The Mad Monk (1993)
Reviewed by: Trigger on 2001-11-20
Summary: 7/10 - shame I couldn't hear Stephen Chow talking.
Mad Monk kicks ass. This film is about a god who is challenged and sent to earth to change the lives of a beggar, a prostitute, and a killer. Stephen Chow plays the god and he's brilliant as usual. He doesn't fall in love in this film, though which (as a reviewer over at HKMDB speculated) is probably why it did poorly at the box office. I found it to be delightful and very funny. It ranks somewhere in the upper-middle of his films for me. It's not among his funniest, but certainly outclasses many of his other works. It's up there with Royal Tramp, Chinese Odyssey and King of Beggars.

Let me just say that no good DVD of this movie exists (that I'm aware of). This is all we've got though since it's the only DVD or VCD that actually has subtitles (so I'm told). The first problem with this DVD is that it's in a Mandarin dub - and who the hell wants to listen to Stephen Chow in Mandarin? If I only spoke Mandarin, I'd still want to hear it in Cantonese - I mean half of Stephen Chow's comedy is his voice. So I only found this film to be half as funny as I should have.

Another problem is the transfer - it looks widescreen, but it's cropped at the sides - you've seen them before - it looks like they were trying to compromise between pan & scan and OAR. Also - the picture jumps up and down - and in my mind I picture this old old transer reel that's all rickety and the film jostles around and the machine is in this dirty chicken plucking assembly line warehouse and people are yelling at each other and there's blood and feathers everywhere... that's what the transfer makes me think about.

Anyway - the picture jumps, but the subtitles don't (and neither do the end credits which start scrolling up the screen over the "black bars"!!?), even though they are burned-in. It's strange, but I've seen it a few other places before. The print is a bit dirty and scratchy cuz it was never restored, cleaned or properly cared for - however, since it did so poorly at the box office, it didn't look all that bad having not been run through the projector very many times.

I strongly recommend this film
However - I can't recommend this DVD because it sucks. The worst is not being able to hear Stephen Chow's voice - the transfer and subtitles would be forgiveable if they only used the original track. Sorry to talk about the DVD more than the film, but it really affected my enjoyment of the film.
Reviewer Score: 7