Steamed Pork Buns Stuff With EVIL! “The Untold Story” reviewed (Unearthed Films/Blu-ray)

Wong Chi-hang brutally beats and sets fire to a fellow gambler who refuses to lend him money.  After destroying his identification card and creates a new look and identity, Wong flees Hong Kong before he can be hunted down for first degree murder and be served capital punishment for his crime.  For the last 8 years, Wong has lived and worked on the island village of Macau, running a small, but well-known, steamed bun restaurant, Eight Immortals Restaurant.  He receives inquisitive letters everyday asking about the whereabouts of the former owner, Cheng Lam, by Lam’s older brother on the mainland.  The letters force Wong to attempt manipulating lawyers into signing over the restaurant to him without Lam’s presence.  When the police discover dismembered limbs washed up on the beach, an investigation ensues that connects the body parts to a Chan Lai Chun, the mother-in-law to Cheng Lam, leading a small task force of blockheaded detectives to Wong’s restaurant where he becomes the prime suspect in the disappearances, but he won’t break so easily after being apprehended, unwilling to cooperate and confess to the whereabouts of the bodies of the vanished owner, his entire family, and a pair of workers.  Yet, what were exactly in those steam buns that made them so delicious?

Full disclosure.  I’m not too terribly familiar with Hong Kong’s rating system of Category I, II, and III, but I’ve more-or-less dabbled in the Category III (Cat III) horror and exploitation cinematic market, owning only a handful of these gruesome-and-sexually gratifying guilty pleasure full of sex, violence, and taboo concepts of titles such as “Riki-Oh:  The Story of Ricky,”  “The Chinese Torture Chamber,” and “Three…Extremes” and only “The Story of Ricky” has ever been popped into my player for recreational viewing.  Also, in my collection, is a Tai Sing DVD copy of Herman Yau’s 1993 crime-and-cannibalism graphic thriller “The Untold Story” and, frankly, I never opened it either, but when Unearthed Films sent me their new Blu-ray release to review, I’ll never be able to see chop sticks the same way again!  The eye-opening experience also screamed that I should definitely rip open and see those other films to quench my thirst for Cat III’s offensive opulence.  Based off a true story of the Eight Immortals Restaurant murders in 1985 around the Macau area, the nearly unwavering from the truth storyline parallels the Kam-Fai Law (“Dr. Lamb”) and Wing-Kin Lau (“Taxi Hunter”) co-written story in which a madman slaughters an entire family over a gambling dispute and runs their family business, the Eight Immortals Restaurant, until the police capture him, but Yau sticks more sensationalism to the already brutal notoriety surrounding the actual case with ground human barbecue steamed buns to tease with abhorrent flavor under the Golden Sun Films Distribution distribution of the Uniden Investments and Kwan Hung Films production.

“The Untold Story’s” lead man in the shoes of the maniacal, rage-filled Wong Chi-Hang is “Ebola Syndrome’s” Anthony Wong who initially thought the script was greatly unattractive.  Little did he know that his performance would be so good, so osmosis with his wide-eyed lunatic stare through the luminating pixels of the television screen, that the role would honor him with a Hong Kong Film Award for best actor; Hong Kong’s equivalent to the best actor award for an Oscar in the States.   The “Hard Boiled” actor embodies a soul of frustration and anger to rise his character up to the demented level of nihilism and heartless exploitation that unforgettably scores being the face of “The Untold Story’s” cruelty.  Yet, there is a Jekyll and Hyde complex with Yau’s film that cuts the cynicism with a risible troupe of police officers supervised by Officer Lee (Danny Lee “The Killer”).  With a beautiful foreign woman, a blatantly announced hooker, always at his side and being the sharpest detective on the force, Lee’s a contradictory, authoritative commander meshing immoral principles and duty into one while leading a four-person squad of non-initiatives comprised of three rubbernecking men, craning their gulping jugulars toward Mr. Lee’s arm-candied gals, and one tomboy woman with an affinity for Mr. Lee who struggles with being taken seriously amongst her peers as an unenticing woman in cop’s clothing.  The officers’ western names are a slither of satire to poke fun at the nicknames of tough or macho cops go by in the States with Bo, King Kong, Robert, and Bull (respectively Emily Kwan, King-Kong Lam, Eric Kei, and Parkman Wong of “Dr. Lamb”).  The cast rounds out with Fui-On Shing and Julie Lee. 

“The Untold Story’s” embittered nihilistic violence, gratuitous rape and sodomy, and steamy, mouth-watering cannibalism leverages this Cat III film as tiptop horror exploitation from the far East.  If broken down more, director Herman Yau pins and sews together a liaising three act prong story of a horrid man’s attempt at deadly stability in society and a madcap group of officers, with a penchant for police brutality and coercing confessions, bumbling their way through clues that ultimately funnel into a blended third act of magnetizing the two sides together toward a satisfying, almost faithful, ending of “The Eight Immortals Restaurant:  The Untold Story’s” purloin and murder fiction and non-fiction exploit.  Yau spares no expense for gore, serving up a platter worth the splatter of some nifty chop’em up and grind their meat into the dough effects that’ll turn stomachs as well as heads and doesn’t exude as bargain basement quality; yet, just enough gore goes uncovered to tantalize without a full onslaught tarp covering the ground of disembodied limbs and floor-splattering entrails that boil down to an overshadowing character that detracts from the cast performances as such can accompany with the more extreme Asian horror catalogue.  There’s nothing gentle about the actions of Wong Chi-Hang, but the way he’s scribed to manifest spur of the moment carnage, stemmed by the most minute disputes, and the way Anthony Wong carries and maneuvers of a monstrous villain with ease takes an esthetical point to not stray away from his, or rather his victims’, story.  “The Untold Story” is, in fact, meta-exploitation fiction of non-fiction down to the very last tasty morsel. 

In what is perhaps the epitome of Hong Kong’s Category III film index, “The Untold Story” arrives onto high definition Blu-ray courtesy of the gore and shock genre label, Unearthed Films as part of the label’s Unearthed Classics line and distributed by MVDVisual. The well preserved, near flawless transfer is presented in a widescreen, 1.78:1 aspect ratio, and the picture is a vast improvement over the slightly washed previous DVD releases though favors a higher contrast resolution that ekes trading out the details for a brighter, softer film in an overall compliment of Cho Wai-Kee’s beaming cinematography. Whether in the police station or the restaurant, fluorescent lumens light up the scenes with a sterile-driven madness. The Cantonese, Mandarin, and some English 1.0 PCM audio track denotes, without surprise, the lossy quality doddering from age and antiquated equipment, but renders well enough without the imperfections of hisses, distortions, or any vocal impediments. The option English subtitles display without error with only the issue in their breakneck pacing when attempting to keep up with reading the subtitles and the rapidfire dialogue. You basically have to skim read. The special features include commentaries with star Anthony Wong and Herman Yau, the superbly dark and traditional film score isolated for audible pleasure, commentary with Art Ettinger from Ultra Violent magazine and Bruce Holecheck of Cinema Arcana, a Q&A with Herman Yau, a featurette of the history behind Category III films of Hong Kong Exploitation Cinema, a interview with Rick Baker entitled Cantonese Carnage, and Unearthed Film trailers. There’s also an two-page insert of Art Ettinger’s write up about Hong Kong cinema and “The Untold Story.” Resilient to the test of time, “The Untold Story” benchmarks a high point in High Kong exploitation cinema, recalls the tremendous feat of performance by Anthony Wong, and displays the sheer mastery of disciplined filmmaking from Herman Yau in this unforgettable gruesome black comedy.

Must Own Christmas Gift! “The Untold Story” on Blu-ray!

Evil Lends a Helping Hand! “Bloody Knuckles” review!

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Travis, an underground shock comic artist, stirs up a world of trouble with Chinatown crime lord and illegal pesticide seller Leonard Fong when his latest issue of Vulgarian Invasion makes the criminal kingpin a colorfully filthy farce. In response, Fong and his goons table saw Travis’s writing hand off. With his livelihood separated from the rest of his body, Travis falls into a depressive slumber to where he doesn’t leave his apartment, find new work, or even take a stand for revenge. The same cannot be said for his decomposing hand that suddenly revives and confronts Travis. Looking to settle the score with Fong and his gang, Travis and his appendage join forces with a true to life S&M superhero based of one of Travis’s caricatures and take up arms (get it?) against Fong’s criminal syndicate.
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“Bloody Knuckles” is vulgar, distasteful, and offensive – I loved every minute of it! Director Matt O.’s (Matt O’Mahoney) debut feature film from Canada makes “Idle Hands” seem weak and childish in comparison. The “Addams Family” Thing is a cutesy puppy dog whose sporting a knitted winter sweater while the “Bloody Knuckles” Hand is cracking skulls as it’s cracking it’s own bloody knuckles in a spiked leather jacket. This Hand is more like the Ash’s evil hand from “Evil Dead 2!” There hasn’t been this much fun in a film in awhile and I’m considering the Matt O. film to be one of my favorite horror Blu-ray releases of 2015 from Artsploitation Films. “Bloody Knuckles” has it all: limitless violence, scrupulous comedy, glorified gore, a penchant for the politically incorrect, nudity, a living severed hand, and a gay S&M badass looking to spank to death the opposition.
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Mainly, the underlying message of “screw censorship” hits, in a good way, the main artery for this reviewer as our lovely site, Its Bloggin’ Evil, is all about pushing the boundaries, divulging the full story, and leaving everything out on the table for all to bare witness. Being crass is nice too and that’s “Bloody Knuckles” schtick; a unique stance that most films and filmmakers won’t risk due to the fear of their work not being picked up and released, shunned and stored deep in the depressing closets of death and disparity. “Bloody Knuckles” splays the notion of artistic freedom throughout the duration and in many different formats from comics, to the press, and to shock art.
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The special effects were top notch quality and handled by the Academy Award-nominated company Image Engine of Vancouver, who had their hands mixed into major studio work such as James Gunn’s “Slither,” HBO’s highly praised television series “Game of Thrones,” and the prequel to John Carpenter’s “The Thing.” The Hand, whether as a live hand with makeup or a prosthetic one, never looked underfunded or cheesy. The Hand was given a Frankenstein life and was appropriately made into a sympathetic character. Even though Hand is part of Travis, Hand is actually a woman’s hand, Krista Magnusson’s hand to be exact, and not even for a second will you be able to tell. The rest of the effects don’t disappoint; the exaggerated gruesomeness of certain effects shots brings back memories of watching “The Stuff” and “Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky!”
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Aside from Krista Magnusson, the lineup of actors and actresses were destined to portray these character roles. Kasey Ryne Mazak as the ruthless and merciless Leonard Fong had pegged perfectly the well-dressed with an oversized ego but with a short stature stereotype. Dwayne Bryshun as Homo Dynamous, a Travis’s gay S&M superhero, brings to life such as an extravagant character, turning a simple gay caricature into a living and breathing bondage Bond. Lead actor Adam Boys as Travis could turn on the charm, the sarcasm, and the girly scream on a dime and so naturally that Travis instantly becomes a likable character. The witty and gritty banter between all the characters, even Hand using the type-to-speech function on Travis’s computer, is well written and doesn’t bog down the blitzkrieg story.

I can’t say I’ve yet to come across a poor release from Artsploitation Films. Aside from a controversial and entertaining subject matter of the films, the Blu-ray’s 1.78:1 aspect ratio has great quality that can outshine many competitors. The Blu-ray of “Bloody Knuckles” contains a clean and sharp image that doesn’t become murky in the darkness to which the film is mostly set, whether being night outside or in dark inside quarters. There’s slight posterization during the a few pitch black night sequences, but I found that everything was nicely outlined or visible without little interference from it. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is the preferable option if you have the equipment; the dialogue is at the forefront which is key for this film and the rest of the tracks are well-balanced. Other audio options include a 5.1 Dolby Digital and a 2.0 Dolby Stereo. There are tons of extras clocking around 130 minutes worth of content and the icing on the cake with the whole release is a portion of Travis’s comic Vulgarian Invasion on the reverse side of the Blu-ray cover art. Hands down, “Bloody Knuckles” is a must own!