Lotus Wong (Yolina Yan - Bullet In The Head) is headed for slow, cruel execution after murdering Governor Ma Sun-Yee (Mark Cheng). We cut to happier times where this downwards spiral starts and Lotus is the fiancee of Cheung Man-Cheong (Oscar Lam, the lead in The Forbidden Legend Sex & Chopsticks I & II) who along with sworn brother Wong Chung (Yeung Hung) have resorted to robbery in the light of their poverty situation. Attempting to rob government official to be Ma Sun-Yee, the three strike up a brotherhood and Ma promises the men and their women a place in the government and a good life. Soon it becomes evident they are pawns in a game...
While producer Wong Jing never had a true break from presenting, making or producing Category III material, 1998 was shock full of them seemingly, including the return to the torture chamber here. Truth be told, even the Raped By An Angel films that started coming out again in 1998 were NOT Category III but clearly Wong Jing had his strategy set for 1998 that also included Sex & Zen III. Passing directing duties to Dick Cho, a director who never before or since became one we could associate with a trademark (everything from the social drama The Beloved Son Of God and triad movies such as A Rascal's Tale are on his resume), in this year way past the prime of period bonk-a-thon's A Chinese Torture Chamber Story II quite enthusiastically and confidently comes running out of the gate with plenty of flesh, flesh being cut off, cruel torture and fountains of blood.
Actually based on the same Ching Dynasty incidents covered in Chang Cheh's Shaw Brothers classic The Blood Brothers (1973), it's easy to be enraged at Wong Jing for copying a flick but he of course strikes the balance by acknowledging the need for the story again. This time twisted around a bit with more of a female focus and of course adhering to the banner name A Chinese Torture Chamber Story if you will. I'll tell you, for us way to obsessed Cat III fans, there is even something about the basic red on black credits that speak of a possible ominous movie aura to come and Dick Cho obviously has a lot to live up to since the dark story needs to be effective to lead to the point where Yolinda Yan in a spiderweb like contraption is having tiny pieces of her flesh cut off. Despite the movie being cheap and doesn't matter much dramatically as a dark tale a la Chang Cheh's 70s re-telling, the film is undeniably effective and manages to look and feel ambitious as the exploitation entertainment it is.
Obviously a sequel in name only and it's not as proud to showcase the various methods of torture, we're thankfully not getting a reprise of the nuttiness of the fine first movie but an angle where it really is about the dark re-telling of brotherhood torn apart in gory fashion. It's pretty easy to tell Mark Cheng's uplifting character doesn't have good intentions but structurally there is something felt present about humble men feeling positive about their place in the world again... even if only for a few minutes and the sex involving biting gets affected by all of this too! Dick Cho doesn't have epic despair to show so we barely get a feel for the world outside of the 4 person drama but aim for what should be aimed at so therefore the movie puts its all into the atmosphere and events within the four... wisely so.
It's not a chore waiting for the Cat III goods to be delivered either. The relatively few sex scenes feel valid in the narrative and not boring padding but the true show stopping moments manages to add themselves onto the lengthy list of the dark sexual, sadistic and bloody nature to the film. Starting with various form of torture by Ma of prisoners involving a warm steel penis used as an interrogation tool, hot wax poured into ears, tongues being ripped out, hearts eaten to a lengthy sex scene of dominance and abuse leading to harsh uses of among other things a HUGE paintbrush, director Cho is harsh on the audience because it's meant to be. Much of it tracks back to Ma's abuse during childhood and the character is either out of control or mad with control so that he can play his pawns decidedly effective. It's a show for Mark Cheng as a Category III villain that gets enough show stopping celluloid to be effective in the Raped By An Angel vein and Yolinda Yan's innocent look serves her well when she's forced to be pro-active and take fate into her own hands (and clothes off).
Cheap but energetic and creative dark sights highlights A Chinese Torture Chamber Story II and it manages to prove the Category III stamp could get immense approval in 1998 even. Since it doesn't spice up what's tough to watch with schizophrenic nuttiness like the first movie, it's also one of the few examples of a disturbing period bonk-a-thon. Deep it may not be and The Blood Brothers remain unchallenged but the adult entertainment perspective on the story is nothing short of effective.
The DVD (Universe):
Video: 1.74:1 non-anamorphic widescreen.
Audio: Cantonese Dolby Digital 2.0 and Mandarin Dolby Digital 2.0.
Subtitles: English, traditional Chinese and simplified Chinese.
Extras: Stars' Files for Mark Cheng and Yolinda Yan (with very amusing observations on their careers) and trailers for Raped By An Angel 3 - Sexual Fantasy Of The Chief Executive and Erotic Ghost Story - Perfect Match.
reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson