Wicked City (HK 1992)

Rating: ***
Producer: Tsui Hark
Cast: Leon Lai, Jacky Cheung, Michelle Reis, Carmen Lee, Yuen Woo Ping

Hmm. This film is very strange. "Wicked City" is a very stylish film adaptation of the Japanese anime of the same name. The human world and demon world have co-existed for centuries, but now that peace is being threatened by a highly addictive and lethal drug on the streets called Happiness. Lung (Leon Lai) and Ying (Jacky Cheung) are members of the Anti-Monster Squad assigned to the Happiness case, although Ying is suspected of leaking information. Things get more complicated when Lung's ex-lover Gaye (gorgeous Michelle Reis) gets involved, and becomes the focal point in a power struggle between the human world, the business world, and the monster world. Friendships are tested and loyalties are betrayed, while the fate of the world hangs in the balance.

The film is a super crazy hyper-kinetic flurry of visual astonishment, which is what I love about 1990's Hong Kong films. It's perhaps too ambitious for its own good, and some of the visual effects suffer from budget contraints. Still, while a lot of the effects are cheezy, they're never embarrassing. The film is darkly lit and mildly creepy throughout, and is accompanied by an excellent (and eerie) musical score. All of the characters are very cold and intense, adding to the already dark atmosphere, and Michelle Reis and Carmen Lee are absolutely lovely. Just don't try too hard to make sense out of it.

Notes on the domestic release: In the domestic version, the Raptors are simply called "Monsters" (or "Reptoids" on the dubbed track), which can be really confusing.