AKA: Tuen Mun Rapist
Year of release: 1994
Genre: true crime
Director: Cha Cheun-Yee
Producers: Rico Cheung, Cha Cheun-Yee
Writers: Rico Cheung, Lam Kee-To
Cinematography: Sung Gong
Editing: Angie Lam
Music: Johnny Yeung
Stars: Dickson Lee, Chan Kwok-Bong, Farini Cheung, Chin Gwan, Hui Si-Man, Wong Wa-Wo, Cheuk Wai-Man, Go Sin-Ming, Lam Kee-To
Rated III for violence, language, nudity, and sexual situations
Movie Review Index
A non-descript and mostly forgettable entry of the "true crime" wave that was popular in Hong Kong cinema in the early 1990's, The Rapist is based on actual events. Distilled and dramatized for mass consumption, this group of Category III "roughies" produced a handful of classics (such as The Untold Story) but most of the efforts turned out to be middling pictures such as this, where the pandering towards the hairy-palmed heavy-breathing trenchcoat-wearing crowd ultimately demolished any semblance of cinematic polish, thus negating any sort of widespread appeal.
The Rapist takes its' inspiration from Lam Kwok-Wai, a serial rapist and murderer who terrorized the Tuen Muen district of Hong Kong from 1992 to 1994, where he committed at least seven rapes, two of which resulted in death. The notoriously tabloidistic Hong Kong press labeled Lam as a new version of Jack the Ripper, which caused an outcry from local residents, who felt they were being neglected by the police, who they suspected let the cases slip by due to the low income of many in the area.
Lam's case (as evidenced by this writeup of the events) is something that is ripe for deep cinematic exploration, but as essayed through The Rapist, the anguish the neighborhood's residents is put aside in favor of showing uncomfortable scenes of sexual violence. This sort of thing is nothing unique in the world of Hong Kong movies, but the better entries, such as Red to Kill, manage to walk a fine line between outright base semi-pornography and challenging and thought-provoking filmic output. By the time The Rapist ends, after which the audience has been "treated" to not one, but two, extended and graphic rape scenes of the same woman in the last twenty minutes of the movie, that line has been fully hopped over.
In its' defense, director Cha Cheun-Yee's effort does get some things right. Namely, it was refreshing to see a film of this type that did not treat the police as total violence-driven buffoons -- though there are still a few scenes that will leave many viewers scratching their heads, such as one where the lead detective, Lau Man-Ching (Chan Kwok-Bong) plays Jenga while looking at pictures of Lam Kwok-Wai's latest victim. The acting is also generally well-done, especially Farini Cheung, who plays a policewoman who is used as bait to bring out Lam. But, overall, the over-dependence on actually showing the "naughty bits" makes The Rapist feel somehow too sleazy for its' own good, and thus this is a picture that's meant for die-hard fans of the genre and those people only.
This movie shares the same subject matter of Portrait of a Serial Rapist, as well as an identical Chinese title.
The Videoasia DVD, put out under their "Tales of Voodoo" series, uses the Ocean Shores VCD as its' source, and is in Mandarin only.