Saviour of the Soul (1991)

Reviewed by: Hyomil
Date: 04/07/2011

Reviewer Score: 4

Reviewed by: Chungking_Cash
Date: 07/10/2007

A-list leads (Andy Lau, Anita Mui) cannot save this B-rate fantasy. With three different skippers (Corey Yuen Kwai, David Lai, Jeff Lau) on board "Saviour of the Soul" sinks fairly quickly.

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: dandan
Date: 07/21/2006
Summary: now, who wrote the screenplay?

may (anita mui) is a city cop, having sent a notorious criminal to prison, she's now the prey of silver fox (aaron kwok), his disciple. after one of her partners, siu chuen (kenny bee) is killed by silver fox, may disappears leaving ching (andy lau) to take care of wai (gloria yip), siu chuen's little sister.

siu chen falls in love with ching, but ching spends his time pining for may and hassling her twin (also played by anita mui) for any news of her. meanwhile, silver fox prepares to strike again...

i remember the first time i say the trailer for this film and i was absolutely stunned. i dashed out the next day and snapped up the shiny new vhs and watched excitedly. then, as now, there were some great set pieces, some fantastic set design, pretty amazing cinematography and just a strange comic book mixture of melodrama, high camp, goofy comedy and action. sometimes it's a bit hit and miss, but when it works, it works.

on the whole, good stuff.

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 01/16/2006

In the 21st century Andy Lau, Kenny Bee and Anita Mui are "city cops". Anita captures a notorious criminal and his disciple Silver Fox swears revenge. Anita must leave the ones she loves to protect them, even though it hurts them all. But there's no escaping destiny, and a showdown with Silver Fox is inevitable.

SAVIOUR OF THE SOUL was one of the first HK films I saw, and I was completely blown away. Often described as "Manga In Motion", the film definitely has a bit of a comic-book flavour in the design of the characters, the sets and the action. The film is visually stunning, full of luscious colours and cinematography that give the film a dream-like feel. This is "balanced" by some goofy comedy that at the very least isn't translated into "amusing" by the subtitles, and would have been better left on the editing room floor - though the relish with which Anita plays her own twin sister makes some of the scenes worth having. The script (from Wong Kar-Wai!) is good, effectively transplanting a typical wu xia tale into a science fiction setting. It's the super-stylish visuals and some great action choreography that really make the film into a classic though.

This is a film that's long overdue a remastered DVD - ideally with freshly translated English subtitles that might make clarify some of the less comprehensible plot details and maybe even make some of the jokes funny! Without them, I can't quite give the film the perfect score that the cinematography alone comes close to justifying.

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 09/17/2005

A friendly love triangle between three assassins May, Chin and Koo (Mui, Lau and Bee) is shattered when a rival assassin known as Fox (Kwok) comes looking for revenge for his master (who May blinded and turned over to the cops) and kills Chin. In order to save Chin from Fox's wrath, May goes into hiding. One year later, the pair are reunited as Fox closes in.

There's a good amount of garbage in this movie, such as a weak plot that's full of holes (we find out that May was "hiding out" in the apartment across from Chin -- what the hell?), some pretty hammy romance, and a poor performance from Andy Lau. Seeing this guy trying to conjure up tears whilst trying to keep his hair from not getting mussed is one of the few true pains in watching Hong Kong movies. Not to mention he has an annoying habit in this movie of never pulling his shirt over his shoulders, probably just to show off for the ladies.

However, this movie delivers eye candy and lots of it. Saviour of the Soul really looks cool, with a mix of traditional sets and Blade Runner-ish future noir. There's plenty of inventive weapons (such as Lau's combination steel yo-yo/knife/sword and Anita Mui's arsenal of lethal exploding homing knives) that are put to use in some great action sequences. Of course, Corey Yuen could probably direct this kind of stuff in his sleep -- he even made Eddie Winslow from "Family Matters" look pretty good on the TV show "Freedom." But that's beside the point. If you're willing to forgive some shortcomings, there's some good stuff to be had from a viewing of Saviour of the Soul.

[review from www.hkfilm.net]

Reviewed by: S.A. Winters
Date: 12/13/2002
Summary: If you don't mind the weak secondary sub-plots....

I saw this a few years ago in an English dub only DVD and the voices were horrible. Which turned me off to the movie. However, I bought another copy recently and it was like watching another film!
Sure some of the humor in the beginning is pretty bad but there is no denying the action set pieces that dominate the movie. The jailbreak, the bathroom fight, the warehouse and so on are all top notch.
Problem is, secondary story lines dealing with "Madam Pet" and a young sibling of a fallen friend are pretty weak and bog down the film, but like one other reviewer noted, it does get better with repeated viewings. If you can get it for under 10 bucks don't hesitate.

Reviewed by: RLM
Date: 05/18/2002
Summary: Recommended HK Viewing

All the right elements mix in all the right ways, at all the right times. This movie is the standard by which all other (non period) HK fantasy/fu films are judged. It's a wonderful blend of scifi and HK martial arts/swordsplay with a good script that's made even better by the acting and action.
There is character development and we actually care who gets hurt or dies in the film. It's over-the-top fantasy fun watching the astonding choregraphed fight scenes. I must admit that when Andy Lau's character goes to find his true love, only to find himself fighting a barage of would-be suitors, I was rooting and laughing the entire time.
Recommended 9/10

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 03/16/2002
Summary: Gets better with each viewing!

Yup it does. I just watched it tonight for the 5th time, and it is still getting better! Here is a movie that must be seen in its entirely to be appreciated; i.e. don't watch it for 10 minutes and turn it off and call it a stupid movie, because you have just missed some of the best of HK cinema in the latter 80 minutes. This is the only modern HK movie that has impressed me with its action. Others like Naked Killer, In the Line of Duty 3 and Drunken Master 3--the action in those modern movies are painfully embarrassing, but Saviour of the Soul definitely has superb action. However, the action is not the only masterful part of the movie. It is that along with the flawless storyline, the world-class acting, the make-you-burst-aloud humor and the gorgeous cinematography and camera work that make this one of the best HK movies ever made. This is probably better than the Heroic Trio.


Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 01/17/2002
Summary: Huh?

It seems that most people here liked this, but me, I have to disagree. The early 90's is when things started to go wrong in HK film making I think, new movies were coming out all the time, and were rushed...therefore a lot of them not being very good. This to me is a perfect example of that. I sort of agree with what Sydneyguy said on his reveiw, and although I can be picky at times, I do think this is overated for what it is.

Anita Mui to me has never been much of an actress and that drags it down to a certain level for me straight away. A big cast list, but what you see on screen is pretty rubbish most of the time.

Still, action wise it's not bad, but the story is very stupid.

Rating: 2/5

(This rating is based on comparison to movies made at the same time, and not to films made before or after the year of release)

Reviewer Score: 4

Reviewed by: suchet
Date: 03/19/2001
Summary: Great stuff.

This is a classic example of what a mainstream popcorn movie should be - It has lots of romance, action, drama and some hilarious moments in the climax when Andy Lau goes up against Aaron Kwok (Who is marvelous as The Silver Fox.) - Fans of Andy Lau and Aaron Kwok wont be dissapointed with this. The scenery (Most of it has been shot in a studio!) looks awesome and the style doesn't try to imitate other futuristic settings seen in Blade Runner or Batman. I also heard Andy Lau plans to remake this classic as a big Hollywood movie... Great.

Reviewed by: SBates
Date: 01/21/2001
Summary: One of My Favorites

A meandering script, some campy special effects, and improbable love story....but I still loved this wacked-out movie. I love stuff that makes no sense, so let me preface my review with that. Fantasy/drama/comedy/tragedy, all set in a stunning primary-color netherworld. I love stuff like this.

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 09/19/2000
Summary: Are you people sure?

I watched this and didn't think much of this. I felt it very unrealitisc that Andy Lau falls for Anita Mui (who looks much older than Lau)and the action was only ok. Maybe i am more picky than i thought...........


Reviewer Score: 4

Reviewed by: tdockweiler
Date: 07/09/2000

You will probably all hate me for this...but I have to say this was ONE of the worst HK movies i've ever seen. It almost seems like the director was trying to make the worst movie he could possibly make. The worst part about this, is that during parts of the movie it is supposed to be serious and then it switches back to a comedy, I don't think that helped any at all. The thing is, is that the parts that are supposed to be funny aren't at all. During certain parts I found myself laughing out loud during parts that probably weren't even intended to be funny at all. And the dialogue..ugh. I can not BELIEVE that Wong Kar-Wai actually wrote the script for this movie! And i just love all those cheesy special effects that look like they were made for a cartoon! Please tell me, is ANY of this movie ment to be taken seriously? It sure didn't seem like it. And why try and make fight scenes funny?! uhm, the "bad guy" towards the end gets stuck in a mirror(?!). ok, is this supposed to be funny? (maybe to a twelve year old) it's just plain stupid. I don't know..if you think "God of Cookery" is funny, then maybe you will like this. The "comedy" in this movie is just way to goofy to me. The only time I laughed at this movie was at how stupid it was.

Reviewed by: grimes
Date: 04/08/2000

Saviour of the Soul is a brilliant high camp Hong Kong extravaganza featuring everything that the true fan loves about Hong
Kong films. The plot revolves around Ching (Andy Lau) and Kwan (Anita Mui), who are 'city soldiers' along with Chuen.
Silver Fox (Aaron Kwok) comes to kill Kwan to get revenge on her for foiling the plans of Silver Fox's master. In the process,
he kills Chuen. Kwan, who loves Ching, decides that the best way to protect him is to drive him away. This leaves Ching with
Chuen's 15 year old sister (who develops a crush on him) while he searches for Kwan, whom he loves. Anita Mui also plays
her own a twin sister, a strange woman with a weird voice (which I think might have been dubbed in by someone else).
Carina Lau plays Madam Pet (yes, that's what the subtitles said), whom Ching spurns.

That is the soap opera plot of Saviour of the Soul in a nutshell. It is apparently based on the manga City Hunter, which has
also inspired a Jackie Chan film. There is a lot of backstory which seems to be assumed in this film. First of all, what are city
soldiers?! The setting of the film appears to be a sort of combination of Hong Kong and Gotham City and wherever Dick
Tracy lives, with fabulously designed, gorgeously colored sets. The look of this film is superb, and reason enough to see it.

This film has pretty much everything in it. Romance, drama, great flying fu style action scenes, blood spurts, some goofy
special effects, and pretty much everything else you can imagine except a backstory (you can't have anything). Andy Lau is
in fine form, bouncing from comedy to heroism without missing a beat. Carina Lau does a decent impression of Brigitte Lin's
icy stare of death, though no one does it quite like Brigitte. Anita Mui does double duty as the romantic butt-kicking lead,
Kwan, and her weird sister, who has a number of comic moments with Andy Lau. The young girl (Gloria Yip?) has the most
boring role as about half the scenes with her in it seem to involve her crying for one reason or another.

If you enjoy frenetic Hong Kong action-comedy-dramas (and if you don't why do you watch Hong Kong films anyway?) then
see Saviour of the Soul.

Reviewed by: MilesC
Date: 02/12/2000
Summary: MUST be based on a comic book...

...Because only comic-book adaptations are this stupid. The plot is close to non-existent: Aaron Kwok wants to kill Anita Mui to avenge his master. (who was killed why?) Buy Andy loves Anita, (why?) even though he thinks she loves Kenny Bee, who has a sister with a crush on Andy. (Why is this in the movie?) That's it. That's the plot. Oh yeah, and Carina Lau pops in once or twice. The action scenes are sub-par, hurt by a nearly non-existent, monotone score and excessive slow-motion. The special effects are frequently cheesy-looking; virtually no attempt is made to disguise the fact that Aaron is butchering dummies in the opening scene. There are very rare flashes of goodness, but this movie put me to sleep twice in the course of the three days it took me to get through it. A few decent gags and about a minute of up-to-standard action don't make for a very entertaining movie. This may well be THE most overrated film in HK cinema history.

Reviewed by: STSH
Date: 12/28/1999
Summary: Nowhere near as good as the other reviews indicate

Better than The Heroic Trio ? No way ! Not even close. SOTS divides into two fairly clear portions - the first fifty minutes (which contains three pretty good fighting/stunt scenes, but otherwise is a meandering and dreary muddle), and the remaining 40 minutes or so (which is great flying/stunt stuff). Aaron Kwok makes all the difference here. He appears only in the action sequences, and his appearances seem to awaken the other actors from a dreary slumber. There is only one fight sequence where he doesn't appear (when Andy woos Madam of Pets by mistake), and this one is great as well. Of the non-action sequences, it's hard to see why they go on for so LONG, when they contribute so little to the story. And Anita Mui's antics as her own twin sister are as utterly stupid as they are unfunny.
Yes, I recommend this movie, but fast- forward through most of the first half and only jump back to normal speed when Aaron Kwok appears.

Reviewer Score: 4

Reviewed by: Brad.Daniels
Date: 12/09/1999

I liked this one much better than heroic trio. It's not as gross as Heroic Trio, and the characters are more likable.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

Ching, Chuen and Kwan are famous mercenaries. They are goodfriends, as well as the constituents of a love triangle. Kwan kills Silver Fox's good friend, and the Fox seeks vengeance on her. On one occasion, Silver Fox kills Chuen, but is wounded by Kwan. Kwan, knowing that Fox wants revenge but not wishing to involve Ching, silently departs. She shows up one year later, severely poisoned by a spell to which only Madam Pet has the antidote. But Ching has antagonized Madam Pet, and to make things worse, Silver Fox is following Kwan like a shadow, endangering all of their lives.

[Reviewed by Rim Films Catalog]

Reviewed by: spinali
Date: 12/08/1999
Summary: NULL

Abetted by its tense soundtrack, brutal action scenes, and a near-perfect senses of composition, this captures the Japanese graphic novel on film with style to spare -- though it did leave me feeling a little empty afterwards.


[Reviewed by Steve Spinali]

Reviewer Score: 8