A Chinese Torture Chamber Story 2 (1998)

Directed by Dick Tso Kin Nam

Produced by Wong Jing

Starring Yolinda Yan Cho Sin, Mark Cheng Ho Nam, Lam Wai Kin, Yeung Fan, Yeung Hung, Wong San

Chinese Torture Chamber Story 2

Whereas the original "Chinese Torture Chamber Story" was based upon a fairly famous historical adultery case, the origins of this low, low budget sequel are less ubiquitous and somewhat more recent. If you've seen Chang Cheh's classic martial arts epic from 1973, "Blood Brothers", then you'd do best to give this slice of sex & shock exploitation a wide berth. For indeed, they are the same story, albeit this one has been dressed up with suitable graphic sex and gore for the nineties Category III crowd. For the obligatory rehashing of Chang's original story (with sleazy new highlights), read on…

On his way to the capital to enroll for the position of a military general Ma Sun Yee (Cheng) narrowly averts being robbed while fishing by the inept Wong Chung and brother-in-law Cheung Man Cheong. Taken aback by Ma's unexpected compassion for their plight (economic decline leading them from simple village folk to bandits), Wong and Cheung invite him into their home. Once there, Ma becomes enamoured with Wong's sister, and Cheung's wife-to-be, Lotus (Yan) and it's not long before the wheels are set in motion for a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. Ma harbours a dark, dark secret that drives him forward, but more on that in a moment. The three men swear brotherhood and things look set for a rosy and prosperous future once Ma achieves office.

Months pass and the forest dwelling brothers find themselves afoot in the capital with their respective partners, and back in the company of Ma. But Ma is a changed man, as well as the governor, who wages a campaign of terror and torture upon the rebel anti-government factions. With Lotus back in his line of sight, he takes the brothers in arms, drawing up a plot to rid himself of his detractors and fulfil his own deviant sexual ends. It's not long before the screen is awash in rape, mutilation, genital torture, child abuse, homosexual rape, decapitations, severed limbs, tongue amputations, heart eating, and the most disgusting use of a calligraphy brush I have ever seen!

What begins as pretty low budget and hokey, quickly degenerates into a very grim affair indeed. Mark Cheng reaffirms his position as Hong Kong's leading villainous character actor by sleepwalking his way through his role as Ma, the twisted military official haunted by the murder of his father, rape of his mother, and twenty years of rape and humiliation at the hands of a cruel Kung fu master. The flashbacks to his past should prove unsettling to any normal viewer. Of the supporting cast, only Yolinda Yan provides anything resembling an "acting" performance, going so far as to shed her silken gowns for the film's "surprise" ending and climactic sex scene. This is far above and beyond the call of duty for Yan; those that remember her as doomed nightclub singer Sally in John Woo's "Bullet In The Head" may find themselves openmouthed in disbelief. Otherwise, Dick Tso's direction is rudimentary at best, leaving the film looking like a tele-movie with liberal helpings of added sex and gore.

Before I dig too deeply into the disc transfer, I have this one small thing to get off my chest and I can assure you that it is not intended in a sexist, or chauvinistic fashion. "Torture Chamber 2" was Yolinda Yan's Hong Kong "comeback" piece and she undertook a huge risk by baring all in a Category III sexploiter. That said, and with the utmost respect for Ms. Yan, this disc's transfer has proved completely unflattering to her exotic beauty. I cringed when one close-up of poor Yolinda's face painfully exposed every pimple, blemish, and smear in her make-up that the transfer could draw attention to. Lesser Western actresses would have demanded a reshoot, but on a Hong Kong budget you just grin and bear what the (limited) money will allow. So, yes, although passages of the film exhibit a soft image, there are moments of undue clarity that (unfortunately) shows up the limitations of this decidedly low budget venture.

The transfer does contains the usual problems that Hong Kong discs are renown for (motion artifacts, grain and pixelisation), but is generally capable of delivering far too much detail when the occasion calls for it (ie: any of its gruesome highlights). Audio is Dolby 1.0 and is clear and free of distortion, although the odd crackle or hiss inherent in the source material is present. Extras are limited to two cast biographies and two attractions trailers for "Erotic Ghost Story: Perfect Match" and "Raped By An Angel 3". In general, a good presentation of a low budget opus whose flaws have been already more than adequately addressed. Not a patch on Bosco Lam's original, but not nearly as bad as a number of fans would have you believe either. If the most explosive unraveling of entrails since "Men Behind The Sun", and anal rape with calligraphy brushes (complete with spouting blood) is your thing, well…now you know where to look.

Review by M.C.Thomason

Released by Universe Laser & Video
Category III - Region 0
Audio - Dolby digital 1.0 (Cantonese & Mandarin)
Ratio - Widescreen 1.85
Running time : approx 92 mins
Extras :
Star files; Attractions trailers