Kung Fu Beyond the Grave (a.k.a. Yin Ji, 1984) unexpectedly delivers way, way more than the title promises. There is indeed lots of kung fu, some of which comes from beyond the grave, but there are also hopping corpses, exploding garlic, full-frontal nudity, glitter blood, a fire-breathing wizard, a book that shoots lasers, and a plot to steal hearts from people while they’re having sex.
As the film opens, some narration informs us that during the seventh month of the year, the dead can return to Earth. We also learn a bit of real folklore about burning money so that your dead relatives can have some spare cash in hell. This plot point is about to become important.
We meet our hero, played by Billy Chong, while he’s practising his Kung Fu with his shirt off, like you do. He’s so focused on being manly and sweaty that he doesn’t notice when the ghost of his dead father suddenly appears, and one of Billy’s practice kicks sends the old spook crashing over the fence. Ghost Dad floats back to chastise Billy for kicking him, and explains that he saved up enough cash to bribe his way out of hell for a few minutes, and that Billy must avenge his father’s murder. Then he poofs away, leaving an astonished Billy to go all Hamlet on the film’s villain.
The villain in question is played by longtime Video Vulture favourite Lo Lieh, but before we meet him we’re introduced to his chief henchman, an insane Taoist monk who does magic. The monk burns two human hearts in a copper bowl, liquefies them, and then spits the liquid all over Lo Lieh, who looks a bit humiliated and uncomfortable, but puts up with it because this ritual is supposed to make him invincible. We can tell that the spell is working, because Lo Lieh now appears to be covered with bloody glitter. Still, he needs a second treatment before his skin can be tough enough to repel swords, so the monk demands that his thugs collect two more human hearts for tomorrow’s followup ritual. Tricky thing though — the hearts must be stolen from a man and a woman at the precise moment of orgasm.
Meanwhile, Billy befriends a bunch of hopping corpses. (His hunchbacked uncle runs a mortuary, so he’s got lots of dead friends. Er… it’s complicated.) When Billy and his undead gang show up to beat up the villains, the monk whips out a big handful of American dollar bills, sets fire to them, and yells “Count Dracula! Come to my aid!” Whoosh! Dracula himself flies in on a zipline! (I don’t think we’re supposed to notice the cable sticking out of his back, but it’s clearly visible.) Zipline Dracula teleports and levitates all over the place, cackling wildly, until Billy starts shooting lasers at Dracula from a magic book. When the book lasers turn out to be ineffective, Billy starts pelting Dracula with garlic cloves, which explode like grenades.
Let’s skip ahead a bit to the part where two more orgasm hearts are secured (collected by betraying the murderous couple who stole the previous two orgasm hearts) and Lo Lieh’s second magical invincibility treatment occurs. This one doesn’t go so well (perhaps because the sacrificial victims’ hearts are literally black) and when they test Lo’s invincibility by stabbing him, he winds up with two punctured nipples. This turns out to be a problem later on in the film, when Billy fights Lo and discovers that the villain is almost completely immune to harm, but that he shrieks in pain whenever his bandaged nipples get punched.
Did I mention the two black-and-white-garbed mystics with the giant tongues? Or the levitating fruit? Or the conversation Billy has with his dead father’s bones, which he’s carrying in a bag? Or the monk’s flamethrower breath? Or the fact that the monk is defeated when a gaggle of prostitutes throw their panty shields at him? Yes folks, Kung Fu from Beyond the Grave is gleefully, marvellously insane, and precisely the kind of movie that I delight in recommending. The action scenes are top-notch, the special effects are splendidly cheesy, crazy things are constantly happening, and the frantic pace rarely flags. This movie is nuts. Check it out.