“You got a lot of guts Oscar”
Where do I even start with this movie? Ok, imagine that instead of Frank Darabont obtaining the rights to make The Shawshank Redemption, Lloyd Kaufman got them. Imagine he then proceeds to completely rewrite the script, removing all the human elements of the story, replacing them with ridiculous fight scenes & an insane amount of splatter. Imagine he then changes the location to Hong Kong & spends about $20 on making the movie. Even after all that you would only be at the tip of the iceberg as to Riki Oh.
The story revolves around Riki, who is sent to prison for 10yrs for manslaughter after taking vengeance on the criminal boss whose gang Riki’s girlfriend witnessed during a heroin deal. The gang capture her & in terror she jumps of a roof to her death. The prison is run by a crooked warden & his assistant Sugiyama, who, utilising the most dangerous prisoners, called the gang of four, are operating an opium den in the prison. Riki is drawn into fighting for the rights of the other prisoners & an eventual showdown with the warden himself. In essence that is the plot, feel free to add any & all cliches you can think of because I pretty much guarantee you they will be in this movie.
Riki Oh is another one of those “so shockingly bad it’s awesome” movies. It’s badly acted, scripted & directed. The SFX are just FX, no S needed. The whole movie is cheaply made & godawful, but boy does it entertain. When speaking about Riki Oh there is only one topic of discussion, gore. This film swims in the red stuff. The gore level is unprecedented & close to Peter Jackson’s gore fest Braindead/Dead Alive for sheer on-screen carnage. Heads shatter, limbs are pushed into meat grinders, eyeballs are punched out, all with virtual comic book glee. Indeed Riki Oh was originally a manga. In one inspired fight scene Riki fights an inamte called Oscar. After knocking one of Oscar’s eyeballs out with a blow to the back of the head, Riki watches as Oscar disembowels himself, prompting Sugiyama to utter the immortal line “You got a lot of guts Oscar” As Riki tries to help the dying Oscar, Oscar tries to strangle Riki with his own intestines! Riki is a proponent of Qigong, a form of martial arts which allow Riki to literally punch through human flesh, walls, or anything else really. In one hilarious scene Riki punches an inmates jaw off completely. If the SFX were up to anything these scenes may have been shocking, as they are, the scenes become laughable. Of course the movie ends with a showdown between Riki & the warden & the scene doesn’t disappoint. It is gleefully over the top. The whole movie is pure camp silliness. The actors seem to be taking the movie seriously which just adds so much to the comedic value of the film.
If you like your humour dark & unintentional, you will love this movie, a cult classic & pure mindless entertainment. Highly recommended for at least one watch.
“It’s about time, be prepared”
After a partially enforced absence due to internet provider issues it’s back to reviews & Hong Kong for a rape/revenge classic. Her Vengeance is a Cat III movie from director Ngai Kai Lam, the man responsible for the incredibly bloody & downright insane Riki Oh, The Story Of Ricky. Her Vengeance is ostensibly a remake of Kiss Of Death (a lesser known Cat III) An uncompromising movie, extremely graphic & nihilistic, this movie isn’t an enjoyable ride.
The plot revolves around Kit-Ying (Pauline Wong) who at the beginning of the movie works at a nightclub, one night she gets into an altercation with five thuggish patrons, who we have already seen violently rob an armoured cash truck. The thugs leave & later Kit-Ying goes home. Once on the deserted nighttime streets Kit-Ying realises the gang have followed her & after a brief struggle they drag her to a cemetery where she is brutally gang raped. Kit-Ying goes home to the house she shares with her blind sister, who after finding out what happened suggests Kit-Ying goes to see her uncle Hsiung to gain revenge. Kit-Ying goes to the doctor because she is experiencing severe pain. He calmly informs her she has contracted AIDS from the rape & will die. Kit-Ying travels to the city to her uncle’s nightclub. Hsiung (played by the late, great Lam Ching Ying) is wheelchair bound but more than adept in martial arts as a couple of drunken, troublemaking customers soon find out. He allows Kit-Ying to stay & gives her a job but refuses to help with the vengeance, stating that no good can come of it. But events start to spiral ending with Kit-Ying & Hsiung planning a showdown with the thugs.
Her Vengeance is another great Cat III movie, not quite up to the standards of The Untold Story, Red To Kill or The Ebola Syndrome but well worth watching. Pauline Wong gives a decent performance as Kit-Ying, the only downside is, we (the audience) only really get to see her after the assault as a cold vengeance driven woman. There is no real glimpse of the woman before, who she was. This is only a minor quibble but in my opinion slightly detracts from the movie as a whole. Lam Ching Ying as Hsiung the wheelchair bound uncle completely steals the film. There is a training montage on the rooftop which provides the movies only glint of humour. A skilled martial artist Lam is superb & elevates every scene he is in. Sadly the actors playing the gang don’t exactly cover themselves with glory. Wether by script or plain bad acting they just appear as grinning, leering idiots. One of the movies highpoints is the cinematography, which reminded me of Red To Kill. The assault in the graveyard is filmed beautifully, everything has a nighttime blue tinge & heightens the brutal shocking act. The rape itself was for the time graphic & explicit but could be considered mild today in the light of Irreversible & Baise Moi. fortunately the scene isn’t filmed to excite, a problem that I find with a lot of Cat III films. Sadly the film also shows its age with its treatment of AIDS, the movie almost stands as a reminder to just how ignorant people were when the disease first came to prominence. In this respect Kiss Of Death handled that scene much better by using a fictional STD instead. The films climatic showdown is an insane sequence full of violence, booby traps & wonderful fight choreography. There are two versions of his movie, a Cat II version with most of the rape & revenge cut out & padded with dialogue & the Cat III version. The version I saw was the Cat III version but the print looked as if it had been restored from the Cat II version. There was a noticeable drop in image quality during the violent scenes. Much like the restored Witchfinder General.
In closing Her Vengeance is easily worth a look. Don’t expect to come out of the movie feeling good. It is just about as grim a movie as you can get. As I stated earlier there are better films in The Cat III genre but this film can still proudly stand as one of the better examples of the genre.
“It was used to make those buns”
The Untold Story is without a doubt the best movie in the Cat III genre. As good as movies like Red To Kill, The Ebola Virus & Her Vengeance are, they just don’t have the same impact as The Untold Story. A film that has stirred up a considerable amount of controversy due to it’s graphically violent content & a very disturbing scene depicting the murder of young children. This is a movie that is deeply shocking & at times very uncomfortable to watch, but it is also a very, very good movie.
Set in Maccau the film starts with Wong Chi Hang fleeing Hong Kong & moving to Maccau & The Eight Immortals restaurant, where he works as chef. After cheating at a game of Mah Jong with his employer, Hang butchers the entire family & takes over the restaurant. He dismembers the bodies of the family & cooks them in the buns he serves at the restaurant. Wong tries unsuccessfully to take legal ownership for the restaurant but can’t due to the owner not being able to sign the paperwork. The police who are investigating some body parts that washed up on a beach begin to get letters from the family of the missing restaurant owner as to his whereabouts. The police visit Wong on several occasions until they feel they have enough circumstantial evidence to arrest Wong & force a confession.
The Untold Story is an incredible film that 18 years after it’s release, has lost none of its power to shock & disturb. Directed by Herman Yau & supposedly based on a true events, The Untold Story grips you from the start & slowly draws you in as the horror unfolds. Prolific actor Anthony Wong is superb as Wong Chi Hang. He brings a constant air of menace to Hang & dominates the movie. His portrayal of a deranged killer is truly frightening. With the police, Yau employs a similar dramatic theme as The Last House On The Left. They are used as a comedic element to provide some light relief from the overriding air of tension & horror that dominates the rest of the movie. I have heard a lot of people criticise The Untold Story over this. I would disagree, the lightening of the movies tone by the police only serves to heighten the tension once Wong is back on screen. The movies’ content is very brutal & graphic. The chopstick rape scene is strong enough, as are the scenes of dismemberment & cannibalism. But it is the flashback to the slaughter of the original owner of The Eight Immortals restaurant & his family that is deeply shocking. Wong uses a meat cleaver to dispatch the family, but not before he has taunted & toyed with them. The children are killed last. This scene is very hard to watch, the young actors look genuinely scared & distressed.
I could continue with some of the themes & audience manipulation techniques that Yau has used in this movie, but I would be revealing too many spoilers. In closing I highly recommend The Untold Story. A shocking & brutal Cat III classic.
“You know I hate red”
Red to kill is one of the better Cat III shockers from Hong Kong probably only eclipsed by The Untold Story. It’s certainly the prolific Cat III director Billy Tang’s best movie. For anyone not familiar with Cat III movies, Cat III was a genre of movies made in Hong Kong in the late 80s-early 90s. In 1988 the government of the time introduced a ratings system. Cat III was an adults only rating. Most Cat III films rely on heavy sexual imagery & violence. From the shockingly brutal & hard to watch but very well made Men Behind The Sun, through the highly exploitive Raped By An Angel series, to the utter lunacy of Riki Oh: The Story Of Riki, Hong Kong’s Cat III directors pretty much threw everything at the screen. Most if I am brutally honest are instantly forgettable.
Chi Wai Chan (Ben Ng) runs a home for the mentally ill, he also hides a dark secret, traumatized as a child, he now loses it when he sees the colour red, becoming a violent rapist. Things come to a head when Ming Ming (Lily Chung) an orphaned girl with a love for dance is brought into the home. After Chan sees Ming Ming twice wearing red, Chan loses it & subjects Ming Ming to a violent assault. Ming Ming breaks down & confides in her social worker & close friend Ka Lok Cheung (Money Lo) & Chan is put on trail for his crime. Due to Ming Ming only having the mental age of a 12yr old, Chan is freed on a technicality. Chan is obsessed with Ming Ming & starts to stalk her which leads to Cheung & Ming Ming plotting revenge on Chan. The final reel of the movie brings the story to a shocking conclusion.
Red to kill is a movie that treads a fine line due to the potential for distaste because of its subject matter. fortunately Tang’s handling of the movie is tasteful, subtle & highly emotionally charged. The characterisation & depth of performance by the cast is outstanding. Both Money Lo & Ben Ng are excellent in their roles, but it is Lily Chung ‘s performance as Ming Ming that is the movies highpoint. A Cat III regular Chung really proves herself as a fine actress. Her portrayal of Ming Ming’s childish innocence & enthusiasm is subtle & completely believable. The scene after her assault when she is in the shower is heartbreaking. Unable to fully understand what has happened to her, in pain & feeling dirty, Ming Ming breaks down. Never has the after effects of this kind of crime been portrayed with such intensity & emotional power. Chung’s performance alone really lifts the movie above the deluge of similarly themed Cat III movies. This movie makes incredibly bleak viewing, there is little in the way of good cheer throughout it’s running time, a trait it shares with most of the better examples of the Cat III genre like the aforementioned The Untold Story, Her Vengeance & Kiss Of Death (yes I know the second film I mentioned is a remake of the third) This is not in my opinion a bad thing. In fact I kind of like my movies grim with either a downbeat ending or one that is left open.
The Cat III genre was short-lived & many of the movies in this genre were forgettable films whose sole reasons for existing seemed to be huge amounts of pointless nudity & violence. If you are new to Cat III films, Red to Kill is not a bad film to start with. Certainly not a film for everyone due to its subject matter. Having said that Red To Kill is not as exploitative as many of the films in this genre. This movie along with The Untold Story stands as the pick of the crop. If you have a strong constitution give it a try.