*/**** Image B+ Sound B Extras C
starring Chingmy Yau, Simon Yam, Carrie Ng, Kelly Yiu
screenplay by Wong Jing
directed by Fok Yiu Leung
by Walter Chaw Ah, 1992. What a year for Wong Jing, as no fewer than seven of his excrescent scripts were produced and Hong Kong's answer to Jess Franco found himself behind the camera on a staggering eight more pictures. It just can't come as any surprise that there's something like creative fatigue evidenced in the man's career, and though he didn't direct Naked Killer (that dishonour fell to Fok Yiu Leung, a.k.a. Clarence Fok), the picture is only marginally better than such Wong-helmed garbage as City Hunter and Royal Tramp--mainly because it's not quite as cartoonish. A case has been made for this film being an obliterating feminist picture along the lines of I Spit on Your Grave or Mother's Day, and indeed, a tale of a band of lesbian seductress assassins who practice their deadly arts on a basement-full of rapists has the potential to say smart things about an important topic. But the execution is so unwatchable and coy that it's hard to embrace Naked Killer as either political or tellingly exploitative.
Kitty (Yau Chingmy) is a man-hating serial killer who marks her victims by stabbing them repeatedly in the groin. A Category 3 film that has more shots of women demurely covering their breasts like holy relics than anything genuinely steamy, Naked Killer proceeds apace with Kitty recruited by lesbian killer Sister Cindy (Madoka Sugawara) to hone her misanthropic tendencies into a highly-trained killing machine. Meanwhile, impotent cop Tinam (Simon Yam) is hot on the trail, if you know what I mean (and I think that you do).
So there's a lot of soft-porn, no-nudity stuff, lots of overblown action sequences shot with an alien sense of humour, and lots of terrible dialogue that doesn't do anything to forward the film or justify its cult status. I wonder if the popularity of Naked Killer as a camp classic isn't inspired in some part by the belief that when Chinese people make terrible pictures, they aren't so much garbage as wacky and quaint; in the interests of cultural equality, however, I'd like to state for the record that bad movies are bad in any language, and Naked Killer, for all its hints at subtext, is just bad. And while I seem to be able to forgive the screaming lunacy of John Woo and Ringo Lam, the same can't be said for me for Wong's cheapo knock-off trash.
All the same, there's something to be said for Fox DVD's respectful presentation of the film: historians take note that this Fortune Star transfer is the most preferable yet, even if the source materials don't appear to be entirely unedited. The 1.85:1 anamorphic video looks fantastic, with Fok's lurid colour palette duly honoured and edge enhancement kept to a minimum. Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mixes in Cantonese and dubbed English are nearly identical save for the latter being slightly goofier than the former--the rear channels don't get much of a workout except during a few of the fight scenes (which aren't showcase material, after all, but not bad).
Talking-heads with Wong, Yam, and Fok are discursive and occasionally bizarre--Yam is almost incomprehensible and Wong offers his little Franco-esque bon mots about how movies are, essentially, for idiots, which sounds like something that an idiot would say. Most interesting is that for all the self-congratulation with regards to the trio having made a feminist film, none of the female stars are interviewed. Probably the most entertaining segment of the DVD is an extensive trailer selection that includes good Hong Kong films like Hong Kong 1941 and Magnificent Butcher, along with other films of varying quality: Magnificent Warriors, City Hunter, The Transporter, Kiss of the Dragon, and Heart of Dragon. Rounding out the platter: a "Hong Kong Beauty Stars" animated picture gallery scored with the same sort of abhorrent techno-crap that plagues the film; a stills gallery that's brief and nudity-free, too; a few promotional stills, posters, and lobby cards; two trailers (a theatrical one and a "new" one); and a "Production Notes" segment--essentially a synopsis followed by perfunctory cast and crew biographies. Originally published: January 29, 2004.
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