WereGoingToEatYouThe second feature by Hong Kong’s Tsui Hark was this Kung Fu infused, cannibal-themed comedy. It’s far from Hark’s best work, but it is fun, and deserves to be better known.

WE’RE GOING TO EAT YOU (DI YU WU MEN; 1980) never got much attention in the west. This is in keeping with most of Tsui Hark’s early features (including the subtle and mysterious BUTTERFLY MURDERS and the more nihilistic DANGEROUS ENCOUNTERS OF THE FIRST KIND), which tend to be marginalized on these shores, although WE’RE GOING TO EAT YOU did at least receive a region one DVD release from Media Blasters in 2006.

Wandering through a forest on an obscure South Seas island, two young men are taken hostage by a band of mask wearing freaks. The freaks take the guys to a brick enclosure where they dismember and cook them, and then throw the meat to the island’s starving populace.

Agent 999 is a suave government-appointed investigator looking to track down and arrest the notorious bandit Rolex, who’s been hiding out on the island. Upon setting foot on the island 999 is robbed and attacked by one of the masked cannibals, who he manages to fight off and kill.

999’s attempts at infiltrating the island’s ruling class result in him being captured, and nearly becoming the main course in one of the islanders’ human flesh banquets. Before this can occur 999 is approached by the island chief’s assistant, who it turns out is Rolex, the object of 999’s quest.

Rolex wants to enlist 999’s aid in overthrowing the island’s ruling class, but 999 will have none of it. Rolex attempts to take on the island chief by himself, only to wind up dead. This would seem to put an end to 999’s quest, but as he discovers upon trying to head back to the mainland, the islanders still intend to serve him up for dinner…

Inventive, energetic and loud are the words that best describe WE’RE GOING TO EAT YOU, which in keeping with Hong Kong action movie parlance moves VERY fast and is sorely lacking in subtlety or restraint. The particulars of Hong Kong moviemaking didn’t allow for much in the way of nuance, resulting in a film that’s quite raggedy and uneven—an attempt at adding in a romance, for instance, falls flat—though never boring.

The pic is suffused, unfortunately enough, with broad and obvious slapstick that’s about on the level of a Saturday morning cartoon (complete with goofy “boing!” and “zonk!” sound effects), but it’s so incident-packed one never has time to get too annoyed with the dopey jokes. There are some potent gags here and there, including one that occurs during a fight scene in which a cannibal is hit in face by a piece of errant human flesh and stops fighting long enough to eat it, and a visual trick in which it appears that the hero loses a hand, only to discover it’s actually someone else’s severed (and soon to be eaten!) arm being chopped.

The film was consciously patterned after the Hollywood western formula, albeit with surprisingly graphic (if often patently unconvincing) gore, the impact of which is offset by the breezy tone. Also worthy of mention is the impressively choreographed martial arts action, presented in a manner only Hong Kong filmmakers can pull off. It all results in a pleasing, if frequently annoying and uneven, concoction.

Vital Statistics

Seasonal Film Corporation

Director: Tsui Hark
Producers: Kuen Cheung, See-Yuen Ng
Screenplay: Roy Szeto
Cinematography: Hung-Chuen Lau
Editing: Hung Poon
Cast: Norman Chu, Kwok-Choi Han, Eddy Ko, Melvin Wong, David Wu, Michelle Yim, Mo-lin Cheung, Fung Fung, Kwok Choi Hon, San Kuai, Tai-Bo, Lee Chun-Wa, Siu-Ming To, Yn-Sheng Pan