The Seventh Curse (1986)

Director Lam Ngai Kai is mostly remembered for his gory martial arts comedy Story of Ricky, but a lot of his productions were pretty wild. The Cat, Erotic Ghost Story and Peacock King are memorable films, but no entry from his filmography was as bonkers as The Seventh Curse. Kai created a film that looks like it drew equal amounts of inspiration from Raiders of the Lost Ark and the Italian horror exploitation classics, and combined it with high-octane martial arts action, and the very special type of humor inherent to many Hongkong films from that era.

Dr. Yuen is a researcher and martial arts expert who suddenly experiences painful cramps that threaten his life. His condition is caused by a curse that was bestowed on him a year earlier when he fought against the high priest of an evil tribe in the jungle of Thailand. To get rid of the curse, Yuen needs to return, and defeat his nemesis and the horrific abominations summoned by him.

The Seventh Curse delivers everything one would expect to see in a movie made for the lower senses. Martial arts, excessive gore effects, nudity, and low-brow humor are abundantly present. What is not present is a coherent plot, any build-up of tension or even half-way interesting dialogues. The film rises to awesomeness mostly because it delivers one action-packed and hyperviolent set piece after another. The martial arts sequences are delightfully over the top, with sometimes forty or so people going at it in a single scene. Even a couple of cool car stunts and shootouts found their way into the movie, so all in all we get a nice package of high-octane action sequences.

Another highlight are the various flesh-eating monsters that are lurking in the darkness of the temple ruins. The special effects to create them are all ridiculously cheap, but well filmed, and the different creatures all look quite charming in their own way. The monsters are also responsible for the drastic gore effects that provide a bizarre contrast to the cheesy humor and overall goofiness of the film. With exploding bodies, people getting ripped apart, heads being eaten, the movie is certainly a feast for gorehounds.

The overall production values are solid, there are some large sets that successfully create the atmosphere of a pulp adventure with mysterious temple ruins and underground caves. The acting and humor may seem hysterical and hectic, but this particular style was fairly common for Hongkong movies from the 1980s and 1990s. It’s thus not necessarily bad, but may just add to the oddness of the production, at least for Western audiences. Lead actor Chin Siu-Ho displays some serious martial arts skills, and also impressed with his good looks. He embarked on a successful career in Hongkong action cinema which culminated in a lead role alongside Jet Li in the all-time classic Fist of Legend.

Throughout it’s pleasantly short runtime of 80 minutes the film just never lets up, and especially the finale is just total monster madness. The Seventh Curse oscillates between creativity and amateurism, and is just as energetic as it is demented. If relentless action, ultra-gory violence and goofy humor are your perfect ingredients for an entertaining evening, you may have found one of your new favorite movies.

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