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.
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
(1994; Concept Link Productions)
Cover art courtesy Ocean Shores.
Definitely Not Recommended
Mun sik moh
Men se mo
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
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).
Ocean Shores #DV-132
Dolby Digital 2.0
Cantonese and Dubbed Mandarin Language (both post-synched)
Permanent Subtitles In Chinese and English
Coded for ALL Regions
Contains sexual violence and mid-range violence
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