Stephan Yip's CAT III rated exploitation film MAD STYLIST (1997) is among the worst and uninteresting Hong Kong films and "nasties" I've seen. It is equally sleazy and loathsome as Ivan Lai's DAUGHTER OF DARKNESS 2 (1994) and thus almost completely without its merits or any positive things.
MAD STYLIST stars Wong Hei as Dee who was bullied as a child and who has since tried to start a decent life as a hair stylist. He messes everything up and gets fired from most places he gets to work. Suddenly he meets her childhood friend and "protector" May (Hilary Tsui) who used to mutilate living animals as a child in order to scare the bullies away. They start a new life together and start to kill various people. Soon a retarded girl (Man Chung Han) witnesses Dee getting rid off the body parts and so he should kill her, too, but can he really kill that innocent and really harmless girl just like that even if sadistic May tells him to?
The film has also little roles by Michael Wong and Kent Cheng (why is he involved with this junk?) and they play naturally police inspectors trying to solve the mysterious murder cases as body parts appear in various places. The actors are pretty talented and do their roles with care but that's perhaps the only good thing in this film.
The film has absolutely no point other than exploitation in the sex and violence departments. It tries to be very visual and stylish but fails pretty miserably because the weird and twisted camera angles don't mean anything in the film, they are just there but there's no reason for their existence. Ivan Lai's PEEPING TOM (1997) is another example of this: the camera angles are all the time very twisted and "unusual" but it becomes very pointless and unnecessary as it doesn't depict the characters' emotions or anything else in the film's world, because there's NOTHING to be depicted because all the films want to be is exploitation, violence and sex. The director thinks the film is now very wonderful and even "artistic" but it requires much more than just wild angles for film to become a seriously noteworthy piece of cinema. The first scenes showing Dee in the street walking in the crowd in slow motion are genuinely pretty effective and work because at that point, nobody knows about his character too much and it creates a very ominous atmosphere to the scene and the effect is not used throughout the whole film.
The film includes also the retarded girl being captured by the killers and treated pretty much like a dog so the film is far from being "correct" on any level! Also the explanations and motives for the killers' acts are very ridiculous as the film tries to hide its exploitation status and tell something important about being bullied as a child and the traumas of that kind of experience. The violence and nudity is mediocre but still strong enough to secure the CAT III rating and nothing less and that's exactly why the film was made in the first place. I cannot appreciate this film more than 2/10 and I'm happy most other CAT III rated films are much more noteworthy and have many cinematic merits, too.
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