Category III films are often dismissed by mainstream movie lovers as being mindless, tacky and distasteful, existing solely for dubious titillation. Although there is a fair bit of truth to this statement, the genre has produced a number of genuinely good efforts, including a handful of gritty serial killer films (most notably “The Untold Story”) and several films which succeed mainly through demented enthusiasm and remarkably deranged plots (“A Chinese Torture Chamber Story” is probably the best example). However, for every film like these, there are unfortunately a dozen like “Suburb Murder”.
This really is the bottom of the barrel, and it’s impossible to imagine anyone enjoying a film so wretched that it fails on every conceivable level. Honestly, I have no idea what type of viewer “Suburb Murder” was aimed at, as it will undoubtedly be a let down for gorehounds, sleaze fans, and anyone expecting to see something that even resembles a competently made film. This is the kind of trash that gives Category III a bad name, or at least helps to perpetuate the myth that the genre is incapable of producing anything worth watching.
The plot of “Suburb Murder” is standard stuff, following the same flashback structure used by countless superior films. The story starts with the gruesome discovery of a woman’s raped and mutilated corpse. The police soon have the main suspect, Kang (actor King-Kong Lam, whose name is far better than his acting), in custody, and set about interrogating him. As Kang breaks down, we see the harsh life he has led, from an abused childhood, through a youth of petty crime, a brief redemption, and finally to the tragic events that led to his psychotic attack.
The approach of driving a film from the point of view of the perpetrator is not a new practice, and it has been used quite successfully in Cat III films to create fuller, more realistic portraits of killers (such as “A Lamb in Despair”). However, “Suburb Murder” is utterly unconvincing, mainly due to the fact that it tries, albeit in staggeringly incompetent fashion, to work in the best of the rarely compatible worlds of extreme sleaze and serious psychology. Although the film is too badly made to have been effective had it instead concentrated on one or the other, the approach of attempting to generate sympathy for the killer, then throwing in some truly awful scenes of carnage, results in something absolutely incoherent, offensive, and unforgivably dull.
The flashbacks to Kang’s childhood are simplistic and clumsy scenes of him being locked in the bathroom, called a bastard, and other cruel acts. Although unpleasant, there is no real effort made to convince the viewer that any of this is having any affect on the psycho-to-be. Following this, we see Kang dabbling in some minor criminal activity, again with absolutely no sense that any violence or madness is developing.
Finally, when the viewer is on the verge of falling asleep, the film subjects its only vaguely sympathetic character, Kang’s girlfriend, to a horrible and drawn out rape sequence. This is used as a highly tenuous justification for Kang raping and killing a random woman in a scene that is incredibly offensive, from both a moral and filmic viewpoint. Sorry if this spoils the plot for any interested viewers, but believe me, if you decide to watch “Suburb Murder” then you’re pretty much damned from the second you hit ‘play’ on your DVD machine.
Is it even worth mentioning the film’s technical merits, or rather the lack thereof? Briefly, the direction by Kin Ping Cheng is incredibly amateurish, badly paced and lacking in redeeming features of any kind. The acting is sub-porno and wholly unconvincing. The few scenes of blood are without any impact, and even if you find this kind of sleaze exciting, there’s very little skin on show. I think that pretty much covers it.
Hopefully, I’ve managed to get across just how bad “Suburb Murder” really is. Luckily, it’s a pretty obscure entry into the Category III genre, so viewers at least need not be worried about stumbling upon it by mistake. I don’t have one single good thing to say about this film, and coming from a self confessed Category III fan, that’s a damning indictment indeed.
Kin Ping Cheng (director)
CAST: Ling Ga …. Kang’s mother
Feng Ku …. Kang’s father
King-Kong Lam …. Kang