16 October 2002 | Bogey Man
Over the top fantasy kung fu with great cinematography
Hong Kong film maker Chui Siu Ming directed this film, BURY ME HIGH, on 1990. The director also acts as the professor in the film. The film has very interesting cast and extremely hard to follow plot and story, at least for Western viewer AND after just one viewing. This movie requires many viewings in order to fully understand the characters and plot turns in it.
The film opens with a flashback of two brothers searching for some mysterious mountain. The film tells about some traditional Chinese beliefs and symbolics which look pretty weird and unfamiliar if the viewer doesn't know about Chinese culture and/or doesn't read carefully the very first lines which appear as the film starts. The lines tell in a nutshell what it's all going to be about so they are recommended to be read carefully. The brothers (the "good brother" played by veteran film maker Corey Yuen who has directed Savior of the Soul 1-2, Women on the Run, Fong Sai Yuk plus many other films) find what they're searching for and understand that once somebody gets buried there, their children will become rich, famous and wise, but it can also be used for bad deeds and thoughts.. Soon we're in present day settings where incredibly sexy and sweet Moon Lee plays a business woman whose career is going pretty bad for some reason. Chin Kar Lok plays a 200 IQ computer wizard who has a very severe brain tumor in his head. Does these sad things in these seemingly happy/wealthy characters' lives have something to do with the burial of their fathers in that mysterious place in which the film started?
It may sound pretty simple but it is not. Many characters are introduced and plot turns take place. The film requires full attention which of course isn't any negative point; the viewer just has to be completely in peace and undisturbed while watching film like BURY ME HIGH. And after all, the complex and often hard to follow plot and story isn't the reason this film was made and the film's real merits are elsewhere, as usually in these Hong Kong fantasy films.
The photography is simply incredible as are the images which cinematographer Peter Pau takes with the magic filled camera hand of his. Pau has shot also films like Bride With White Hair (Ronny Yu, 1992), Naked Killer (Clarence Fok, 1992) and To Be Number One (Poon Man-kit, 1991) and all these films have gorgeous and unique atmosphere and imagery created by the talent of Pau and of course the talented director. In BURY ME HIGH, there are many takes from very high places in the jungle which creates a nicely free and massive feeling to the film. The colors are stunning as are the camera angles and everything which deals with the photography. No matter how stupid or incoherent the plot may feel, this film is very impressive due to its imagery and visuals. I think this is nearly as great as they can get. Pau is a cinematographer worth keeping in mind.
Then there is the action, which is equally stunning with the photography, but ten times wilder. Especially the last 10 minutes are among the most fierce over-the-top insane balls-to-the-walls bits of martial arts mayhem I've seen in any Hong Kong film. This is something that never (or extremely rarely) can be found in some Hollywood action film. The speed and kinetic power in these action scenes will leave the viewer pretty much breathless as it managed to surprise and amaze me like I had just seen my first Hong Kong film ever. This is the magic of Hong Kong cinema and which makes it so unique when compared to others. The film has also a huge amount of military tanks and other heavier weapons which are also used! When grenades hit the water, the splash is nearly 30 metre high to make the action even more explosive, literally. Even though the budget wasn't without a doubt too big, the result is like in a huge mainstream production with plenty of money used in it.
BURY ME HIGH is a hyper fast and great looking fantasy kung fu action film with pretty secondary plot and only some brief slower moments which are not at all unnecessary and thus the film is very easy to sit through without becoming bored during its 96 minutes NTSC running time. Moon Lee is accompanied with Sibelle Hu in the female cast and they are as sweet and charming ladies here as females always are in Hong Kong / Asian movies. And Moon is very lethal and fast, too!
I give this 7/10 after the first viewing and maybe I'll give more after repeated viewings. Highly recommended for the fans of insane, wild and wonderful Hong Kong cinema. Little similar film is Corey Yuen's and David Lai's Savior of the Soul (1991) starring sweetheart girls Anita Mui and Maggie Cheung, but that film has little too much stupid humor attempts for my taste, but is visually striking. Also Aman Chang's Body Weapon (1999) came to my mind while watching BURY ME HIGH but that film is far more sleazier and probably will alienate some viewers, but its action especially at the end is close to that of in BURY ME HIGH.
Once again, Hong Kong cinema managed to amaze me.