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Acclaimed and charismatic Hong Kong actor Danny Lee made his directorial
debut with this influential film from 1992. DR. LAMB is based on the true
life murders that took place in Hong Kong in 1982 during several months. A
taxi driver Lam Gor-Yu committed grisly murders on females he thought were
"bad and filthy" and it was revealed that he thought he got his instructions
and orders from God. He was caught after developing some photographs which
concerned the workers in that camera shop who actually saw the photos. Lam
(or "Lamb") photographed all his victims in various positions while he
mutilated them or even raped after the killing. He was sentenced to prison
(a life sentence) and at least in the film, everybody turned their backs on
him, even his parents and relatives, and that is also one important point
and theme in the film.
The film opens showing some kids play. Of course it is a short depiction of Lam's childhood as he grew in seemingly happy and safe family, but still he was very silent and had some abnormal habits like used to peep on his parents who made love at night (it is said in the opening that his real mother had left him or died and that he didn't live with his real parents, and that Lam missed his mother a lot as a child). He also secretly watched her sister taking bath and so on but still no one in their family did anything about it until the horrible photographs were found by accident. The family said to police that they never saw him and he was always alone in his room doing something, and driving the cab at night time. The film is told as a flashback as the film opens (after the kids scene) with the arrest of Lam in the camera store. Soon he starts to tell the police about his past and victims, but what he goes through before that isn't too nice or human.
The film is written by Law Kam Fai, who has written at least Kirk Wong's GUNMEN (1988), and co-directed by Billy Tang Hin Sing, who has made some depressing, nerve-shredding and ultra pessimistic (horror related) thrillers like RED TO KILL (1994) and RUN AND KILL (1993), the latter also starring Simon Yam in a perhaps even more frightening psycho performance than in LAMB. Billy really knows how to shoot atmospheric scenes and how to use light and darkness, and how wonderfully that shows in DR. LAMB! Easily the greatest thing in this impressive film is the cinematography by Kin Fai Miu, who has also photographed Tang's over-the-top dark RUN AND KILL. The scenes in Lamb's apartment shown as a flashback are really haunting and creepy due to the huge talent of the cinematographer, the directors and their visual style. The dark and intrusive blue and strong light coming through the window blind to Lamb's room really starts to live and become one important character to the scenes, adding a menacing and dreadful, but also fascinating feel to them. Also the submissive and very low camera angles make the flashback scenes uniquely powerful. Lee and Tang move their camera restrainedly and every angle and movement is carefully considered. The scenes in Lamb's room are as fantastic and stunning as the storehouse finale in Ringo Lam's crime thriller CITY ON FIRE (1986), and that film uses exactly the same technique by using darkness and blue color to the maximum effect. Of course these films would require the big screen as Cinema in general, too.
Music and soundtrack by Jonathan Wong is the second most effective thing in the film and together with the photography they stand out in this film. The soundtrack consists of different menacing, gently pounding and waving voices and sounds which really can raise the hair of the viewer, because soundtrack can be very mean and sudden towards the viewer because it strikes straightly to the brain and fills the whole room where images are only in the screen and not so "dominant" when compared to music and soundtrack. DR. LAMB is again one movie to prove the power of sonic elements in cinema.
The film is pretty depressing film and almost as much as those of Billy Tang's. Lam is horribly abused by the authorities and also by his own brothers, sisters and parents. Everyone wishes death and revenge for him and they just can't notice when they have become themselves as bad as the one they're attacking. The police brutality is taken even further in Herman Yau's harrowing THE UNTOLD STORY (1993) when the (again real life) murderer is played by Anthony Wong who also won the actor award for this role in Hong Kong Film Awards. Only person who seems to feel little empathy and compassion for Lam is Inspector Lee played by the talented actor and this film's co-director that is, Danny Lee. The final image in DR. LAMB really stays in mind and that is also the first time we see Lam visibly reacting to the care he receives by Lee, so there is really things more human and larger between them than what the other characters managed to do. Lam's crimes are horrible and never justified but that doesn't mean everyone must react the same way towards the criminal.
Only negative things I find in this film are the sometimes irritating and unintentionally comic acts and voices Lam does in his room while playing with the bodies. I don't think the "howling" voice isn't too clever or effective and it should have been left out. The film has also some of the usual Hong Kong cinema comic elements which really are not any problem for these film makers to add to any film. It doesn't matter whether or not it's serious horror or action, there can always be a sudden scene of slapstick or goofiness if the makers wish so, but fortunately this film lacks them almost completely. The "breast in the back" and other of the few pretty tasteless jokes and happenings are not as irritating as they could be, but still they are on the limit. Good point is also that the film is pretty well written and the characters (especially Lam and Inspector Lee) become interesting and human, and none of the characters say unnecessary things and thoughts which is too often the case in many Hong Kong films, and that is just a sign of a more or less bad screenplay and dialogue.
DR. LAMB suffered also pretty badly in the hands of the Hong Kong censors and it couldn't get the highest rating, Category III, until several scenes of extreme nature were removed or trimmed. The current Hong Kong VCD and DVD releases are both naturally cut, and at least the old and nowadays hard to find Spanish videotape is the uncut and original version. I have both the HK version (English subtitles) and the uncut version (no subtitles) and the original version is approximately just 15 seconds longer than the Hong Kong Cat III version but the scenes censored are pretty gruelling and graphic and also add to the effect of the film. Director Lee naturally didn't like at all that their expensive prosthetics body used in the goriest scenes was so badly abused by the censors, but still the current Category III version is very watchable and the film definitely doesn't lose its impact unbearably too much.
DR. LAMB is among the most noteworthy Hong Kong films of the nineties, and despite its graphic and shocking nature and imagery, it is not mere exploitation and has many things which are lacking from so called "better" or accepted films from Hong Kong and elsewhere. The film never becomes gratuitous or laughable explicit which can naturally be expected by the talented makers behind this. 8/10
In August,1983 a photo lab technician complained to his manager about disturbing photos of a mutilated female body on a customer's roll of film.This was the second time the manager had noticed this particular customer's unusual photos and this time he called the police.The photo was of a severed human breast.This was approximately the 700th such photo his store had processed for this customer.The cops took the customer,Lam Go-wan into custody and after sweating him for two days he confessed to murdering the woman in the photographs.Then he kept on confessing...In 1992,Danny Lee and Kent Cheng Jat-si teamed up to film the true crime biopic of Lam Go-wan,Hong Kong's first and maybe only serial killer."Dr.Lamb" is an excellent III Cat. shocker that offers some gruesome imagery including cold-blooded murder,necrophilia,dismemberment and breast mutilation.I own uncut DVD-R composite with English subtitles that has all the scenes of sexual violence intact,so if you want to see this uncensored try to find ultra-rare Spanish Manga Video release.Simon Yam's performance as the Taxi Cab Killer is truly haunting and out-of-control.One thing that I found pretty impressive were the actresses that played the murder victims,they had to lay around as corpses while the serial killer mutilated them.So if you want to see a chillingly horrific piece of horror give "Dr.Lamb" a look.9 out of 10.
Dr. Lamb is directed by Danny Lee (co-star of The Killer and the cop in
Untold Story) and Billy Tang (director of Red to Kill and Run & Kill) and
this film is one of the earlier Category 3 movies with Sentenced to Hang
Story of Ricky. After these films, brutally violent and sexually explicit
horror thrillers began to be made and that highest age limit was
Dr. Lamb is not as superb as The Untold Story or Run & Kill but it is still very chilling and stylish true crime film but I don't know how close this is to truth. Anyway, a disturbed young man drives a taxi in Hong Kong and he has very bad traumas from his childhood. Murdered and mutilated women start to appear and the police investigation begins..The horrific truth is about to be discovered..
Simon Yam is among the greatest psycho actors in Hong Kong (and world!) and only equivalent for him is Anthony Wong. The acting in Lamb is once again very professional and unforgettable, and when he "freaks out" it sure is scary and horrific to watch. At times, it makes me wonder how these gentlemen can act like that, no matter how professionals they are! Yam's motif for these killings is that he is on a mission from God and he has to kill all the bad women. Prostitutes and addicts are for instance "bad" women and due to his traumas and awful childhood he thinks that he has to purify and clean the streets out of this scum. But the main point and theme in Dr. Lamb is exactly the same as in The Untold Story: the power and behaviour of police. How far can police go in order to get info and answers? The police no longer is the "good" guy and they are no better than the victims. The message is not as powerful as in Untold Story which is at times almost unbearably hard to watch due to the acts police commits. But the same problems are discussed in Dr. Lamb and this can be described very important issue and no-nonsense film.
The film is also pretty stylish and professional, as we can expect from these film makers. The use of blue and dark colours and light is gorgeous and the film looks fantastic. The rain is always there and so is depressing atmosphere. This looks as wonderful as the finale in Billy Tang's Red to Kill. Dr. Lamb is almost hypnotic at times, so this is once again unforgettable cinema from the great Hong Kong and has no equivalents in Western cinema. The music is also important element here and I can't point out many technical flaws in the film. There are couple of "funny" scenes which should have been left out, but fortunately they are only very few.
The violence and sex is always the thing which alienates people from this kind of cinema and Dr. Lamb is not easier to watch than any other of its kind. The violence and gore is not as extreme as in Untold Story but it is still too much for mainstream audiences. Dead bodies are abused and body parts are cut off. The imagery is occasionally off-putting, but then we have to remember, what actually led the protagonist to commit these horrific acts. The difference between Western and Orient (horror) cinema is as clear as crystal: subject matters and imagery which is definitely a no-no in West (necrophilia, brutality towards women/children etc.) are by no means taboos in Orient. I am not too familiar with the Chinese culture, but watching Chinese films definitely shows that there are many cultures in the world and our Western is just one of them. And when the Chinese/Orient film makers show in their films such a horrific acts mentioned above, it definitely means NOT that they accept these things and don't think they're bad. They are bad and the Orient films say they're bad, so only thing the viewer has to be able to do is to INTERPRET these difficult films and see though them and analyze them. This is too much and too hard for most of the people and that's why the films are considered just sick, disgusting, pointless and so on. Orient films as seen through Western eyes are difficult and require a lot from the viewer, and I like difficult cinema which require brains.
Dr. Lamb is one of the greatest achievements in this field and absolutely worth seeking out for Hong Kong fanatics. Too bad that the newly released DVD from Hong Kong is cut for violence and reportedly the uncut print doesn't even exist anymore, or at least is not likely to be released anywhere. The Spanish VHS tape is the only uncut version I know but it is dubbed into Spanish. Some old HK versions may be uncut too but I don't know about them. But the new DVD is still OK because the cuts are not as bad as possible and there are no any substitutes, especially for English speaking people.
8/10 and recommended for the lovers of Eastern cinema.
DOCTOR LAMB is another HK freak-show - this one is about a sick freak
who kills chicks and videotapes and photographs the after-product.
That's really all there is to this one. Not as memorable or as sick as
THE EBOLA SYNDROME or THE UNTOLD STORY -in fact, DOCTOR LAMB plays out
very much like THE UNTOLD STORY as it is told in flash-back sequences,
where Yam tells the cops of his "misdeeds" after being caught,
interrogated and tortured. Some decent scenes of necrophilia,
dismemberment, etc...not a bad film if ya dig this sort of thing, just
not as memorable as the aforementioned films. Simon Yam puts on a great
performance as a psycho whack-job, but this one left me a little cold,
so-to-speak...Worth a look as far as HK Cat III stuff is concerned, but
don't expect too much. 7/10
P.S. - thanks to "extreme" film guru EMBALMER for alerting me to my Simon Yam/Anthony Wong mix-up that has since been corrected in this review - I've been watching too much of this stuff lately ;)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
And why do I think it doesn't ? Well , here's the explanation : This
movie is described as infamously sick , twisted , depraved , gory and
whatnot . You will find a lot of websites that review " Dr Lamb " as if
it was one of the meanest movies ever made . But it's not , or at least
- it depends on who you ask .A " Scream " fan might see it as the
nastiest possible piece of carnage since WWII , but then again, a
person that finds this Craven's nonsense anywhere near scary , shocking
or gory is -in my opinion - somewhat confused . " Dr Lamb " is not very
gory either. There are only few murders and very little blood . You
have a couple of dismemberment and mutilation scenes , but they are not
too elaborate or long ( and the SFX are nothing to write home about ).
Most of the movie consists of boring , almost comical dialogs ,
interrogations , unconvincing attempts at making some parts of the
movie look like drama , cheesy humor , grimacing , yelling , beating up
and so on . In other words - it's not very interesting .
The acting sucks . That is , most of it . The main actor is decent , it's just that his character is underdeveloped , vague , almost two - dimensional . There is one part of the movie where the killer establishes some sort of connection ( at least that's what he thinks ) with one of his victims that he , for some unknown reason , sees as " pure and innocent " - but kills her anyway and has sex with her corpse . I suppose this part of the movie is meant to show us the sensitive side of a ruthless psychopath , but miserably fails at it . It's too unconvincing and melodramatic, not because of the actor ( well ... )but because of the lousy screenplay , poor dialog , shallow characters . OK , you might say , but this movie is just a low budget exploitation , no one should expect too much here .That's right , but the truth is it's not too exploitative and might leave jaded gore hounds unsatisfied .
I have to mention that certain moments are dubbed in English in a manner of Bruce Lee movies , which makes the whole experience even more ridiculous .
So my verdict is : unimaginative , somewhat boring ,lousy acting , not enough gore , not enough murders , cheap looking SFX , unconvincing characters , lame story ... 3/10 . If you want a strong dose of movie violence and depravity , check out " August underground's mordum " or " Guinea pig " movies . They are far better than " Dr Lamb " .
Dr.Lamb's narrative structure bears more than a passing similarity to
that of another infamous category III shocker, The Untold Story. Both
deal with 'true-life murders', both show the police investigation and
apprehension of the murderer, the subsequent interrogation (ie.
beating) of the prisoner, and the retelling of the crimes in shocking
flashbacks. And both have seemingly out of place comedic moments.
But where The Untold Story was unashamedly OTT sleaze and gore, Dr. Lamb is a more stylish affair. The cinematography is beautiful (maximum use is made of creative lighting with many scenes swathed in blue and red), the acting is great (Simon Yam and Danny Lee give solid performances and even the actresses playing corpses are convincing) and the direction is well handled by both star Lee and Billy Tang.
Simon Yam play serial killer Lam Gor-Yu, who prowls the streets at night in his taxi, looking for 'bad' women (mostly foul mouthed drunks) to strangle, dismember and then photograph. After he takes some of his more 'risqué' snapshots to the equivalent of his local Boots Chemists, he is arrested by the police, who wish to know the truth behind the disappearance of several women who they suspect Lam of reducing to a pile of spare parts.
30 minutes into the film, and Lam confesses all, finally giving fans of Cat III horror what they were waiting for well almost...
I know that Dr.Lamb has suffered at the hands of the censors, and that the Winson Entertainment DVD I saw is missing some seconds of strong gore, but I was surprised at how relatively bloodless this film was, especially considering that it is often mentioned in the same breath as The Untold Story and crazy shocker The Ebola Syndrome. Blood is sprayed around during the first dismemberment and we get the odd severed breast thrown in (quite literally during one 'funny' moment!), but I had been hoping for a higher 'yuck' factor.
As if to make up for the lack of gore, we get a fair amount of unsavoury action in the form of Lam's predilection for messing with the bodies of his victims, prior to cutting them up. Lam poses them for photos, uses them like puppets, and in the case of the final victim, he 'marries' her and then humps her corpse for a solid 40 minutes in front of a video camera.
For me, Dr. Lamb's mix of classy production and lurid subject matter is its main stumbling point; is this meant to be a serious study of a psychotic killer or an exploitative sleazefest? The film ends up being an uncomfortable mix of the two too much sleaze for those wanting a stylish thriller and not enough sleaze (and gore) for those wanting a memorable slice of extreme cinema.
Dr. Lamb is a classic Category III true crime shocker produced , co directed and starring Danny Lee (as inspector Lee ).The real star of the show is Simon Yam and gives a tremendous performance as Dr Lamb (the name given to him by the media )a taxi driver who killed and photographed 4 women in Hong Kong in the early 80's. Based on a real case this movie was very controversial when it was originally released and heavily censored . Even so the film is really well done and depraved . Simon Yam gives a convincing and creepy performance few actors can touch. The cops minus inspector Lee bring black comedy to this otherwise savage thriller . Even if the sex and violence is not at its most extreme, there is strangulation, bodily dismemberment, necrophilia and gore . This is real well done and disturbing film that generated a wave of Category III sickness that spawned much depraved Hong Kong cinema throughout the 90's decade. Dr Lamb is mandatory viewing for fans of the genre and one of my personal favorites.
The 'crime confessional' story device used here was much imitated over
the next few years but this was the one that started the cycle. A taxi
driving serial killer is caught and then, as he details his litany of
crimes, the bulk of the movie plays out in flashback.
Most of the crimes take place at night and in the rain, and the reflected glare of wet windows lends everything an eerie Vaseline sheen of ickiness which accentuates the horror. The killer revels in the gory details of his crimes and the movie wallows right along with him, making a spectacle of every flying blood spatter. This is a gruesome exploitation movie and not for the timid, but quite compelling for its type.
Watch at your own risk.
As with many other viewers who commented here, I have to report a
little baffled by the film's ungodly reputation as a virulent, nasty
shocker. I was likely treated to the cut Hong Kong version but it's
easy to spot out the trimmings: various scenes of our titular serial
killer dissecting with a scalpel his deceased victims. We see a breast
being surgically removed and stored in a jar. Incisions across
different body parts. There is repeated strangulation and a tame bout
of necrophilia as depraved closure. Presumably these are extended in
the uncut version for added effect.
The point remains however: this is nothing like say The Untold Story if that's what you're looking for. Simon Yam exudes a petulant insanity that veers closer to clingy and pathetic than Anthony Wong's brutal monstrousness. And a lot of the film, given Danny Lee's daft involvement, is another awkwardly comedic policier about unorthodox cops matching the killer in senseless violence.
So if you are in it for brutality's sake, you will know where to find it elsewhere. But if you have cinematic stakes in the films you watch and moreover have been developing an aesthetically preoccupied eye, you may be strangely fulfilled.
Our killer is a night shift taxi driver and every night seems to rain hard, which means we get a lot of latenight city blues played on nocturnal asphalt.
The kills are a treat to watch: inside the car parked nowhere and every glass panel drenched with rain and illuminating flashes from faraway neon, hands and bodies convulsing as though a sexual sauna is going on.
And back in the killer's apartment, rays of light piercing through calligraphy painted on a blue wall.
And once the last victim makes a getaway, a frantic chase through pouring rain across a park like straight from a giallo.
Everything that has to do with violence and dying is sensual blues, purely stylized in a way that is erotic to watch. In film terms, this will remind you of the rain-soaked/ neon-bled yakuza films of Takashi Ishii in Japan. A bit of 80's Mann and Wong Kar Wai, minus too much urbane poetry.
So as far as gruesome nastiness goes, this is Category II at best. Watch as a stylized crime flick.
I have had the pleasure of seeing Simon Yam in more than a few films:
My Left Eye Sees Ghosts, Election, Triad Election, Exiled, and more.
Seeing him as the psycho serial killer in a Chinese true crime
adventure was a real pleasure.
I have also seen many film's with Danny Lee: John Woo's The Killer, with Simon Yam and Kent Cheng in Run and Kill, and with Chow Yun-Fat in Code of Honor. As the detective in charge of this case, he puts forth another very good performance.
Lee also produced and directed this film along with "Billy" Tang.
This is a Cat III film, so the violence is extreme. There is a lot of blood and gore as he dismembers his victims. There is also nudity and necrophilia.
Based upon a real story, this taxi driver, who was excited from the rain and thunder, was a real psycho. Yam was perfect in the role.
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