Asian Movie Archaeologist

This is what Paul Fonoroff called himself on the cover that I took from his surprisingly short Facebook fan-page. Anyway, here are his reviews of two Wong Jing movies that can’t be found online – starting with a literally blue movie…

On Friday, February 12, 1999, South China Morning Post positively printed Paul’s review (which can’t be found online) of Raped by an Angel 4: The Rapist’s Union (強姦終極篇之最後羔羊):

“The fourth, and still as tawdry. Although the title may not live up to the lofty sleaze of its predecessor, chapter four offers as many guilty pleasures as any installment of the series. This is director/producer/scriptwriter Wong Jing doing what he does best – unpretentious and politically incorrect. Hardly a date movie but it is the kind of picture to see with a group of friends in the mood for entertainment.”

Paul highlights the fast-paced nature of the release:

“As is the case with so many Wong Jing films, there is a topical quality as if it had just been shot yesterday (it probably was). The first rape takes place on a minibus where the calendar reads January 16, 1999. Later, the protagonists are outside a cinema with When I Look Upon The Stars (a romantic Dante Lam movie which was released last month) on the marquee. There is not much delay between getting the film stock into the can and onto the big screen.”

Paul knows where to draw the line:

“Rape is not condoned, but neither is it depicted with any insight or maturity. The picture is tawdry fun because it is not meant to be taken seriously, especially when the cops seek help from a rape specialist.”

Paul indirectly explains why Jing has been described as an evil genius:

“The rape specialist seems to have a monopoly on such roles. This seemingly mild-mannered intellectual committed the crime of abducting pregnant women to drink their milk and then set them free. Now reformed and released from prison, he works as a projectionist in a porn theater, permitting him to both control his sex drive and learn foreign languages. For better or for worse, things like this can only happen in a Wong Jing movie.”

Like what another critic said, Jing knows how to make a cheap film look expensive. I rate the movie as 7/10. This means that it’s good. In my opinion, the movie redefines the meaning of blue movie by choosing to imbue a blue hue. In that regard, it could be classified as one of his few arthouse films. If it had more sociological insight and personal ingenuity, I would bestow upon it a higher rating. With that said, it’s still better than Andy Warhol’s Blue Movie (1969). In that respect, it’s too bad that Andy didn’t live from 1969 to 1999. Jing’s film stands out, in particular, because other directors are usually credited for his erotic scripts.

When I was reading a book titled Dying for Action: The Life and Films of Jackie Chan (1997), Jing was mentioned in a 1996 quote from Jackie about the state of H.K. films during that time. Jackie said: Seven days – one movie. They make just very local movies. Whenever the news comes out – Man Rapes 11 Girls – somebody, Wong Jing, already releases a movie: Man Rapes 11 Girls. Gets fast money in seven days, cheating the public. In Hong Kong, all movies are going down. Top Ten are all American movies; never happened before. Now everything is American movies.

On Friday, June 11, 1999, South China Morning Post printed a review (which can’t be found online) of Body Weapon (原始武器) starring Angie Cheung (張慧儀). Paul Fonoroff said:

“Cult classic of sexploitation. Sometimes it seems that Hong Kong cinema would not exist without the prolific Wong Jing. It has been two weeks since a Wong production was reviewed here, but movie fans in need of a fix need not fear. His latest contribution to Cantonese celluloid, a tawdry tale of rape, is typical of the producer’s Raped by an Angel series. Body Weapon is basically the same kinds of fantasies that pay lip service to the evils of rape while attempting to titillate a certain segment of the audience.”

Paul isn’t as snarky about it as he may seem to be:

“Directed by Aman Chang, and with a script credited to Cheung Kwok-Yuen but with the producer’s fingerprints throughout, Body Weapon is a candidate for the Cult Film Hall of Fame. A low-budget mixture of sex, laughs and drama but the blend is not outrageous enough to top many of Wong’s previous efforts (Naked Killer is a prime example). But for viewers unfamiliar with Wong’s oeuvre, Body Weapon provides a measure of guilty pleasures.”

Paul confesses as to what they are:

“Chief among them is the way that policewoman Chan Siu-Ling (played by Angie Cheung Wai-Yee) uses her body as a lethal weapon. Officer Chan is not shy about her voluptuous figure, as witnessed by the outfits she wears on the job. She is the friend of two colleagues who happen to be best friends. The two friends vie for her love. She finally makes her choice, and the wedding night is a real howler – rarely does one see so much faked passion squeezed into three minutes.”

Alas, there are more:

“This is just a preview to nasty perversions when the honeymoon frolics are abruptly halted by an unholy trio, the leader of which wears a leather mask. The groom is murdered and the bride is raped. These are the same three deviants who molest, torture and butcher a couple in the film’s opening. It is the very case that occupies her best friends when they are not wooing her.”

Paul reveals a flaw:

“The masked killer’s identity is not a secret; the audience figures it out about a half-hour before the film-makers make the brilliant revelation. The mystery is the motive for the first murders. It makes no sense in light of what we learn about the ringleader, particularly his homosexual secret. One would accuse Body Weapon of gay-bashing if the film’s heterosexuals were not treated with equal irreverence.”

Paul describes how this movie is similar to the old Kung Fu movies:

“The highlight for campy humour comes from Pearl, an orange-haired chap (another gay stereotype), who teaches the widow how to become so seductive that she can trap the men who killed her husband. Pearl, banana in hand, lectures Siu-Ling about the male G-spot and how to assault it with high-heeled kicks. The lessons come in handy during the grand climax (no pun intended).”

Paul reviews the latter:

“Trapped by the gay madman in a dimly lit gymnasium, Siu-Ling strips down to her panties and rolls around on the floor, the wind gently blowing her hair (the hidden fans are never revealed or maybe it’s the villain’s delusion). The gyrations are meant to fill him with lust so that he lowers his guard and thus leaves his G-spot vulnerable to attack. There is a far greater possibility that the ridiculous spectacle will make him die laughing. It certainly permits the viewer to exit with a smirk.”

Angie Cheung had this to say about working with the star of Body Weapon in the October 2000 issue of Hong Kong Superstars (the last issue that I was given before the company folded):

“He was a very nice man. He didn’t talk that much between shots but we got on really well. He comes across as very serious in his work, especially when he was doing his fight scenes.”

My miniature review: I thought that the movie could have very well done with Clarence Fok Yiu-Leung doing more than just play the gay role – he should have directed.

Final thoughts: I’m surprised that no-one thought about hiring Aman Chang to direct an erotic thriller starring Shannon Tweed – the queen of softcore cinema. Given how she shares the same birthday as Chuck Norris, there was a missed opportunity to make a movie that appeals to U.S. fans of martial arts movies and erotica. Retired porn stars do many things but I have yet to see a retired star go on to be a star of martial arts or action movies (I don’t just mean being the lead…but actually gaining fans this way).

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