Reviewed by: mrblue
Similar to some of Mau Dui-Fai's (aka T.F. Mous) other films, his 1980 entry released by the Shaw Brothers studio, Lost Souls, is on the surface a down-and-dirty exploitation flick. But Mau is known for trying to employ pathos and emotion into what might otherwise be efforts that spend their running time pandering to the raincoat crowd. Here, though, whether it was due to the Shaw Brothers' rigid standards or Mau's relative inexperience as a director, the results here neither really shock nor inspires the audience.
Reviewer Score: 5
Reviewed by: Libretio
Summary: Social document or lip-smacking sadism? You be the judge...
LOST SOULS (1980)
Reviewer Score: 5
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Sound format: Mono
Refugees from mainland China are taken prisoner by ruthless slave traders who use sexual and psychological torture to extract details of their contacts in Hong Kong.
[Caution: Potential spoilers] Exploitation cloaked in the veneer of social drama, which signals its true intentions in an early sequence when a bound woman has burning candle-wax dripped onto her naked breasts, depicted with lip-smacking relish by director Mau Dui-fai (billed as 'Mou Tun-fei') and cinematographer Lu Cheng. Anyone with a yen for the sleazier side of HK cinema will enjoy Mau's lack of restraint, though LOST SOULS is a fairly mild example compared to his later effort MEN BEHIND THE SUN (1988). Nevertheless, there's plenty here to offend and/or titillate just about everyone, as the villainous slave-master (Shaw Brothers veteran Chan Shen) unleashes his minions on a group of terrified refugees, all of whom are stripped naked and subjected to gang rape, enforced prostitution and water-hose torture. Worse still (or not, depending on your viewpoint), the audience is rendered complicit in every outrage by POV shots which place them in the villain's shoes, emphasizing cruelty and debasement as the principal attraction.
For all its full-throttle audacity, however, the film's subtext is problematic, to say the least. In one appalling sequence, designed to exploit the audience's latent homophobia, the devastated hero - who had earlier borne witness to the sexual abuse of his pretty young sister - is raped by Chan in unsparing detail, prompting violent rebellion by the outraged prisoners. In other words, male-on-female violation is celebrated by Mau as a form of entertainment, whilst male rape - with all its attendant 'Queer' connotations - is depicted as an atrocity which invites horrific retribution. Given the emphasis on sensation for its own sake, it's virtually impossible to take the movie seriously on any level, though sensitive viewers are duly forewarned.
Technically, the movie is efficient rather than inspired, and Mau makes the most of his low budget production values. Performances are surprisingly sincere, for the most part. Several music cues have been lifted wholesale from ROLLERCOASTER (1977).
NB. Despite a 'Shawscope' credit in the opening and closing titles, the film was shot with spherical lenses and projected theatrically at 1.85:1.