Gates of Hell
Hong Kong 1995
Directed by Otto Chan.

When Hong Kong filmmakers want to show Hong Kong people lost in the wilderness, is a sea of inhumanity, beset by brutal criminals, their first choice is the Mainland. Southeast Asia is also a good choice. Finally, though, there is the equally dangerous, barbaric madness of North America. Visitors already know to steer clear of Vancouver, thanks to Women on the Run. Now here comes THE GATES OF HELL. And where are these gates? Welcome to San Francisco, city of terror.

Chan Kwok-Ping and Strawberry Yeung are honeymooners in San Francisco, when an innocent trip to a strip club ends with their hotel being raided and Yeung being abducted, drugged, and made to appear in adult videos. Meanwhile, Can scours San Francisco looking for her, and finds himself in the middle of a turf war between the Italian gang that runs North Beach and the Chinese gang that runs Chinatown. The Italians shoot machine guns out of moving cars while shouting things like, "Eat my Bomb!", while the Chinese gang leader practices with a samurai sword and gets all crazy about classical music. The action pauses every so often so we can watch some white girls get naked at a strip club or getting it on with each other, so that you too can feel like a drunken, leering, Japanese businessman.

GATES OF HELL takes a long time to get going because the central drama of the separated honeymoon couple and their ordeals is constantly undercut by the hammy acting of the gangsters and the random insertion of naked white girls. The second half of the film, which adds some over-the-top violence, including machine guns that shoot people's arms off, works much better. In the end, our protagonist observes, "I don't think this city suits us," which is certainly true. Maybe they should try Vancouver.

Rating: Not Recommended (Not Recommended)

Posted by Peter Nepstad on September 26, 2006.

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