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QUMO JINGCHA (MAGIC COP) (1990)

"You should be a Taoist monk."
"Monk or policeman, I work for the good of mankind."

Director: Tung Wai
Starring: Lam Ching Ying, Lam Chun Yee, Miu Kiu Wai, Wu Ma, Chan Chi Leung, Chow Bei Lei, Nishiwaki Michiko
Screenplay: Wooi Gan Cheung and Shum Chi Leung

Synopsis: On the island of Ping Chau, provincial policeman Fung fights and defeats an evil spirit which has been conjured up accidentally. In Hong Kong, Detective Lam and his subordinate Sergeant 22376 are taking part in an operation to break up a drug smuggling operation. A young woman is targeted, but when an attempt is made to arrest her she proves invulnerable to bullets and is not stopped until she is run over by a truck. When it is found that the woman came from Ping Chau, Fung is summoned to Hong Kong, bringing with him his niece, Lin. Lam and 22376 are ordered to work with Fung who, to the deep disbelief of the two young policemen, announces that someone is using zombies to commit crimes. Lam refuses to believe anything Fung says, but 22376 begins to accept that the supernatural is involved. The police officers visit a gym owned by the dead woman’s boyfriend, Eddie. Eddie escapes, but Fung uses a magic ritual known as pursuit by charms to locate him. The chase leads to a house belonging to a member of the Chrysanthemum Sect, known for using magic for evil purposes. A battle begins between Fung and his young colleagues and their sinister female opponent, with the souls as well as the lives of the three policemen at stake.

Comments: This is a clever and entertaining movie, combining horror and humour with the skill and ease that seems to be the trademark of many Hong Kong filmmakers, and that most of their American counterparts can only dream about. At the heart of the film is the character of Fung, the occult expert whose total honesty and devotion to his cause has next to ruined his career. Though perhaps a little young for the part, Lam Ching Ying is wonderful as Fung. Phil Hardy’s "Encyclopaedia Of Horror" describes Fung as "a Taoist Dirty Harry" which, while not an entirely accurate description, does give some of idea of the marvellously deadpan nature of the characterisation. Whether battling the living dead, dealing with the various idiocies of his younger colleagues, or conducting ambiguous conversations with his superior officer, Fung retains the same air of unshakeable determination, giving complete credibility to the scenes of magic that are the highlights of the film. What makes these set-pieces so remarkable is the matter-of-fact way in which they are presented. My personal favorite amongst them is the pursuit by charms, which is conducted in the middle of the street before an audience of amused and fascinated onlookers and involves the involuntary assistance of Sergeant 22376 and the total embarrassment of Detective Lam. Also memorable is the lengthy battle with a zombie at the morgue, and of course the climactic showdown between Fung and his evil female counterpart. So confident is the handling of these sequences that the filmmakers were totally unafraid to mix the frightening with the absurd, such as the moment when Fung, battling his way out of a locked room, gets his leg stuck in the door; or when 22376, being pursued by a blind demon that hunts by sound, sits on a pincushion. This self-deprecating humour is carried right through to the end when, seeing their mentor stamp his foot on the wharf before boarding his ferry, Fung’s thoroughly converted disciples religiously do the same, only to learn that Fung had sand in his shoe. The special effects throughout are first class, and the fight sequences are excellently choreographed. Magic Cop is a film that requires viewing on the big screen, or at the very least in a widescreen format, to really do it justice.

Check out all the details of this movie on the IMDB