The Eternal Evil of Asia (1995)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2007-07-08
One would think that working in Hong Kong for any part of the Thai tourist industry would be a very difficult job since so many of the tourist from the SAR to the Land of Smiles encounter ghosts, zombies and other versions of the not quite dead or at least not peacefully dead. Not that business people going to Bangkok or young singles headed for Phukete have much to worry about but every Hong Kong resident who strays from the typical tourist paths is set upon and sometimes followed home by evil spirits. Or so it would seem from the movies.

The four guys in "Eternal Evil of Asia" are a good (or bad) example. They begin by looking for hookers; get chased from the bar by men with choppers and run into the nearby woods. They are lost, the full moon (what else could it be?) turns blood red and a thunderstorm starts. They take shelter in a convenient house where a wizard is preparing for a contest with two other wizards. The guys are told that it was predestined for them to be in this place at this time and they will get to watch the competition--and if the wizard they have encountered wins the contest he will return Elvis Tsui's head to its original form.

So, partway through the movie the four friends have not only recovered from a night of machete wielding killers, transmogrification, insanely evil ghosts but they have made a new friend, the Wizard Laimi. And his beautiful sister seems like a nice person. Which means that things are about to go to hell very quickly. The love spell infects the wrong people, the sister falls on a knife and Laimi is now their worst enemy. Have a nice trip back to Hong Kong, guys.

Which they do, but if they had been lucky they would have missed the flight and been run over by a taxicab. Naam turns from a poor father and husband into a raving maniac with a cleaver who is haunted by the ghosts of his mother and father. They are joined almost immediately by the spirits of his wife, son and neighbors, all of whom he has untimely sent to their ancestors. The spirits convince him to jump from the roof of his apartment building. His ghost wanders through the world with several fluorescent light tubes stuck through his remains, showing up to scare the hell out of his friends. Kent is enchanted by Laimi into becoming one of the hungriest of hungry ghosts, although this manifestation is not the classic large bellied, tiny throated being. His throat works fine as shown by the way he devours the limbs of patrons at a restaurant followed by the flesh on his own arm. Having already been changed (fittingly) into a dickhead and back, A Kong breathes his last with pins erupting from his head and face. Kong had the best chance of avoiding his fate—meaning, of course, none at all—since he knew what happened to the other two and consulted a Taoist priest for help. The Taoist fashioned a “Buddha Net” that ghosts couldn’t penetrate and Kong simply had to stay inside it for three days to be rid of Laimi. To no one’s surprise but his own he was lured out in about three minutes.

There were a number of deadlines like that. In addition to Kong’s three days, if Bon was able to get through one night while covered with a magic cloth he would no longer be subject to enchantment. Laimi’s sister had a much longer but still definite period of detention—stay inside for her entire 23rd year since her father foresaw she would die at 23. Since none of these restrictions could be met—the movie would have ended right there if they had—their existence and impossibility of achievement emphasizes one of the main themes of “The Eternal Evil of Asia”, predestination. What happens is what is fated to happen and in the universe of loutish Hong Kong tourists and Southeast Asian enchanters what happens is horrible. Karmic resolution is quick—one minute you are yelling at your son the next you are chopping up your wife. You go to lunch with your girlfriend to make amends for ignoring her and wind up eating the fingers of the attractive woman at the next table.

The other main theme is that everything and everyone has limits. Laimi is a fierce and expert demon, a being who can summon powers that are unimaginable to humans but if he goes too far even he can transgress and be punished. Stalking and killing the three men who were responsible for his sister’s death—they weren’t really since he had mistakenly hexed them—was expected. Going further and killing Bon, who had nothing to do with his sister’s demise, was at the extreme bounds of acceptable behavior by a self-respecting ghost. Killing him because he wanted to make May, Bon’s fiancé, his sex slave was way over the line and left him vulnerable to counter magic.

There are a few touches of alternate reality, unreliable narration or changing points of view but the structure and plot are quite straightforward. For example, a movie within the movie to start which seems to set the scene for the type of horror film to follow—although it doesn’t--and dream within a dream in which Bon dreams he awakens to see the dead Naam and then awakens from that dream. Other than the necessary flashback to tell the story of the trip to Thailand these are the only hints of narrative complexity.

Special effects were generally well done—ghostly apparitions were appropriately gory and frightening. None of the principals was called on to do any sustained acting, the lighting was properly garish and the set design was minimal but effective. "The Eternal Evil of Asia" has the right mix of sex, horror, gore and humor.

And then there is THAT scene--Ellen Chan Nga-Lun performing fellatio on a phantom. The scene alternated between shockingly salacious and risibly ridiculous although she was a lot sexier than Chloe Sevigny in “Brown Bunny.”

Recommended
Reviewer Score: 7