Movie Reviews, Issue 57: September 1993

Movie Reviews: Savior of The Soul


Savior of the Soul
Director: Corey Yuen
Released: 12.19.91

Lately, Hong Kong cinema has been attracting a growing legion of enthusiastic fans—and it’s not hard to see why. The vast majority of them are pure escapist entertainment: fast paced action adventures, slapstick comedies, martial arts mayhem and supernatural thrillers. In the average Hong Kong film, both the heroes and the villains are almost superhuman. They can often jump thirty feet In the air, hit whatever they aim at (no matter what the projectile) with deadly accuracy, survive any number of deadly explosions and are experts at all known forms of martial arts. Logic takes a back seat to special effects, which propel the films at a speed that leaves the viewer breathless.

Gone are the days of cheaply (and dreadfully) made kung fu soap operas, replete with choppy editing and horrible dubbing. The new Hong Kong films are big-budget roller coaster rides whose sole purpose is to entertain.

Savior of the Soul (playing at Tower Theater September 6 at 10 p.m.) is perhaps the epitome of the Hong Kong entertainment film. Although it’s the first sci-fi film I’ve seen from HK, it takes just about every genre popular in their current cinema and mixes them into an outrageous no-holds-barred action ride that never takes itself seriously. Assassins, martial artists, high tech weaponry, supernatural cults, slapstick comedy, true romance…you name it, it’s here.

The film takes place in an unspecified futuristic setting. Yo May-Chun is a female assassin, as beautiful as she is deadly. By blinding another assassin and saving a princess, she incurs the wrath of that assassin’s protege, Fox. In their first encounter, she blinds Fox in one eye and escapes, giving him even more motivation for revenge.

May-Chun lives with two male assassins, Koo and Chin, who both secretly hope to marry her. Although she prefers the flamboyant Chin to the stuffy Koo, Chin can’t quite make himself propose. This leaves the triangle at a stalemate. May-Chun is warned by her sister that her cat and mouse game with Fox will most probably get both men killed and her prophecy holds true when Koo meets an extremely violent demise. May-Chun feigns disinterest in Chin and disappears for his own protection.

Chin’s efforts to get May Chun back are the core of the story. He dodges knives, swords and reverse kicks. He takes on the Pet Lady and her female entourage, a holy cult with supernatural powers. He takes on Fox, who has by this time become addicted to a drug known as Terrible Angel. The drug allows him to pass through people, altering their body temperatures and eventually making them his slaves. Like a knight on a quest, Chin lets nothing stand in his way.

Savior of the Soul is the live action equivalent of a comic book, obviously drawing heavily on Japanese manga and animation. It has self-guiding knife grenades, bullets that suck all the oxygen out of the air and exploding gas mains. At times, the lead characters even seem able to fly. Logic, of course, is not allowed to get in the way of a good story.

The film also boasts some of the most spectacular cinematography and set designs seen in some time. Every shot is a work of art and effectively draws you into the film’s surreal, off-kilter world.

If you’re a die hard fan of the new Hong Kong cinema, you’ll love this film, and if you’re not, you will be after seeing it. –Joe Video

Read more from the SLUG Archives:
Movie Reviews: February 1993 
Movie Reviews: Dracula