[box cover]

Naked Killer

When Hong Kong action cinema began infiltrating U.S. art houses and college film societies en masse in the early 1990s, the breathtaking impact of the genre's kick-ass action sequences easily overshadowed the other two primary characteristics of this pop-culture phenom: astoundingly juvenile humor and an almost unfathomably retrograde depiction of women. Looking back, now that the giddy tremors of stuntastic delight have faded, 1992's Naked Killer may be too perfect a trifecta of these qualities. The fetching Chingmy Yau stars as Kitty, a man-hating vigilante wanted for murder. Out of her depth and on the run, Kitty is taken in by a professional assassin, Sister Cindy (Wai Yiu), who teaches her charge the lethal arts, and occasionally offers a sensual shoulder massage. Kitty takes well to the killing of deserving men, but she is troubled when a smitten cop (Simon Yam) begins to tug at her affections. Further complicating her new life, Kitty becomes the target of Cindy's former protégé, Princess (Carrie Ng), a killing machine and lesbian, who is served by her faithful girl-toy, Baby (Madoka Sugawara). Not only is Naked Killer's plot typically complicated, it's just about as comprehensible as it is plausible: not very. This would be adequate if the film were only trashy fun, but, contrary to the title, killing is only rarely accompanied by nakedness, and the film's few erotic scenes are marred by a shocking prudishness at conflict with the movie's graphic swagger. As fully clothed killing goes, Naked Killer has moments of style, but they never overcome the credibility gap. Enjoyment of the film may end up resting on how amusing the viewer finds rape jokes and johnson-eating sight gags, which, hopefully, is limited to a select few. Nevertheless, as a specimen of HK movie-making, writer-producer Wong Jing's notorious cult hit is a fascinating time capsule. Fox presents Naked Killer in a fair anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio in Cantonese (and a cartoony 5.1 English track which would be awful if the film itself were not already brimming with caricature and stupidity — Yam's insufferably dense detective may rank as the single dumbest police character ever devised for the silver screen). Includes optional English and Cantonese subtitles. In the special features menu are interviews with Wong Jing, director Clarence Fok, and Simon Yam (but, interestingly, none of the women involved); a photo gallery; and an overproduced "Hong Kong Beauty Stars Gallery." Trailers, keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr



Back to Quick Reviews Index: [A-F] [G-L] [M-R] [S-Z]

Back to Main Page