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Film / Tian Di

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Andy Lau's giant floating head is about to kick some ass.

Tian Di, also known as Heaven And Earth, or Chinese Untouchables, is a 1994 Hong Kong action film directed by David Lai, starring Andy Lau.

In the 1920s revolution era, Cheung Yat-pang (Lau) is an Inspector and lawyer appointed as the first Commissioner of the opium trade ban in Shanghai. Moving into the city with his pregnant wife, Tsu-tsu, Cheung uncovers a dangerous conspiracy involving Shanghai's leading millionaire, politician and philanthropist, Paul Tai Chai-man (Damian Lau) who is secretly working with the corrupt military trying to import opium and drugs into Shanghai for their own benefits. When the local authorities refuse to investigate Paul's activities, despite incriminating evidence, Cheung decides to take matter into his own hands.

Not to be confused with the Oliver Stone movie, Heaven & Earth.

Tian Di provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Wu-jun, who gets to kick plenty of ass in the opium plant shootout. Too bad she only has one action scene for herself though.
  • Anyone Can Die: Sadly, literally everyone fails to outlive the credits except Paul Tai, the Big Bad.
  • Armies Are Evil: The local military is bribed by Paul. In fact, during the opium plant shootout, most of the enemy mooks are dressed in army uniforms, and appears to be from military branches but are serving Paul directly. Even the local head of military turns out to be serving Paul, as Cheung finds out… three seconds before he gets betrayed and shot.
  • Badass Bookworm: Cheung may be a lawyer and office worker, but he can also kick plenty of ass, fight like a pro, and take names with guns easily.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Cheung and all the members of his team died for nothing, and Paul is free to continue exercising his control over Shanghai by the end of the film.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Happens to several characters, but notably Ngai at the end of the prison rescue.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Nobody seem to need reloading their weapons at any given time in the film. Especially notable during the prison rescue, where Ngai storms into the police precinct with a Tommy gun, kills around thirty officers, takes the Shantung Commissioner a hostage, fires his way into the cells, breaks Cheung out of prison, providing cover fire as Cheung climbs out of a window… and NEVER reloads even after firing what seems to be like 300 rounds.
  • Building Swing: Cheung in the theater shootout when he needs to get from one tall balcony to another.
  • By the Hair: Tsu-tsu is in a hair salon when Paul Tai’s henchman attacks her, and as she tries to escape, her hair whom is attached to electric curlers ends up snagging her from fleeing.
  • Characters Dropping Like Flies: Plenty of characters dies throughout the movie, especially the theater scene when Paul, deciding to Leave No Witnesses, orders his men to massacre the entire building, killing more than 300 people attending the movie premiere.
    • By the end credits, Paul is the only named character who survives the film.
  • Crusading Lawyer: Cheung is an attorney who decides taking matter in his own hands to fight the growing corruption, which the law is afraid to.
  • Death of a Child: Happens right before the opening titles can even show up! But at least its only seen from a distance. The audience only hears that little girl saying "Bye bye, Uncle (to Paul)…" before the explosion.
  • Desecrating the Dead: The Shantung Comissioner, pissed off at being used as a hostage by Ngai, angrily uses Ngai’s leftover Tommy Gun to fire a few more rounds into Ngai’s dead body.
  • Dirty Cop: The Shantung Police Commissioner, the corrupt police inspector working for Paul who is the closest the movie has to The Dragon.
  • Downer Ending: Cheung, the last survivor of his team, delivers the film containing evidence of Paul's crimes to the military, only to be double-crossed and shot dead in the last minute by the general, who has been bribed by Paul. Due to lack of evidence, Paul is still a free man after being responsible for ruining hundreds of lives with his opium trade, and ordering his minions to kill more than 300 people in a single night. Cue credits.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Cheung, after sneaking into the opium production plant through its side entrance, disguises himself as one of the soldiers. Complete with Eye-Obscuring Hat.
  • Drugs Are Bad: The main plot of the film revolves around taking down Big Bad Paul Tai’s opium production and trafficking operations, at all costs.
  • Ear Ache: Wu-jun, who prefers Better to Die than Be Killed, ends up committing suicide by shoving a chopstick through her eardrum, all the way into her brain.
  • Engineered Public Confession: The final scene in the theater, when the Shantung Commissioner is tricked into thinking he’s been double-crossed by Paul and angrily confronting Paul right in front of the audience, with Paul shouting back about his opium dealings… just as Cheung is hiding in a projection booth, recording everything on camera.
    Paul : (In front of a whole audience) " I didn’t betray you! I’ve considered you as a brother even after you sold me out on the last opium deal… and now YOU wanted to kill me?"
  • Establishing Character Moment: Despite Paul being introduced to audiences as a philanthropist, right at the start of the film audiences knew he was a complete scumbag when an elderly man, with his granddaughter, tries begging Paul for mercy to have his son released from prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Paul pretends to be concerned over the old man’s plight, promising that he will look into the matters, and even orders his henchman to give the granddaughter a wrapped present as they leave. A wrapped present full of explosives, that is. BOOM.
  • Everybody Smokes: Even a child, as seen in the opium den bust.
  • Forced Miscarriage: Chong’s pregnant wife, Tsu-ysu, after being assaulted by Paul’s henchman as a warning to Cheung who is investigating his criminal activities. She ends up suffering a Tragic Stillbirth later on.
  • Frame-Up: After having his minions beat the snot out of Cheung, Paul orders them to inject a massive dose of liquid opium into Cheung, before knocking Cheung unconscious using chloroform and then taking pictures looking like Cheung himself is another drug abuser to ruin his public image.
  • Gangland Drive-By: Paul sends a bunch of his mooks to eliminate Cheung using this method as retaliation of Cheung infiltrating and destroying Paul’s opium plant. While the gangsters fail to kill Cheung, they did manage to gun down his wife, Tsu-tsu.
  • Gatling Good: The assault on the opium plant guarded by the corrupt military is kicked off by Wu-jun commandeering a belt-fed machine gun unleashing hell on the garrisons. Later on, Cheung, who had infiltrated the plant, ambushed the soldiers using a hijacked Gatling gun to take out a large chunk of the army.
  • Hanging by the Fingers: Cheung, after the prison escape goes awry, ends up hanging by a ledge after tripping and falling off a balcony.
  • Hard Head: In the opium plant, a group of corrupt soldiers are shown testing their heads against a wooden log. Each and every one of them ends up hurting themselves after bashing their heads with the log, except for one Giant Mook who causes the log to break instead.
  • Heroic RRoD: Cheung, after realizing Wu-jun is dead, and being subjected to Cold-Blooded Torture by Paul’s minions, including having his veins pumped with drugs.
  • Heroic Second Wind: In the finale, Cheung and a Mook Lieutenant, the last henchman remaining alive, grapples against each other on a tall balcony, leading to the mook pressing Cheung’s neck against the railing to choke him. Just as right below, Paul shows up and taunts Cheung about his deceased wife… causing Cheung to suddenly gain a last-second boost of strength, enough to flip the Mook Lieutenant over the balcony to his death with a Railing Kill.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Cheung during his shootouts. Evidently when slipping down a long water drainage slide, on his back at roughly forty miles an hour, firing his pistol away at the same time and managing to hit several mooks trying to shoot at him on his way down.
  • In the Back: How Paul Tai dispose of the Shantung Comissioner after having a Villainous BSoD. In front of maybe 300 audience members.
  • It's Personal: Cheung’s vendetta to Paul Tai becomes strictly mano-a-mano when Paul sends his minions to assault ( and later, kill) his pregnant wife as an intimidation.
  • Karma Houdini: All the evidence against Paul disappears and he is free to continue his reign by the end of the film.
  • Leap and Fire: Cheung during his shootouts.
  • Leave No Witnesses: Paul, who orders his mooks to execute anyone who may know of his illicit dealings and true nature. If that means an entire theater full of people, so be it...
  • Man Bites Man: Ngai and the Shantung Commissioner's final brawl culminates with Ngai frantically biting his opponent in the leg as hard as he can.
  • Missed Him by That Much: Cheung, after the escape scene, ends up under a bridge where he hid below a set of railings. The officers sent after him tries looking around before leaving, and apparently none of them ever thought of looking over the side.
  • More Dakka: The opium plant shootout scene. Involving Gatling guns firing for maybe a whole minute, non-stop.
  • Palm Bloodletting: Part of the Cold-Blooded Torture Cheung is subjected to by Paul and the opium dealers, includes having his palm sliced open and having pepper shoved into the wound.
  • The Precarious Ledge: Cheung, after the prison scene, had to escape from a tall window, with him balancing himself on a ledge outside while dodging officers after him.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Averted most of the times, but played straight during the opium plant shootout when a soldier gets a machine-gun fired into his temple without a single trace of blood.
  • Made of Incendium: The opium crates, which literally explodes into as massive fireball after being touched by a single torch.
  • Precision Crash: Paul’s fate at the end of the film, after Cheung, swinging horizontally from a rope, crashes into him at full speed which sends him tackled across the theater and landing on one of the seats, seemingly dead with Blood from the Mouth. However, its later revealed in the Epilogue that Paul actually survives the impact.
  • Saintly Church: A recurring setting of the film. Notably after the big shootout in Paul Tai’s opium producing plant, where later on a henchman had to report to Paul of the infiltration and subsequent destruction of the plant while Tai is in the middle of a church hearing.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: At the end of the film, Cheung managed to get a complete recording of Paul Tai’s crimes on tape, at the cost of all his friends and partners dying. He finally delivers the evidence to the local head of military, and the general congratulates him… before shooting Cheung from point-blank range. Turns out the local military has been bribed by Paul, too.
  • Smug Snake: Paul. Especially in the scene where Cheung angrily confronts him in public after Paul's henchmen brutally assaults pregnant wife Tsu-tsu leaving her in a critical condition; Paul simply let his guards beat up Cheung, then deny any involvement with the attempt in her life, tells Cheung he decide not to press charges for defamation because he's a nice guy who cares for the public, and advises Cheung to maybe spend more time in church every Sunday to pray for his wife.
  • Spoiler Cover: One promotional poster depicts Cheung and his wife, Tsu-tsu, in the clouds, while looking down on Paul Tai and his gangsters. Implying that they are Together in Death in heaven and witnessing the aftermath of the movie.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Plenty of explosions occurs in the film, especially in the opium plant destruction when dynamites and explosives Cheung left in the plant goes off at the end of the action scene.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Paul beating up a henchman who brings bad new to him in the church, while Ode to Joy plays in the background.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: The Big Bad of the picture, Paul Tai, works as a philanthropist and charity provider, while secretly operating an opium trafficking ring. In fact the film’s epilogue states that he was later released, acquitted from all charges due to lack of evidence, and continues running a philanthropic business and an opium deal simultaneously.
  • White Shirt of Death: In his last moments, Cheung is wearing a white shirt and grey coat. At his moment of betrayal, he gets shot from point-blank, and the camera lingers rather closely to the shirt where blood is spreading out of a bullet hole.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Paul and his mooks, who harms Cheung’s wife Tsu-tsu as well as Wu-jun. The latter especially earns a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown for daring to assist in Cheung’s operations and was later Driven to Suicide.