A live-action adaptation of a Japanese animated film of the same title, THE WICKED CITY offers an imaginative, unmistakably Hong Kong approach to a tale of conflict between humans and alien counterparts with a blend of horror, science fiction, crimefighting, and romantic melodrama
unthinkable in any other cinema.
In the near future in Hong Kong, a new drug fad, centering on the high-energy "Happiness," is linked to increased activity by super-powered, other-dimensional beings known as "Rapters" who disguise themselves as humans and infiltrate human society. The Anti-Rapter Bureau assigns top agent Lung
(Leon Lai) to monitor Yuen Tai Chung (Tatsuya Nakadai), a wealthy Asian industrialist who is suspected of being a Rapter. Lung asks for Ying (Jacky Cheung) to be his partner but the squad chief (Yuen Woo-ping) refuses out of distrust of Ying, whose mother was a Rapter.
Yuen works with other powerful businessmen, Rapters in human guise, to try to engineer peaceful relations with humans, but he's consistently undermined by his reckless son, Gwei (Roy Cheung), who wants to take over his father's enterprises and lead a Rapter conquest of the human world. Yuen's
mistress is Gaye (Michelle Reis), a Rapter with whom Lung once had an affair and whom he still loves.
Ying is suspected of leaking information to the Rapters, but the traitor in the Bureau turns out to be Loh (Carman Lee), the girl Ying loves, who is spotted engineering a major drug deal with Gwei. After the Bureau apprehends Yuen, Gwei kidnaps Gaye and manages to break the magnetic defense shield
erected by the Bureau, causing time to begin running backwards. Lung and Ying free the squad chief and proceed to engage in battle with Gwei, who has reverted to his scaly, reptilian Rapter form. Yuen and Gwei fight atop jumbo jets over the Hong Kong skyline, as Yuen begins reverting to Rapter
form as well. Lung and Gaye seek to stop Ying from turning into a Rapter himself. Finally, with Gwei destroyed, Lung allows Yuen and Gaye to escape, hoping that Gaye will one day return to him.
WICKED CITY offers the most extravagant special effects yet seen in Hong Kong cinema. A female Rapter turns into a liquid monster, a pinball machine writhing in ecstasy as the villain plays her, and finally a motorcycle ridden by her opponent, the squad chief. In a scene borrowed directly from the
Japanese animated version, another female Rapter turns into a bony, multi-legged, spider-like creature in the throes of a sexual liaison with the hero. During the final battle, the Rapter characters change into their hidden reptilian selves, replete with claws, scales, and long tails.
Produced by the prolific Tsui Hark (ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA), the film is easily one of the most bizarre and delirious of Hong Kong creations, but also one of the most consistent in its stark, deadly serious depiction of a future world where interdimensional trickery can rend the fabric of time
and space as humans know it. A romantic undercurrent devoted to the thwarted love between Lung and Gaye anchors the often surrealistic proceedings in a more familiar emotional drama.
The character names and names for the Rapters vary in different versions of this film. The main character is addressed as Lung on the Cantonese soundtrack and is so named in the subtitles of the American version, but is referred to as Taki (the character's name in the Japanese version) in the
original subtitled Hong Kong print and the American dubbed version. The Rapters are so named only in the Hong Kong subtitled print, and are referred to as "Reptoids" in the English dubbed version and "monsters" in the American subtitled version. (Violence, sexual situations.)
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- Released: 1992
- Rating: NR
- Review: A live-action adaptation of a Japanese animated film of the same title, THE WICKED CITY offers an imaginative, unmistakably Hong Kong approach to a tale of conflict between humans and alien counterparts with a blend of horror, science fiction, crimefightin… (more)