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October 27th, 2000 Issue #22

Hong Kong Digital is a recurring series of movie reviews by John Charles -- a film reviewer for Video Watchdog magazine and the author of The Hong Kong Filmography.

Untouchable Mania
(2000; Hoi Fung Films Production Co.) 4/10

Cover art courtesy Mei Ah.

Chut tiu ming

Qi tao ming

Seven Lives

Danny Lee Sau-yin. Image courtesy Mei Ah.

Thanks to his award-winning performance in 1984's LAW WITH TWO PHASES, Danny Lee Sau-yin became typecast as HK's premiere movie cop. However, by the early 90s, audience tastes had shifted and Lee responded by appearing in (and in some cases, producing or directing) the frank Category III thrillers DR. LAMB, THE UNTOLD STORY, RUN AND KILL, and TWIST. Wing Chow Chan-wing's UNTOUCHABLE MANIA occupies a sort of middle ground, adhering somewhat to the same formula but only including as many exploitation elements as the IIB rating will allow.

Remus Mook Cheung-sing (left) and Mark "Psycho Boy" Cheng Ho-Nam (right). Image courtesy Mei Ah.

For all of his criminal activities, small fry triad Keith (Remus Mook Cheung-sing) is actually a reasonably nice guy, saving neighbour Cee (CONSPIRACY's Bessy Chan Ming-kwan) from being raped one evening. However, his boss catches him using money collected from unlucky gamblers to pay off his own debts and gives Keith a severe beating. Trying to track down a PR girl who owes part of the cash, Keith hooks up with hostess May (NAKED POISON'S Sophie Ngan Chin-man) who takes him to Cheung Chau Island, ostensibly to find her colleague. After the two rent a room and have sex, Keith decides to steal May's jewels as a way of re-paying his boss but she catches him in the act. During their subsequent fight, the building's creepy owner (Mark Cheng Ho-nam, whose character is not given a name in the subtitles) enters the room and proceeds to beat the girl to death. Panicking, Keith goes along with his plan to dispose of the body and soon finds himself under the control of this psychopath (who lost the use of his sai lo a few years earlier when a victim stabbed him in the crotch with a broken bottle, leaving him a frustrated voyeur who spies on his guests).

Mark Cheng Ho-nam, Simon Lui Yu-yeung, and Bessy Chan Ming-kwan (left to right). Image courtesy Mei Ah.

Things take an even grimmer turn when Cee shows up drunk at the hotel with a thug (Simon Lui Yu-yeung, still doing his damnedest to appear in every movie released this year) who tries to rape her, prompting Keith to storm into the room and kill him. As Cee is a witness, the owner wants to eliminate the girl as well but Keith has secretly loved her for a long time, leading to inevitable murderous conflict. Meanwhile, rumpled Tsimshatsui homicide detective Li (Lee) starts investigating when May's body washes ashore, not realizing that he has had a previous run-in with this killer, which resulted in the death of a fellow officer.

UNTOUCHABLE MANIA (referred to as UNTOUCHABLE MANIAC in some write-ups) does not exactly score many points on the credibility front and there are some groan-inducing coincidences, particularly the one in the final minutes. Still, it does defy expectations in some ways, and Cheng is able to deliver a quirky variation on his usual seething psycho routine. That's not really enough to recommend the movie but, if you are inclined to watch this sort of HK action thriller sleaze anyway, chances are that you have probably suffered through far worse in the last ten months.

Remus Mook and Sophie Ngan Chin-man. Image courtesy Mei Ah.


DVD Specs:

Mei Ah #DVD-286
Dolby Digital (5.1 and 2.1 options)
Cantonese and Mandarin language tracks
Optional subtitles in English and Chinese (Traditional and Simplified)
9 Chapters Illustrated in the Menu with Stills
Letterboxed (1.71:1)
Coded for ALL Regions
Category IIB
91 minutes

DVD menu courtesy Mei Ah.

The presentation looks nice, with a sharp image, deep blacks, and clean source material. There are a few fleeting compression flaws but not nearly as many as usual for Mei Ah and the disc ranks among their better recent releases. The sound has been given the usual 5.1 remix but with better results than usual, offering an improvement on the mono track, despite only mild stereo separations; the Mandarin tracks are less satisfying. Extras consist of the theatrical trailer and a rather odd one for PEACE HOTEL (Mei Ah's new version replaces the now-discontinued Fitto Mobile DVD).

Bessy Chan Ming-kwan. Image courtesy Mei Ah.

Copyright © John Charles 2000. All Rights Reserved.

Hong Kong Digital is presented in association with Hong Kong Entertainment News In Review