The Untold Story 2 (1998) Movie Review

Given the success and influence of “The Untold Story”, a sequel was inevitable; the only surprise being that it actually took five years for it to appear. Although “The Untold Story 2” has no real connections with the classic original shocker beyond its title and a vaguely similar plot, the two films do both star Anthony Wong. Except here Wong plays the comedic policeman character instead of reprising his award-winning role as the psychopath. This fact didn’t appear to matter to the company releasing the film, who put Wong on the poster alongside the killer, dressed in aprons and helping with the human barbeque in an amusing, though cheap and shameless, case of misdirection.

Sadly, “cheap and shameless” pretty much sums up “The Untold Story 2”, which is little more than a heavily diluted knock off of the first film without any of its impact or verve. And worst of all, there isn’t any of the original’s taboo breaking gore. In fact, this sorry sequel is merely an inferior, stupefyingly generic category III film in every sense, filled with the gratuitous sex, weak characters and lame plotting that the original managed to avoid.

Gone too are the intelligence and satirical moments which justified the odd mix of screwball humor and extreme brutality in the first film, leaving a sequel whose tone is wildly uncertain and which has a sense of lazy incoherence. In fact, even by the standards of the genre, “The Untold Story 2” is a weak effort, and is not only an insult to the achievements of “The Untold Story”, but is worthy only of passing disinterest to all but the most hardened category III fan.

As the film starts, we are introduced to Cheung (Emotion Cheung, “Bio-Zombie”), a man who owns a restaurant and seems to have a problem pleasing his sex-obsessed wife (Yeung Fan, “Raped by an Angel 2”). As a result of Cheung’s impotency, the scarlet woman takes a number of lovers, a fact which is known both by the wretched Cheung and his employees. Into this unhappy situation comes the wife’s cousin Fung (Pauline Suen, whom genre fans will recognize from “Ichi the Killer”), an attractive mainland woman who arrives in Hong Kong to help out in the restaurant.

At first Fung seems sweet and kind, and there is an obvious attraction between her and the downtrodden Cheung. However, it quickly becomes clear that Fung is a homicidal and calculating obsessive, who seduces Cheung and promptly kills his wife, chopping her up and adding her to the restaurant’s menu. The only fly in her ointment comes in the form of Officer Lazyboots (Anthony Wong, who recently starred with Yeung Fan in “Fu Bo”), a slovenly policeman whose name tells you pretty much all you need to know about his investigative techniques. As Fung tightens her hold over Cheung and takes over the role of his wife, the poor man begins to crack up under the stress, and it appears that he himself may be destined for the cooking pot.

The main problem with “The Untold Story 2” is that it is simply too restrained and falls prey to far too many of the usual pitfalls of the genre. The original film stood out, at a base level at least, due to a number of truly shocking sequences that eschewed tacky titillation in favor of launching a visceral assault on the viewer. The sequel, however, is filled with gratuitous sex and shower scenes and various other pointless inserts of nudity which, fetching though Yeung Fan and Pauline Suen undoubtedly are, serve only to slow down the plot and to drag the film into the realm of soft porn.

There is surprisingly little actual gore, with only one or two memorable bloody moments, and the film is anemic not only by comparison to its predecessor, but to the vast majority of similar efforts which it is competing with. This is a damning criticism for a Category III film whose pedigree and rating promises far more than it delivers, a fact which is certain to disappoint and frustrate the target audience.

As with “The Untold Story”, there is an injection of humor, this time at the expense of the Hong Kong police force. However, unlike the original, which made an amusing yet nihilistic point about police incompetence and brutality, there is no satirical edge to the laughs in this sequel and the comedy is lowbrow slapstick. Since the film lacks the viciousness of the original, the comedy takes centre stage alongside the sex, which further decreases any impact which the proceedings may have had.

Matters are not helped by Yiu-Kuen Ng’s weak direction, which lacks Herman Yau’s more decisive approach. Ng seems confused as to what type of film he is making, pandering far too much to the worst aspects of the genre without any genuine attempt to shock or entertain. This is also apparent in the film’s visuals, which are characterized by the usual obsession with neon lighting and extreme close ups on character’s faces during sex and murder scenes. Both types of sequence are clumsily handled and lack any kind of impact, especially some of the laughable attempts at eroticism. And while the film is not actually boring, it is so lazily made as to be vaguely offensive, and seems almost determined to thwart viewer demands and expectations at every turn.

The only good things about the film are the performances of Pauline Suen and the very reliable Anthony Wong. Suen is convincing as the psychotic, and builds nicely from mild mannered submissive to cold murderess. Her acting is far better than the film deserves, and actually manages to drum up a little tension during some of the scant moments of nastiness. Wong, though saddled with a badly written and superfluous character, is as charismatic as ever, and provides some effective, though generally unnecessary, comic relief. However, his presence only serves to remind viewers of the far superior original, and is therefore somewhat counterproductive.

Simply put, “The Untold Story 2” is a waste of time for genre fans, and especially for anyone expecting a film which lives up to the legacy of its predecessor. Lazily made, lacking in shocks and disappointingly tame, this is one for viewers of all persuasions to avoid.

Yiu-Kuen Ng (director)
CAST: Anthony Wong Chau-Sang …. Officer Lazyboots
Emotion Cheung …. Cheung
Paulyn Sun …. Fung
Yeung Fan….Kuen

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