Tuesday, August 21, 2007

THE UNTOLD STORY (1993) Movie Review


In Macau, the discovery of some severed limbs in the bay begin an investigation by the local inept police department. Through sheer luck, they discover clues that lead them to the Eight Immortals Restaurant, and the cook/owner Wong Chi-Hang (Anthony Wong). They believe that Wong may be guilty of killing the family, and when they discover the shred of evidence they need, they arrest him, and through unrelenting police beatings, Wong finally submits and tells his tale. But what he tells them, which includes the horrific murders of the family, and what he did with the bodies, is beyond anything they are prepared to hear.

Deftly mixing extreme gore, shocking brutality, the blackest of humor, and lowbrow comedy that can only come from Hong Kong, writer/director Herman Yau cooks up a dish that is the perfect recipe for cult status. Most shocking of all, though, is that the tale of Wong Chi-Hang is based on a true story, which Yau investigated extensively to stay as true to the real events as possible. With the then newly created "Category III" movie rating in Hong Kong (the equivalent of NC-17), Yau was able to push his shocks further than any director previously could, and portray Wong's psychopathic acts without much fear of censoring. The results could make the unsuspecting queasy, nauseous , disgusted, and maybe even all three at once.

Yau, though, in his wisdom, realized that these vile actions need to be balanced, and so he concocted a bumbling, moronic and sex-crazed police force to act as a relief. The result is a little jarring to those unaccustomed with the Hong Kong comedy style, but it does make the film a little easier to swallow (no pun intended) and does make for some great bits. Try to think Beavis, Butt-Head, Jim Carrey and John Belushi all trying to work together to catch Ted Bundy or Ed Gein. It is a blend that inconceivably works, as if this were the rule to crime-horror writing, rather than the exception.

Upon its release, THE UNTOLD STORY was taken quite seriously. While such a film would have been relegated to some obscure direct-to-DVD release if made in America, in Hong Kong it was given praise, and even netted Anthony Wong a Best Actor Award for 1994. His complete metamorphosis into the deranged killer is mesmerizing, and the cruelty his is able to conjure up, while over-the-top, seems natural amongst the unbelievable things that happens during the course of the film.

For the horror fans out there, the blood and guts delivered in here are enough for two films, and rest assured, realism is attempted as much as possible (pig flesh stood in for the human close-ups). This can really only be recommended for those that want to get a physical reaction out of your cinematic viewings, or for those whose taste in comedy is so twisted and demented that the likes of SEVEN and SILENCE OF THE LAMBS made you laugh. If even a little of this review has given you pause (it is even more disgusting than the review implies), skip this one and head on to the next. Don't feel bad about it. But for those of uneasily turned stomachs and seekers of the bizarre, see for yourself just what has been told. Rest assured, after viewing, you'll never forget what you've just witnessed. Oh, and you may never eat Chinese food again.

THE UNTOLD STORY is currently available uncut on VCD from Bloodwave DVD. It features the original aspect ratio, Cantonese audio and English/Chinese subtitles. The print used is a little beat up but is quite watchable, and the subtitles, even though burned in, are usually very easy to read.


JD said...

I saw this film based on your review a while back. Great review. This film was insane> I would not have known about if it was not for your reviews and insight. Thank you.
-- Jerry

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