This ‘80s comedy-horror hybrid is bizarre, however, if you are a fan of this enclave of Hong Kong cinema, there is much to appreciate, plus you will never guess in what direction it will take you…
Sammo Hung stars as Fat boy (self-deprecating as always) an apprentice to an aged-up Lam Ching Ying, who is an undertaker/Taoist priest, a role he would come to make his own. Sammo’s best friend, Ma Lun Chio (Wu Ma, who also directs) has faked his own death to inherit his family fortune, only for his co-conspirators to double cross and kill him for real. He then comes back as a ghost to enlist the help of Fat boy for revenge. For a film featuring the usual Sammo troop of actors, there is very little Kung-Fu (the smattering we get is excellent, of course) and concentrates instead on comedic set-pieces, wordplay, and supernatural shenanigans. These are brilliantly handled by Wu Ma, who uses Cel animation, in-camera effects, and wirework, to create movie magic that still looks great on this crisp Blu-ray.
The disc features a very useful commentary by Frank Djeng and Michael Worth, in which Frank describes the film's use of Cantonese-style repartee. The disc also contains a Q&A with a long-haired Sammo at the 2016 Far East Film Festival. It features some good insights and Sammo swaps between English and Cantonese to get his points across.
It’s clear to see why this film wasn’t released in the UK earlier, due to its reliance on Canto-comedy and lack of action, but in these days of abundance, The Dead and the Deadly is an interesting film that shows off Sammo’s comedic ability with aplomb, culminating with a trio of alien ghost guards, and who could have predicted that? Long live Hong Kong cinema.