Unabashedly over-the-top Hong Kong action-horror from 2007. The
director was Herman Yau, of THE UNTOLD STORY and
EBOLA SYNDROME, so at
the very least you can count on some serious gore and sleaze!
GONG TAU is a throwback to Hong Kong horror cinema of
the 1970s and early 80s, as well as the notorious category III (i.e.
adults only) action movies of the 1990s--many of which were helmed by
Herman Yau. GONG TAU wonít ever replace HK classics like
THE BOXERíS OMEN
or the abovementioned UNTOLD STORY in anyoneís affections, but itís good
to see this type of fare making a comeback amid the wasteland of modern
Hong Kong cinema.
Several cops are involved in an elaborate sting
operation that is thwarted by a man practicing black magic. The would-be
magician, an ugly, pockmarked freak who works as a bartender in a titty
bar, causes a dead animal to appear in the gas tank of a police officer
and telepathically kills the officerís baby. When examined by a coroner
the babyís corpse is literally devoured by fast moving maggots.
Haunted by the death of his child, the cop, a tough guy
named Cheung, soldiers on amid an increasingly bizarre succession of
events. Thereís an unexplained suicide, a worm-ridden corpse is found in
a trash can, and Cheungís wifeís eyes unexpectedly turn blood red.
Cheung finally concedes that he and his wife are victims of a black
magic curse, and drags her to a local sorcerer in an effort to make
The sorcerer, an old guy living in a rural shack,
attempts to reverse the effects of the spell by taking on the black
magician--whoís not in the same location--in a telepathic battle of
oriental magic. In the process Cheungís wife vomits up a torrent of
centipedes and the black magician becomes a Krasue--i.e. an
individual whose head leaves its body and floats around with the innards
This does nothing to stop the madness--far from it, in
fact. Things get so bad that Cheung is forced to take matters into his
own hands in a final black magic showdown, during which his superior
officer is shot, his wife goes mad and his adversary, in the form of a
floating head that talks, finally reveals why he has it in for Cheung.
Viewing this film will be a nostalgic experience for
old school Asian horror buffs. All the arcane sorcery, insect barfing
and flying head madness integral to such films are on display here.
Thereís also some sentimental drama (the death of the protagonistís baby
is played straight), but, given the quality (or lack thereof) of the
performances, itís best to concentrate on the genre elements.
Be advised that the film is an adults only affair, with
oodles of bloodletting and full frontal nudity (male and female).
The gore is pretty extreme, but the play-doh quality of the special
effects keeps the shock value in check.
Speaking of special effects, thereís much CGI, which
wasnít a part of the old movies this one references, and lessens its
impact considerably. The overly show-offy steadicam visuals and
ADD-addled music video editing are further irritants. The film is slick,
yes, but Iím not sure slickness is what this material needs.
Still, GONG TAU is a welcome anomaly in modern Hong
Kong cinema, and even if it isnít the genre watershed it was cracked up
to be, itís definitely a step in the right direction.
GONG TAU: AN ORIENTAL BLACK MAGIC
China Star Entertainment
Director: Herman Yau
Producers: Dennis Law, Herman Yau
Screenplay: Herman Yau, Chun-Yue Lam
Cinematography: Jose Chan
Editing: Azreal Chung
Cast: Mark Cheng, Maggie Siu, Suet Lam, Tak-bun Wong, Yu Gu, Siu Hung
Hui, Pauline Yam, Jay Lau, Hak On Fung