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Anthony Chau-Sang Wong
TF Mous' unique style of exploitation kicked off with this grim gem which centres around the unfortunate travails of a group of Chinese boat people who arrive in Hong Kong by stealth and are immediately targeted by low-level people traders.
The director of the superb MEN BEHIND THE SUN and the equally downbeat BLACK SUN has a knack for legitimizing his sex and violence with politically and culturally sensitive subject matter.
This Shaw Brothers production, produced in 1980, bears the admirable hallmarks of Mous' later work. The action is well staged, the set-ups are creatively photographed, and the pacing is brisk. There is a solidity and sharpness present in the work of this fine director that places him in the top ten per cent of exploitation masters. He has more in common with Japanese pinku directors such as Teruo Ishii than his Hong Kong contemporaries such as King Hu, Chang Cheh and Jimmy Wang Yu. His art is gruesome, extreme and almost fetishistic in its intensity.
The "lost souls" of this cinematic bad dream are a ragged group of male and female refugees who find themselves shackled in a makeshift prison run by a bisexual warden and his rape-loving cohorts. The women, in particular, are subjected to a Marquis de Sade-approved catalog of abuse and torture. The male of the species doesn't get off lightly, either; one character is graphically sodomized with an intensity that is rare for any Hong Kong film, let alone one greenlit by Run-Run Shaw (bless his adventurous hide!).
There is a surplus of lurid nudity (I'm not complaining, mind you) and much bloodshed and general nastiness. Everything is lovingly lensed in appropriately grotty locations and Mous never gets shy about his more extreme depictions or the sexualization of the abuse. In fact, it's quite clear that Mous revels in the sadistic excesses of this less-than-cheerful exercise and I, for one, respect him for it.
Mous' cinema is a cinema of transgression masquerading shamelessly as social comment. One can only admire such audaciousness.
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