Crime Of A Beast (2001)

Directed by David Lau

Produced by Stanley Tong

Written by Ko Siu-Lun

Starring Natalie Ng (Mazy Hui), Samuel Leung (Sin Ho Fun), Chan Kwok-Bon (Inspector Fung), Grace Lam (Siu Mei), Joey Wang (Jo), Keung Hon-Man, Wong Yat-Fei

Crime Of A Beast (2001)

Called to a crime scene on the outskirts of Hong Kong, Inspector Fung is drawn into an alarming case that threatens to unveil a serial rapist preying upon the Region's women. The victim, Mazy Hui, a clinical psychologist and freelance scriptwriter, is deeply traumatised by her attack. The investigation turns to her part-time workplace, where the video production team is placed under the microscope. The most likely suspect appears to be lighting assistant Sin Ho Fun, a sleazy, lecherous youth who spends much of his spare time voyeuristically spying on his female work-mates or drinking Heineken and indulging porn VCDs. Suspicions prove well founded as the investigation progresses with Sin making his obsessive sexual fantasies a reality of nightmarish rape. When lead actress Jo is raped then murdered, and Hui's personal assistant Siu Mei befalling a similar fate, the net soon begins to tighten on the thoroughly monstrous Sin before he can strike again.

On the back of the flailing box-office returns of the Wong Jing produced "Raped By An Angel" series of films, another serial-rapist venture would have seemed misguided in anyone's books. Hong Kong's Matrix Productions hedged their bets by preparing this one for the direct-to-video/VCD/DVD market, tarted it up with a glossy air-brushed cover image of supporting cast member Grace Lam sporting barely a stitch of clothing, and shot on digital video to reign in costs to a bare minimum. The end result? A low budget rape-thriller so self-obsessed with leering cleavage and up-skirt panty shots that it barely even manages to qualify as entertainment for the voyeur tit-fetish wank crowd. Make no mistake, David Lau's "Crime Of A Beast" is, for want of a better euphemism, such a steaming pile of shit, and such an utter waste of a decent cast, that I could only ever recommend its purchase in the event you're short of a beer coaster or mural montage for the toilet wall of your bachelor pad (let's face it, no-one female viewer would bother with this tripe!).

Okay, why so bad? To claim that even Ed Wood, God rest his soul, wouldn't have stooped to a turkey this size is an understatement of its ineptitude. Although littered with a solid cast of regular Hong Kong supporting players (all given the chance at leads herein), they are left with a script built upon one of the phoniest pieces of moralising I have EVER encountered in any corner of world cinema. Yep kids, after eighty odd minutes of enduring Samuel Leung pulling goofy 'I'm a psycho who can't control his dick' expressions, coupled with a plot that is solely motivated by its desire to bludgeon forwards to its next scene of Leung's character threatening, slapping around, beating up, raping, and video-taping his sick antics with the female cast members, what do we get? An outrageous flashback to poor little Sin's childhood overlaid with video-generated text that informs the viewer that rapists, murders, and general criminal element, would not exist in society if their parents had shown them move love as a child! My apologies for being so frank, but WHAT THE FUCK was director Lau thinking? He serves up endless shots of scantily clad female forms, leering breast/cleavage shots so gratuitous he may as well have run a fish eye lens down the actresses blouses, and uncomfortably lengthy rape scenes, then condemns exactly that which he has created! Obviously once the ecstasy tabs had worn off, and libidos had cooled down, all involved suddenly began to question their motivations!

Although the cast wrestle valiantly with Ko Siu Lun's balls-up of a script (and Samuel Leung's even sleazier here than he was in Cash Chin's "Naked Poison"…which I CAN recommend), the overall tone of the film sabotages whatever 'higher/serious' intentions it may have come together under. There is ONE rather effective setpiece (the discovery of a victim's body strung up in a tree), but that's hardly worth any prospective viewer parting with their hard-earned cash for one solitary diamond in the rough. Additionally, the digital video imagery cheapens the production unimaginably, producing an effect not unlike an ultra-sleazy episode of "The Young & The Restless". Shooting on digital video may have been executed in an effort to engineer a mock-documentary feel to the production, but the only thing it achieves is to underline the thread-bare origins of the piece, obviously designed to earn back its meagre cost from the perves that proliferate in the cess-pits of the video wasteland. Don't be duped like his 'perve' was; there's no nipples, no story, no redeeming qualities, and certainly no justifiable reason for you to part with your reddies on this one. In fact, the only positive thing I can say of this one is at least the sleeve image of Grace Lam will look nice mounted on the back of my toilet door. :)

NB: Producer Stanley Tong is not THE Stanley Tong who directed Jackie's "Rumble In The Bronx" or "China Strike Force". He is in fact simply A Stanley Tong (I got as far as 'Tong Man…' before my knowledge of written Chinese failed me). If you ask me, this was just another shameless ploy to dupe prospective overseas viewers into buying this turkey!

Ain't it the law of averages? Total garbage is given the red carpet treatment when it comes to its DVD debut, and Universe's disc of "Crime Of A Beast" is no exception. Although shot on digital video, the image has been given a video-matte to present the image at a widescreen ratio of 1.85. Though this affords the image a film-styled gloss, there's an old saying about polishing turds and said action's non-effect. Colours are rich and vibrant, but under harsh video lighting the cast look more like the Chinese equivalent of "Neighbours" than their usual glamorous selves. Contrasts, black levels, and complete lack of grain are about exactly what you'd expect for a film shot on DV. Adding insult to injury, Universe have gone to town on "Crime's" audio presentation by providing the Cantonese track in nothing less than DTS 5.0 and Dolby digital 5.1 & 2.0 stereo sound! While the top-end audio tracks are surprisingly effective, and geared towards immersive use of the electronic soundtrack (by a pair of guys whose names I was unable to translate for this review as my written Chinese is lot more rusty than I realised), this could have been bunged out in flat boring monaural sound and I don't think anyone would have cared either way! English subtitles are good for the most part and relatively free of errors, however there are numerous instances where sentences are either missing tail-end words, or partially split in half, which leaves non-Cantonese speaking viewers the opportunity of guessing what's going on. The sole Extra feature present is a trailer cut exclusively for the film's video/VCD/DVD release, which is best previewed prior to the film so that you don't have waste your time actually watching the film proper. Living proof, if ANY were needed, that some of us are STILL easily duped by a cover image of a sultry Asian actress clad in naught but a g-string & high heels. Take my advice, don't waste either your time OR money on what is essentially a complete waste of plastic!

Review by Mike Thomason

Released by Universe Laser & Video
DVD format: DVD-5 (NTSC Region 0)
Running time - 87m
Ratio - Widescreen 1.85
Audio - Cantonese DTS 5.1, Dolby digital 5.1 & 2.0; Mandarin Dolby digital 5.1 (optioanl Traditional & Simplified Chinese; English subtitles)
Extras - Trailer

© 2001, Icon In Black Media