Satire with a straight face. Free adaptation of chapters from Journey to the West, a novel from the Ming Dynasty moved to contemporary China with its gangsters, bureaucrats and rich officials. Winner of the Dragons & Tigers Award in Vancouver.
Good stories are timeless and easily allow themselves to be told centuries later. This also applies for the novel Journey to the West, written during the Ming Dynasty (16th century). For Emperor Visits the Hell, Li Luo transplanted three chapters to modern China. The protagonists are now bureaucrats, party bosses and gangsters.
In this modern adaptation, Emperor Li Shimin is a leader with a mysterious government post. When the criminal Dragon King tries to manipulate the weather for a wager and calls down on him the wrath of the heavenly messenger, he intervenes. But he finds himself between the devil and the deep blue sea and is fatally wounded. On his deathbed, he is plagued by the ghost of the Dragon King, a curse that can only be undone by paying a price to the underworld.
This low-budget political satire was a great hit at the Vancouver International Film Festival, where the film won the Dragons and Tigers Award for Young Cinema.