Issue #210a         HOME          E-mail:        BACK ISSUES                  May 3rd, 2004

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To Hell With The Devil
(1982; Golden Harvest/Paragon Films)

Cantonese: Moh dang tin si
Mandarin: Mo deng tian shi
English: Modern Exorcist


RATING: 5/10


John Woo directed this frenetic HK horror/comedy, which boasts a premise reminiscent of the Peter Cook/Dudley Moore vehicle, BEDAZZLED (1967), but owes most of its creative inspiration to vintage Warner Brothers cartoons. Ricky Hui Koon-ying plays Bruce Lee (!), unsuccessful composer and hopeless schlub, who has finally bottomed out after a very long slide. Materializing to change his life is Flit (Stanley Fung Shui-fan), a minion of The Devil (played by an almost unrecognizable Chung Fat, dubbed with a female voice), who prompts Lee to sell his soul, in exchange for fulfilling his dreams of being a rock star and having Peggy (Hsu Jie), a Mandarin-speaking dancer, for his own. Naturally, things don't work out as planned and, when Lee tries to renege on the deal, Flit comes to collect the soul he is owed. Fortunately, the spirit of a deceased priest (Paul Chun Pui) is in Lee's corner, leading to a frenzied battle between the forces of good and evil, while Lee desperately tries to find and tear up his contract.

Ricky Hui (left), Stanley Fung Paul Chun Chung Fat

A large degree of patience is required to derive much pleasure from TO HELL WITH THE DEVIL. During the opening two-thirds, the humor ranges from mildly enjoyable (faithful recreations of horror parody standards) to downright excruciating (in particular, a lame soap opera parody that drags on and on), and Woo's frantic staging of virtually every sequence eventually becomes onerous. The energy does not let up in the final third, but the comedy sharpens appreciably, with the finale centering around a genuinely hysterical, live-action parody of the old "Space Invaders" and "Galaga" video games, complete with sound FX! While all of Woo's dramatic projects include perceptive uses of humor (sometimes of the darkest variety), full-length satire is just not his forte (Wong Jing and Chu Yen-ping are almost masters of tact in comparison). By the time he helmed the all-but-unbearable RUN TIGER, RUN (1985), his fortunes had deteriorated almost to the point of no return and he was brought back from the brink only by the astronomical success of A BETTER TOMORROW (1986). Nat Chan Pak-cheung and John Sham Kin-fun also appear.

Chung Fat Stanley Fung Paul Chun (center), Ricky Hui


Thanks to a misunderstanding with Fortune Star, Deltamac coded their first few batches of the company's titles as being playable only in Regions 3 & 6. TO HELL WITH THE DEVIL was among these films, some of which have since been re-issued in Region 0 form. The copy previewed carried the all-region symbol on the keep case (a white sticker) and on the disc itself but turned out to be the old 3 & 6 version anyway. Thus, those who do not have all-region players should approach this title with caution. The source material is speckled and looks a bit run down but color and detail levels are decent and the presentation is vastly preferable to the old Rainbow Video tape (which revealed only the middle of the scope image). The splice is occasionally visible at the point of shot changes. Both the Cantonese and Mandarin tracks have the expected limitations of the time but are adequate if left at a reasonable volume. No extras are included.

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Images in this review courtesy of Deltamac. To read captions, hover mouse over image.

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Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2004. All Rights Reserved.

DVD Specifications

  • Hong Kong Release
  • NTSC -- Regions 3 & 6 Only
  • Dolby Digital 2.0
  • Post-synced Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
  • Subtitles (Optional): English, Traditional & Simplified Chinese
  • 9 Chapters
  • 4:3 Letterbox (2.40:1)
  • 90 Minutes (at 25 frames-per-second)

Ratings & Consumer Information

  • Australia: PG
  • Hong Kong: II
  • Great Britain: 15
  • Ontario: PG
  • Quebec: G
  • Singapore: PG
  • Contains comedic violence and mild language


  • 10 A Masterpiece
  • 9 Excellent
  • 8 Highly Recommended
  • 7 Very Good
  • 6 Recommended
  • 5 Marginal Recommendation
  • 4 Not Recommended
  • 3 Poor
  • 2 Definitely Not Recommended
  • 1 Dreadful