Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Untold Story (Herman Yau, 1993)

It's official, Anthony Wong is my new favourite actor. Sure, I've only seen him in Herman Yau's The Untold Story (the film I'm currently writing about), and Herman Yau's Taxi Hunter, but based on the sheer intensity he displays in both these movies, I think I can safely declare that he in fact rules. Now, a lot of you are probably wondering why I didn't open with a bit about the insane amount of leggy floozies that appear in this film, or why I didn't open with a snarky remark about Parkman Wong Pak-Man's San Antonio Spurs baseball hat. First of all, I don't make snarky remarks. In fact, my remarks are, for the most part, completely snark-free. And secondly, why would a gruesome tale about a psychotic restaurant owner who murders men, women and children, chops up their bodies into tiny little pieces and then serves them to his customers have leggy floozies? I'm just messing with you, this film is filled with leggy floozies. And I don't feel guilty at all for calling them leggy floozies. They're leggy, they're floozies and they're ready to party.
All kidding aside, the inclusion of so many leggy floozies just goes to show why I consider pre-handover Hong Kong cinema to be superior to all other types of cinema. Filled with bizarre shifts in tone, kooky subplots, chopstick rape, unaware cannibalism, highly inappropriate humour and grisly violence (the kind that would make Lucio Fulci stop and say, "Mamma Mia, dat iz, uh, how you say? some really fucked up shit), The Untold Story was able to earn the fullness of my attention with a breathtaking ease.
I've noticed that my interest in films has been gradually waning over the past few months. Itching for most films to hurry up and finish already, I've been wading through  a lot of dreck that's not even worth reviewing. Some of you might be thinking to yourself: Aren't the majority of the films you review not worth reviewing? Ah, just because a film is awful, doesn't mean it's not worth reviewing. No, the film's I'm talking about are neither good or bad, they're just plain bland.
Well, long story short, The Untold Story managed to briefly rekindle my love of cinema, as, like I said earlier, it contains everything I like. Of course, I don't mean to imply that I "like" watching little kids brutally murdered with a meat clever. What I think I meant to say is, I like it when movies aren't afraid to show the gory unpleasantness of close quarter child homicide. Yet, as much as I appreciate arterial spray, even I had to wonder if showing a crying five year-old spew neck blood all over his assailant's face was a little too much.
(Hey, enough about dead children...) Aw, man, some of the kids are doing cadaveric spasms. (What did I just say? Let's get back to discussing what's important, and that is the pantyhose-adorned plethora of leggy floozies Danny Lee hooks up with in this movie.)
Okay, I'll do that. But first, I'd like to inquire as to why Bo (Emily Kwan), a desperate to please female lady cop who works for the Macau police department, is dressed in army fatigues. I think I just answered my inquiry when I described Bo as "desperate to please." In other words, I think the reason Bo dresses the way she does is because she wants to be taken seriously as a female lady cop.
You could also say the reason Bo wears men's clothes is because if she didn't, her male co-workers would be hitting on her around the clock.
Don't believe me? Just ask the armada of leggy floozies who accompany Danny Lee's Officer Lee to the office, as they're inundated with untoward advances. Except, they're not really "untoward advances," are they? Leggy floozies want you to hit on them, it's what they're there for.
Anyway, Danny Lee's Officer Lee doesn't just bring leggy floozies to the office, he brings them to crime scenes too.
After some kids discover a bag of severed human limbs washed up on a beach, a group of detectives, the aforementioned Bo (who is wearing, like I said, army fatigues), Robert (Eric Kei Ka-Fat), King Kong (Lam King-Kong) and Bull (Parkman Wong Pak-Man), get in an argument over who's going remove the severed limbs from the beach.
As their argument is about to come to blows, Danny Lee's Officer Lee shows up, with a leggy floozie in yellow hot pants on his arm, and gets the investigative ball rolling by ordering them to take the body parts back to the lab.
Meanwhile, at a nearby restaurant, the establishment's new owner, Wong Chi-Hang (Anthony Wong), is cutting up a pig with a meat clever. Hmmm, I wonder if he's connected to the body parts from the beach? What am I saying? Of course he's connected.
Identifying the people who used to be attached to the severed limbs is proving difficult for the detectives (the limbs are rotten).
Even if they could get usable fingerprints from the severed hand, it would be impossible for the detectives to concentrate on their work. (Don't tell me, Danny Lee's Officer Lee has brought another leggy floozy to the office?) That's right, he has. And get this, she's a white chick. (All right, it's official, Danny Lee's Officer Lee is a pimp.)
Noticing that Robert, Bull and King Kong are salivating over the leggy floozy's large tits, Bo starts to feel self-conscious about her lack heft in the bra department.
Perfectly encapsulating the film's twisted sense of humour, one of the male detectives tells Bo that even if the leggy floozy currently skanking up a storm in the office got breast cancer and had to have half her tits surgically removed, Bo's tiny boobs would still be inferior to that of the mammarily reduced leggy floozy.
Getting nowhere fast, Bo gets an idea. No, this idea has nothing with tracking down a lead, she gets an idea after watching Danny Lee's Officer Lee leave the office with yet another leggy floozy, a slinky whore in a floral-style mini-dress.
While Bo is busy noodling with her idea, Wong Chi-Hang is cutting up another pig. Wait, that's not a pig, that's the cook he just hired. After the new cook accuses him of cheating at mahjong, Wong Chi-Hang decides to kill him. However, instead of dumping his body in the ocean (like a normal person), Wong Chi-Hang uses the cook's body to make cha siu bao (buns filled with barbecue-flavoured cha siu pork). Except instead of being filled with barbecue-flavoured cha siu pork, they're filled with barbecue-flavoured cha siu people.
Seriously, Danny Lee's Officer Lee should really think about leaving the leggy floozies at home. I mean, how is anyone supposed to get any work done? Hold up, that's no leggy floozy, that's Bo!!!
Wearing a tight mini-dress (covered in a black and purple diamond pattern), Bo wields her black nylon-adorned gams like a pair of shapely batons. Beating the men over the head with said gams (metaphorically, of course), Bo seems to be enjoying her new-found status as a leggy floozy.
Her enjoyment, however, is short-lived when the detectives get a break in the case. It would seem that the family that used to own Wong Chi-Hang's restaurant have relatives on the mainland. And these relatives are constantly sending letters to Macau inquiring about their whereabouts. Well, this leads the detectives to Wong Chi-Hang's restaurant.
Told to stop being a leggy floozy, Bo and her co-workers head over to have a "chat" with Wong Chi-Hang.
You would think that Danny Lee's Officer Lee would have put a moratorium on parading leggy floozies through the office–you know, since they're this close to catching a serial killer. But no, Danny Lee's Officer Lee brings another leggy floozy to work. Not counting Bo's brief stint as a leggy floozy, he brings a total of four leggy floozies to the workplace.
Fake bemoaning aside, it's a good thing the film had leggy floozies. Think about it, imagine if it didn't. That's right, if it didn't, we'd be talking about one of the sickest movies of all-time. Don't get me wrong, the film is still sick. It's just that the leggy floozies, and a couple of other factors, managed to mollify some of the film's more grisly aspects.
Of course, there's no way to mollify the scene where Wong Chi-Hang murders five small children. This sequence has to be the most heinous act ever to be captured on film. I don't know what it is about the Hong Kong sensibility that allows such barbarism to be shown, but there's nothing I think of that comes to topping the gruesomeness of the child murder scene in The Untold Story. I feel bad about ending this on such a dour note, but the last thirty minutes are brutal. Let me put it this way, it makes Red to Kill and Run and Kill look like walks in the motherhumpin' park compared to this.


  1. The first cat III movie I ever watched and still the best!
    Too bad the sequels suck..