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Heaven and Hell [aka Shaolin Hellgate]
entry from
The Encyclopedia of Martial Arts Movies

Ordinarily, this web site does not reproduce articles from items still in print or otherwise commonly available, but in the case of the films Heaven and Hell, Na Cha the Great, and Shaolin Hellgate, there have been errors made, so both this file and reviews One and Two of Na Cha the Great (both on this site) have been made available to correct the error.
In the book, The Encyclopedia of Martial Arts Movies, by Bill Palmer, Karen Palmer and Ric Meyers, and in the book, Asian Cult Cinema, by Thomas Weisser, it was wrongly reported that Shaolin Hellgate is an alternate title for Na Cha the Great, while in reality, Shaolin Hellgate is an alternate title for Heaven and Hell. Some of the confusion stems, no doubt, from the fact that the character, Na Cha, is featured in both Heaven and Hell and Na Cha the Great.

From The Encyclopedia of Martial Arts Movies, pp. 150-151:

1173. Heaven and Hell. (1977). Pro.Co: Shaw; Dir: Chang Cheh; Pro: Mona Fong; Ex.Pro: Run Run Shaw; MAI: Lung Ting, Tai Chi-Hsien, Lu Feng, S.P.: I Kuang, Chang Cheh, Chou Lang; Cast: David Chiang, Maggie Li Lin-lin, Li Yi-min, Kuo Chui, Lo Meng, Sun Chien, Tang Yen-tsan, Fu Sheng, Jenny, Chiang Sheng, Chaing Tao (a thug), Wang Lung-wei (a thug), Lu Feng; 65 min. Released in Hong Kong in 1980. Available on cassette.

Austere theatrical sets and a very stylized production mark this interesting film set in Heaven, Hell, and on Earth. The action begins with Tou Pou (David Chiang) and Tsu Chiao (Maggie Li Lin-lin) trying to escape from Heaven when it becomes obvious they have fallen in love. They are exiled on earth, and Hsin (Li Yi-min) is sent to hell for allowing them to escape. The movie abruptly changes to present day Hong Kong in a take-off of West Side Story with singing, dancing, and kung fu. By doing a good deed, Hsin hopes to return to Heaven. He saves a couple (Jenny and Fu Sheng who even get to sing) from some ruffians and is killed for his efforts.

The scene shifts to Hell, as Buddha arrives on his yearly rounds to hear the stories of those unjustly sent to the netherworld. Buddha promises Hsin he will send him back to Heaven, but first he must find others who don't belong and fight the demons in order to leave. Hsin gathers heroes from different eras, Tseng (Kuo Chui), Wei (Lo Meng), Lin (Sun Chien), Yen (Tang Yen-tsan) and his girlfriend Hung, and takes them to Buddha to tell their stories. They are also promised redemption in the form of reincarnation if they can fight their way out past the demons.

When the final obstacle is seen as unfair, Na Cha (Chiang Sheng) and other gods arrive from Heaven and come to their aid. Hsin's powers are returned to him, and they defeat the demons. Hsin is sent back to Heaven, and the others are reincarnated and returned to earth.

Heaven and Hell is an unusual film and difficult to describe. The martial arts, both unarmed and with various weapons, are good, as is the choreography. (Subtitled version screened) 3 stars.

To view the Na Cha the Great entry from The Encyclopedia of Martial Arts Movies, click here. For a commentary on the Na Cha the Great entry from The Encyclopedia of Martial Arts Movies by a friend of mine well versed in Chinese mythology named Michael Wong, click here.

Return to Chang Cheh Filmography | Return to Reviews of Movies Directed by Chang Cheh

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This page first constructed by Steven Feldman <scfeldman@juno.com> 10/21/00. Last update: 11/14/03.