Hong Kong Digital is sponsored by ...
Please see the Hong Kong Digital home page for a special offer from Poker Industries to Hong Kong Digital readers.

July 16th, 2001 Issue #65

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.

The following review is excerpted from The Hong Kong Filmography. Information on the DVD, written specifically for Hong Kong Digital, follows.

Chinese Torture Chamber Story
(1994; Cameron Entertainment / Wong Jing's Workshop): 4/10

Cover art courtesy Universe.

Moon ching sap dai huk ying

Man qing shi da ku xing

The Ching Dynasty's Ten Most Cruel Punishments

Yuen King-tan (left) and Yvonne Yung Hung (right). Image courtesy Universe.

Cinematographer: Tony Miu Kin-fai
Art Director: Wong Kar-lang
Writer: Cheuk Bing
Producer: Wong Jing
Director: Bosco Lam Hing-lung
Cast: Yvonne Yung Hung (Little Cabbage), Lawrence Ng Kai-wah (Yang Ni-mu), Tommy Wong Kwong-leung (Got Siu-tai), Elvis Tsui Kam-kong (Win Chung-lung), Julie Lee Wah-yuet (Ki Dan-fung), Yuen King-tan (Nanny), Lee Siu-kei (Supreme Court Judge)
VHS: Tai Seng
Import LD: Cameron Entertainment, Mei Ah Gold
Import VCD: Mei Ah
92 minutes

Tommy Wong Kwong-leung and Yvonne Yung Hung. Image courtesy Universe.

One of the most infamous Category III films, CHINESE TORTURE CHAMBER STORY pulls the viewer in multiple directions at once, freely mixing stomach churning sadism and over-the-top gore with exuberant softcore sex and comedy ranging from childish to incredibly bizarre. Maiden Little Cabbage is brought before the local magistrate, after she is found covered in blood beside the dead body of her husband, Got Siu-tai. The man died after consuming a kind of super aphrodisiac which caused his already immense penis to explode! Flashbacks reveal how Little Cabbage was hired to be a maid in the home of scholar Yang Ni-mu. After accidentally catching her mistress cheating on Ni-mu with the evil Lau Hoi-sing, Little Cabbage was married off to the homely Siu-tai (whose member is so huge that ejaculation could prove to be fatal to his partners!). When Hoi-sing tries to take advantage of Little Cabbage, he is severely beaten by Siu-tai, setting in motion the events that led to the present court case.

Elvis Tsui Kam-kong (left) and Julie Lee Wah-yuet (right). Image courtesy Universe.

Produced using sets and costumes left over from the Stephen Chiau comedy HAIL THE JUDGE, this Wong Jing production can be accused of a lot of things -- but few would call it boring. Particularly memorable is a send-up of the pottery wheel scene in Ghost, accompanied (as in the American film) by "Unchained Melody," played here on Chinese instruments (after witnessing what goes on here, you'll never be able to think of that song again without laughing and / or wincing)! Also unforgettable is a sex scene between C-III regulars Elvis Tsui and Julie Lee. Playing martial arts masters, the two engage in wild, gravity-defying sexual stances like "Invincible Mouth," "Oral Attack," "Invincible Wheel," and "Wonder Screw," with their superhuman pelvic slamming accompanied by video game-style sound FX! Obviously not for all tastes, the film can be marginally enjoyable if approached in the right frame of mind (assuming that is at all possible) but some all-too-serious misogyny, torture, and sexual violence make parts very hard to endure and negatively color the entire experience. Director Bosco Lam went on to write the original story for VIVA EROTICA, and clips from TORTURE CHAMBER appear in that film during a sequence where Leslie Cheung and Law Kar-ying go to the movies. The unrelated (and far less financially successful) CHINESE TORTURE CHAMBER STORY II followed in 1998.

Yvonne Hung and Lawrence Ng. Image courtesy Universe.

DVD Specs:

Universe #5311
Dolby Digital 2.0
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Optional Subtitles In English or Chinese (Traditional or Simplified)
8 Chapters Illustrated In the Menu With Clips
Letterboxed (1.83:1)
Category III (Brutal Violence, Sexual Violence, Torture, Sexual Content)
93 Minutes

DVD menu courtesy Universe.

In the time since I wrote the above review, the film passed from Mei Ah to Universe and the latter company has now issued it on DVD. This new transfer runs a bit longer, restoring a few scant seconds originally snipped by HK censors (HK video releases do not necessarily have to be the version approved by the censors, though they usually always are, save for an occasional exception like Mei Ah's FULL CONTACT and Mega Star's NAKED KILLER). The image is a little soft but the print is cleaner than the Mei Ah version and colors are fairly vibrant. Some smearing and displacement can be detected and the sound is not stereo (as listed on the packaging) but a passable mono. Extras consist of a trailer and Star Files on Yvonne Yung and Lawrence Ng. Looking at the movie again for the first time in several years, my opinion remains the same: it's got something to offend everyone but some of the humor hits the mark and, on a certain level, you have to admire the sheer effrontery displayed by the filmmakers.

Lawrence Ng. Image courtesy Universe.

Click here for more information about The Hong Kong Filmography

Copyright © John Charles 2000, 2001. All Rights Reserved.
E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com

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