Burning Paradise (1994)Director: Ringo Lam
Tagline: "Cut the craps!"
In Ming Dynasty China the Shaolin order has been accused of plotting against the emperor and so all their followers are being hunted down and killed by the Ching soldiers.
Being chased by a large group of soldiers are Fong Sai Yuk and his 'uncle' from the monastery. Just as they are about to be caught Fong sends his uncle off on the horse and cleaves a soldier neatly in two with his massive sword and then gets on a horse to escape, only to have the horse's head cut off by the soldier's commander and his killer frisbee on a stick.
Fong and his uncle end up taking refuge in a farmhouse where they find another woman is hiding. They get acquainted overnight only to be woken when the house explodes under cannon fire in the morning. As they are surrounded by soldiers, Fong agrees to give himself up and they are taken to the temple of the Red Lotus Sect with the other captured Shaolin monks.
In the temple the monks are treated like slaves and can't escape as the place is filled with traps. The leader of the Sect is a bit of a sicko who likes killing people a lot because he is getting old. Fong tries to fight him, but he first has to cross a bridge filled with traps and fight the leader's guard (Brooke) and a former member of Shaolin who is working for the sect. Needless to say it doesn't go very well and he ends up in the "well of the dead" to consider his next move.
The woman who was captured at the same time as Fong has been offered to the sect leader as his 'plaything' and she discovers just who bad he is, but she is too terrified to tell anyone.
While working with the other monks, Fong cracks it and wants to fight the commander of the soldiers. His request is granted, but he finds out that he has to fight the former Shaolin monk to the death instead, which is where the action really begins...
I am always interested in seeing different movies that have the same characters and how they are handled by other actors. The Fong Sai Yuk in this movie does seem to be a lot more serious than the version played by Jet Li. He is slightly less acrobatic but makes up with it with his skill in wielding his huge sword on his back.
As with many Ringo Lam movies, the story is very dark and gory, but there is some unexpected humour in places. There are some good action scenes although these are not as flashy as other films of the era, they get the job done.
I would recommend this movie to people who like Kung Fu movies in a period setting, but would prefer a movie with a more realistic edge to it and a straight forward story.
Rating : 8/10