Spike Drink Gang (1995)

Written & directed by: Bosco Lam
Producer: Lee Siu-Kei
Starring: Yvonne Yung, Lo Meng, Elvis Tsui, Chan Kwok-Bong & Lee Siu-Kei

Mrs Tsui (Yvonne Yung) buys a soft drink at a convenience store but feels drowsy afterwards to the point of fainting. Two men take care of her but are in fact after her bank account information. She wakes up in a different area and reports the robbery and possible rape to the police. This doesn't sit well with her butcher husband (Elvis Tsui) who's literally going crazy trying to deal with his virgin wife having possibly had something taken away from her. The police (headed by Lee Siu-Kei and Chan Kwok-Bong) goes to work trying to track down the spike drink gang, headed by Hung (Lo Meng), girlfriend and perverts...

Arguably Bosco Lam was on an incredible creative run by the time Spike Drink Gang came about. Debuting with 1994's A Chinese Torture Chamber Story, a wonderful concoction of nastiness, craziness and unexpected heart the outrageous Category III way (it really should be more famous/infamous than just for the flying kung fu sex scene with Elvis Tsui and Julie Lee). A definite talent under definite producing talent in the form of Wong Jing. Providing nastiness and doing a wonderful parody of Dr.Lamb in The Underground Banker the same year, 1995's Dream Lover (1*) is as busy of a flick and bursting with unexpected creativity of the supernatural kind despite being a Tony Leung Ka-Fai/Wu Chien-Lien romance in actuality. There is something about this era of the 90s when you decide to give the Category III rating some thought and the usual template below the III a spin or five and Lam is a shining example of how that could be done. Oddly enough with Spike Drink Gang, Lam and working under Wong Jing's production company produces an oddly flat product. Was the soft drinks spiked with ether TOO soft of a plot for the filmmaker to get something nasty out of? Apparently as Wilson Yip (Ip Man) didn't get much nasty juice out of his VERY similar Daze Raper later the same year.

It's not an unusually wild and schizophrenic Hong Kong cinema product but the pieces do not gel very well despite, starting with a very loud but ultimately supposed to be funny and light piece as represented by Yvonne Yung and Elvis Tsui. She appears rather ditsy, talks to herself, acts in general very unnatural before the plot kicks in and Elvis acts up a storm in front of the gossiping customers before he really launches into the darkly comedic I dare say Wong Jing side to the film. Tsui is a character that feels for his pig meat and equals his wife's possible rape to the toilet now being dirty and while an odd fit for Bosco Lam's structure, it is the stretches of celluloid working the best because of the massive amounts actor Tsui puts into his act. Even going so far as to kidnapping a possible member out of the gang that has funny face- and chest hair, of course someone like Wong Jing wouldn't let this go unexplored. It borderlines the darkly comedic in a compelling way but being less than the primary focus that is actually the most compelling part of Spike Drink Gang, obviously something is very wrong here.

Rest of Bosco's MAIN work is very pedestrian and doesn't really push the III rating as hard as you'd imagine. Sure there IS nudity, giddy henchmen/rapists shot in glorious close up, rape, drug use, huge audio bleeps on the soundtrack, Danny Lee style torture by the cops but the glimpses of all of this means there's no shameless push where it absolutely should've been Some form of exertion by the crew on previously mentioned products?

Being pulled in many directions proved to be Bosco Lam's forté in the likes of A Chinese Torture Chamber Story but with Spike Drink Gang, there's no gas left in the tank before it starts even. The minor edge available is equal to subtle for the genre and the thriving Category III rating of the time and even if added upon hugely, the film would've been nothing but a shameless, occasionally black product. But boy, that would REALLY be something. That was forgotten or simply not available in Bosco nor Wong Jing here.

The DVD (Universe):

Video: 1.79:1 non-anamorphic widescreen.

Audio: Cantonese Dolby Digital 2.0 and Mandarin Dolby Digital 2.0.

Subtitles: English, Bahasa (Malaysia), traditional Chinese and simplified Chinese.

Extras: Trailers for Till Death Do Us Laugh and The Imp (1996)

 

reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson

 

(1) Dream Lover was produced by Sharla Cheung Man and she also co-starred in Romantic Dream the same year. Not a shot for shot echo of said flick but it IS the same film with different leads which all seems to be a Hong Kong cinema experiment more than anything else. Dream Lover won the battle of the films though in my opinion but it helps to experience the unexpected nature to it FIRST.