Sunday, December 31, 2023

THE BLUE JEAN MONSTER (1991) (88 Films Blu-ray Review)


Label: 88 Films
Region Code: A,B
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 95 Minutes 44 Seconds 
Audio: Cantonese PCM 2.0 Dual-Mono with English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: Kai-Ming Lai
Cast: Shing Fui-On, Siu-Fung Wong, Wai-Kit Tse, Gloria Yip, Bei-Dak Lai, Jun Kunimura

The Cat III Hong Kong horror-comedy The Blue Jean Monster (1991) is directed by Ivan Lai (Daughter of Darkness), the absurd flick owes a lot to the American undead-cop classic Dead Heat (1988) but delivers a never not entertaining mash-up of HK crime, gross-out humor and zombie antics. In it cop Tsu (Fui-On Shing, The Killers) and his pregnant wife Chu (Siu-Fung Wong, Mr. Vampire) are expecting any day. One day he goes to work at ends up going up a vicious gang of bank robbers, he gets the drop on them in a junkyard, but the gang's boss ends up dropping a ton of scrap metal on top of him. Mortally wounded and left for dead the cop says a prayer to survive long enough to not only capture the crooks who did this to him but to see the birth of his child. Cue a magical cat which sits on his chest and emanates a red-glow all around him, and a few strikes of lighting later the cop is resurrected Frankenstein style,  or Friday the 13th VII: The New Blood style if you prefer. He resurrected just in time to save a teenage girl named named Gucci (Gloria Yip, Story of Riky) from one of the gang members who is pursuing her on his motorcycle. The gangster grans a length of pipe and charges the cop joust-style on the bike, impaling him, but it has no effect on the cop. He in return pulls the pipe from his abdomen and impales the crook, killing him. 

The cop returns home and hides  the gaping wound in his abdomen from his wife, realizing that somethings is seriously off about his situation. That night after eating Shanghai noodles he pulls the undigested noodles from the wound, and his adopted former teen delinquent Power Steering (Wai-Kit Tse, School of Fire) sees the noodles on the counter in a bowl and eats them before Tsu can stop him, and the next day the meal gives him the shits. Notably, this will not be the last time that Power Steering ingests something from Tsu's body, so prepare yourself for that, which is where most of the gross-out humor comes from. 

Joe returns to work and is assigned by his superior officer Lao (Bei-Dak Lai, Lady Super Cop) to capture the crooks that got away, including the bloodthirsty gang-leader (Jun Kunimura, Ichi the Killer), but the reanimated cop feels a bit sluggish and seeks medical treatment. While there he falls unconscious, with no vital signs the staff hit with the defibrillator paddles, delivering an electric shock to his body, but they declare him dead. Now juiced with a little bit of electricity Tsu regains consciousness and shocks himself with the paddles, establishing that he need continual electrical charges to stay alive, sort of, this need for electricity prefigured the Crank films with Jason Statham by quite a bit. What has the cop become, a zombie or a vampire is a question that I wrestle with, he's certainly undead, impervious to injury though his physical form is damaged, and displays incredible strength - able to plunge his fingers cleanly through skillets - which makes me think zombie. But his eyes turn yellow, his skin discolored, has an aversion to bright lights, and at one point ends up sleeping inside an wardrobe cabinet like a vampire at one, which seems like vampirism to me. I am not too well-versed in HK mythology, so maybe there's an in-between creature I am not familiar with. 

Anyway, now recharged Tsu resumes his pursuit of the gang, realizing that Power Steering is sort of Gucci's boyfriend, he uses her and the loot she stole from the gang, to lure them in for the kill, but doing so puts his pregnant wife in danger. This is a pretty zany cop-comedy, obviously riffing on Dead Heat with an amped-up HK style about it, it's not a film to take seriously, I enjoyed the oddball humor if it, the gross-out gags, and the way that his wife after witnessing both he and Power Steering convulsing on the floor while being electrocuted as her husband having an affair with the delinquent teen, then secretly hiring a prostitute (Amy Yip, Sex and Zen) to keep him sexually satisfied but loyal, which results in an awkward encounter and  the prostitutes fake tits exploding! The finale takes place in a warehouse and is chock full of action via chainsaws, axes, fire stunts and of impalements. 

The late Fui-On Shing (The Killers) appeared in over 200 films, mostly as villains, but this was apparently a rare leading role for him, and he holds his own as an honorable cop who finds himself on the wrong side of death, but through magical means is able to right some wrongs and see his child born. I thought this is quite a gem, if I had not already published my end of year list this easily would have made the film discoveries of 2023. 

The Blue Jean Monster (1991) arrives on region A,B Blu-ray from 88 Films in 1080p HD widescreen  (1.85:1), advertised as a 2K remaster from the original camera negative. The source is in solid shape, grain looks natural, skin tones and colors are pleasing. During some of the optical special effects shots grain appears a bit more course and softer, but overall another pleasing release from 88 Films. 
Audio comes by way of uncompressed Cantonese via a PCM 2.0 dual-mono track with optional English subtitles. The track is in great shape, the Cantonese dialogue sounds terrific as does the synth score from Alan Tsui. 

Disc extras come by way of the 20-min Man Made Monster - An Interview with Assistant Director Sam Leong, Still Gallery, and the Original Hong Kong Trailer. The single-disc release arrives in a black keepcase with Reversible Sleeve of Artwork featuring brand-new artwork from James Neal as well as the original Hong Kong artwork that is displayed landscape style as a wraparound the goes from front to back without the credits, just the logo in Cantonese and English, which is awesome. The James Neal artwork is also featured on the Limited Edition (First Pressing Only Slipcover). Tucked-away inside there's a Collectible Mini Fold-Out Poster featuring both artworks. 

Special Features: 
- 2K Remaster from the Original Camera Negative
- Man Made Monster - An Interview with Assistant Director Sam Leong (20:27) 
- Original Hong Kong Trailer (2:57) 
- Still Gallery (4:25) 
- Limited Edition Slipcase with brand-new artwork from James Neal
- Double-Sided Fold-Out Movie Poster 
- Reversible Sleeve of Artwork 

Screenshots from the 88 Films Blu-ray: 

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