Monday, March 1, 2010

Wild About HK Cat III's Part 1

  • They're hard as hell to find in most cases. 
  • When you do, the visual quality is usually less than average... at best. 
  • The English subtitles, if even available, are often laughably translated.
  • The most recent of them are over 10 years old.
And yet, I can't get enough of these gems. 

Recently, I have become a total addict for HK (As in Hong Kong)"Cat III" movies. "Cat III" is the Asian version of our NC-17... sort of. Depends on whether your talking sex or violence. Sex-wise, well... let's put it this way, a tame, a very tame, Skinamax flick would easily garner a Cat III rating. I'm not kidding. It's that restrictive, so if you see a Cat III-rated flick and it's just a sex romp, prepare to be underwhelmed. You have been warned. 

Violence-wise though, we are at the polar opposite end of the spectrum. Many of these movies are intensely violent, and often go into areas that even the harshest American films generally consider off limits and taboo. Politically Correct BS such as rape and child brutality.

Let's start with rape. I find it beyond ironic, as well as ridiculous, that in American films you can and will see women get harshly brutalized, savagely killed, and/or tortured to the extreme, on screen, but almost never will you see a female raped on screen. In the rare cases you do, it's usually presented as some Lifetime channel, super serious, can-this-woman-ever-possibly-recover-without-therapy plot device.

Asian film makers usually treat it as just another mundane criminal act, many times in a humorous vein! 

Now understand, I'm not downplaying rape as an intensely violent act, nor am I necessarily advocating it as a plot device. But let's be realistic here, even psycho killer dudes are still guys, and guys, well, they do love the `tang, right?

Even granting the occasional uber-nut who's all about the blood-n-guts and not the muffin, how realistic is it that in virtually all slasher/torture films, nubile hotties are systematically slaughtered and/or tortured, but never sexually assaulted?  

That's no issue in HK Cat III's. If you're a babe in one of these movies, it's just about a given you are going to be sexually assaulted, or at least, attempted sexual assault. Yes, there's still bloody murder and mayhem, but rape is simply a significant part of the process, which if quite logical if you think about it.

The other part is the violence against kids. At first this stuff threw even me a curve, because I just wasn't used to seeing such things on screen. It's not as common as sexual assault, thanks goodness, but it's there enough to make you go "whoa!" a few times. Films like "The Untold Story (1993)", "The Underground Banker (1993)", and "Run and Kill (1993)" (Man, that was a bad year for kids in HK Cat III's wasn't it?) pull no punches. I mean, none.

But, harsh as it is, non-PC material like that is part of what makes these flicks so cool. They'll go anywhere, anytime. And, if all that doesn't throw you off, then keep an eye out for the humor. Is it actually funny? Not really, but the fun part is that Asians will mix this very odd humor right in with the most horrific violence imaginable. Not just some of the time either. It's very much a staple of many HK Cat III films.

So, what makes a HK Cat III? Well, there's no set timetable, but their heyday was from the early 80's to the early part of this decade.

There are lists but remember, many of these are simple sex romps and those aren't really the ones I'm referring to here.

Next post on this I'll give you some of my faves in this genre.

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