Film Reviews:

Wicked City

(Peter Mak & Tai Kit Mak, HK, 1992)

This Hong Kong horror/fantasy is based upon Yoshiaki Kawajiri's own manga strip and Japanese animated feature film. It's chock full of special effects (mostly not so special), the usual HK frenetic pace and, combined with a sense of the most outre imagery, it is probably the perfect live action counterpart to the earlier incarnations.

The storyline has been adapted a little, but it's still pretty much about human special agents fighting demons from a parallel dimension. Visually, watching Wicked City is like watching an expensive, glossy advert (for what bizarre product, I'm not sure) for an hour and a half; and as such it is a good film to use when playing the 'spot the straight camera angle' game. You know the sort of thing; the nights are always blue and the weather is always raining because both happen to be more cinematic than the real thing.

To appreciate these visuals it is best seen on the big screen of a cinema, but this shows up the sub-standard effect works that is mostly passable on the video at home. Beware, the widescreen, subtitled version (sent out to reviewers) is, of course, superior to the pan and scan dub that is on sell-thru. This should be borne in mind when reading reviews. Worth catching but, be warned, very high on the 'intense-omiter'.

Rob Dyer

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