Naked Killer/Chik Lo Giu Yeung [pt]
Naked Killers
赤裸羔羊 (chì luŏ gāo yáng)
Directed by Clarence Fok Yiu-leung [Clarence Ford]
Hong Kong, 1992 Colour – 93 min.
Starring: Chingmy Yau Suk-ching, Simon Yam Tat-wah, Carrie Ng Ka-lai, Yiu Wai [Kelly Yao], Svenwara Madoka [Sugawara Madoka], Hui Siu-hung, Lau Dik-ji, Ken Lo Wai-kong
Capa DVD
A series of violent crimes baffle the Hong Kong police. The victims, all males, are found in a pitiful state with broken limbs and genital mutilation. Ti-nam (Yam) suspects the killer to be female but, considering the brutality of the crime scenes, his bosses do not take him seriously. How could a little girl leave a healthy athletic man in such condition?

Ti-nam suffers from trauma: after being responsible for an accidental death he's no longer able to hold a gun without feeling nausea. Kitty (Yau) sets off for revenge after witnessing the death of someone close to her. She meets a mysterious woman called Cindy (Yiu) who turns out to be a hired killer and becomes her new apprentice. “Sister” Cindy's former pupil Princess (Ng) works now on her own with the assistance of her lover Baby (Svenwara). The conflict between the two becomes inevitable, but Princess seems to hesitate between killing Kitty and seducing her.

Naked Killer is a representative landmark of Hong Kong cinema's dynamics and vivacity in the eighties and nineties, in which several appealing ingredients were gathered and mixed without any concerns for subtleties, because time is short and there are other films to be made next week.

The inspiration might have been Basic Instinct, made in the same year, from where it came the popular “lesbian killers in sensual dances under disco lights, attracting men into bed and killing them barbarically”. But if the Dutch director's film used an ice pick during intercourse (as a symbol for returned penetration), in Naked Killer the (quite chaste) killers do not allow their victims go that far, often choosing to violently remove their manhood.

Here we leave the mystery thriller angle behind and we go through a certain kind of action film, spiced up with strong pinches of sexploitation glamour: it is obviously also an erotic film that does not go along the usual scheme of inserting sex scenes amidst the narrative.

Kitty (Yau), on the left, takes on a new identity. On the right, Sister Cindy shares a moment of relaxation.

Fok explores sensuality and glamour — without caring for “good taste” or kitsch, which becomes rather evident on the actresses wardrobe and on the choreography — concentrating most spicy and explicit moments in a scene that intertwines Tin-am with Kitty and the Princess with her Baby (ah, those names!). Japanese actress Svenwara Madoka (Gaan Yuen Daan, if reading the Cantonese characters) was probably hired to compensate for the fact that Yau and Ng were not interested in displaying “relevant” nudity before the camera (watch out how they cover themselves so “naturally”). And one may also register one of the most ridiculous scenes of masturbation ever put on film, once more alternating between characters separated in space, a video-clip style.

The Hong Kong's original version withstood a series of cuts due to its display of violence. Ironically this version was released in the UK (M.I.A.) without any additional censorship cuts and was promoted as “The Complete Uncut Version”, being also released in DVD by Mei Ah. After that, the film was released on its integral version by Mega Star, the editing being the same as that of the most recent British DVD by Hong Kong Legends. This version presents a half a dozen scenes more, including some violence and blood-spatter, with the additional blessing of not having bleeps inserted in the soundtrack whenever someone used the Cantonese slang for “penis”.

Two vicious killer lovers: Princess and Baby.

Wong Jing, producer and writer, is well-known for the low moral level of his productions, without any inhibition whatsoever in presenting sexual violence as entertainment. This is not exactly rare in adult cinema produced in Hong Kong, but the way sex and violence are portrayed in Naked Killer could almost convince us that this is a feminist film. We should not let ourselves be fooled, because Wong aims mainly at a male audience that enjoys watching beautiful women with little or no clothes at all, adding up some provocation with the terror caused by the emasculative acts.

Even so, the female heroes utterly dominate the male cast, which is completely relegated to a supporting position, with the sole exception of the “protagonist” played by Simon Yam. But what a protagonist… Ti-nam can't hold his gun due to trauma and in a, erm, subtle symbolism, he also suffers from impotence. He absolutely does not shoot. Or… he grabs the gun, but cannot fire. (Another subtlety relies in his own name Ti-nam 铁男, which means literally “iron man”.) The female domination is also illustrated by the Princess servants who do nothing but surround her or get shot when the action comes, always complying to their boss's insults.

Naked Killer is trash, kitsch and exploitation, and in fact it does not aim to be other than a piece of entertainment without a hint of seriousness or concern for moral concepts. Not many will try to pretend it is “art”, but even less will expect to find any intellectual density in a film whose premise involves lesbian killers named Princess and Kitty barely dressed and chased by a cop who is unable to fire his gun.

Available on the UK by HKL. Released in Portugal on the CineAsia collection (Prisvideo) in September 2005. There were several DVD releases in Hong Kong. M.I.A. special box included a cassette (the original Hong Kong cut version), postcards with promotional pictures and a 16-page booklet with the “Deadly China Dolls” Top 10. The cassette also includes an interview with Wong Jing and Yam Tat-wah and the original trailer (it's true, there were extras before DVD came along).

Bonus: Reproduction of the MIA release postcards. © Media Asia.
Click on a picture or click here to see all of them.

12 Mar 06
(Original review 5 Jul 03)

Translated by Carla Graça

cinedie asia © copyright Luis Canau.