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THE WICKED CITY

Hong Kong, 1992 (MIFF 1994)

Director: Mak Tai Kit

Political allegory runs riot in this breathless Hong Kong action pic derived from the Japanese manga animated feature of the same name. A prime example of how 1997 paranoia runs deep through every aspect of HK culture, the film sets up a man-against-monster-in-a-doomed-city scenario - no prizes for guessing the allegory at work here. The delirious finale, in which the bad guys play King Kong atop the Bank of China building should alone ensure your presence.

"Another astonishing multi-genre item from Tsui Hark's Film Workshop outfit, this blends the John Woo style gunplay form with an incredibly bizarre monster movie plot and delivers on all its promises.

In Hong Kong, a special police unit is dedicated to fighting 'rapters', a race of shapeshifting monsters who have infiltrated humanity. In the run-up to 1997, there is a faction fight among the rapters, with the younger group wanting to take advantage of the chaos to wreak havoc, while dignified Japanese monster Nakadai wants 'detente' with mankind. Naturally, the plot is complicated by divided loyalties and multiple treachery, but is mainly an excuse for a series of astonishing comic book derived sequences and images. An uneasy encounter between a john and a hooker seems to set up a Jack the Ripper scenario, but the girl suddenly sprouts spider-legs and spits venom from the ceiling. A female rapter impersonates a lift to ingest the heroes, and is then twisted into a motorcycle and ridden to exhaustion!

Wicked City is busy, tough, funny and creepy, with a thin seam of political paranoia and a cool blue sense of style."
- Kim Newman, London Film Festival

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