Shaolin Vs Evil Dead: Ultimate Power (2006)

Cheap and cheesy sequel/prequel that's fun to watch
Reviewed by Simon on 2021-05-22

Since SHAOLIN VS EVIL DEAD ends very abruptly and the end credits feature clips from an obvious part 2 I assumed both were filmed at the same time, but it was over 2 years before part 2 actually came out. By that time I'd forgotten too much of the first film to watch the second, but it took me another 15 years to forget enough to want to watch Part 1 again. Glad I got to it before I died though, because it's actually quite good.

Surprisingly, Part 2 doesn't pick up where Part 1 ended, in fact the entire first hour is set decades earlier, with Fan Siu-Wong playing his own dad and Max Zhang playing his younger self. We see the backstory of the two Taoists, alluded to in the first film, and the reason why Fan Siu-Wong's character is such a dick.

This section of the film is quite different in style, partly due to the absence of gyonsi but mostly due to the absence of Jacky Woo, who was not a great actor and whose attempts at comedy were definitely the worst part of the first film. It seems to be channelling The Storm Riders, including a trip to a Sword Graveyard and Fan Siu-Wong borrowing Aaron Kwok's hair at one point. It is played quite straight and comedy free, and it features some quite impressive fight scenes. I found it more enjoyable than the first film.

Eventually the backstory is complete and we return to the "present". Some time has elapsed since the battle between the Black and White brothers. The good guys travel to a temple and receive the Five Element stones that are apparently the key to defeating the evil inside Brother Black... who conveniently arrives there moments later, triggering the final battle.

The final battle is quite epic, taking place at least partly in some sort of higher dimensions where the Taoists use the power of the five elements to try and defeat each other. It makes liberal use of cheap CGI, but apart from that it is just the sort of over the top spectacle that Hong Kong specialised in in the early 1990's.

This is where all the footage in the end credits of part one appears, so it looks like it was filmed at the same time, then used to drum up financing to make the rest of the film... which evidently took some time.

I must admit that the first film has not aged too well, mainly because Hong Kong and China started producing these kinds of films again so it doesn't have the same oasis in a desert factor, but SHAOLIN VS EVIL DEAD: ULTIMATE POWER is a step up in both quality and entertainment value. It still has some of the same flaws, e.g. the soundtrack is terrible and the post dubbing seems to have been done by different actors who were less invested in the film or their characters, but it features lots of the good clean, unpretentious fun that made Hong Kong cinema so special, and there'll always be a place for that in my heart.