Film & DVD Review
Three serious rapists join forces so that they can plan, kidnap and rape any woman they want. They target a writer who lives near to them, and set about their plan to kidnap her. But when her friends get in the way, and one of them ends up being murdered, she calls on her boyfriend cop to find the murderer.
Call me strange, but I am one of the few people who are into Hong Kong films that actually quite likes the Raped By An Angel series. Part 4 was the last of the five parts that I saw, and of the other four I thought they ranged from decent to quite good. Part 4, The Raper's Union, was out of print for quite some time, which is why I wasn't able to buy it. But when it got re-released I was quick to buy it so that I could complete the series. After waiting so long for it, I was hopeful for something on par with the others. I could not have been so wrong.
What this instalment does have in common with the others is that the film's bad guys are men who like to rape women. Where this one differs, though, is that it teams up 3 men who form a union so that they can execute more complex plans to get the women they want, without being caught. Of the three rapers, one is a rich guy, Daniel (Ben Ng) who used to work for the CIA, and he owns a big house on a hill. His only neighbour is Kwan (Shooky Kwan), and very quickly she and her friends become the rapers' prime targets. Kwan's boyfriend is Fai (Nick Cheung) and quite conveniently he is a cop.
After an incident in which one of Kwan's friends goes missing, Fai becomes involved in find the people responsible for her disappearance. It soon becomes apparent who it is, and with the help of Kwan and some of her friends, they set up an operation using the women as bait, with the intent of catching Daniel and his two accomplices.
There are a few more slight subtleties and minor plot threads in there too, but they aren't really worth mentioning. Thinking like that though, neither is this film but I feel I have to say something about it to make sure you don't go out and buy it! I am guessing that Raped By An Angel 4 was very made very quickly, with little time between the script being written and the whole production finished. That is the only excuse I can think of for having a film that is so laughably bad in places. Things happen in the film that would not happen in real life at all, and everything is just so much over the top and cringe-worthily bad that forcing yourself to sit through the duration really is a chore.
So what is stupid about the film? Well I'll only highlight a couple of examples, as I don't want to watch the film again to find the others that I can't remember. Both these are near the end, but it makes no difference if I spoil the ending as 1) it is completely predictable and 2) you are not going to watch this film... ok? Right, the operation to catch the rapers at the end doesn't quite go as planned, and one female cop is chasing Daniel. He gets in what can best be described as a wheelbarrow and starts to free wheel down a hill, while she is shooting at him. The all of a sudden he has a gun. Where the hell did that come from, and why didn't he use it in the previous minute that she was shooting at him? Then after the dumb cops think everything is over, and that all three rapers are dead, they begin to clear things up. Kwan was almost raped by Daniel, and was certainly shaken by the ordeal. So rather than having the police officers comforting her, and making sure she is ok, they just leave her alone and let her make her own way back to her house. No police officer there to take her statement or anything, just a 'right, that's it over, off you go now' type attitude. Predictably Daniel isn't dead and turns up for a second attempt.
There is so much that is ridiculously dreadful in the plot and the script that I can't find any words that would accurately portray this negativity. A bad plot and bad script makes things worse for the two main leads, Nick Cheung and Shooky Kwan, Nick in particular. He is mainly known for being a comedian and appearing in comedy films. This role is not one that suits him in the slightest. The script tries to show his comic abilities, but it just does not work. He comes across as being incompetent and very much badly cast. Shooky Kwan's role, as is the case with most of the females in this film, is basically to be the eye-candy, but the strong willed type. There is no character depth at all, and she gets over one of her friends being murdered pretty damn quickly. Other than being a target, there is very little purpose for her in the film. With that sort of character range, it isn't surprising that her acting is a little over the top at times as she was probably just trying to make something from her role. Ben Ng is cast as a psycho again, something which he has been typecast as. He is the intelligent psycho though, but I didn't find him too convincing. From being the patient, calm guy, he completely changes at the end and is more like a stereotypical psycho. His two accomplices are unbelievably stereotyped. They laugh long and menacingly whenever they get the chance, and try to come across as being crazy too. How original.
Anthony Wong makes a brief cameo, which usually is something that can bring the film up a few notches. He plays an ex-raper (I think) who is obsessed with breast milk, and is the person the cops use to get a psychological profile of the rapers. However, he is on par with the rest of the cast in that he has a terrible character. He doesn't play it over the top like the others, but is far more subdued. While the acting is better, having the crap character nulls this plus point. I'm guessing he is just in the film to set up some scenes for out of place humour.
I am going to make this the last paragraph, as the film isn't worth even writing this much about. The story is bad and slow, the acting is pretty crap and everything else you can possibly think of will also no doubt be less than par. Some of the women are attractive, that is the only possible plus point that I can think of, but in absolutely no way whatsoever does it make Raped By An Angel 4 even remotely worth watching. Just avoid it, you'll be glad that you do and that you don't waste 84 minutes of your life. Easily the weakest of the Raped By An Angel series!!!
Audio & Subtitles
The main audio track is Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1. While the claim that the track is 5.1 is definitely true, the majority of the sounds come from the front centre speaker. This audio track has been mixed up to 5.1, and unfortunately it's been a rather poor mix. When the surround speakers are utilised it is generally for effects that are played out of all the speakers. While for things like rain and other ambient effects this would be fine, in this film effects that shouldn't be coming from all the speakers are played through them all. That being said the Psycho screeching type sound does sound quite cool at times here, with it coming from all around you! Matters are made worse with the volume levels. There are several occasions where the music volume level is too loud, as it drowns out the speech. The subwoofer receives a minimal workout. All in all not that great a soundtrack. Nothing giving it great life or depth, and a rather poor mix up to 5.1 channels.
The subtitles start off badly by being off the bottom of the letterboxed print. This means that people with a widescreen TV who would normally zoom in on the letterboxed section can't do that here without cutting of part of the subtitles. On quite a number of occasions the duration of the line of text is far too short. I found myself relatively frequently having to rewind the film so I could read the line again. It did become quite annoying at times. Chinese writing is not subtitled at any point in the film, and it appears as though not all speech has been subtitled either. If all the speech has been subbed, then the subtitles are most likely simplified down. There are only a few instances where this is apparent though. Given all these shortcomings, it is then with a little surprise that I can state that the spelling and grammar are generally pretty good.
Raped By An Angel 4 is presented with a letterboxed transfer. The print is quite dirty, as there are quite frequent speckles and the like on the screen. The transfer is also a reasonably soft, as fine detail is not evident at any point. I've definitely seen many letterboxed transfers that are much sharper in picture. Colour reproduction is not bad. No colour screams of life at any point, but conversely the print isn't too faded either. All in all, it just looks like a typical unrestored, unremastered print, which wasn't too great to start with.
DVD & Extras
There is absolutely nothing in the way of bonuses or extras on this DVD. The DVD packaging is also all in Chinese.
This is a pretty terrible film, and the DVD isn't exactly great either. Even if you like the other Raped By An Angel films, don't buy this one. Having the complete series is not worth having to sit through this film. I honestly have to say that I think this is one of the worst films I've seen in a long, long time.
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