Sunday, June 8, 2014

Ti tian xing dao: Sha xiong AKA/ Brother of Darkness (1994) d/ Hin Sing Tang

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Brother Of Darkness (Ti Tian xing dao: Sha xiong) Directed By Billy Tang, Starring Lily Chung (1994).

Review By B.W. Head Honcho over at WOPSLOITATION.

Ciao, Theatergoers and proponents of entrails alike, I'll be your guest reviewer for the evening. It's safe to say that Alan Alda didn't write the screenplay for this 1994 Cat III Hong Kong sickie. For those of you unfamiliar with the Category III rating, no one under eighteen is admitted, whether they've got a parent or guardian present or not, much like the American early eighties parallel with the same rating (stricter yet, with a seventeen age restriction that I never once listened to, for the record) preserved for movies like Dawn of the Dead(1979), Maniac!(1980), and Fulci's Zombie(1980). Tonight's review is an unsettling little slice of domestic abuse from the man who brought you things like Red To Kill and Dr. Lamb. It kinda unfolds like this...

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This guy's smoother than 20 grit sandpaper.

At the outset, Wong Kuen To (Hugo Ng) is slumped dead, having been brutally beaten and wearing a television set hat to boot, as his brother Kuen Wah (Ka Kui-Ho) is led off in shackles by the authorities. At his trial, Kuen Wah relates stories of his childhood to the jury that could possibly justify his homicidal outburst in some people's minds...As a young boy adopted into the family, Wah gets treated like a wet food stamp on a fairly regular basis by To, who's in and out of jail and manhandling his wife (Pu Kei-Chan) like a receptacle for his throat yogurt in front of their terrified, elderly parents when he isn't kneeing his younger brother in the hangbag or chucking him out a second story window into a back alley full of trash. This guy makes Krug Stillo look like Dick Van Patten.

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"Pouuuur the wiiiine, liiiight the fiiiire, girl, your wish is my commaaaaaaand..."

Years pass, Wah has grown into a polite and gracious young man, a tae kwon do practitioner with a sweet lil' piece of arm candy named Jenny (Lily Chung), while To is still an intolerable dick-in-the-face to any and all who make his acquaintance, stealing beer, holding his own mother hostage at table leg-point for drugs, booze, and brothel funds, putting cigarettes out on his son's back, and we've already seen that it's no bed of roses for his wife, either, and nothing remotely resembling a pleasure cruise. To make matters worse, To's earlier kneeing has forced Wah to add two wah's in bedroom matters (as in wah wah wahhhh, you're impotent, baby!), leaving a frustrated Jenny as the next meal for To's hungry organ. Yeah, where's that television set hat, this guy's begging to be fitted.

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"Where's the stick, mama? Who's got the stick? You want the stick???"

There's verbal abuse, beatings, torture, violence, misogyny, and softcore sex abound here, and with unintentionally hilarious subtitle translations like "My organ must eat something!" and "Let me touch your nibbles.", it all makes for a pretty bizarre viewing, like the Hong Kong version of Farrah Fawcett's Burning Bed on P.C.P. Some of you jaded Cat III fanatics may find it weak in comparison to some of the director's other work in the genre, but it's still moderately mean-spirited and nasty, at any rate. I found it engaging enough, like passing a twisted wreck on the highway, to lay three of my trademark Wops on it. Check it out if you've got the guts!

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You know what this look is missing? If you said "television set hat", give yourselves five points.

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