Bury Me High (1991)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2010-05-15
Summary: Your Feng Shui is weak...
“Bury Me High” makes no sense as a narrative, even a discontinuous one, either in the universe created by the filmmakers or in any “real” world in which causes and effects are linked. There is only one thing that really makes sense—General Nguen is successful as a rebel leader and then consolidating his power because he owns the only helicopter in Carrinan. There isn’t much to choose between The President and General Nguen. Both are energetic, charismatic and ruthless leaders with no policy other than to maintain or seize power. The confrontation between them, ended when Nguen’s helicopter appears outside a window and fires a few thousand rounds into the President’s forces with about half of them hitting the President himself, is based on personal antagonism and score settling.

What makes “Bury Me High” a fun movie to watch are the fights, particularly between Chin Kar-Lok and Yuen Wah with Moon Lee jumping in toward the end of the ultimate battle between them. The hand to hand fighting is brutal, continuous once it starts and extremely well choreographed, lit and shot. Much of the action takes place on bridges or balconies, so there is plenty of work for stuntmen jumping or falling into rivers or being thrown from the second level of a disco to smash into the floor.

The plot is set up in the very beginning with some easy to understand exposition about why feng shui is important and how it works. This is followed by a flashback in which an all important secret and magical tablet with the secrets of a huge and distinctive rock formation, known as the Conqueror. If one is buried properly in the dizzying heights of the Conqueror his descendants will have wisdom, wealth or power. But only one of them, and only for 24 years. If the corpse isn’t disinterred after that time everything gets reversed. This is happening as the current day action begins and everything gets completely ridiculous immediately. If there was only one copy of the final shooting script that was accidentally fed through a shredder and then painstakingly put back together by people working from a bare outline it might have made more sense.

But with exemplary action, a uniformly excellent cast and exceptional cinematography it is well worth seeing. There are moments of inspired lunacy: when General Nguen grabs some ancient firearms from a display, two of them are loaded and primed so that they actually fire including the one he uses to shoot Wisely in the head, a wound that cures a malignant tumor that had been growing in his brain. Anna Wong and her feng shui team from Los Angeles go from traveling software sales reps to leaders of the insurgency against the General without explanation. Where that group of rebels, well organized, properly armed and willing to die for their cause came from is never explained—they must be some kind of third force, opposed to both The President and the General although their real function seems to blow stuff up and get butchered by Nguen’s soldiers. Professor Chen, one of Miss Wong’s cadres of feng shui practitioners, had to be lured away from his job at UCLA where he taught the history of geomancy and had a green card courtesy of the university. Nguen Van Vong is the sister of General Nguen and of Capt. Nguen Van Bao, his second in command. She thinks the General is too brutal but has no problem with the Captain when he summarily executes prisoners by shooting them in the head.

A strange but beguiling movie
Reviewer Score: 7