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(1997)
The Peeping Tom


Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 04/17/2007
Summary: Even Jade fans should avoid

A fan of Jade Leung Chang watches a lot of bad movies and “The Peeping Tom” is among the worst. To steal a phrase from a critic of a different art form, it is a shabby little shocker—but this forfeits even the shock effects that Joseph Kerman found so upsetting in “Tosca”, leaving only the shabbiness. So it goes.

The English title is appropriate even if it is a clumsy translation from the Chinese but the peepers in this case are in the audience. Director Ivan Lai Gai-Ming drove this point home by making villain Roy Chen Chih Lai (Mark Cheng Ho-Nam) both a producer and consumer of violent pornography—he videotapes all of his murders and plays them back, putting the audience in the same position as the killer, someone who enjoys watching. We watch him—and presumably enjoy doing so—watching himself taking great joy in harming innocent people.

It begins (if one ignores the first scenes of rape, dismemberment and murder with the camera loving recording it all) much like Kathryn Bigelow’s “Blue Steel” with Jade Leung taking the role filled by Jamie Lee Curtis and Cheng as the psycho, played by Ron Silver in the American film. In each movie a tough policewoman is fixated upon and stalked by a maniac and in each the person closest to the policewoman suffers terribly. There are some differences, of course—“The Peeping Tom” goes from splatter film to soft core porn to shoot ‘em up action in the blink of an eye. The action scenes look like they were shot by someone in the last stages of methamphetamine poisoning; a shower scene is so languorous and deliberate that it seems it will never end and the rapes are bathed in eerie blue and shot from odd angles. But what sets TPT apart from “Blue Steel” or any other movie worth watching is that the audience there is made complicit with the killer’s crimes since we are supposed to watch and even enjoy watching them.

Chen fortuitously videotapes Inspector Cheng Hsuen in a shootout with criminals trying to kill an important witness. He then obsessively watches the images of her hips and legs, running the tape backward and forward, freezing it occasionally much like those who watch pornography might do. She must, of course, be his next target, and the film plays out with the criminal always at least two steps ahead of the cops. He walks into police headquarters—actually into the murder room where the detectives are ineffectively toiling away—to denounce the psychological theories concerning serial killers. He kidnaps who he wants and when he wants to. The only time the police come close to him is when he decides to allow it and then it is either to taunt them or to grab one of them.

This is a disgusting film that features almost constant images of women being raped, killed, dismembered and branded. Lai Gai-Ming took great pains to insure that we would never be more than a few minutes away from a scene of a woman being tortured. The only reason to watch “The Peeping Tom” is its lead actress and Jade Leung’s presence isn’t enough to balance the utter wretchedness that never slows down.

Reviewer Score: 1

Reviewed by: STSH
Date: 12/28/1999
Summary: Ugh !

The opening scene is of a screaming tied-up naked young woman being raped. Then her expression changes to puzzled, as her attacker wraps a measuring tape around her legs. Finally, the attacker starts up a circular buzzsaw…. I found this rather hard to take, and switched off shortly after....

Reviewer Score: 1

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

Ken and his girlfriend Shuet are the best of the police force.Crazed serial killer Roy is attracted to Shuet and stalks her, even sneaking into her home to spy on her every move. One day, when Roy sneaks into Shuet's home, he runs into her sister Kelly. Roy kidnaps her and calls Shuet, telling her to exchange herself for Shuet. Shuet agrees, as Ken sets up a plan to capture him, but Roy is a step ahead......

[Reviewed by Next Magazine]