Director: Sammo Hung Kam-Bo
Spooky Encounters, or Encounter of the Spooky Kind as the title above suggests, is a hell of a fun ride that pits hapless Sammo Hung against an assortment of ghosts and ghouls resulting in a number of comedic outcomes at the actors expense. Man is this a fun movie that you can just sit down and enjoy. I feel I've been doing the blogosphere a disservice by not mentioning Sammo Hung before this review, because the man is a legend among Hong Kong cinephiles. He's starred in countless Hong Kong flicks and has directed just as many. The man is right up there with Jackie Chan in my book.
|You've screwed me for the last time granny smith apple.|
The plot of this comedic ghostly tale follows a man by the name of Bold Cheung. Cheung compulsively bets on anything to prove how courageous he is and this unsensible nature gets him into a whole heap of trouble. The story really starts to kick into gear when we find out that Cheung's wife has been cheating on him and with his own boss. Unknown to Cheung, he mistakingly gets close to the truth of his wife's infidelity and his boss seems it a necessary evil to plan his murder by employing the dark arts of a taoist priest. As you can imagine things get a little hairy for poor old Bold Cheung as the dark priest attempts to raise the dead in order to hunt down Cheung.
|Smell my finger.|
This film has a great mixture of comedy and horror that borderlines on slapstick. It has its sense of horror elements, but there's nothing here that will scare the pants off you. It's more of an atmospheric approach that the horror is infused into the film. Either way, the visuals are creepy as hell and the images of an undead mummy-like vampire as it bursts from its coffin to begin searching for Bold Cheung is surprisingly chilling for the mostly comedic approach of the overall tone of the film. There were parts that kind of stuck with me, only to be lost in the laughter that soon came pouring from my shit eating grin.
|The Bangles new smash hit song, Walk Like An Undead Zombie.|
Comedy is a hard thing to pull off, let alone while bridging the gap between East and Western cultures, but Sammo does a marvelous job in playing the bumbling idiot that always seems to come out of any situation unscathed. The comedic slapstick performances that he choreographs, is similar to how he would map out a fight sequence. Every move is planned to perfection and it all resembles the fluent movements of a ballet. Not only does his mastery show in his performance, but it also carries over into his directorial efforts.
|When two become one. How Romantic.|
Sammo keeps the flow of the film at a steady pace and always seems progressive as he pushes the narrative along. The fight sequences, the slapstick scenes, and the explanatory portions of this film all move at top speed, sometimes even mingling into each other, combining segments into an almost hybrid form of cinematic art. There are many moments where Hung combines the comedic slapstick stylings with the punch and kick motions of the fight choreography. This is not so unbelievable, because fellow action star and good friend Jackie Chan has the same trademark of combining comedy and action to blend as one. The mixture is accomplished perfectly and Sammo Hung shines on all fronts.
|They may be dead, but damn can they sing.|
|Can I use the restroom?|
Spooky Encounters actually reminds me a lot of an earlier collaboration between Europe and Hong Kong, where the Shaw Brothers teamed with Hammer Films to make the vampire kung fu epic, The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires. That Peter Cushing starrer shares the same visual aesthetics that Spooky Encounters seems to revel in. It wouldn't be hard to imagine that Sammo had found some sort of inspiration in that 1974 film when he planned to bring his comedic horror movie to life.
|We're here to avenge the death of granny smith apple.|
|I ain't scared of no ghosts.|
|You gonna eat that skittle on your forehead?|
|Best ending ever!|
Spooky Encounters is the best at what it does. It delivers fast paced action, with creepy atmosphere, and spot on slapstick performances by Sammo and company. If there was ever a Hong Kong comedy that I'd be pressed to recommend, then it would be this film. It does everything right in all departments. It's a seemingly simple film, yet has many intricate things going for it. To be able to accomplish a film that combines comedy, horror, and action and to do it so effortless, well you have to give it up for Sammo Hung. The man is a master at what he does and what he does is entertain us to no end. I highly recommend this film to anyone who enjoys Hong Kong cinema and to horror fans that like to branch out every so often.
4 out of 5 stars A Horror, Action, Comedy Hong Kong Delight!