(aka: Naked Killer 2; Legal Rape; Super Rape)
Directed by Andrew Lau Wai Keung
Produced by Wong Jing
Starring Chingmy Yau Suk Ching, Simon Yam Tat Wah, Mark Cheng Ho Nam, Jacqueline Ng Suet Man, Nick Cheung Kar Fei, Dennis Chan Kwok San, Lee Siu Kei, Linda Cheung Lan Ying, Joey Fan Oi Kit, Yip Sin Yee
You were MAJORLY disappointed when MIA's Hong Kong Classics released "Naked Killer 2" in a version shorn of just over 11 minutes, right? Well, now Universe Laser & Video have given you chance to see the film virtually uncut (more on that soon), under its much more exploitative Hong Kong title, "Raped By An Angel". Hell, they've even patterned its sleeve design after the film's incredibly controversial cinema-release poster image (that resulted in the poster being banned in several Asian territories). The big question is: Is it any good? And more importantly, how does it hold up against the original "Naked Killer"? As it is NOT a sequel to "Naked Killer" (even though it pairs that film's leads again), the latter question becomes immediately irrelevant. The question of its quality is the more pressing issue, and one that proves extremely problematic. Okay, well not that problematic, but I'm not about to lounge back and justify viewing a film whose central thematic element is that of "rape". I do it for the greater good of genre fans who read this site…
Yuk Nam (Yau) and Man Man (Ng) are a pair of stunningly attractive advertising models, who gain widespread notice for an outrageous advertising campaign for the oddly named product "Fitty Milk" (I think it should have been "Fitness Milk"). The ad spot attracts the attention of deviant lawyer Mark Chuck (Cheng), who rapidly develops an unhealthy fascination with Yuk. Whilst researching a paper on triads for her university professor, Yuk stumbles across small time crook Tat (Yam), who makes it his mission to sweep her off her feet (prevalent HK plot device, that one!). But whilst Yuk and Tat are off playing silly courting rituals, Chuck has leveled his twisted attentions to Yuk's flatmate Man. Trouble is afoot…
Constructing an elaborate masquerade, Chuck sets up the outward appearance of a (fantasy) relationship with Man, all the while plotting to rape and humiliate her as a means of snaring Yuk (Told you this was twisted!). Chuck achieves his nefarious sexual ends, leaving Man horrifically emotionally scarred. When Man blows the whistle on Chuck, the case ends up in the courts, but Chuck's elaborate façade swings the jury in his favour. Now fervently pissed off, Chuck murders Man, setting his sights on his intended target. But Yuk and Tat have the jump on him, hatching their own revenge plot that may finally put an end to his twisted desires. The only drawback is…Yuk becomes the bait.
Erm, there's no nice way to confront this one. Wong Jing's screenplay is riddled with juvenile humour, film parody, AIDS references, and (of course) bitterly repulsive rape scenarios. Although curtailed by minimal cuts (see below), Chuck's predilection for anal sex, and the character of Cindy (Yip, essaying an old friend of Yau's who has contracted AIDS from her American boyfriend), make it painfully apparent where Wong was coming from. The schizophrenic nature of the film may make this a particularly distasteful experience for some viewers as one moment we have our faces pushed in a disgusting rape, the next we are assailed by a plethora of sex jokes and insane Chinese slapstick.
Hong Kong horror is an acquired taste, which certainly takes some time adjusting to. Lau, a former Director of Photography, washes his screen with Argento-esque lighting and colour schemes, giving a brazenly bizarre stylish flavour to the sordid subject matter. Yam and Cheng over-act wildly, while Yau is given little more to do than act as window dressing (which is most off-putting, as she's the primary character). Collectively, it's standard Hong Kong horror fare: a repulsive subject matter given the "palatable" treatment by drenching it in MTV stylings, and laying on the goofball humour in an attempt to diffuse the parade of horrors on show. Add to that a cast of incredibly attractive actresses and you've got a work of voyeuristic fetishism that will amuse some, but offend most everyone else.
Universe's disc is a HUGE improvement over China Star's original disc release of the film. While both discs exhibit a more than satisfactory image for a film of this nature, Universe win out in a number of areas (apart from the fact that China Star's disc is now deleted). Those areas? Optional subtitles (China Star utilised a print with burned-in, often illegible, subs), a crisper image and deeper colours, a new 5.1 remix of the original monaural audio (that is pleasantly quite subdued in comparison to some Chinese discs), English menus, Star files, and the film's theatrical trailer. My only warning is a rather amusing one: although we now have Optional subtitles NONE of the film's original "hex errors" (as ex-pat Stefan Hammond coined them) or grammatical errors have been corrected! This makes for extremely entertaining reading ("get me a clipper, I will clip out her tits!" being one of my faves)! Let's face it, you need a laugh or two to compensate for the sordid, sleazy atmosphere that producer Wong and director Lau create!
Andrew Lau's "Raped By An Angel" is a perfect indicator of where Hong Kong's "true crime" Category III genre was at when it was in full stride (circa 1992 to 1994), and about as far removed from his later special effects extravaganzas ("Storm Riders", "A Man Called Hero") as you could ever expect. Had anyone said to me at the time that in five years Lau would be the hottest ticket in Hong Kong cinema, based upon this outing I would have had my doubts. And serious ones they would have been at that. As it stands though, with nearly a decade to look back upon, Lau's film is no better or worse than the majority of graphic thrillers that preceded and post-dated it. It is a polished, glossy and garish work, albeit pervaded by an extremely nasty edge, which holds up well against the stalwarts of the genre. Although no "Doctor Lam" or "Red To Kill" it definitely pushes the right buttons to place it up there as a feisty cousin to said cult shockers. It pushes the envelope well past its Western counterparts…
*Oh yeah, the censorship thing…sad to say (for some), but Universe's disc, like Chinastar's before it, is about as close as we'll ever get to seeing "Raped By An Angel" in its uncut form. Yes, the BBFC did request nearly 7 minutes of cuts even though MIA had pre-cut the film by over 4 minutes, and yes…Australian censors only requested 4 minutes of cuts to make the film acceptable for an R (18+) classification. Universe's print runs 95m14s, which is the original length of the version submitted in both territories but there were cuts requested by the Hong Kong censor to allow the film to pass with a Category III. The cuts aren't hard to spot (music cues 'jump' awkwardly) but for those that must know: references to anal rape, forced oral sex, and the details of the chainsaw dismemberment and subsequent acid purging of the body parts have all been significantly reduced. I, for one, do not miss their exclusion, as the film packs a more than ample gut-punch with what remains than blowing out into unconscionable sadism.
Review by M.C.Thomason
|Released by Universe Laser & Video|
|Category III - Region 0|
|Running time - 95m|
|Ratio - Widescreen 1.85|
|Audio - Dolby 5.1|
|Trailer; Star files; Attractions trailers|