So for our second film in this little trawl through the bowels of the Hong Kong film scene, we come across a film that is surprisingly a bit of an international hit, certainly getting a couple of UK DVD releases back in the day, riding that “Asian Extreme” wave. I did see it back then, but to be honest, it had little effect on me, so it was interesting to see it again. Fascinatingly, you will come across some glowing reviews of this film online – giving it some props as maybe an intentional comedy maybe, and forgiving a lot in return for the naked flesh on display. I’m not going to be so kind.
In “Naked Killer”, a series of murders have been taking place, the only link being the corruption of the bodies, specifically the genitals. Cop Tinam (Simon Yam) has recently returned to duty, after accidently killing his brother in a shoot out. He has some theories that the killer might not only be female, but also that there might be a gang of them. However, his mental state is rather suspect and he is ignored. Even better, even holding a gun now makes him physically sick! He meets a feisty young girl called Kitty (Chingmy Yau) at a hairdressers where she is exacting revenge on a cheating boyfriend of an acquaintance of hers by stabbing him in the crotch with a pair of scissors. Wondering if this might be a clue, he pursues her, but although he fails, the pair strike up a flirtatious relationship. She then disappears when she exacts revenge on the man that killed her father, and is taken under the wing of Sister Cindy (Wai Yiu), who starts to train her as a hitman. Tinam and Kitty meet again, and although she insist she is not Kitty, they again embark on a relationship. However, at the same time, another one of Sister Cindy’s girls (Carrie Ng) is back in town with a brief to take out her mentor and replacement.
I cannot believe quite how awful this was. I will start by saying it is rather stylishly filmed, and the girls are very pretty in their various states of undress. The rest of the film though is just a really awkward combination of “Basic Instinct” and “Vertigo”. With a side order of lipstick lesbianism and an obsession with penis mutilation.
It really is subtle as a tin of SPAM. The victims all have their penises removed. Men get shot and stabbed in the penis regularly. One character is not only called “Dickhead”, but he accidently eats a penis. It is crass and silly. Worse though is the symbolism that the film tries to use – Tinam can’t use his “gun” – see what they did there? Except, instead of leave it as symbolism, they have him say to “Dickhead” that he is impotent. You know, as if we didn’t get it earlier.
The storytelling is utterly confused, jumping from scene to scene with abandon, never quite letting the story hang together. I’m pretty sure we never actually see Kitty act as a hitwoman, but we are told how good she is. The Police force are shown as utterly useless (not a unique thing in Hong Kong cinema I agree), but how on earth can Tinam be allowed to have a gun, if he is so mentally ill? The “romance” such as it is seems to be based on nothing more than lust, which really doesn’t balance out the feelings that the characters seem to be talking about.
There is a lot more nakedness going on that in “Naked Weapon”, but probably not much more than you would see in most Western Pop videos, and the sex is oddly stylised and frankly un-erotic. Chingmy Yau is actually a lot of fun, and I guess she was right at home in this kind of film, so the twinkle in her eye is a knowing one. Simon Yam on the other hand has done much better work.
And then there is the final scene, which whilst nicely apocalyptic, utterly negates what happens 5 minutes before. Not wanting to spoil it, but milk WAS not only mentioned, but shown. And why did she turn the gas on? It is just clumsy and confusing.
So whilst I can see that people might laud this film for its message of strong women, it really is nothing more than cheap exploitation. Which in itself is not a bad thing, but the gloss really hides a really empty and charmless movie, that struggles to cleanly tell what again could be a half decent story. The Writer? Wong Jing of course. There is at least some nakedness, and a lot of killing. So I suppose I can’t accuse it of lying.