"The Seventh Curse" is an utterly insane film. No other phrase so adequately describes the experience of watching this low budget Asian picture. I read a plot summary some time ago about the movie, thought it sounded interesting, and decided to give it a shot. Well, the summary totally failed to convey the depths of weirdness plumbed by the film. I thought I would be watching a straight horror movie, and that is true to some extent-"The Seventh Curse" does contain many elements of horror. But it also delves into action, science fiction, fantasy, and just about any other offbeat theme you've ever seen in a film. I'm hardly an expert on Asian cinema. What I know about these films can easily be summarized on a sheet of paper. I've seen several of the Hong Kong category III movies, such as "Doctor Lamb" and "The Untold Story," and I even own a copy of "The Story of Ricky" even though I haven't watched more than ten minutes of it. I've even seen several films from Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike. With the exception of "Ichi the Killer" and "The Untold Story," "The Seventh Curse" may well rank as one of the most disturbing Asian films I have seen. Don't get me wrong, though, since that's a good thing. You want something to dig under your skin and stay there for a few days. "The Seventh Curse" does that quite nicely.
I start with a caveat: don't pay attention to this film's DVD cover. The picture of two men in formal wear grinning from ear to ear is a scene from the movie, but it's about the only sane thing in the entire production. The other chap in the photo is the real star of the film. He plays Dr. Yuan, a sort of troubleshooter extraordinaire who finds himself caught up in one wacky situation after another, the first being an intense hostage situation. The police call in Yuan to help when one of the hostages suffers a heart attack, but they also talk the good doctor into taking a bomb into the building. A messy shoot 'em up follows, with Yuan walking away relatively unscathed. He heads home for a night of relaxation that quickly turns into an epic martial arts battle with a guy who shows up to tell the doctor that he's in some danger. It turns out that about a year before Yuan went into the wilds of Thailand with the aim of doing some medical research. He rescued a local girl, Betsy (!), from a bunch of black magic worshippers called the worm tribe. Yuan barely escaped after the horrible encounter he had with Aquala, the fearsome sorcerer leader of the tribe.
He also escaped with a curse that causes painful eruptions on his body, one every seven days until the last one punctures his heart. The curse finally starts to do its deadly work, so Yuan's friend Wesley (Chow Yun-Fat), a pipe smoking genius in all things strange, instructs the physician to go back to Thailand in search of some holy objects that will cure his ailment. The doctor knows he's got to go, so he takes along an uppity reporter named Tsai-Hung (Maggie Cheung), a ton of firearms, and the guy who fought him in the apartment. The madness begins in earnest here as we find out tons of weird things about the worm tribe. The sorcerer Aquala acts as an intermediary between the tribe and "Old Ancestor," a noxious skeleton that comes alive whenever the tribe conducts a sacrifice. This creature is wild, a bony monster that morphs into a weird reptilian beastie that rips people apart. Moreover, the tribe uses a special device to turn children into these weird flying babies with tails. These creatures act as Aquala's bodyguards, ravaging their way through anyone who dares to oppose the leader of the tribe in the most heinous ways possible. Yuan not only has to deal with all of these potential problems; he also has to deal with hundreds of irate tribesmen, Tsai-Hung's penchant for getting into trouble, and a bunch of kung fu monks guarding a giant Buddha statue.
You haven't lived until you've seen "The Seventh Curse." I thought I had seen plenty of offbeat movies in my time, but this film made me rethink my conceptions of strange pretty fast. We're talking over the top non-stop action and gore here. "Old Ancestor" alone is worth the price of the film. And that conclusion! Have we seen such a wildly chaotic series of scenes in anything made in the last few years? I think not. Heck, have we seen an entire movie this wildly chaotic made in the last few years? Again, I think not. There's a sort of Indiana Jones feel to several situations in the movie, such as the rolling Buddha head, but the things you see in this picture would never appear in Indiana Jones's worst dreams. About the only drawback to the movie is the short screen time allotted to Chow Yun-Fat, whose character only appears to puff on his pipe, offer a few tips, and fade back into the shadows. Still, you probably won't miss him much since so many other things of interest are going on. That slight problem won't influence my overall impression of the film at all.
The DVD version looked good for such a 1980's low budget film. Extras, if I recall correctly, were limited to a few trailers for other Asian films. That's acceptable since the movie provides more than enough entertainment. I hate to rely on such a tired cliché, but "The Seventh Curse" is definitely one of those films that require you to run, not walk, to the nearest DVD outlet so you can procure a copy. Get it and watch it regularly.