"I take orders from the Octoboss."

Naked Killer

NAKED KILLER (not to be confused with NAKED GUN or NAKED LUNCH) is a 1992 Hong Kong action movie, one of the good ones that colors outside of the lines of reasonableness. An unhinged plot, extreme behavior and acrobatic, sometimes gory action make it fun, especially since those qualities tend to overlap.

The film’s central theme is a collision of violence and sexuality – the female lead is an assassin trained to seduce men and then kill them, the male lead is a cop who has been impotent since accidentally shooting his brother to death. It’s kind of a romance, and how’s this for a meet cute? Tom (Simon Yam, BULLET IN THE HEAD, LARA CROFT is the TOMB RAIDER in THE CRADLE OF LIFE) and Kitty (Chingmy Yau, LEGEND OF THE LIQUID SWORD) are in the salon getting their hair cut at the same time. Another hairstylist is hitting on Kitty when his pregnant girlfriend comes in to confront him. Kitty pretends to take his side until she attacks him with a cigarette and stabs him repeatedly in the groin with his scissors. Tom chases her and she steals his gun, which triggers his trauma and makes him puke, so she feels sorry for him and gives it back. This story would make an amazing wedding toast!

Afterwards she decides to make him her plaything, showing up at the police station with phony claims just to mess with him, not giving him back a pager he dropped, making him drive her around, rubbing up on him as a taunt. At first he acts grossed out, until he suddenly gets real horny for her and then (spoiler) is obsessed with her for the rest of his life.

Definitely intentional, right?

Clearly there would be way too much drama in this relationship no matter what, but it’s complicated by a family incident and a crazy coincidence. The family incident is that Kitty’s dad (Chang Tseng, BULLET IN THE HEAD) catches a Triad (Ken Lo, AH KAM, PARADOX) sleeping with his wife, and dies in a struggle with him. The crazy coincidence is that Kitty goes to the Triad’s office and massacres the shit out of him and his entire security force exactly when an accomplished assassin named Cindy (Yiu Wai, IMMORTAL STORY) was there to do the same thing. Not realizing that, she takes Cindy hostage on her way out and is surprised that she helps her, using her fancy hat as an explosive, flipping around on top of cars, kicking through a windshield into a guy’s head, doing a DIE HARD style firehose escape, etc. Best hostage ever!

Next thing you know Kitty wakes up in her underwear at a fancy house where Cindy has removed her fingerprints, renamed her Susie and made her an apprentice. “I specialize in cleaning up unwanted men. People like Cody who deserved to be killed. I just kill scumbags. People who really have it coming to them.” That includes the zombie-like serial rapists she keeps chained up in her basement for training purposes. Kitty gets trapped with one and kills him in three minutes and seven seconds – “way too slow.”

Cindy spars with Kitty, talks about murdering dudes with toothbrushes, and caresses her, supposedly to teach the power of seduction. There’s so much lesbian flirtation in this movie it’s hard to take the openly lesbian villains as homophobic. It’s been too much of a celebration for that.

On Kitty’s first mission they target a triad by dirty dancing together at a club. He walks in slo-mo with shades like Chow Yun Fat in THE REPLACEMENT KILLERS and it draws him in like a magnet. As they rub up on him there are some quick cuts to them practicing using a wire to spectacularly behead a mannequin, and I think also (what is supposed to be) a real person?

Honestly I can’t figure out what is supposed to happen here, because it kind of seems like they exploded him on the dance floor, but it immediately cuts to what looks like the same guy elsewhere and another killer named Baby (not to be confused with Baby Firefly, Baby Spice, Baby Huey or The Boss Baby, and played by Madoka Sugawara) lures him in with an offer of “a hot sex game” which includes backwards handsprings out the window, slicing off his clothes with a couple of knife slashes and diving into the pool with the knife between her teeth. Come and get it!

Whatever the deal is there, you can see how Kitty’s new identity and occupation would complicate her relationship with Tom. When he goes to interview “Susie Kwan” about the murder of this guy she insists she’s not Kitty, no matter how much she looks like her. He thinks his friend David (Yu Kwok-Lok, CRIME STORY) will recognize her, but he doesn’t, and then walks out the door and is immediately hit by a car! (I didn’t get that part either.) But Tom knows it’s her because, as he confesses to his partner Jerky (Hui Siu-Hung, ROYAL WARRIORS), he had been impotent after the death of his brother, but woke up “hard as a rock” after meeting Kitty, and had “the same reaction” when he saw this woman. Identification by boner. Convincing, but would it hold up in court?

A new fling starts between Tom and supposedly-not-Kitty. They go at it in the rain on a car, it cuts between them in different locations, masturbating at the same time, etc. Eventually Cindy decides that Kitty is in love and won’t be a good killer anymore, and she likes her enough to let her go. But Kitty’s not out of the killing business yet because she gets into a conflict with another protegee of Cindy (and girlfriend of Baby) named Princess (Carrie Ng, CITY ON FIRE, ANGEL TERMINATORS), who I just realized is the titulastic “Naked Killer” because in the opening scene she surprises a target by being in his shower when he comes home. She shoots him, does some barbell reps while he tries to crawl away, then (as you do) does a flip and hangs upside down from a bar and slams the barbells on either side of his head, shooting blood everywhere. And does a bunch of flips and kicks him across the room into the exercise equipment before hitting the ground and shooting him in the balls. When the police investigate we learn that she also murdered an elderly couple because they talked to her about her cute dog in the elevator.

Of course the climactic battle pays off this heightened (and super horny) world of combat that has been established. There’s a ton of flipping and cartwheeling, caressing, black lace, bustiers, silver dresses, a swimming pool makeout that turns into a fight, gimmicks like poison lipstick, a big shootout. And that’s all of a piece with the stylish look of the film, with its colorful set design, show-offy camera moves and angles and frenetic action editing. There are two cinematographers credited – the great Peter Pau (DOUBLE TEAM, CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON) and William Yim (ONCE A THIEF, ZU WARRIORS). Good job, fellas.

This being a Hong Kong romantic action movie (SPOILER) it ends in a double suicide. I’m not saying this is good or bad, but you don’t see the two leads purposely blowing themselves up at the end of the American action romps. And if they ever did it probly wouldn’t have them having sex superimposed with flames under the end credits. In my opinion. Prove me wrong, BAD BOYS 4.

I’ve seen NAKED KILLER recommended by various people that I follow on Twitter, and a while back I tried to rent it but mixed it up with Ching Siu-Tung’s even crazier international production NAKED WEAPON (2002). I don’t think they’re technically supposed to be connected, but they’re both written by Wong Jing (MERCENARIES FROM HONG KONG) and both are about secret cabals of young women trained to be assassins who use the art of seduction and who have an older woman in charge of them who caresses them and drinks wine and might give them their freedom and one of them falls for and has wet outdoor sex with a cop/agent. This one is directed by Clarence Fok Yiu-leung (THE ICEMAN COMETH, SPECIAL ID) so it doesn’t tell physics and realism to fuck off quite as poetically as the Ching one does. Still recommended.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 11th, 2020 at 4:53 pm and is filed under Action, Martial Arts, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

16 Responses to “Naked Killer”

  1. I watched a documentary on Catagory III films and they were really ragging on this movie for some reason. Though, to be fair, it’s mostly a terrible documentary. The talking heads acted like they were the only smart people and everybody else is dumb. It’s worth watching to hear Anthony Wong talk about some of his CAT III films but the rest is bad. They should have went the Machaete Maidens Unleashed or that doc on Australian cinema which would have give it more energy.

  2. I’m impressed you didn’t mention the part where the guy eats {REDACTED} and it’s played for comic effect. This is one of the gonzo-est movies I’d ever seen when I watched it in my 20’s and all the bonkers fisheye lens/quick cut action sequences with crazy stunts and cartoon gore still holds a special place in my heart. It’s so comfortable being simultaneously ludicrous and amazing and over-the-top. God bless Naked Killer.

  3. I bought this in the mid 90s. I remember liking it, but not much else. Guess I have to dive into my chaotic dvd closet and check it out.

  4. This movie’s a blast, and way better photographed than it ever deserved to be. I was going to say that it’s my favourite Category III film, but I’ve just checked a list, and apparently HAPPY TOGETHER, CRIME STORY, and MAD DETECTIVE among others also got adults-only ratings. So let’s just say that it’s my favourite film that people think about when they think about Category III.

    SO CLOSE seems like the sanitised, family-friendly attempt at the same sort of movie, and it’s also worth seeing.

  5. I have seen this film a *long* time ago.

    Also seen So Close and that fight with the Sword Master was insanely good IMO.

  6. Vern, your highly entertaining review (I laughed out loud, TWICE) commits only one sin: That of making this tedious schlock sound far more entertaining than it actually is. Saw this almost 15 years ago and remember being bored shitless. Maybe I was drunk or tired or maybe just plain weary of this unholy marriage of soft core sex and hard core violence that’s a mainstay of the HK Cat III genre (which kind of reached it’s apex, or nadir, depending how you look at it, in the SEX AND ZEN 3D remake a few years ago), said weariness largely a result of the violence taking on the form of sexual sadism and assorted brutality, 99.99999% of it directed at women. NAKED KILLER gets some props for flipping that around, but not much else.

    But of the many wild and wacky things about the HK film industry, I gotta say, the number of mainstream stars who got their start in CAT III films is pretty amazing. Is there a similar coterie of Hollywood stars who started off in porn and then hit it big? Apart from one “PARTY AT KITTY & STUDS aka The ITALIAN STALLION” starring one Mr. Sylvester Stallone? I heard a rumor Sonny Landham did porn. And I’m discounting the likes of Traci Lords and Ron Jeremy who pop up in bit roles.

    I’m talking like Simon Yam…star of NAKED KILLER and cut to many years later…SIMON YAM in pretty much 50% of HK’s mainstream film output on any given year as lead or key supporting role.

  7. I think a better analogue would be actors who started out doing exploitation films for AIP or New World Pictures, that kind of thing.

  8. “Is there a similar coterie of Hollywood stars who started off in porn and then hit it big?”

    It’s not that unusual in Germany. “Gina Wild” became under her real name Michaela Schaffrath a constantly working “serious” actress and then there is of course the case of Sibel Kekili, who gave one hell of an acting debut in the acclaimed drama GEGEN DIE WAND, only to get then outed by the yellow press as a former porn actress. But instead of letting it destroy her career, she not just continued to work, she even got a big role in GAME OF THRONES (As that prostitute that Tyrion fell in love with until he killed her ine one season) and even appeared in one episode of the German SESAME STREET! without causing an uproar from parents.

    Then there is the odd case of a bunch of well known and respected stage and TV actors from the 70s and 80s appearing in softporn movies early on. The infamous SCHULMÄDCHEN-REPORT series has a whole bunch of them, from 80s heartthrob Sascha Hehn (The German voice of Shrek!) to screen fixture Heiner Lauterbach. I can’t really think of a case where it ended a career. Most of the time it causes a mild stir for a weeks, followed by some chuckles and nobody is really proud of having done that, but in general “I was young and needed the money” seems generally accepted over here.

  9. Apart from Traci Lords, I guess most of the focus is on those who go the other way.

  10. CJ, that’s great information! I guess it’s cultural, with Europe generally having a more liberal attitude to sex. I reckon porn is heavily stigmatized in Hollywood and outside of the wacky world of HK cinema, pretty much across most of the Asian film industry.

    Matthew B, that’s a good point, although I guess moving from exploitation cinema to regular fare or even back and forth between the 2 is more prevalent. Linda Blair went from THE EXORCIST to CHAINED HEAT and then back to guest starring in shows like MACGYVER. But pornography carries a taint that makes the transition from something like GANG BANG BUKAKE VOL 4 to THE NOTEBOOK a little more difficult.

  11. Hypocrisy is the very lifeblood of America, so of course we as a people are capable of consuming something like a billion hours of porn a day while treating the people who make it for us like irredeemable pariahs. That is extremely on-brand for us.

  12. Yeah, I’m sure it’s a lot easier to rise to stardom from Category III — B-movies with lots of gore and/or breasts — than from literal porn, even in its milder forms. Shu Qi made the leap from softcore Playboy-style videos to Category III and then to lead parts in prestige films, but that sort of career path is pretty rare.

  13. Is stuff like Playboy considered porn? Because there are actresses who start out there. It’s definitely not the same as actually having sex on camera but it’s still got a little bit of a stigma with normies. I wonder if there are some actors that did gay porn and now do niche gay movies, because the gay community wouldn’t care about that. But probably nothing mainstream yet.

  14. Playboy probably has the advantage of actually being seen as kinda classy. Of course several feminists or prudes might disgree, but Hugh Hefner did a good job of keeping his brand in the “Tasteful erotic for gentlemen” department, instead of just turning it into the smuttiest smut. After all there even was a time when actual celebrities posed for Playboy AFTER they became famous.

  15. Vern, you wrote “but would it hold up in court?” instead of “stand up in court” which I believe is the required pun when talking about a boner.

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