Spider Woman (1995)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2008-04-05
Summary: For Jade Leung fans
"Spider Woman" would be confusing if it ever involved the audience enough for us to care what happens to any of the characters. It is an incompetently made mess that caused me to question my determination to see every movie that features Jade Leung Chang. Ms. Leung is distinctively beautiful, even by the high standards of film actresses and shows real talent when given anything at all by the screenwriter and director. Unfortunately Lo Gin tosses her into a poorly connected set of scenes that are dull in themselves and only makes things worse by tacking them together in a senseless and amateurish way. However on a straight cost/benefit analysis--is the cost of time wasted and brain cells sacrificed while watching yet another inept movie outweighed by the benefit of seeing Jade Leung in parts of it--"Spider Woman" comes up a winner, however only in the far from universal world occupied by those obsessed with Jade Leung Chang.

She is very alluring in all her costumes/disguises and is able to looked demented and murderously unhinged without going over the top. Everyone else is mired in a script that doesn’t really have a plot but is made of barely related subplots. Many people are killed by many other people and none of it makes sense—not because the movie is a mystery but it is so poorly made that it is confusing. There are at least two serial killers and they seem to have killed a few of the same victims.

“Spider Woman” opens with a woman walking into the sea at night and ends with the same image shot from a different angle The opening dissolves to Ken, played by Jade Leung (as is her twin sister Kenny) sitting in an art gallery looking at a painting that evokes exactly that image--but when a customer who is thinking of buying the painting asks her what it means she tells him it that it doesn't mean anything, that paintings don’t speak they simple are. The customer is a stereotypical petit-bourgeoisie who wants to not only impress his friends with his knowledge of art but also wants to make sure the painting will match his decor. Michael Wong who is there for a job interview convinces the customer to buy the painting since it costs less than a night out on the town. It turns out that both are cops working undercover investigating the Ken who they suspect has murdered a series of men.

The medical examiner has figured out that someone is killing men not only while they are having sex, but while they are in the throes of orgasm. The killer uses a hexagonal shaped spike that they haven’t recovered and don’t know if it is pencil, a steel rod or a swizzle stick from a bar that the cops, the medical examiner, the potential victims and the suspects like to spend their evening. Dayo Wong Chi-Wah plays the medical examiner and is creepy and very strange—he likes to fondle Emily Kwan Bo-Wai, his assistant, while wearing heavy rubber autopsy gloves. This is not only an odd fetish but would be a good way to spread whatever microbes were hiding in the body he is working on. He also eats lunch in the autopsy room, using a table that is occupied by a corpse covered with a blood soaked sheet. This sequence ends in an unexpected and completely ridiculous way--Emily Kwan, is standing behind the medical examiner cleaning the blood from a scalpel when she suddenly attacks him, slashing with the scalpel while he ducks against the body and then recovers enough to punch her in the eye. The two police officers pull her away who are there to find out about the latest murder victim, listen to the ME talk about female spiders that kill after mating and then leave--just another day at the morgue.

The cops at the morgue are Edwin and Malone. Michael Wong plays Edwin—actually he plays Michael Wong—a stoic, dedicated cop who is irresistible to women and men and who spends a lot of money on hair care products. Wong stuck in a sexless marriage of convenience with Valerie Chow, apparently to appease her mother. Since mom is going to Canada for a few years Valerie tells him they can get a divorce—she is in a few other scenes, notably interrupting Edwin and Kenny while they are having sex but is completely extraneous to anything else that is happening. Malone is the only sympathetic character in the movie. Played by Chan Kwok-Bong, he is gay and falls for a doctor who is either a serial killer or just a really terrible person. Malone has his heart broken (but not stabbed) when he sees his new boyfriend in the bar with a woman.

The only reason to suffer through all of this, of course, is Jade Leung as Ken/Kenny. Ken (gallery owner) has an emotional/psychological impairment--she feels she is losing her memory and also has lapses where she is detached from her surroundings--falling into deep, sustained almost coma-like sleep without warning, standing the rain while not moving or saying anything and getting soaked. This last problem is the basis for shots of her dressed in a clingy, wet outfit and then changing into dry clothes behind a screen. These symptoms may be connected with her ability to "see" into paintings, to find hidden meanings in their imagery, texture and iconography. Ken is a temperamental artist who wears baggy tops and slacks. Kenny is a psychiatrist who wears form fitting tailored suits, wire-rimmed glasses and really enjoys promiscuous sex with people she meets in bars. She lives in the United States but Ken sees and hears her in hallucinations.

The twins are two personalities occupying the same lovely body, a secret that the audience figures out almost immediately but which allows Jade Leung to get twice as much screen time as she might otherwise, much of it in revealing costumes. She is subdued and hesitant as the afflicted gallery owner, tough and brash as the psychiatrist and very sexy as both. The lighting and camera placement choices flatter her, she has a couple of scenes in lingerie and a few more where her acting ability is able to shine.

Clearly for Jade Leung fans only, but a must see for her fanboys.
Reviewer Score: 2