- the fires of hell 8/27/2007 12:00:00 AM by winner55
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.
- Excellent mix of 90's style wire-fu and heavy duty violence 6/1/2008 12:00:00 AM by ChungMo
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.
- "Burning Paradise" Is One Tough Movie 7/17/1999 12:00:00 AM by gerrytwo
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.
- Great revisionist Kung Fu flick!! 2/2/2001 12:00:00 AM by whiteaggie
"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.
- Ringo Lam's best film ever! 1/31/2002 12:00:00 AM by mindseye100
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.