He Lives by Night
Hong Kong 1982
Directed by Po-Chih Leong.

Po-Chih Leong's film JUMPING ASH (1976, HK) is often mentioned as the first, the earliest example of Hong Kong's "New Wave." It is spoken of reverently, and it's a film I've long wanted to see. I still want to see it, but my enthusiasm has been greatly reduced after suffering through this 1982 effort which he shot for Cinema City, a comedy-thriller about a cross-dressing killer which comes off as a decidedly lame DRESSED TO KILL (1980, USA).

Sylvia Chang stars as Sissy, a radio DJ who acts like a tomboy but has a breathy, sexy voice on the air. Everyone listens to her show, the killer, the cops, everyone. A copycat killer loves her and keeps calling in threatening to kill her, so cops Kent Cheng and Simon Yam keep her company and try to woo her. Meanwhile the killer (Eddie Chan) has to murder someone every time he sees them wearing white stockings. This is a bit of disadvantage for him, since he works as a shoe salesman and probably goes stark raving quite frequently, one would imagine. Turns out he wife was having an affair with a cross dressing man who wore white stockings, and he just hasn't been able to come to terms with that.

The comedy elements and the murders are uneasy bedfellows, and seem to belong to two entirely different movies. The ineffectual, goofy cops just fool around the whole time, Kent Cheng at one point donning some black leather pants and glitter eyeshadow to impress his date. Meanwhile, the murders are depicted as quite brutal and unnecessarily graphic.

To make matters worse, the comedy isn't particularly funny, and the stalker scenes merely recycle all the usual cliches and offer no new ideas. Syliva Chang is about the only worthwhile element in the production as her performance is quite charming. Eric Tsang has a brief cameo as a shoplifter wearing makeup like a bandmember from KISS.

Rating: Not Recommended (Not Recommended)

Posted by Peter Nepstad on September 27, 2005.

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