Login | Register

The Untold Story (1992)

View at IMDB

Commentaries on this disc:

Commentary 1: Director Herman Yau Lai-to and Hong Kong-based film critic Miles Wood Rating:3.8/10 (4 votes) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by Brian Thibodeau on May 10th, 2004:Find all reviews by Brian Thibodeau
Hong Kong movies, especially those of the "Category III" variety - gleefully vulgar sex 'n gore thrillers often rooted in true crime cases - all but scream for commentary treatment and yet, most Hong Kong filmmakers, particularly those responsible for these selfsame "Category III" pictures leave little subtext available for discussion or debate, preferring instead to splash subtext, context and text across the screen with the subtlety of the notorious ballpeen-hammer-and-phone-book interrogation scenes so common amongst the genre.

This, however, is undeniably part of their charm. They require little exposition up front and inevitably end when the bad guys (and often the good guys) have breathed their last. Thus, the best commentary tracks one many Hong Kong films tend to be by HK film historians, who can at least fill in genre history, cast resumes and other lesser detritus not found on screen.

In the relatively few tracks by Hong Kong filmmakers to date, they frequently come up wanting, not because they're not talented filmmakers, but simply because everything is on the screen and, when one makes as many films a year as most Hong Kong filmmakers did in the golden days, one's memory probably blurs a bit.

That said, it's hardly surprising how little information is gleaned from Herman Yau's commentary for this infamous crime flick, while critic Miles Wood should be able to provide more background but doesn't. Though he comes off as a most likeable guy, at best we learn that Shing Fui-on was cast because he was one of the few actors creepier looking than Anthony Wong was to be in the film, that Julie Lee was cast because of her willingness to do nude scenes (she's the unfortunate victim of the tabletop rape and chopstick violation), and that the real restaurant in which the film was shot is a great place to have breakfast. The movie is, of course, based on facts, although Yau admits some of the info came from inmates who knew the real-life killer and related tales of police brutality, so verisimilitude might be suspect were it not for the appearance of such scenes in so many similar films.

Apart from these little nuggets, and a thin defense of the accuracy of the Macau police techniques (which include captain Danny Lee showing up with a new babe on his arm in nearly every scene!), there's little to digest here for such an infmaous cult classic, and moderator Wood, who knows quite a bit if you now which websites to check, certainly could've done a little more research to enrich the proceedings, instead leaving poor Herman, who sounds like he doesn't mind discussing the film, out to dry through a frustrating amount of dead air.
Commentary 2: Actor Anthony Wong Chau-sang and Hong Kong-based film critic Miles Wood Rating:5.7/10 (3 votes) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by Brian Thibodeau on May 12th, 2004:Find all reviews by Brian Thibodeau
This commentary rates a little higher then the director commentary due in large part to the participation of star Anthony Wong, who's somewhat more forthcoming with production details and memories of the shoot, although overall the track still succumbs to massive stretches of dead air in its second half. The track ends approximately 4 minutes before the film.

Interestingly, Wong admits to the high level of improvisation required in Hong Kong cinema being due to the proliferation of bad scripts, particularly in the era this film was made. He also correctly surmises that the film's sick humour (largely seen in sequences featuring the Macau cops) would never play in U.S. films, being as it is a symptom of Hong Kong filmmakers putting everything into their films "...except knowledge," he adds with a chuckle. He cops to preferring TAXI HUNTER, also directed by Herman Yau and where the humour and horror were far better integrated, to this film.

Wong and Wood are also mildly candid in discussing the former's return to the screen in BEAST COPS after a bout with thyroid disease seriously affected his weight and confidence.

Overall, a mildly better track then the Herman Yau/Miles Wood commentary, if only because the star is so famous in the west for this role. Behind-the-scenes info is more in evidence on this track as well, and Wood at least participates more consistently in the conversation.