Naked Killer (1992)

Directed by: Clarence Fok
Written & produced by: Wong Jing
Starring: Chingmy Yau, Simon Yam, Carrie Ng, Kelly Yiu, Hui Siu-Hung, & Sugawara Madoka

Drawing upon the structure of Chor Yuen's classic mixture of eroticism, revenge and swordplay in Intimate Confessions Of A Chinese Courtesan, from its elegant, hyper style, political incorrectness, Hong Kong gunplay all the way up to an iconic and classic poster campaign, Naked Killer is one of those Category III movies that leapt off the screen into cult-status. An audio/visual assault indicative of its director and writer-producer-combo, it's as much an over the top intro to Hong Kong cinema for adults as it is for possible newcomers wanting a glimpse into its creative colors. It stands up as a packed, unique piece of cult art that also equals intention and effort working the genre and rating.

After attempting to avenge the death of her father, free spirit Kitty (Chingmy Yau) is swept away by veteran assassin Sister Cindy (Kelly Yiu). Trained in the art of killing, with an emphasis on using your sexuality, Kitty is given a new identity and this puts the brewing romance with impotent and mentally scarred cop Tinam (Simon Yam) in the rearview mirror. But he's on an investigation that has left several men dead and their penises cut and he re-connects with Kitty as a potential suspect. However behind the scenes a former protege of Cindy's called Princess (Carrie Ng) has been the one leaving trails of castrated men around Hong Kong and now the lesbian assassin is eyeing the new student.

The merger of Wong Jing and Clarence Fok rings loudly in the over the top audio/visual frame, with Fok being the one who makes the most noise ultimately. The former wasn't skillful enough to crank visuals to such dizzying heights but on the other hand it has meant Fok's movies favour that over coherency. Thankfully Naked Killer while a rule-bender with no true regard for logic (and it is depicting our real world with a comic book sensibility too) has a thread that's easy to absorb. From its opening credits statement showing random, unconnected images of our impeccable killers in action, in costume and engaged in tasteful eroticism, the movie also quickly confirms it hasn't exhausted itself after said credits sequence (shot by Peter Pau). The reassuring thing is also, this venture into the commercial power of the Category III rating is simply put miles better than most filmmaking that came out during the former half of the 90s. Whether erotic or violent. The dumb bell murder is especially notable because Fok combines a tuned sense of cranked imagery with fast cuts, physicality in action and snappy bloodshed. Naked Killer arrives and splashes the camera and hence US with blood.

Even getting exposition dumps somewhat right via characters commenting on Simon Yam's internal- and downstairs troubles, Chingmy Yau is of course a sex object and this IS an exploitation picture after all. But it's one with efforts in design and style, with a gleeful appetite for violence and sly humour. So this may not be a statement on feminism as much of this is male fantasy with gorgeous looking and costumed women, gorgeous looking and costumed women that are also lesbians but ones that take out men in grim, entertaining fashion (while also taking their share of ugly beatings).

Naked Killer is a movie with a determined, not always politically correct vision that simply knows a little bit more about navigating this particular adult celluloid jungle. A creativity that extends to the rapid (yet not visually muddled) action scenes. For instance in the garage shootout that reveals Kelly Yiu's prowess (and her double), Fok neatly confirms he also is crafting an over the topic comic book movie here. Characters have already been and said big things, now the giant nature of it all extends to the action as well. He has a confidence along with his action team to find shots to elevate a somewhat cheap and quickly produced frame, bold colors add an otherworldly and exaggerated nature to his world and nudity is almost second hand in terms of priorities. Oh there is a primal, erotic sense to proceedings but it's assembled with care. Not desperate and the fact that he maintains a balance between visual playtime, making the basic story coherent (and even letting Wong Jing play via some crude humour including a penis being accidentally eaten) makes Naked Killer fully earns its rep. Impact based on a lot of technical, ingenious creative touches that clearly is for a large portion of exploitation AND the technical crowd. The term crowd pleaser has rarely been more true.

reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson