Burning Paradise (1994)

Posted in Reviews by - October 10, 2012
Burning Paradise (1994)

Ringo Lam, in a swift departure from contemporary crime thrillers, offers his insight into the period kung fu movie and produces an intensely brilliant portrayal of loyalty and brotherhood in the most trying of circumstance. Brutal, morbid and deeply sinister, Ringo’s cynical gothic film focuses on the misrepresentation of religion in the context of martial arts and centres on a set of longing characters void of virtue or righteousness.

Apart from our young hero, Fong Sai-yuk (Chi), an upright Shaolin monk whose overall blandness is compensated for by some electrifying kung fu skills. This vivid tale heralds back to the Manchu purges of the Shaolin temple, with Fong and his female acquaintance Miss Tau Tau (Lee) the latest victims of the government’s cruel regime.

Their prison is a Manchu safeguard deep under desert soil named the Red Lotus Temple, a mysteriously gloomy stronghold complete with hidden traps and secret tunnels. The temple forms the twisted lair of its insane spiritual leader, Master Sun (Wong), a death-obsessed unholy nutcase who can tear off human heads with his bare hands.

Ringo restricts the majority of his film to the confines of the temple and the result is distinctly eerie and claustrophobic, yet his unabashed bloodletting is similar in style to Chang Cheh’s more grisly work. But this is still a kung fu movie, and the martial delights are abundant: the best moments being a pair of tiger and crane confrontations between Fong and former Shaolin renegade Hung Hei-kwan (another folk hero from China’s past), culminating in a powerful two-on-one slug fest against the evil Mr. Sun, who uses his supernatural ‘air stance’ and deadly paint balls to fend off the heroic protagonists.

AKA: Burning Paradise in Hell; Destruction of the Red Lotus Temple; Rape of the Red Temple

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