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VIFF movie review: Emperor Visits the Hell

2.5 out of 4 stars

Emperor Visits the Hell
Directed by
Li Luo

Based loosely on the classical Chinese novel Journey to the West, this world premiere is a bizarre, bitingly satirical take on China's modern-day power elite: the government officials, bureaucrats and gangsters who can make your life hell (and, for a price, deliver you from it). Li Shimin is the emperor in question – a bumbling leader (with some mysterious governmental position) who fails to intervene when a gangster by the name of the Dragon King attempts to change the weather. Heaven's Messenger, angry at having nature perverted, kills the Dragon King. The Dragon King then haunts Li's dreams – a situation that can only be rectified when he pays a debt to the underworld. And so it goes in the murky world and murkier plotline.

Oct. 2, 6:45 pm, Pacific Cinematheque; Oct. 3, 1:30 pm Pacific Cinematheque

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