Human Pork Chop (2001) Movie Review

“Human Pork Chop” is a certain type of film, for a certain type of viewer. Seriously, given the title and the Category III rating so proudly displayed on the box, I’m quite sure that fans of more serious cinematic fare and those of a nervous disposition are highly unlikely to even consider watching. Which is probably a good thing, as “Human Pork Chop” is a film with no morally redeeming features of any kind. I guess the only question that really needs to be answered here, for those who care, is whether or not the film lives up to its title.

The answer is a resounding “yes”, as even without a great deal of actual gore, this is one of the nastier, more sadistic and downright repugnant examples of the Category III genre. Everything about this film is unpleasant, nihilistic and just plain rotten, so much so that you’d swear you could actually smell it. To some, this may be a recommendation; to all others, you may want to wash your hands after just touching the DVD case.

The plot begins with the gruesome discovery of the bones and body parts of a missing woman. The police arrest the top suspects and drag them in for questioning. After a little bullying and persuasion, we are gradually told in flashback how the poor victim met her awful fate. The girl in question was a drug-addicted prostitute who foolishly stole some money from a vicious pimp. When discovered, she is kidnapped, imprisoned, humiliated, degraded, tortured, and finally killed.

I’m not spoiling anything here, as right from the start it’s made very clear that the film is only spiraling down towards one depressing outcome. It is worth noting, however, that the girl is in fact made into soup, and not an actual pork chop, though I’m not sure if that’s really cause for complaint. This is clearly another entry in the cannibal crime sector of Category III, whose only real high point has been “The Untold Story”.

Confusingly, “Human Pork Chop” came out at the same time as “There is a Secret in my Soup”, a film with an uncannily identical plot that also contained a great deal more sex (including an unbelievable scene involving a vacuum cleaner) but was a bit lighter on the nastier elements. Why the industry decided the world needed two films about the sadly true story of a prostitute being tortured and made into soup is beyond me, but for what it’s worth, “Human Pork Chop” has the edge. The main reason for this is the simple, single-minded vileness on display. However, despite containing a lot of violence, sleaze and revolting scenes of degradation, the film is not particularly exploitative.

Director Benny Chan (“Heroic Duo”) shoots the odorous affair quite clinically and with an efficient pace, managing to avoid glamorizing anything. As a result, the film is fairly successful as a true-life crime drama, and stands at least a little above most of its peers. Pretty much everything here is ugly and dirty, including the cast and this adds an uncomfortable air of realism lacking in similar films. This is at least a change from the usual Category III attitude towards this kind of material, and it’s good to see a little gravity being displayed for once.

The cast is mostly made up of first-timers and small time Hong Kong industry actors, all of who are fairly convincing in their roles. In the title role (so to speak) is Emily Kwan (from Ringo Lam’s “The Victim”) who is actually quite good, and manages to generate a fair bit of sympathy for her wretched character. Also worth noting is Yiu-Cheung Lai (“Gen-X Cops”) as the evil pimp, who is a great example of calculated menace and barely controlled violence. Their good performances are a real plus for the film, and add to the overall believability.

The problem with this realism is that it’s kind of hard to know who the film is aimed at; there’s not enough blood for gore-hounds, not enough nudity or sex to titillate, and the film is far too cruel and grim to be entertaining in the usual lunatic Category III fashion. At the end of the day, “Human Pork Chop” delivers exactly what it promises: a bleak, often nauseating, portrait of the final days of an unfortunate woman leading up to her drawn out and horrible death. Whether you want to bear witness to this is up to you.

Benny Chan (director)
CAST: Sai-Wing Yip
Ga Yiu Mok
Saan Lui
Sammuel Leung
Sau Yue Chan

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