Year of release: 1993

Company: Mandarin Films

Genre: horror/exploitation

Running time: 95 min.

Director: Ivan Lai

Producer: Ng Kwok Keung

Cinematography: Lee Kwok Keung

Editor: Choi Hung

Music: Wong Bong

Stars: Lily Chung, Anthony Wong, Money Lo, Hugo Ng, William Ho

Rated III for crude humor, sexual content and gory violence

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Daughter of Darkness

Daughter of Darkness

Daughter of Darkness is disgusting and filled to the brim with gratuitous sex and violence. It's also quite funny in parts and quite chilling -- one of those few movies that is truly unique and a one-of-a-kind viewing experience, though only viewers with strong stomachs and twisted senses of humor will be able to enjoy it fully, if at all.

The movie follows the template of the "true crime" genre, in that we know about a horrible crime (and who committed it) from the beginning and then we piece together the story through flashback. Like many films of the genre, there is a good amount of dopey comedy featured here. In fact, the first half is very much played for laughs as Anthony Wong plays a bumbling and sleazy cop investigating a grisly murder. If you don't like manic Hong Kong-style comedy, then most likely you'll be holding your head in disgust. But I found the stuff here pretty funny, mostly due to Anthony Wong's performance. Believe it or not, there was a time when he actually cared about his work (even in low-budget fare such as this) and he brings a nice bit of depth to a stock character.

Daughter of Darkness

As Anthony puts the puzzle together and brings his main suspect (Lily Chung) in, Daughter of Darkness switches into exploitation mode as Lily relates her story of abuse at the hands of her family -- which means we get to see a lot of the lovely Ms. Chung. Of course, many of the scenes in this part are brutal in nature and quite unsettling, but there are a couple of parts which are nicely erotic. Normally, sex-filled movies are quite boring to me (once you've seen a boob, you've seen them all), but the film-makers did a good job of balancing eroticism and exposition... and hey, Lily Chung does look awfully good naked.

The last part of Daughter of Darkness switches into full-on slasher mode, which is the one area where it falls a bit short. Sure, it's violent and there are oodles of blood and guts, but it's really not all that inventive. People get shot, people get stabbed, people get strangled, but there's nothing like, say, the bear trap in the face from the sequel. I would have liked the movie to take up the climax a notch to match the rest of the movie, and the Friday the 13th-esque antics just didn't cut it.

Overall, though Daughter of Darkness is a alternatively brutal, sexy and funny movie that's well worth your while if you want to explore the darker side of Hong Kong cinema.

Daughter of Darkness