Plot: What’s it about?
A young princess lives on a lush estate and has a pampered life, but all is not well with her, to say the least. She has a husband who tries to keep her pleased, but he simply isn’t enough for her, as she has immense sexual needs. As these needs are not being filled, the prince uses various tools to keep her satisfied, but she craves other men and what she wants, she gets. So she seeks out other men to quench her desires and as she does so, sometimes her maids watch through holes in the wall or cracks in the doors. The maids mean no harm by any means, they are simply sexually curious and want to see the action. But when the princess catches one of them watching her, she is furious and implicates the young maid in a murder. So this maid is called up on serious charges and the prince is as well, since he is thought to be involved as well. This young woman is sent through an intense series of tortures, from light punishment to searing pain & suffering. But will she ever be released and the truth be discovered, or has the princess buried it once and for all?
Now this is what Category III is all about, an insane flick with insane moments, including some classic, unforgettable scenes. As you should be able to tell from the title, this one is all about torture and as such, those not in search of beatings, unusual impalements, and beyond probably won’t want to visit this picture. I think A Chinese Torture Chamber Story has elements of comedy, drama, fantasy, horror, and other genres, but it never settles on one, so it is this outrageous mixture. So no, this flick doesn’t follow the usual rules and such, but the results are still positive and while this one won’t be for the masses, it is a very interesting motion picture. There are a lot of memorable scenes here, but how about that naked wirework, how often do you get to take in something as wild as that? I’d say this film is worth a look just for that sequence alone, as Elvis Tsui is terrific and the whole situation is hilarious. I know films about sexual torture and such aren’t for everyone, but those interested in extreme cinema should give this one a look. This disc from Tai Seng is rather basic, but the price is good and as such, I more than recommend this release.
Although he isn’t always given leading roles, Elvis Tsui seems to steal the show in many films, as he does here. Of course in this case, he has a most unusual performance in a most unusual situation, so it is natural that he steal the show, I think. I think this is one of his most memorable turns in truth, even if not due to the depth and level of his performance. You don’t see naked wirework too often, but when you do see it, it usually involves Tsui. As I said, this role is not too memorable in terms of traditional acting merits, but trust me on this one, you won’t soon forget Tsui’s performance. You can also see Tsui in such films as Sex and Zen, The Seventh Curse, Deadful Melody, Sixty Million Dollar Man, A Man Called Hero, and Dragon Inn. The cast also includes Tommy Wong (City on Fire, The Killer), Julie Lee (Emotional Girl, The Untold Story), and Yeun King Tan (Satan Returns, God of Cookery).
Video: How does it look?
A Chinese Torture Chamber Story is presented in a 1.85:1 widescreen transfer, which is not enhanced for widescreen televisions. I was surprised by how clean the print used here was, as even recent Hong Kong films seem to show wear signs, but this transfer uses a very sharp, clean print. As such, the other elements are never hampered and the image is terrific, much better than I had expected. The colors are bold and bright, but never overly rich, while contrast is stark and true, if not as refined as in most modern U.S. releases. In any event, this is a very nice visual treatment and fans should be most pleased, I think
Audio: How does it sound?
I wouldn’t recommend this release as an audio demo disc, but the included Dolby Digital 5.1 option is more than adequate, as far as the material goes. The film’s original Cantonese soundtrack is found here and it sounds terrific, if a little thin at times. But this is common on Hong Kong films and as such, I can be more relaxed in terms of expectations. The surrounds are used to enhance the atmosphere and such, but don’t expect much as far as dynamic presence. The dialogue is clean and well presented as well, a more than solid overall audio treatment. This disc also includes a Mandarin language option, as well as English and Chinese subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes some talent files, as well as the film’s theatrical trailer.