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Satan Returns
Year: 1996
Dayo Wong and Chingmy Yau
Director: Lam Wai-Lun
Writer: Wong Jing
Action: Donnie Yen Ji-Dan
Cast: Chingmy Yau Suk-Ching, Donnie Yen Ji-Dan, Francis Ng Chun-Yu, Dayo Wong Chi-Wah, Yuen King-Tan, Chang Lu, Ivy Leung Si-Man, Spencer Lam Seung-Yi
The Skinny: Annoying Hong Kong hijinks plague this serial killer/supernatural cult thriller starring Chingmy Yau and Donnie Yen. Also starring Dayo Wong Chi-Wah as the person who ruins the film.
by Kozo:
     Occult-themed thriller from Wong Jing, starring his favorite starlet Chingmy Yau. She plays an ICAC officer involved in a strange case. She's investigating the violent shenanigans of wound-up officer Mo (Donnie Yen), but then the two get involved in a serial killer case. It seems that wacked-out creep Francis Ng kidnaps women born on June 6th, 1969 because one of them is rumored to be the daughter of Satan. The acid test: he rips their hearts out, and if they're Satan's little girl, they live! However, if you're not Satan's offspring, you die a painful death with no ticker in your chest. Along for the ride is Chingmy's wacky partner Dayo Wong, whose annoying antics make a strong case for his own heart removal.
      Satan Returns has a grainy, dark cheapo look that was possibly inspired by David Fincher's Seven. However, unlike that film, Satan Returns is plagued by the wacky, nonsensical Hong Kong ways which just don't work in pictures like these. Think about it this way: if Seven had starred Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt and Jim Carrey as the wacky sidekick, the movie would have plain sucked. Well, Dayo Wong is the wacky sidekick here, and it's hard to get into a supposedly creepy thriller when someone's acting all goofy in the background. And besides, the plot is not much more than your standard horror-cult type clichés, with the added bonus of Chingmy Yau's character also possessing a birthdate of June 6th, 1969. That means - surprise - she could also be the daughter of Satan. Ah, what creativity.
     Still, Donnie Yen turns in a nifty offbeat performance (for him, anyway), and the occasional action is a welcome distraction. Ultimately, this movie does nothing that many other films haven't - which isn't a surprise from serial movie stealer Wong Jing. Logic, continuity and just plain cohesion are foreign objects in many a Wong production, and Satan Returns is not exempt from that. Even worse, Chingmy Yau is exceptionally uninteresting here. And don't get me started on Dayo Wong. (Kozo 1996)

image courtesy of the Hong Kong Film Critics Societys Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen