Sunday, August 01, 2010

Raped by Taiwan

The Hong Kong surge of CAT III rated "True Crime" films in the wake of Dr. Lamb (1992) and Eight Immortals Resturaunt Human Pork Buns: The Untold Story (1993) spawned a number of imitators, trying to find that sweet-spot that combined crime and punishment, sex appeal and graphic violence into an irresistable cocktail of exploitation euphoria.  I don't think any franchise was quite as prolific as Wong Jing and Andrew Lau's sleazy tale of fetishized obsession, legal manipulation, and often only half-related sequels...

RAPED BY AN ANGEL/香港奇案之強姦 ("Hong Kong's Legal Rape")  is a 1993 film that was, at least in Taiwan and the United Kingdom, pawned off as a sort of sequel to the totally unrelated feature (with the same stars) NAKED KILLER/赤裸羔羊... confused yet? I hope not, because it's not going to get much simpler.

The single best bootleg cover I've ever seen!

Five years later the franchise was resurrected with RAPED BY AN ANGEL II: THE UNIFORM FAN/強姦2之制服誘惑 ("Rape 2: Uniform Fetish"), which had its' own individual sequel in 2000 as RAPED BY AN ANGEL V: THE FINAL JUDGMENT/制服誘惑2地下法庭 ("Uniform Fetish 2: Underground Court" ) That's right, it's a sequel to RBAA2, but not a part of the RBAA series... at least not if you speak Chinese.

1998 also saw the release of RAPED BY AN ANGEL 3: SEXUAL FANTASY OF THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE/強姦3OL誘惑  ("Rape 3: Sectetary Fetish"), complete with the fugliest box art known to man.  By 1999 the death-knell of the CAT III exploitation was already hacking from theater marquees, but that didn't stop them from releasing RAPED BY AN ANGEL IV: THE RAPISTS' UNION/強姦終極篇最後羔羊 ("Rape The Final Chapter: The Ultimate Lamb"). Let's see Wal*Mart crush that union!

Just for added confusion, a shot-on-video sequel surfaced in 2003 under the title RAPED BY AN  ANGEL 5/強姦5廣告誘惑 ("Legal Rape 5: Advertisement Fetish"). Once again, RBAA "V" is the Billy Tang rape-epic about the Millenium Rapist. RBAA "5" is shot-on-video softporn that was evidently so terrible that Hong Kong never released it nationally. Mei Ah just spit out a PAL disc with Chinese subtitles for the main land to jerk off to and then pretended that the whole thing was a weird tequila fueled fever-dream.

But all of this is kinda' useless trivia, at least for the time being. The important part is I finally got my grubby mits on both the remastered French version of RBAA, and also the "Extended" Taiwan cut. The French print runs 95:42 while the TW print runs 97:48 (both NTSC speed), but since there's several minutes of footage on the Hong Kong version that was not included in the Taiwan print, there's probably a good five minutes worth of never before seen footage compared to the Hong Kong CAT III releases most fans are likely familiar with.

Of course, neither print is particularly great...

French Metrofilm DVD

Taiwan Scholar DVD

The Taiwan transfer is an old analog telecine from the LD days, so it's covered in chroma noise (turned compression garbage), composite rainbows, pure-interlaced frames and other horrors of the period. It shockingly has mostly-clean 3:2 pulldown, but there's a considerable ammount of temporal smearing, so even though there is neither deinterlacing nor DVNR on the print, it's still a ghost-covered mess. The print is also pretty awful, with the entire frame sliding up and down the screen and print damage ranging from innocious to grindhouse levels, depending on how close to a censor cut you are.

The even larger problem with the Taiwan print is the fact that it's dubbed in Mandarin, and has printed Chinese/English subtitles. Even though the film was post-dubbed the Cantonese dub is the way the director Michael Mak wanted the film to be seen. Also, Mandarin sounds positively icky in these early 90s dubs, so unless you actually speak the language I can't imagine the Mandarin track being exceptionally fun.

The French transfer is, for some strange reason, an NTSC > PAL transfer. None of the other HK Video CAT III Collection titles are this way, so I can only assume that the actual telecine work was being done in HK, and for whatever reason this transfer was done in NTSC (probably by mistake). Had it still been NTSC, it would have been watchable: As it is the PAL master is full of stuttering movement, combing artifacts, and horrifying aliasing. Certainly I've seen worse, but considering how stunning several of the Metrofilm transfers look this is still a disappointment.

Now that I HAVE both versions on hand, the question remains: What the hell do I do with them? I could release them as a two DVD set, allowing viewers to see how the two cuts play out differently, but that would be more expensive - and you'd have to suffer through the whole film in Mandarin just to watch a girl get raped by a blind folded retarded kid. I could include them as deleted scenes, but that isn't quite satisfactory either...

...are you guys thinking what I'M THINKING?


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