Ratings Key



★★★★
= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
★★★
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Duo bao long hu dou (1989)

... aka: Satanic Crystals

Directed by:
"Tommy Cheng” (Kei-Ying Cheng)

After spending the past two years in South Africa, Terry Chow (Kar-Yan Leung) returns to Hong Kong to find Susan aka The One Who Got Away (Gwai-Chi Daan) and hopefully convince her to return to Africa with him. Upon arrival, he stops by a bar to ask around about the potential whereabouts of his lost love and ends up beating up an angry pimp (Fui-On Shing) after he smacks around a hooker (Eliza Yue) and pummels two other guys. The grateful hooker then repays his gentlemanly gesture by letting him know where Susan is living during the following horribly-dubbed exchange: Hooker: “Tell me. Are you looking for Susan still?” / Mr. Chow: “Have you seen Susan?” / Hooker: “It was two years ago. Are you still looking for Susan now?” / Mr. Chow: "Mmm hmm."

Terry then goes to Susan's house and discovers she's since married John Chai (Richard Ng Man-Tat), who is both a deaf goofball and some kind of rich, powerful underworld figure protected by dozens of karate-fighting guards. Right in front of the oblivious husband, Terry convinces Susan to go back to Africa with him. While he's at the airport getting tickets, John's home is raided by Mr. Bates (Seung-Lam Wan) and his thugs. They kill all of the guards, strangle John to death, shoot Susan and steal a map that's supposed to lead to two multi-colored, glowing jade stones located in Thailand. Though they don't know it at the time, the group only find half the map leading to one of the stones before they split. When Terry returns, Susan (who manages to survive the shooting) tells him where the other half of the map leading to the location of the second stone is.






Terry organizes a group and heads over to Thailand. Immediately after they locate the stone in a cave, another criminal boss named Mr. Hu (played by the director) and his group show up and slaughter most of them. Terry is shot and wounded but manages to get away. A couple of hunters find Terry unconscious near a waterfall and take him back to their village where a doctor removes the bullet and he's nursed back to health. But one of the villagers runs off and rats him out to Mr. Hu. Hu and his men respond by massacring the entire village and stealing the second stone. Turns out they have an agreement with another village's chief to get the stones in exchange for an entire supply of opium. When Terry and one of the villagers return from a hunting trip they find everyone dead and vow to get revenge.






Meanwhile, Mr. Bates and his gang arrive from Hong Kong and try to come up with some agreement with Mr. Hu's group and the village chief. While that's going on, a vicious jungle tribe comprised almost entirely of women wearing matching vests, skirts and headbands is running around killing people with knives. It's at this point about 30 minutes in that I throw up my hands and mutter “What in the hell is even going on here?!"






Unfortunately, the utter confusion only worsens as Terry visits a strip club and tries to convince his American 'Nam vet bud (Christoph Kluppel) to help him. After he declines the offer, Terry shrugs and hooks up with a Thai hooker instead. He hops in a cab the next morning and the driver takes him to a remote village, where everyone tries to kill him and he manages to escape on a jet ski. And then we're introduced to a muscle-head American named Lucas (George Nicholas) who goes by the nickname Tiger, rapes then kidnaps a woman, also wants to get the stones and barely escapes in one piece after someone blows up his house. And then we meet a female arms dealer named Miss Chin who saves Terry and the war vet friend (who suddenly IS helping him minus any scene that establishes his change of heart) from another village out to get them. The men then must make their way through the harsh jungle where many are killed off by lions, snakes and alligators. Those pesky yet nimble tribeswomen (who are in cahoots with “Tiger”) eventually show up and start slashing everyone's throats. It's at this point I finally fall into passive viewer mode and stopped trying to even make sense of this plot.






Being filled with brainless action, gunfire, explosions, karate, blood and gore doesn't save this one from being insufferable. There are too many pointless subplots, too many bad guys, too many good guys, too many people you have no clue if they're good or bad, too many people set up as important who vanish and never return, too many extras running around getting shot and killed and such an utter disregard for coherent plotting and continuity one has no clue what's going on from one scene to the next. The frequent dark jungle /  cave settings and awful editing don't help matters and the people who English dubbed this clearly had no idea what was going on themselves. This may be even more senseless than those Godfrey Ho / Tomas Tang / Joseph Lai / IFD / Filmark epics. If you like those abominations perhaps you'll enjoy this one, too. Personally, movies like this just give me a headache.






And I still can't quite figure out why this is called Satanic Crystals. That's the only reason I watched this bloody thing in the first place! There's no Satanism and the “crystals” are never shown to have any special powers, though it's mentioned that they do. Saving this mess from my lowest possible rating is a triple-digit body count, some decent stunt work and amusing use made of a radio controlled helicopter at the very end. Both the Pan-Asia VHS and the Octopus laserdisc releases have English subtitles. This also received VHS and DVD releases in Germany on the Astro label.

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