Released in Asia in 1993, but making its official US debut in 1997 on home video, UNTOLD STORY unfolds as an unremittingly grim tale of a truly conscienceless psychopath--dovetailing schizophrenically with the lightweight, almost slapstick comic antics of the cops tracking him.
Alternately titled HUMAN MEAT PIES overseas, it's unsettling to realize that this was based on a true story, and filmed on location where it occured.
In 1978 Hong Kong, a man kills and torches another in a fight over money and Mah Jongg. Eight years later, a package of body parts washes ashore on Macao. A team of inept cops reluctantly investigate, receiving occasional direction from their cool, competent leader, Inspector Lee (Danny Lee). He
eventually steers their attention toward the "Eight Immortals Restaurant" after a series of letters from mainland China reveal the disappearance of owner Cheng Lam and his family, while one of the severed limbs turns out to have the fingerprints of Cheng's mother.
Currently running the restaurant is Wong Chi Hang (Anthony Wong). When a new employee accuses him of cheating in an afterhours Mah Jongg game, Wong brutally kills the man, carves and cooks him into meat buns, and feeds them to the police who come looking for restaurant owner Cheng next morning.
Later, when cashier Pearl (Julie Lee) tells Wong she's quitting, he accuses her of selling him out to the cops, then viciously assaults, rapes, and kills her.
Inspector Lee has his team stake out the restaurant after an impromptu search of Wong's lodgings turns up numerous belongings of the missing Cheng family. The cops tail Wong to Customs, and bring him down in a struggle before he can skip the country. At the station house they try to beat a
confession from him, but he flees into a throng of photographers and pleads police brutality. By now aware of his guilt in the HK slaying years earlier, the police transfer him to an open prison ward where the guards turn their heads while Cheng's incarcerated brother (Shing Fui On) and some
fellow prisoners beat him to a pulp.
Wong's suicide attempts fail, and finally, after several sessions of torture from the police, he breaks down and relates his crimes in vivid detail: A dispute over Mah Jongg debts and cheating led to the grisly slaughter of Cheng and his family, including the mother, whom Wong picked up at her
home and brought to the restaurant-cum-abattoir for dismemberment.
Back in prison, Wong vows not to spend any more time being tortured and slashes his wrists with a secreted ring-top from a beverage can, this time managing to kill himself.
Star Anthony Wong is an iconoclast within the HK star system, an anti-pop star whose best roles are usually his most depraved. When the young bound children in UNTOLD STORY are being dragged around and savaged by method actor Wong, it's uncomfortably easy to believe the look of terror on their
faces is genuine. In fact, Wong won the best actor trophy at 1993's HK Film Awards for this performance, a surprising victory, considering that the film was rated "Category III" (the Hong Kong equivalent of NC-17).
It was an award well-earned. Whenever Wong is onscreen, the film is riveting. The bumbling cops and black-humored attempts at comic relief on the other hand give it an off-kilter feel, like the Three Stooges hunting Hannibal Lecter. Danny Lee (THE KILLER), ostensibly the hero, walks through his
by-now familiar role as a cop, basically playing straightman through the first half as a smart, sharp, commanding girl-magnet--although in the second half, once Wong is taken into custody, all semblance of humor fades and the film becomes a study in relentless torture, choreographed by the
Inspector, interrupted only for a chilling reenactment of mass-murder. This climactic crime, and the earlier rape-murder, were the scenes shortened for all earlier overseas releases of the film, restored to their explicit and disturbing glory for the letterboxed domestic version by special
arrangement with executive producer Lee.
This is the bleakest and darkest of modern noir. Ultimately, no one in the film is remotely likeable, and if there's satisfaction in Wong's bloody fate, it's not because we identify with the good guys (there are none), but because Wong is just so excruciatingly evil. (Graphic violence, sexualsituations, profanity.)
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- Released: 1993
- Rating: NR
- Review: Released in Asia in 1993, but making its official US debut in 1997 on home video, UNTOLD STORY unfolds as an unremittingly grim tale of a truly conscienceless psychopath--dovetailing schizophrenically with the lightweight, almost slapstick comic antics of… (more)