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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

The Untold Story - The Untold Story( Blu Ray) [Unearthed Films/MVD Visual - 2020]

The Untold Story stands as one of the more tonally jarring & schizophrenic genre films Iíve seen in a while. One minute itís playful & quirky, the next itís gruelling & grim, then we switch to flippantly sleazed & misogynistic comedy, before swinging into extreme taboo-breaking violence & sexualized torture- so by the end one feels like their head is spinning-off. Here from the folks at Unearthed Films/MVD Visual is a much-needed reissue of this 1990ís Hong Kong made film- bringing together three commentary tracks, a feature-length doc, and a few more bits & bobs.

The Untold Story( aka Bat sin fan dim: Yan yuk cha siu bau,The Eight Immortals Restaurant: The Untold Story, Bunman: The Untold Story) appeared in 1993. It was jointly directed by Danny Lee & Herman Yau- Lee is more known as an actor in  Asian film, having impressive one hundred forty-seven acting credits, though he also directed twelve films. Yau has craved up an impressive seventy-three credits- with his output moving between comic cop films, comedy meets ghost capers, prison-based drama, drama romance, action thriller, and perverse/ gruelling gory comedy horror blends.  The script was co-written by Kam-Fai Law & Wing-Kin Lau, though itís based on a true crime case. The film is well-realized & competently shot- though of course itís very tonally shifting, but these swings are done in professional-if-often jarring manner.

The film opens in  1978  Hong Kong, where Wong Chi Hang(Anthony Chau-Sang Wong) is carrying out a brutal murder & burning. Then we fast forward eight years to Macao China, where on a beach two children have found a bag full of severed hands & limbs. A group of crude, coarse, casually dressed cops are sent to investigate the case- and suspicion falls on the new owner of Eight Immortals Restaurant- Wong Chi Hang- known for its pork buns. Itís discovered one pair of hands is of the missing mother of the restaurant's former & also disappeared owner. Also, new staff at the restaurant go missing with-in days of the day of starting, & lastly Wong can't produce a signed bill of sale for the restaurant. The police arrest Wong and try to torture out a confession from him.

Anthony Chau-Sang Wong is most effectively deranged & perverse killer Chi Hang- with his crew-cut & big glasses look heís both creepy & unnerving. The surrounding cast goes between been camp & vicious, with stop-offs along with these two polar opposites. On the extreme side of things- the gore & torture looks very impressive for the 1990ís- they move from killings & dismemberments, a brutal rape with chopsticks used, various beatings & tortures, and a most disturbing/gruelling killing of a whole family. The more humour side of things moves between slapstick, sleazed 'n' misogynistic, and quirky comic. The Untold Story is certainly not a film for everyone- due to both itís tonal shift & the films more intense moments- but if you enjoy extreme & unbalancing film youíve got to check this out.

Moving onto this recent Blu Ray release- and on extras side, we get a good selection of stuff. First off new wise we get a commentary track from Ultra Volientís Art Ettinger & Cinema Arcanaís Bruce Holechheck. They begin by discussing category III films- these where Hong Kong films that featured sex & Violence, and of course The Untold Story is one of the classics of the genre. They move onto talk about other over-the-top category III films, before going onto discussing key cast members & their other films. As we move on they talk about the on-screen action, the real case the film was based on, and more. Itís a good & worthy track. Next, we get a good selection of archive extras-  we get two more commentary tracks- one with director Herman Yau, and one with lead actor Anthony Wong. Thereís Category III: The Untold Story of Hong Kong Exploitation Cinema- a 2018 doc about the genre, covering the films that lead up to cat III, the genres history & key films. It features a good selection of critics & experts, actors & directors- Wong pops up a few times, and heís not very proud of the films he did. On the whole, the one hour & twenty-minute doc is well put together, and interesting through-out. Thereís a thirteen-minute on-screen interview with effects artists Rick Baker, discussing how he got into cat III films. And a seven minutes fest question & answers session with Herman Yau.


Itís marvellous to see this new Blu Ray release of The Untold Story, and Unearthed Films/MVD Visual have done a great job on the film/extras. If your into extreme transgressive film that is both tonally jarring, and damn unsettling- this release is a no-brainer to pick up. Let's hope there are more cat III blu rays planned, as it would be great to get similar releases for other films in the genre.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Roger Batty
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