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Cha Chuen-Yee has directed many interesting Hong Kong films, which include Once Upon a Time in Triad Society, Theft Under the Sun and another CAT 3 rated true crime thriller, Legal Innocence. The Rapist is also about a true life case of Tuen Mun rapist (played by Lee Kar-sing), who terrorized the women of the title place in the 1992 and 1993 before he was caught right after he had just fallen in love with his latest, a very charming and kind, victim who also seemed to understand him despite he raped her. I don't know how close this is to the truth, but this is how it is depicted in this film.
This film is rated CAT 3 and made in 1994 so it is a wonder this film isn't just mindless exploitation with ultra gore and sleazy sex - These films were made plenty of in HK during that time and after the success of Danny Lee's film Dr. Lamb in 1992. Some CAT 3 rated films are indeed very noteworthy and even masterful films, which have many more things to offer than just violence and exploitation, and The Rapist fortunately is pretty much among them. This film has long and violent rape scenes, which make this film impossible to be released without huge amount of cuts in UK, but still those rape scenes are not too exploitative or gratuitous. They don't go into excesses and especially the last rape of the victim he finally falls in love with, is actually a beautiful scene, but more of that later.
The film gives many explanations for the acts and disturbed mind of the title character, and the film ends after the long discussion between the rapist and the police chief (Chan Kwok-bong). The rapist thinks all the pretty girls deserve to be raped as they dress sexy and act so that every man's attention is guaranteed. He is very sick in mind and begs for sympathy and understanding because of his traumatic past which according to him make his crimes acceptable. This film doesn't moralize or go into ridiculous explanations (like in Ivan Lai's Peeping Tom (1997) which gives totally laughable motives for the killer/rapist) for the rapist's acts. This is a depiction of disturbed and ill mind who hates females, especially very beautiful and attractive ones, and can't control his acts towards them, as the police officer says, too. And love is the final thing which takes him to the police as he is caught when dating possibly his first love ever, and that gives also a clue that he hasn't received any love and care in his childhood and teenage years, and those things of course can make and create these kind of lethal and violent persons. The girl he meets and rapes is very warm and understanding and lets him to be with her despite the fact she was just raped by him, and this scene is very beautiful and thought-provoking. Perhaps the girl gives him something he hasn't ever got in this world and that is also why he is caught.
The film is very restrained and shot in very low budget, I think, but it doesn't matter because it is all very clever and nice looking, as the empty and dimly lit apartments and streets are more than menacing and haunting, and all the camera angles and movements are also effective and used cleverly to make this film creepy and atmospheric. This is among the better CAT 3 films, but still it is perhaps little too long and cannot after all say as much things about the rapist as it maybe wanted to. I'm very curious to see more from Cha and Legal Innocence should be in my collection very soon. The Rapist is nothing special or specially memorable, but still slightly recommended for those who are interested in HK cinema in all forms, not just action, kung fu or violent and outrageous CAT 3 films, because this film hasn't got elements from those genres. This is little more than average effort from those mentioned groups. This also lacks totally all the stupid humor usually found in HK films, true life thrillers included. Many CAT 3 films are irritating because of the unnecessary humor attempts, and Dr. Lamb is among those films. Fortunately Cha wasn't interested in the humor at all with this film, and that's again one reason I'd like to see more of his films.
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