There was a time when I would have thought that Cat III was merely a misspelled sequel to a terrible Taylor Swift movie. (Still love you, Tay!) Then, I listened to the excellent Zobo With A Shotgun podcast and I discovered that there was a whole new world of twisted cinema out there. And by out there, I mean Hong Kong.
The more I researched Cat III, the more two films kept being mentioned – Men Behind The Sun (link below) and The Untold Story. Now, seeing that Stephen Biro’s highly respected Unearthed Films had released the latter, I ordered it and sat by my letterbox waiting for it. What else ya gonna do doing lockdown?
So, here we are. The Untold Story. Any film which starts with a savage fiery murder (I am terrified of fire so this set off my alarm bells, not for the only time) will set me on edge instantly. From there, we are into the traditional cop vs case story which follows a team of, let’s face it, idiotic policemen (and the clued in female that they all ignore) as they try to solve the crime of a number of body parts that have washed up on a beach.
We follow Wong Chi Hang, the new owner of a restaurant in town that is producing some sweet treats, but whose previous owner seems to have disappeared, though we have seen the murder at the start of the film Wong seems likeable and almost a sympathetic character, screwed out of his rightful gambling winnings. Then, as his actions get more violent and dark, you start to think that maybe you should have been cheering on the dumb police after all. It is like The Silence Of The Lambs, where Hannibal gets you on side and then half way through you remember and see what a psychopath he is. Here, there is a rape scene that made me sick and from that moment on, I wanted this guy locked up – but why did you not want him locked up when he burned the old guy at the beginning? Yes, The Untold Story throws up a number of questions throughout. It is fiercely intelligent as well as fiercely nasty.
The final quarter of an hour barely gave me the chance to breathe, so much was its nastiness. Basically anything that pushes your buttons exists within this bubble. Yet still you cannot look away, so excellent is the direction throughout and the performance of Anthony Wong which is so brilliant that he won the Hong Kong version of the Best Actor Oscar for this. Well deserved.
The Untold Story is part 70’s cop movie, part 80’s serial killer movie, part social commentary, part “LOOK WHAT WE CAN SHOW ON THE SCREEN, ARE YOU LOOKING AWAY NOW?”. It is excellent. The film alone would give this disc five stars but, wait, there is more…
When I received my Blu, I was as excited by the included feature length documentary as by the main feature – Category III : The Untold Story Of Hong Kong Exploitation Cinema. Put together by excellent journalist and long time cheerleader for the darker more interesting corners of cult cinema, Calum Waddell, this is a great look at how Hong Kong put the Cat III certificate out there to warn people, but soon it became a thing to look for to find the best in horror and exploitation. Thanks to this brilliant documentary, I now have another list of films to search out and Waddell is so genuinely likeable as well as knowledgeable that he is always one of my favourite commentators on this type of journey.
There is also a Q and A with the director and a more than generous THREE commentaries, including one with star Anthony Wong which is worth the price of admission alone.
As a bare bones movie, this would be essential, but the love and care shown to it by Unearthed Films makes it one of the best blus in my collection. A must buy for anyone with a love of the more adventurous of horrors.
The Untold Story is available now via :