in the film.

There are some holy objects involved (a two-bead necklace that looks like someone's testicals, & a chunky awkward dagger object), the values of which never much explained, but they help decorate the action scenes while defeating Cat Man, & Cat Man wishes he had these objects.

The witch regards Joe as her new mentor, for what we never find out, & perhaps he's supposed to become the new chief or priest of her Nepalese tribe, though that never happens. He does try to protect her in & out of his hallucinations.

In one scene he tries to get rid of her, realizing he's ruining his real-life relationship with Ida by having sex with the magic girl. In response to this rejection she sets herself on fire. He saves her by blowing them both up & the house too. But a couple scenes later the house isn't damaged so all that must've been a dream, but who the hell knows.

Basically it just never makes a lick of sense. The soundscape is amateurish, the cinematography close to amateur, the fight choreography isn't as bad as everything else but even that cheats with editing tricks. Oh, & there's a completely nonsensical zombie sequence in which Joe, Ida, & some of Ida's young dance students crash into an apparently christian cemetery where corpses climb out of their graves & try to break into the car. It has nothing to do with anything else that happens in the film, but if you last this far into the movie, it'll end up being a favorite bit of unutterable nonsense.

Chow Yun Fat attempts to give a good performance but cannot overcome the nonsensicality of the script, chintzy sound track & sets, & amateurish editing. Director Ching Sui Tung would later make sword & sorcery kung fu films of some merit, but if The Witch from Nepal had been the height of his achievement, he would've gone down in history as Hong Kong's version of Ed Wood.
copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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