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Ghost Canyon

'The Untold Story: Special Edition' [Blu-ray]
(Anthony Chau-Sang Wong, Danny Lee, Emily Kwan, et al / Blu-ray / R / (1993) 2020 / Arrow Video - MVD Visual)

Overview: 'The Untold Story' is based on the Eight Immortals Restaurant murders that took place on 4th August 1985 in Macau.

While the massacre involving a family of 10 did occur at the restaurant, the alleged cannibalism is sensationalism inferred from the incomplete discovery of the victims' corpse; only finding limbs, and that there was a lack of telltale smell of decomposition despite the summer tropical heat!

Blu-ray Verdict: In the early '80s, popular actor Danny Lee (famous for his work in action films) became director and producer of his own films, and by the end of the decade was already a major player in Hong Kong's movie industry.

This position allowed him an enormous amount of power during the '90s boom of Hong Kong cinema, and made him the discoverer of famous stars (like Stephen Chow) and producer of a wide array of interesting films by upcoming filmmakers.

Among those, Herman Yau's 'Baat sin Faan Dim Ji Yan Yuk Cha Siu Baau', or 'The Untold Story' as it is widely better known, is one of the most popular in the Western world, and one of the better known movies of the CAT III rating that was introduced by the Hong Kong government during those years.

Supposedly based on a "true crime story," 'The Untold Story' is a very powerful film that truly lives to its reputation as one of the most brutal films of Hong Kong cinema.

The plot starts with the discovery of a plastic bag containing the severed hands of a person in a lonely Macao beach. The young and unexperienced police team assigned to the case is clueless as they had never faced something so horrible, but lead by the suave officer Lee (Danny Lee), they find some clues pointing to Wong Chi Hang (Anthony Wong), the owner of the popular Eight Immortals Restaurant.

As the cops find out that Wong just bought the place to his former boss, they try to track down the previous owner, but every attempt to find him or his family prove futile.

The discovery of Wong's dark past prompts his arrest, but he still refuses to admit having committed the crime. Officer Lee decides to take severe measures, but not even he will be prepared to hear Wong's, thus far untold story.

Written by Law Kam Fai (author of another famous CAT III film, 'Dr. Lamb'), the movie develops as a police procedural movie, detailing the work of the cops to figure out the responsible of the crime; however, two extremely different elements set 'The Untold Story' apart from similar stories: the dark and extremely brutal portrayal of the psycho killer, and the odd addition of offbeat comedy thrown in to balance the grittier aspects of the movie.

While this strange mixture of genres may sound unappealing (and honestly at first sight looks unappealing too), it surprisingly works within the movie, and gives good balance to the overall darkness of the story.

Appropriately, in the end it is the horror element the one that dominates the film in a terrific brutal finale that by now is definitely a classic of '90s CAT III movies.

Famed for being one of the most shocking Asian horror movies, 'The Untold Story' is surprisingly not as gory as one would expect with that reputation; however, this is not saying that the film doesn't live to the hype, as it is definitely a shocking experience although for a very different reason.

Director Herman Yau cleverly chooses to portray the grotesque details of the crime in a relatively subtle, unseen way; but the way he executes the scenes allow for a far more powerful effect as plays with the imagination making the violence portrayed frighteningly real despite not being too graphic.

The raw and gritty style Yau uses for his film (mainly for budgetary reasons) only enhance the realism of the movie, and together with Wong's brilliant performance make a movie very hard to forget.

Definitely one of the elements that really make the difference between 'The Untold Story' and similar exploitation movies is the top notch performance of Anthony Wong as the enigmatic Wong Chi Hang.

He captures so well the traits of this unbalanced psychotic character that one can't help but believe that the man on screen is truly a demented person.

Danny Lee as the Officer in charge of the case offers the balance between the sadistic darkness of Wong and the at times silly comedy of the police team.

Lee's smooth and witty character contrasts with the clumsiness and naiveté of the young cops, portrayed effectively although somewhat average by equally young actors.

The exception is Emily Kwan, who plays Bo, the only female in the team and therefore the one who has to prove that she is as capable as the guys to do the police work.

In closing, sure, at times 'The Untold Story' is often hard to watch, but it's definitely never boring, and while crude, the portrait of sadistic violence it makes of the crime is captivating in a way that few horror movies are.

While this is definitely one of the best CAT III movies of its time, it's not without flaws, as the budgetary constrains really took its toll in the movie.

Anyways, what most viewers have criticized about 'The Untold Story' is the odd mixture of comedy in the movie, as it seems to add an unnecessary source of silliness to an otherwise brutal movie!

Personally, I think that, while not exactly subtle, the comedy do adds to the "charm" of the film, and helps to break the tension in a very dark movie. It may not seem appropriate at first sight, but it's not really a terrible flaw, as some may have pointed out to me down the years.

In the realms of the horror genre, Herman Yau's 'Baat sin Faan Dim Ji Yan Yuk Cha Siu Baau', is now a classic of Hong Kong cinema, and essential viewing for those interested in the infamous exploitation movies rated as CAT III.

It's not a movie for everyone, but if you have an interest for gritty tales of serial killers, 'The Untold Story' (especially now, as it's just been released as a Special Edition Blu-ray by MVD Visual) is a must-see! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

The Documentary, Category 3, The Untold Story of Hong Kong Exploitation Cantonese Carnage, an Interview with Rick Baker
Commentary with Herman Yau
Commentary with Anthony Wong
Commentary with Art Ettinger & Bruce Holecheck
Booklet written by Art Ettinger of Ultra Violent Magazine

Amazon Purchase Link

Original Trailer

www.MVDvisual.com





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