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RUNNING TIME: 99 minutes


Wah Li, generally known as Fats Boy to most, lives along with his Nice-Uncle Yee. Collectively along with his oddball buddies Lai Li and Momo, Wah Li helps Yee run the native funeral service. When the physique of certainly one of Wah Li’s buddies, Ma Lucho, is introduced again to the village by a brand new and pregnant spouse and her “brother,” Wai Li is suspicious, as a result of Ma Lucho had beforehand proven himself to be impotent. Wah Li goes to examine the physique within the funeral parlour, and fails to grasp that Ma Lucho is properly and actually alive and a part of a rip-off to steal some invaluable household antiques. Wah Li appears satisfied that Ma Lucho is lifeless, reasoning that it’s his ghost when he scares him away, however then Ma Lucho’s accomplices determine they need him lifeless for actual….

Not like its two related cousins Shut Encounters Of The Spooky Sort and Mr Vampire, The Useless And The Lethal hasn’t been seen that a lot within the West. Would you consider it, that is its first house viewing launch within the UK, though it did flip up as soon as on TV, a displaying which I sadly occurred to overlook. Due to this fact that is the primary time I’ve seen this one, and I have to say it stunned me a bit at first, being a comedy at first with the motion secondary and the horror barely there in any respect regardless of all its supernatural shenanigans. Nonetheless the explanation for its lack of publicity outdoors of Hong Kong may be very arduous to fathom. Sure, it’s the least action-centric of the three movies, and it spends a hell of plenty of time on comedy routines and Taoist magic rituals which at occasions take it near real Chinese language opera, however distributors used to at all times be joyful shortening Hong Kong movies and, whereas it’s not fairly a real traditional like these two, it’s nonetheless a vastly entertaining watch. The farcical goings-ons, most of which contain lifeless our bodies, individuals pretending to be lifeless or coming to life, and which definitely should maintain probably the most of us smiling and generally even laughing, maintain issues transferring at a quick tempo apart from the occasional set piece which works on too lengthy, the plot has its surprises and turns into geneuinely unpredictable and it’s a uncommon Hong Kong movie of its day the place a feminine character is the one who units out to avoid wasting the day, and on her personal, within the ultimate act. The director is Wu Ma additionally wrote the script with Barry Wong, and he truly helmed fairly a number of movies although is greatest generally known as a really acquainted face in Hong Kong cinema, mainly in small roles but in addition as Taoist swordsman Yin Chek Ha in A Chinese language Ghost Story.

The movie units out its stall proper from the very starting once we see a person knocking, then scratching and miaowing at a door, whereas one other, our hero Wah Li  watches, commenting “cat’s mating name”. Certainly the customer enters to satisfy a girl. She gained’t sleep with him till it’s been seven days since her husband died, however he certain is persistent, and he or she appears to be giving in to him, however Wah Li climbs in although a window and attire up as a ghost to scare them away, solely he falls down the steps. Then the ghost of the lifeless husband exhibits up and frightens all three of them earlier than strangling his spouse and her suitor, one thing that doesn’t seem to be an enormous deal to him, earlier than threatening Wah Li with demise if he tells anybody else what’s simply occurred – after which we get the director’s credit score, the titles having appeared all through this complete sequence. Actually, if this opening scene doesn’t sound like enjoyable then I wouldn’t counsel you hassle with the movie, however I reckon that almost all readers may have skilled this type of stuff in Hong Kong motion pictures earlier than. Wah Li is discovered unconscious on the bottom, then is chased when he wakes up and the others accuse him of dishonest them. Just like the characters Jackie Chan often performed round this time, he’s apparently at all times moving into bother, however Chan was by no means as harsh to a feminine admirer as Wah Li is right here to Miss Yuen; they have been promised to one another earlier than they have been even born however all is does right here is mock her present to him, his excuse being “she’s too good for me, I don’t need to spoil her life”. Possibly he means it, nevertheless it’s at all times a little bit of a cop out. And now we get a extremely low comedy set piece which certain made me chuckle however which in all probability prohibits this one from being seen by younger youngsters. Wah Li and his 80-year outdated pal Ma Lucho are in a brothel and the latter goes off with a hooker the madame was nearly forcing upon Wah Li. He takes bull’s penis and seal’s penis to present him vitality nevertheless it doesn’t work; Wah Li alternatively takes them and walks concerning the place with an erection which he simply can’t eliminate. Effectively it’s humorous to me.

When it comes to preventing, there’s a bit the place Lee Yuet Ying fights off the opposite villains as a result of she tried to commit suicide, however the scene is over earlier than it’s barely started. Then Ma Lucho is attacked by a few of his personal individuals dressed as ninjas; they make a spectacular, acrobatic entrance with cool throbbing music, then after some respectable preventing Fats Chung as the principle villain joins in, however Ma Lucho is killed very quickly, regardless of being performed by the movie’s director Wu Ma. Hung does finally get an opportunity to indicate his stuff, though it’s when his character is possessed by one other, with some nice strikes and displaying of pressure, nevertheless it’s not the movie’s climax, there being one other twenty or so minutes to go, which is okay so long as one realises that we’re not presupposed to take this movie as a martial arts piece, the restricted motion not being vital. Regardless of this being a movie the place a lot of martial arts actors, together with plenty of Hung’s traditional stunt group, don’t do martial arts, there’s and benefit in that we get extra of a way of a correct story unfolding, and it definitely takes some uncommon turns, finally centering on feminine unconditional love and bravado which differs tremendously from the portrayal of ladies in Hong Kong movies anyway [the femme fatale subgenre hadn’t yet erupted]. There’s a component of poignancy within the journey of each Cherie Chung’s character and, much more so, Hung’s, with issues ending in a method that’s not totally joyful, regardless of the message of “life is brief we’d as properly get pleasure from it once we can”.  Speaking of feminine characters although, Mei Hui Leung as Lee Yuet Ying is a reasonably fascinating villainess who’s sport and motifs we’re not at all times certain about. She dies in a quite merciless trend.

There’s a pleasant if cliched scare second the place a hand belonging to someone who’s supposedly lifeless comes out from underneath a sheet to seize the particular person sitting on the mattress, however that’s actually it by way of horror. Nevertheless, the particular results, if undeniably primitive, are advantageous; the truth is I’d go as far to say that the wire work is amongst the perfect, even in Excessive Definition. A lot of The Useless And The Lethal consists of comedy set items. Most do amuse, however generally too lengthy, particularly when Ma Lucho begins to get pleasure from being a ghost, and it will get complicated by way of who can see who, however there’s extra consistency than you may anticipate,  plus some understated humour too. The rituals additionally take up time, nevertheless it’s nice to see Lam-Ching Ying, Mr Vampire himself, taking part in an earlier Taoist priest who’s too aged to carry out every little thing so he must be helped, as does Yeung, an official who’s at all times plastered and certainly one of two cross-eyed characters. Hung’s half permits him to indicate his range as a performer. Ma’s route is clean and makes use of some barely longer takes than, say, Hung would have executed, whereas, regardless of there being three cinematographers – Yiu-Tsou Cheun, Ricky Lau and Yu-Tang-Li – it does look as if one particular person might have executed all of it, with uniformity of visible type. Whereas we’re used to a lot of blue to suggest ghosts, there’s additionally some very theatrical inexperienced, plus good use of various rooms e. The soundtrack has a number of sections typical of Hong Kong film music that might come after when issues shifted to unique scores, nevertheless it’s most notable for its used of digital sounds, a few of it from Tangerine Dream and a few of it both from the same group or composer or newly written in that type. It’s a tad jarring at occasions however provides to the movie’s attraction.

All in all The Useless And The Lethal is a hoot with a little bit of real coronary heart which provides it some resonance because the acquainted Hong Kong film freeze body comes up on the finish. Nevertheless, there’s yet one more factor that I really feel I ought to say, one thing that I didn’t need to point out earlier simply in case I felt inclined to say it time and again. Ma sports activities a false nostril which is kind of spectacular in how unconvincing it’s. Nevertheless, which means it’s additionally vastly distracting. I suppose this doesn’t matter an excessive amount of contemplating the comedic nature of the movie, however be warned. Chances are you’ll not have the ability to get the nostril out of your thoughts. Chances are you’ll dream concerning the nostril.

Ranking: ★★★★★★★★☆☆


I can’t evaluate it to any earlier model as I’ve by no means owned any, however I’ll definitely take the phrase of the fellows doing the audio commentaries that this restoration is of high quality. In reality I’d say that, at the very least on this incarnation, this can be a higher trying movie than both Shut Encounters Of The Spooky Sort or Mr Vampire. The varied color schemes come off very well and the blacks are deep, whereas restricted use of opticals signifies that grain stage stays constant.



Restricted Version O-Card slipcase that includes new art work by Darren Wheeling

Authentic Cantonese mono audio [theatrical mix]

Authentic Cantonese mono audio [home video mix]

Non-compulsory English mono dubbed audio
The Useless And The Lethal was made at a time when the English dubs have been shedding their flavour, so I are likely to hearken to movies of this time and later with their unique Hong Kong dubs, although I do change over a occasions simply to verify the English dubs out. The one right here isn’t unhealthy although dialogue is commonly considerably totally different to the English subtitles English for the Cantonese dubs.

Non-compulsory English Subtitles, newly translated for this launch

New characteristic size audio commentary by Asian movie consultants Frank Djeng [NY Asian Film Festival] & Michael Value
Djeng and Value are on prime type as they talk about this movie; the truth is I’d say that this monitor is livelier and extra enthusiastic than their previous few, with the 2 even joking about Djeng’s liking for saying “additionally out there from Eureka”. Djeng thinks that Wong wrote the humorous elements of the screenplay, whereas Value thinks Wu might have realized his economical filming type from Steven Spielberg. As traditional Djeng explains issues that us westerners wouldn’t get, similar to Ma’s character’s title being slang for “horse’s dick” regardless of being impotent. And I by no means knew that Shaw Brothers’ prime director Chang Cheh might have began off this taking pictures silent malarky due to all of the totally different languages. Superb.

New characteristic size audio commentary by motion cinema consultants Mike Leeder & Arne Venema
Leeder and Venema are additionally at their greatest on their monitor, with bizarrely extra clarification of the customs and rituals seen than within the earlier commentary; apparently individuals burn bits of paper variations of issues in order that the lifeless will obtain stated issues within the afterlife. Leeder says {that a} stuntman at a shoot he was at fell off a roof; he was the one one who didn’t burn incense for good luck that day. We additionally hear that strippers was once a factor at weddings and funerals in Hong Kong[!], and many amusing byplay, probably reaching a excessive or low level through the viagra scene, however each go on concerning the nostril too and rightly so. There’s a bit much less concerning the precise movie right here, nevertheless it’s such enjoyable listening we don’t actually care.

Sammo Hung Interview on the 2016 Udine Movie Pageant” [21 mins]
Hung typically appears barely a bit guarded in interviews, however he acts genuinely joyful and comes throughout as fairly heat on this and the following featurette, even when someday struggles to seek out the appropriate English phrases or phrases and an interpreter has to assist out. He solutions questions on topics like why he needed to be a director [Wong Fung just offered the job of directing to him], however of most curiosity is his discussing of his occasions with Bruce Lee, from making an attempt to kick Lee and having his foot immediately pushed into his face, to Lee particularly calling him up for Enter The Dragon. He additionally talks of two future tasks, one with him and Lau Kar-Leung as outdated masters, one about lion dancing. He hasn’t but made both, however right here’s hoping.

Sammo Hung Q and A on the 2016 Udine Movie Pageant [57 mins]
In reality Hung likes to speak of issues he needs to do however which he hasn’t but fulfilled, right here mentioning at size and with ardour the sorry state of the Hong Kong movie trade, with younger individuals not wanting to enter movie and martial artists in China not having the chance, and what he intends to do about it. There’s additionally a lot chat concerning the movie that was about to indicate, his first directorial job in 18 years The Bodyguard. Hung is sweet and humorous, from answering his first query with The Bodyguard is nice film” to eager to do a love story “on the lookout for the intercourse”. Though someone sadly asks him a query about soccer, he tells an amusing story about he and Jackie Chan forming groups whereas making motion pictures and having matches, Chan as soon as dishonest in a quite naughty method, and ends with the vital message of “spend extra time together with your elders”. Hung is on nice type on this Q and A which, even when it by no means mentions The Useless And The Lethal, is an actual deal with for followers.

Authentic Hong Kong theatrical trailer

A Restricted Version collector’s booklet that includes new writing by James Oliver


A movie which might be loved even by those that dislike martial arts, ‘The Useless And The Lethal’ is, regardless of its title and topic, an invigorating mixture of bonkers plotting and various comedy. Hopefully Eureka’s usually advantageous launch will lastly give it an honest viewers within the UK. Beneficial!


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