Shaolin Vs. Evil Dead: Ultimate Power
AKA: Shaolin Vs. Evil Dead 2
Year of release: 2005
Director: Douglas Kung
Action director: Kit Cheung
Producer: Sharon Yeung
Writer: Ho Yiu-Wang
Cinematography: Kwan Chi-Kan
Editor: Grand Yip
Music: Mak Jan-Hung, Yang Tao
Stars: Fan Siu-Wong, Marsha Yuen, Lau Siu-Ming, Shannon Yiu, John Zhang, Nicky Shi, Gordon Liu, Shi Xiao-Hu, Kit Cheung, Jacky Woo
Rated IIB for violence
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The first Shaolin Vs. Evil Dead movie was a fairly enjoyable, if disjointed, affair and its' sequel follows the same track. Actually, this is not really so much of a sequel as a continuation of the first part ala the Kill Bill films.
In this installment, we follow the story of Dragon (Fan Siu-Wong), a brave Taoist monk who becomes infected with a deadly poison after defending a village from a group of bandits. The poison has also infected his wife Phoenix (Marsha Yuen) and their unborn baby, a boy named Zhao. Phoenix dies while giving birth, and the poison in Zhao's system has made him turn evil.
Dragon tries to instill some good values in Zhao, but after he chooses to promote another monk, Roam Chow, to be the head of the temple, Zhao heads off to prove that he is the world's top fighter by killing every other martial artist in the region.
As Zhao's power grows, Roam Chow (played by Gordon Liu during the latter portion of the movie) studies an advanced form of kung fu in order to defend his temple, but after Zhao obtains a pair of powerful swords, it may be a matter of too little, too late.
Despite the fairly dense plot, one doesn't really have to have a viewing of the first film under their belt to understand what's going on here. In fact, it might actually be a bit eaiser to follow things if you haven't seen the first part.
There seems to be very little connection between the two films. Things aren't helped by multiple actors playing multiple roles, and there are just too many subplots and characters that are simply not followed through with.
For example, Zhao has a follower named Grace (Shannon Yiu) who runs away to Dragon's temple after she becomes disgusted with Zhao's actions. At the end of the movie, she suddenly appears as a zombie-like evil character. There's absolutely no reason given to this heel turn and, like many things present here, it leaves the viewer more than a bit puzzled.
Also, as with the first movie, Shaolin Vs. Evil Dead: Ultimate Power's low budget is woefully apparent. The film is shot and edited competently enough, and there are some impressive sets and locations used. But the ultra-cheap CGI used here just taints everything.
That's kind of a shame, because when this picture is working, it accomplishes its' task very well. At times, it captures the gleeful feeling of the "golden age" of Hong Kong movies, where filmic schizophrenia could many times equal cinematic joy.
But, alas, director Douglas Kung and his crew simply can't sustain this mood for very long, and Shaolin Vs. Evil Dead: Ultimate Power becomes just another disposable action film in the process.