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
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
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,