“Kung Fu from Beyond the Grave”: Hamlet-inspired supernatural horror kung-fu action

By on March 1, 2018

Chiu Lee’s 1982 supernatural horror/kung fu actioner Kung Fu from Beyond the Grave (original title: Yin ji) is a Hamlet-inspired saga about a young martial arts fighter, Chun Sing (Billy Chong), who seeks to avenge the death of his father, who was murdered by an evil tyrant.

Watch this film now — one of the weirdest in our wacked-out Wu Tang Collection — over on Night Flight Plus.

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There’s a lot to love about this low-budget occasionally NSFW feature, which is atrociously and hilariously dubbed into English and features no subtitles.

Kung Fu from Beyond the Grave features drunk grave robbers stumbling around in graveyards, obscure magic rituals, an assault with scalding washcloths, flying fireballs, scalpings, gratuitous full frontal nudity during the sex scenes, and lots of ghosts and ghouls of one type or another — floating monk ghosts and farting bum ghosts, etc. — not to mention a wizard, a vampire and lots of ass-kickin’ kung fu moves.

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On Yin, the seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar — the month that ghosts are allowed to freely roam the earth for thirty days — ghosts and spirits try to find a way to reincarnate themselves.

Mid-way during the month, there’s a great Ghost Festival, during which paper money is burned up and items of tribute are left by the living to appease the dead.

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When the gates of hell are opened to let out the ghosts of the dead, Chun Sing (Billy Chong) is visited by his dead dad — an oatmeal-faced long-haired ghoulish apparition who apparently had six fingers on his right hand for some reason, or he does now — who comes back to tell his son that he was murdered by a powerful lord, Kam Tai-Fu (Lieh Ho), who lives in the neighboring Yellow Dragon Town and commands the dark forces of black magic.

Chun Sing’s father asks his son to seek revenge for his death, which he does over the course of the film, enlisting the help of ghostly assassins who move like they’re propelled forward on skateboards.

On his way, Chun finds a magic book which enables him to summon up zombie fighters, which comes in very useful when he faces a powerful lazy-eyed wizard (Chin-Lai Sung) who is in the employ of Kam Tai Fu. One of the wizard’s best tricks is when he pulls out a wad of paper money and burns it, which brings to life a vampire!

There’s also a magic ritual which involves getting two beating hearts — which must be taken from a young man and woman in the midst of having multiple orgasms during sex — then melting them down and pitting the liquefied hearts at Kam Tai Fu, whose skin becomes impervious to attack.

Chun pairs up with a government agent (Alan Chung San Chui and together they set a trap for the wizard that includes having him covered with used panties containing menstrual blood of virgins.

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Read more about Kung Fu from Beyond the Grave below.

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Ghost-themed martial arts Hong Kong-made movies, like 1982’s Till Death Do Us Scare — featuring over-the-top slapstick gags and SFX by Hollywood horror legend Tom Savini — were quite popular in the wake of the 1984 film Ghostbusters.

These were mainly Hong Kong-made features designed to appeal to western audiences who might not buy a movie ticket to see on a foreign-language martial arts ghost movie unless they also offered up a few laughs along with the kung fu moves.

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Speaking of kung fu moves, the choreography in this film is perfectly executed by everyone, particularly Indonesian-born leading actor Billy Chong.

Chong — Chinese name: Chuang Chuan Li, sometimes spelled as Chuang Chen Li or Chong Chuen-Lei — was born Willy Dozan in Magelang, Indonesia in 1957. He began acting twenty years later appearing in his first film, Pembalasan Si Pitung.

He lived in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and the United States, studying at Kahana’s Stunt School in California, and became an excellent martial arts master while starring in his first films, Invicible Monkey Fist (1978) and Hard Way to Die (1979).

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Chong is also noted for appearing in a series of Jackie Chan-style knock-offs like 1979’s Crystal Fist (alternate title: The Jade Claw) and Super Power (1980), for which he was awarded the International Movie Academy Award in Italy in 1980.

In addition to Kung Fu from Beyond the Grave, in 1982 he also appeared the unforgettable Kung Fu Zombie, but afterwards Chong returned to his home in Indonesia, where he became a TV producer and director, starring in his own series, “Sapu Jagad,” in 2000.

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Director Chiu Lee (aka Li Chao, aka Lee Chiu) has far more screen credits as an actor than he does behind the camera, having originally been a stuntman first.

He graduated from a training course organized by Shaw Brothers and TVB, the dominant television company in Hong Kong, which launched in 1967.

In 1973, Lee worked as action choreographer and actor on a number of low-budget action films in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

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Lee’s first film as a director came in 1978 with the action-packed Ways of Kung- Fu, which featured martial arts star Chi Kuan-chun.

In 1979, Lee formed his own company, Chao Lik Films, serving as producer and director on Cantonese Iron Kung Fu (1979), which starred Bryan Leung.

Lee also directed many social realist films like The Way To Hell (1980), as well as gangster sagas like Struggle For Leader (1983).

Watch Kung Fu from Beyond the Grave — from our Wu Tang Collection — over on Night Flight Plus!

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.