Naked Killer (1992) – A Tribute to the Greatest Movie Ever Made

I don't know why they didn't lead with the scene where everyone drinks tea. I guess they thought this would sell tickets. Whatever.

If the advertising campaign for The King’s Speech has taught us anything, it has taught us this: Some movies you see.  Others, you feel.

Still others have lesbian assassins, dick-eating and exploding hats.  Such a film is Naked Killer.

I don’t fit a very coherent profile when it comes to my tastes in film.  I love American summer blockbusters.  I love movies where French people brood about banging each other.  I love Indian musicals.  I fucking love Kung Fu movies.  Basically, I don’t care where your movie’s from or what it’s about as long as it puts me in that special, heightened place, that ecstatic hysteria of movie love.  It’s what I long for every time the lights dim in a theater (still a magical moment for me), every time I pop in a DVD of some unseen chestnut, every time I take advantage of the unholy pleasures of Netflix instant.  Take me there, make me giggle with the joy of discovery and awe, and I’ll be yours forever.  Raiders of the Lost Ark does that for me.  The Blues BrothersSholay. Om Shanti OmThe Third ManA Clockwork OrangeDuck Soup. Fist of Legend.  Crippled Avengers. All but two or three Terry Gilliam films.

Basically, I love loving movies.  I’m not an easy lay, but if I’m sitting down to watch your movie, I want to like it.  This dewy-eyed optimism can lead to surprising delight in a well-turned B picture (The A-Team) or angry disappointment with a work that has LITERALLY EVERYTHING IN IT THAT I SHOULD LIKE but still sucks (Nine).  Being a real movie lover makes every excursion a gamble, because it means I have a stake in the experience beyond getting my money’s worth.  I want my love’s worth.

The makers of Naked Killer (Producer/writer/prolific sleaze-genius Wong Jing and director Clarence Fok Yiu-leung) know what my love is worth.  Separately, they have made terrible, terrible films.  Together, they made this.  And it is one of the few genre pictures that takes a genuinely junky premise (hot chick assassins) and actually DOES something with it, never letting any single sequence be a mere functional progression of the plot when it can also be a hothouse of stylish filth.  It’s so cracked-out and vivid, and so in love with the kind of gratification movies alone provide, that there can be only one assessment:

Naked Killer is objectively the greatest movie ever made.

It’s a movie so great that Wong Jing, knowing he’d capped his career, more or less remade it in 2002 and called it Naked Weapon.  Accept no substitutes, however – this is the real deal, an honest-to-god exploitation treasure from Hong Kong cinema’s golden age.

Exhibit A – the trailer:

The greatness of that trailer is twofold:

1. The torrent of insane shit flashes by so quickly that you can’t really process it.  In what context does any of what you just saw make realistic sense?

2. Those aren’t even the best parts.

To summarize: Kitty (the unspeakably hot Chingmy Yau) is one angry girl, given to acts of horrifying violence if a man doesn’t meet her standards, though in fairness, most of the men in this film are idiots or rapists or both.  Her main tactic?  The kicking, shooting or stabbing of balls.

"Meow, bitches."

Tinam (Simon Yam, endearingly goofy in his pre-supercool years) is  your garden variety STREETWISE COP ON THE EDGE.  He’s also suffering from a serious, ahem, gun problem.  After accidentally killing his brother, even touching his weapon causes him to vomit.  He’s frustrated.  Emasculated.  Impotent.  Yes, Tinam certainly is neurotic about his gun.

Also, he has trouble getting it up.  V’OH!

This was the only available shot of Simon Yam from this movie. He's drinking milk in the bath. So...yeah.

Anyway, he falls for Kitty, who teaches him how to love (and get an erection) again.

And all it took was boobs. Magnificent, magnificent boobs.

Yes, Tinam, and the audience, are smitten with this testicle-destroying beauty.  But when Kitty falls afoul of the particularly rapey idiot responsible for the death of her saintly father, she is rescued by the mysterious Sister Cindy (MILFy Wai Yiu, or as I like to call her, “Why, you…!”), goes into seclusion, and begins her new life as a contract killer.  Sister Cindy trains her in the twin arts of combat and dykistry.

Just ladies, doing lady things.

Simple, you scoff?  I only wish it were!  It turns out that life is anything BUT simple for a hot chick assassin.  For one thing, the clothes are insane.




For another, sexy contract killing is a free market proposition, meaning competition is STIFF.  Enter evil psycho-lesbians Princess (Carrie Ng) and Baby (Madoka Sugawara).

Just a couple of lesbo assassins chillin' down after a long day.

Suffice it to say, things get moist.


And deadly.

But still also moist.

I promise you, I’ve spoiled nothing in explaining all of this.  The narrative doesn’t connect all of these dots in predictable ways, so the broad outline is pretty unrevealing.  The sweet/twisted story of Kitty and her father, for instance, is one of the film’s berserk highlights.  And even if you know the story going in, nothing can prepare you for the preposterous details that Wong and Fok employ in the telling.  The lush, weird production design, all miles of drapery and massive pillars, like something dreamed up by a gay giant; Peter Pau’s agile, popgasmically colorful cinematography (he would win an Oscar nine years later for his handsome, stately work shooting Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon); the performances, every one pitched somewhere between lurid camp and actionable psychosis; the coke-addled momentum of the thing, always threatening to overheat before…YES, it totally does.  And then it keeps going.

Naked Killer is also fertile ground for analysis.  Tinam’s impotence is a revealing plot device.  He dresses stylishly (at least that’s the idea) and swaggers into every scene like King Shit, but the moment he has to take action, he literally throws up.  And when his physical impotence is cured by Kitty, he’s still a hapless stooge, constantly mocked, fooled and pushed around by his dream woman.  In a world where every man is a slobbering sex criminal, we’re asked to root for someone who’s comically weak.  Can this really be the audience surrogate?  If it’s a film designed to cater to horny boys (and it definitely is), what the hell are the makers trying to say?  Could this be a trenchant, if unintended, critique of the main audience for films like this?  Of course, Tinam comes around for the climax (ahem) but until then it’s amazing how pathetically the filmmakers portray their traditional point of audience penetration (cough).

Maybe that’s because, in a break with tradition, our sympathies are meant to rest with the female lead.  Sure, she’s a castrating bitch (literally, she’s very irritable and she castrates people), but hers is the real journey of the film, from an angry woman betrayed by men to a superbadass assassin who has tasted Sapphic pleasures.  The film insists that the main love story is between Kitty and Tinam, but it’s obvious what the real romance is here: Kitty and Sister Cindy share the movie’s most legitimately sexy moments, and Yau and Wai seem genuinely turned on by each other.  The heterosexual trysts in the film are hilariously awkward, but in every moment of breathless nearness and fondling between the women, the entire film seems to shudder.  Sure, it’s exploitation, but the joy of much exploitation is the story it doesn’t MEAN to tell.  Wong Jing can throw in as many scenes of tortured yearning between Yam and Yau as he likes, but no dice.

Feel the strangely muted heat.

It’s hard to call the film feminist when it spends so much time leering at its scantily-clad (though rarely naked) subjects, but JESUS if the women don’t come out ahead of the men.  The women go on international missions, play dangerous games, employ subterfuge and pursue passionate affairs.  The men (well, the ones who aren’t rapists, and I’m serious, there are a BUNCH of rapists in this movie) stumble around trying to figure out what the fuck just happened.  It’s also refreshing how much blood-soaked justice is meted out to its male offenders, and how Wong and Fok pull no punches in hitting them where it hurts.  If you have testicles, expect to spend a lot of time cradling them in the watching of this film.

Of course, the main reason to watch is that this is a rare genre piece that is all killer, no filler.  You will see martial arts, exploding bodies, gunfights that destroy beautiful sets that a gay giant worked very hard to design, lesbian love, wild stunts, and, yes, a guy actually eating a dick.

So many genre movies start and stop at the premise stage, assuming that once they’ve hooked you, their job is done.  They go about their cynical business with a dispiriting joylessness, treating the actual making of exploitation cinema like a bothersome formality.  Not Naked Killer.  It’s different.  It’s a keeper.  Every chaotic, stupid, compelling, thrilling, heedless minute of it is dedicated to mining its premise and finally transcending it.  Unlike most films of its ilk, it’s not a “meh” deal that’s littered with highlights.  There are maybe five minutes in total of Naked Killer that are not working overtime to show you something you have never seen before, or at least never with such batshit energy.

In short, it’s the greatest movie ever made.  Watch it with someone you love.  Be lesbians together.



Bastard Keith

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