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December 17th, 2001 Issue #87

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

This month marked the end of an era, as Toronto's last Chinese theatre, the Long Shong I & II, closed its doors, another victim of Hollywood and HK video companies' rapid release policies. For the first time in literally decades, there is now nowhere in Toronto to see HK movies on the big screen, save for occasional showings at rep houses like The Royal. The Aberdeen Centre Theatre in Richmond, British Columbia is now Canada's sole remaining Chinese movie house.

It has been less than a decade since I regularly caught double bills at The Far East Theatre (with its local business ads between features and hovering, ever-present clouds of cigarette smoke) and The Mandarin Theatre (with its upwardly slanting layout and perpertually leaky roof) on Spadina Avenue but it is now beginning to seem like a lifetime. In fact, writing this, I almost feel like an old man telling his grandchildren about some long-forgotten age. We'll always have video but, for those of us who really caught the HK movie bug via regular visits to these long-shuttered venues, things will never quite be the same.

John Charles

The Rapist
(1994; Concept Link Productions)

Cover art courtesy Ocean Shores.

A Masterpiece
Highly Recommended
Very Good
Marginal Recommendation
Not Recommended
Definitely Not Recommended

Cantonese: Tuen Mun sik moh
Mandarin: Tun Men se mo
English: Tuen Mun Rapist


The early 90s saw a rash of nasty Category III True Crime pictures hitting theatres and, while fare like DR. LAMB, THE UNTOLD STORY, LEGAL INNOCENCE, and REMAINS OF A WOMAN have been well documented by Western writers, Cha Chuen-yee's THE RAPIST got lost in the shuffle. Based on a series of sexual assaults in Tuen Mun (also documented in the shot-on-video feature PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL RAPIST, which bears the same Chinese title as this film and was also released in 1994), THE RAPIST deserves its Adults-Only status but is a comparatively subdued police procedural that works fairly well on its level.

Chan Kwok-bong (left) and Lee Kar-sing (right). Image courtesy Ocean Shores.

Organized Crime Bureau officer Lau Man-ching (Chan Kwok-bong) is assigned to the case and finds his work immediately hampered by potential witnesses who refuse to aid in the investigation. Studying the files for the past two years, Lau deduces that the crimes are all the work of one individual and narrows the possible locations of the next attack down to three housing estates. Unfortunately, the police stakeout the wrong building, leaving the culprit (Lee Kar-sing) free to strike again.

Farini Cheung Yui-ling. Image courtesy Ocean Shores.

As with Cha's LEGAL INNOCENCE, there is a bit more style and intelligence than usual on display here and Lau's team (which includes TWENTY SOMETHING's Farini Cheung Yui-ling in the sort of part often played by Emily Kwan Bo-wai) is thankfully not the group of obnoxious idiots found in Danny Lee Sau-yin's productions. The film also benefits from some fine location work in dimly lit apartment building corridors and grimy back alleys, a reasonable degree of suspense during the various stalking sequences, and a competent turn by Lee (whose troubled deviant is depicted in a more realistic fashion than the cartoonish monstrosities usually played by Anthony Wong Chau-sang and Ben Ng Ngai-cheung).

DVD Specs:

Ocean Shores #DV-132
Dolby Digital 2.0
Cantonese and Dubbed Mandarin Language (both post-synched)
Permanent Subtitles In Chinese and English
12 Chapters
Letterboxed (1.70:1)
Coded for ALL Regions
90 Minutes
Contains sexual violence and mid-range violence

Film Board Ratings and Consumer Advice

Hong Kong: III [Passed With Cuts]


As with most Ocean Shores DVDs, the transfer here is the one originally created for the company's laserdisc. Colors tend to be light, contrasts are middling, and dark sequences are sometimes grainy. The print is also afflicted by a dusting of speckles; the Cantonese track is rather noisy and suffers from a brief dropout. There is also no video matte, which causes slight fluctuations in the aspect ratio. Unlike some of the company's discs, this one has chapter stops but there is still no menu and no extras.

THE RAPIST is available at Poker Industries.

Click here for more information about The Hong Kong Filmography

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

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