User Reviews (13)

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  • winner5527 August 2007
    This is one of the finest films to come out of Hong Kong's 'New Wave' that began with Tsui Hark's "ZU: Warriors of Magic Mountain". Tsui set a tone for the New Wave's approach to the martial arts film that pretty much all the directors of the New Wave (Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Wong Jing, Ching Siu Tung, etc.) accepted from then on as a given; namely, the approach to such films thenceforth would need more than a touch of irony, if not outright comedy. "Burning Paradise" put a stop to all that, and with a vengeance.

    It's not that there isn't humor here; but it is a purely human humor, as with the aged Buddhist priest at the beginning who somehow manages a quick feel of the nubile young prostitute while hiding in a bundle of straw. But this is just as humans are, not even Buddhist priests can be saints all the time.

    When irony is at last introduced into the film, it is the nastiest possible, emanating from the 'abbot' of Red Lotus Temple, who is a study in pure nihilism such as has never been recorded on film before. He is the very incarnation of Milton's Satan from "Paradise Lost": "Better to rule in Hell than serve in heaven!" And if he can't get to Satan's hell soon enough, he'll turn the world around him into a living hell he can rule.

    That's the motif underscoring the brutal violence of much of the imagery here: It's not that the Abbot just wants to kill people; he wants them to despair, to feel utterly hopeless, to accept his nihilism as all-encompassing reality. Thus there's a definite sense pervading the Red Temple scenes that there just might not be any other reality outside of the Temple itself - it has become all there is to the universe, and the Abbot, claiming mastery of infinite power, is in charge.

    Of course, fortunately, the film doesn't end there. Though there are losses, the human will to be just ordinarily human at last prevails. (If you want to know how, see the film!) Yet there is no doubt that, in viewing this film, we visit hell. Hopefully, we do not witness our own afterlives; but we certainly feel chastened by the experience - and somehow better for it over all.
  • An unusual film from Ringo Lam and one that's strangely under-appreciated. The mix of fantasy kung-fu with a more realistic depiction of swords and spears being driven thru bodies is startling especially during the first ten minutes. A horseback rider get chopped in two and his waist and legs keep riding the horse. Several horses get chopped up. It's very unexpected.

    The story is very simple, Fong and his Shaolin brothers are captured by a crazed maniac general and imprisoned in the Red Lotus temple which seems to be more of a torture chamber then a temple. The General has a similarity to Kurtz in Apocalypse Now as he spouts warped philosophy and makes frightening paintings with human blood.

    The production is very impressive and the setting is bleak. Blood is everywhere. The action is very well done and mostly coherent unlike many HK action scenes from the time. Sometimes the movie veers into absurdity or the effects are cheesy but it's never bad enough to ruin the film.

    Find this one, it's one of the best HK kung fu films from the early nineties. Just remember it's not child friendly.
  • Nasty unrelenting action set in a prison that's itself a really creepy and important "character".

    Top-notch wire work, good mix of fighting styles (including paint-fu!), and fine production values -- with the sore exception of some rubber weapons in the crowd scenes.

    9 out of 10.
  • The Red Lotus Temple, where most of Ringo Lam's "Burning Paradise" takes place, is a real house of horrors. The temple prison is where followers of Shaolin are taken, mostly to be killed in various gruesome ways. The lead character, Fong Sai Yuk, is a Chinese hero who has appeared in other movies, such as the two starring Jet Li. Here, Fong Sai Yuk's opponent is the insane military man who controls the temple. This guy is impervious to weapons, as Fong finds out early in the picture. More than anything else, "Burning Paradise" is a horror movie. Instead of a haunted house where visitors die, you have prisoners in a temple in which there seems to be no escape. Still, the movie is well made. If this movie were released in the US, it would easily get an R-rating for violence.
  • "Burning Paradise" is a combination of neo-Shaw Brothers action and Ringo Lam's urban cynicism. When one watches the film, they might feel the fight scenes are only mediocre in nature but that doesn't matter, it's attitude and atmosphere that counts. This great film has both!! Always trying to be different than his contemporaries, Lam gives us to traditional heroes(Fong Sai-Yuk and Hung Shi-Kwan)and puts them in a "Raiders of the Lost Ark" setting. However, these are not the light-hearted comedic incarnations that you might see in a Jet Li movie. Instead these guys fight to the death with brutal results. What makes the film even better is that anyone could die at anytime, there is no holding back. Too bad, they don't make films like this more often.
  • Having seen most of Ringo Lam's films, I can say that this is his best film to date, and the most unusual. It's a ancient china period piece cranked full of kick-ass martial arts, where the location of an underground lair full of traps and dungeons plays as big a part as any of the characters. The action is fantastic, the story is tense and entertaining, and the set design is truely memorable. Sadly, Burning Paradise has not been made available on DVD and vhs is next-to-impossible to get your mitts on, even if you near the second biggest china-town in North America (like I do). If you can find it, don't pass it up.
  • RedcouchCorrespondent21 October 2002
    Hello Dave Burning Paradise is a film for anyone who likes Jackie Chan and Indiana Jones. The films main protagonist is most definitely the bastard son of these two strange fathers. As for the other characters well they are familiar transformations of similar action film stereotypes. Where this film is original is in the blending of the traditional Hong Kong movie style with the Hollywood action adventure. Sadly this has not been true of the films he has made in Hollywood.
  • I have always been keen on watching Hong Kong movies, but all of them failed to meet my expectations...until now! BURNING PARADISE doesn't contain the flat humor most HK movies have, nor a second rate story line that has been dragged into the film. The story is not complex, but there are never scenes that are just there to fill some "intelligent" space (the only truely intelligent martial arts film I have seen is CROUCHING TIGER, but since Hollywood is involved it is no true HK movie for me). There are some incredible fight scenes in this movie, from the first one(which is one of the coolest I have ever seen, yet so short) to the last main scenes! But mind, there's also a lot of blood that flows (people cut in half, decapitated, etc). The production is pretty good and the special effects show that the fantasy of the writer can be fulfilled even though some shots must be pretty technical (notice: the sheet of paper that he throws and got pinned into a wall!). Yep, it's not Tsui Hark or John Woo that made my favorite Hong Kong film, it's Ringo Lam! And I'm sure as hell going to check out more from this director! Ace.
  • Burning Paradise is an Amazing movie. I loved Magnificent Tiger Stance combined with Incredible Crane Stance. Willie Chi is a great Martial Artist, almost as good as Jet Li. This a must see, and a must buy movie. The story is about Fong Sai Yuk and Hung Hey-kwun. Fong is fighting The evil Manchus. And Hung is pretending to be a Manchurian, but he is really drawing a map of the Red Lotus Temple. In the end Fong has to save his girlfriend and fight the very powerful and evil Elder Kung. I give this movie 9/10.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    BURNING PARADISE is another prison film from Hong Kong director Ringo Lam, although it's very different to his contemporary fare. This is a wuxia epic and another tale about the popular folk hero Fong Sai Yuk, best known for being played by Jet Li in the likes of THE LEGEND. This film has a lengthy opening introducing the characters and various outlandish tropes, including desert battles with an army led by a general wielding a flying guillotine! It's actually a remake of the old Shaw flick TEMPLE OF THE RED LOTUS, not that you'd know, and our hero is a Shaolin escapee.

    Most of the film is set in a grim, trap-filled prison presided over by a seemingly immortal megalomaniac. Lam shoots the thing like a horror movie, all mood and garish colours, and the action is as brutal and bloody as you'd expect. It's not realistic at all, but then neither are the obvious inspirations like the Indiana Jones movies. The cast give enthusiastic turns and yes, there is room for some humour amid the gloom and murder.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Listening to Bey Logan's detailed audio commentary for the incredible Full Contact (1992-also reviewed) I was shocked to learn that the film unexpectedly failed at the box office,and became not only the end of a era for film maker Ringo Lam, but also finished big budgets being given to movies in the Heroic Bloodshed genre.

    Planning a "Auteurs in '94" viewing week,I took a look at the output of Hong Kong from the year,and was intrigued to spot a work from Lam,which led to me seeing paradise burn.

    View on the film:

    Returning from a two year break with the first departure he had made from Heroic Bloodshed since his directing debut Esprit D'amour (1983-also reviewed) directing auteur Ringo Lam takes the distinctive, hard-knuckle, on the street fights of his Action past, and twirls them into spectacular Wire-Fu.

    Although the movie would sadly end up being the second biggest flop at the box office he had in a row, Lam makes the continued expansion of his recurring themes and motifs into a smash hit, spanning his ultra-stylised whip-pans into fluid swords and spears chopping horses in half and decapitation of warriors held in the pit, all pinned by Lam's expertly held crisp tracking shots on Sai-yuk's Wire-Fu battles to take down Elder Kung.

    Bathing Yuk before battle (a recurring image in his films) Lam bathes the audience in dazzling, bright colours which even turn paint into a weapon for one set-piece (!)thanks to the burning reds and oranges splattered on the caves of the Red Lotus Temple, fittingly turning it into a living cave, thunderous lines of red run across the sadistic face of Kung.

    Continuing to work with Lam, Yin Nam is here joined by co-writer Wan Choi Wong making his last script credits with one which combines Lam's recurring themes with a supernatural flourish. Giving Chinese folk legend character Sai-yuk a modern battle warrior status, the writers superbly tie Lam's theme of bloodshed heroism to Sai-yuk attempting to take all Kung can throw at him in order to free fellow prisoners and save his love Tou-Tou from being held as Kung's sex slave.

    At first appearing to be united with Kung in dishing out torment, Chun Lam makes her lone film appearance as Brooke (bit of a odd name for this historical setting!)a great turn, continuing Lam's theme of lustful femme fatales, who in this case actually has a change of heart. Chained up by Kung as his slave, Carman Lee gives a terrific turn as Tou-Tou, whose screams for Sai-yuk's survival are hardened by Lee into a brave push back against Kung. Completed with a evil cackle,Wong Kam-kong gives a excellent End of Level Boss boo-hiss turn as Kung, while Willie Chi makes his debut as Sai-yuk, who Chi has brimming with a never say die optimism of saving the burning paradise.
  • This was one good movie. not cheap, not childish, not exaggerated, very professional. Good cinematography, good acting. BUT it was very violent. Chopped of heads in a battle is okay, but slicing of a woman's head in the bedroom, thats tough... But watch this movie, its a good piece of asian cinema
  • Yes, a well-choreographed martial arts melodrama from Ringo Lam. It is relentlessly bloody, adding a certain black-magic flair with the repulsive arch-villain in the story. Shaolin monks fight for their survival against Qing dynasty henchmen who are in hot pursuit of the monks. A number of kungfu battles ensue, building to the climatic ending with Shaolin masters against the black arts. Of particular interest is the view of the Qing dynasty as a source of evil in China. In fact they were regarded as "foreign invaders", eventually "ousted" in the early 20th Century. Today, due to political expediency, the Chinese communist party has chosen to delete this historic inconvenience from official history, as they refuse to admit that China today actually represents several previously autonomous regions.