If you ignore the lurid pictures of naked women covered with snakes and spiders on the box, “Naked Poison” may initially seem to be a Hong Kong variant on the Hollywood bad taste sex comedies that have been sadly popular in recent years. Look a little closer, however, and you will see the Category III certificate, and realize that this is a different, sicker, and even more tasteless prospect entirely. The film is a pervert’s fantasy come to life, as a repressed weirdo gets hold of a mystical date rape drug and uses it for predictably nefarious ends.
“Naked Poison” is in many ways the archetypal disposable Category III film; absolutely packed with sleaze and casual atrocities, yet at the same time so over the top and enthusiastically demented that it is very hard to take seriously. Whilst not a particularly good film by traditional standards, it is definitely one of the more entertaining (if that’s the right word) Category III films of recent years and for those already schooled in the genre, it may provide a welcome return to the ‘devil may care’ style of the early 1990s.
The plot is straightforward exploitation fare. A strange, bullied young man named Lin (Samuel Leung, “Human Pork Chop”) inherits his grandfather’s medicine shop after an unfortunate incident involving some venomous snakes. Rather than using the powerful medicines for their intended purposes, he instead mixes up a powerful aphrodisiac that turns people into sexed-crazed lunatics, conveniently leaving them with no memory of their deeds the next morning. This comes in very handy at work, where he uses it to take revenge on his nasty co-worker Winnie (Sophie Ngan, “The Beast of Tutor”) amongst others. The drug turns out to be highly addictive, and Lin turns this to his advantage, enslaving his former tormentors and bending them to his increasingly twisted will.
I guess with a plot like this, it should come as no surprise to hear that the film consists mainly of dubious sex scenes featuring the odd looking Leung and a variety of women. Director Cash Chin, who previously gave genre fans “The Eternal Evil of Asia”, plays things strictly by the numbers, bombarding the viewer with sleaze in an attempt to draw attention away from the awesome shabbiness of the whole affair. To be fair, the production values are not too bad, and Chin does at least make an effort to drum up some atmosphere, mainly through the overuse of neon lights. He does seem to favour extreme close up shots of characters pulling odd faces, which can be a little off putting, especially during the sex scenes.
The acting is also of a comparatively high standard, and genre fans will enjoy seeing the always gorgeous Ngan giving her usual revealing performance. Cheung makes a pretty good villain, constantly cackling and scheming, and although the film makes a half-hearted attempt to give him some moral depth, his performance is generally amusing pantomime.
To be honest, there isn’t a great deal of point dwelling on these types of things when reviewing a Category III film, since its whole existence is based on titillation rather than any kind of intellectual stimulation or technical achievements. The aim of this film is to show women in varying states of undress and peril, and on this score “Naked Poison” cannot be faulted. The nudity is incredibly frequent, and though the sex scenes are generally results of the application of the drug, at least they don’t descend into the nihilistic women hating of similar films.
Having said this, the film is undoubtedly misogynistic in the extreme, and the content is incredibly dubious. In addition to the sex, there are a few moments of effective nastiness involving snakes, spiders, and a variety of bodily fluids. The ending in particular is quite wild, as the film crosses over the lunatic line with some great moments of slime-soaked, trashy horror.
Overall, “Naked Poison” is certainly worth watching if you are a fan of Category III films or interested in seeing a prime piece of unabashed exploitation cinema. It’s definitely better than the vast majority of its peers, and provided you are fully aware of what you are letting yourself in for, it should perform pretty much as expected. For all others, there’s not much point in even looking at the DVD box, as this is a film that will only confirm your worst suspicions about the genre.
Man Kei Chin (director) / Man Kei Chin (screenplay)
CAST: Cheuk-Moon Leung …. Ng Chi-min
Sophie Ngan Chin Man …. Winnie Wong
Gwennie Tam …. Chan Mei-ling