Witch from Nepal (1985)
By: Devon B. on March 3, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Universe Laser & Video Co (Hong Kong) All Regions, NTSC. 1.85:1 (Non-anamorphic). Cantonese DD 5.1 Mandarin DD 5.1. Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, English, Japanese, Bahasa, Korean, French Subtitles. 89 minutes
The Movie
Director: Ching Siu-Tung
Starring: Chow Yun Fat, Lam Kit Ying, Chu Po Yee
Country: Hong Kong
AKA: Qi yuan
Witch from Nepal opens with a scene that is bound to put off any viewer not accustomed to the charms of bad cinema: The film's villain is aligned with the cat species, and when attacking one guy, he turns into a panther. The FX needed to morph him would've been too expensive, and a real panther was out, so the filmmakers just drew a panther-like shape on the film. It's my firm belief that Sharpie stock will go up when everyone sees what a convincing special effect tool the pens can be…

Some time after the kitty battle, Chow Yun-Fat arrives in Nepal as a tourist, and almost immediately appears to be followed by a witch. This is no Snow White and the Seven Dwarves ugly, shrivelled mess, it's more off a Glenda, Good Witch of the North type thing…except she's Nepalese, so looks nothing like Glenda. But if Glenda, or even the actress playing her, had been from Nepal, they'd be kind of similar. In more than just appearance. The point is, she's not bad. Anyway, Mr. Chow (or rather his stuntman) takes a pretty impressive fall off an elephant and ends up in a river. He is later found on the shore with a broken leg. While he's in recovery, the witch keeps popping around to visit, and Chow receives supernatural powers that he lets you know he's using by making lightsaber noises. What follows is a rather un-engrossing 'Chosen One' story muddled by some romance.

After over an hour, there are some zombies, some nice and slimy, others are just funny looking. The lack and lateness of the horror elements leave Witch from Nepal feeling like more of a pretentious love action story than anything. And what's rule number one in a Chow Yun-Fat action move? Right: Give the man some guns! End of bad guys. He might not shoot up the scenery in Witch from Nepal, but at least he gets to face the villain using an ancient, spiritual dagger and a slightly more impromptu shield.

The FX in Witch from Nepal are very dated, but the film is about 20 years old. I guess that means the FX probably would've started showing around the edges in…1988. Stop motion, on the cell animation, that sort of thing, but there is one pretty good effect involving the ripping in half of a German Shepard (what's with this breed always getting slaughtered in horror movies?) Either you hate these type of FX or you get some macabre pleasure from them.

While some of the FX are not great, there are shots that are very nicely staged. Director Ching Siu Tung didn't have Tsui Hark's helpful influence like he would in his follow up film A Chinese Ghost Story, but the Witch is not a total eyesore.

Watch for the man trying to set the 'human suspended from highest building' world record.
The Universe DVD presents the film at about 1.85:1. The print is good quality for Chinese DVD releases of a few years back, but still specked and blotched. It's a bit soft in brights and lights, and the movie unfortunately gets quite bright when a scene occurs outdoors. There's the occasional movement ghost (can't have an Asian horror film without a ghost being there in some way, even if it's just a mastering flaw on the disc, right?). The print goes 'wibbly wobbly' sometimes. I think that by that I meant the matte moves up and down a bit, and I'm now working on a revised code for technical DVD jargon so I'll know what I mean when reading my notes later.
The audio is s available in Cantonese or Mandarin with subs in a variety of languages. The subs are on the matte, but are bolded so they don't get lost on the film. The subs are very good, with few errors, but they do leave things untranslated. This may because another language (or possibly gibberish) is being spoken. All the gibberish must've confused the poor dog that gets split in two, because he starts barking when his mouth isn't open. The Cantonese track is superior to the Mandarin, as usual, but neither will give a decent sound system much to work with. The score is very, very bad. Very. This is one film I won't mind if Miramax messes up the sound on.
Extra Features
The DVD includes a star file for Chow and Ching, the trailer, and trailers for other Chow movies.
The Verdict
It amazes me that Witch From Nepal is regarded as one of the worst horror films from Hong Kong, while The Imp is considered one of the best. I wouldn't go so far as to say the reverse is true, but Witch is certainly watchable. The disc probably isn't worth saving, as upgrades of many older releases are now coming swiftly out of Asia, but if you just want to see the movie, it can probably be purchased for a few measly dollars.
Movie Score
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