Sunday, August 16, 2020

Yuan yin (1981)

... aka: 綠印
... aka: Cold-Blooded Murder
... aka: Lu yin
... aka: Mad Cold-Blooded Murder, The
... aka: Mad Colded-Blood Murder

Directed by:
"Albert" (To-Bong) Law

A heavy-breathing, prostitute-targeting serial killer, who wears sunglasses, black clothes, a hat and white cotton gloves, which I hear are a bitch to get blood stains out of, is on the loose in Hong Kong. Thus far he's murdered a dozen women in just three weeks, all of whom advertised their services in a local newspaper, and he uses a different killing technique each time. He pins a woman down and sticks her with a meat hook, strangles a woman in the shower with a wire, stabs a woman to death with a sharp, hollow steel pole and uses a glass coke bottle to, uh, well, we're supposed to figure that one out on our own but I'm sure you can. He keeps track of each of his victims, clips their ads out and puts x's over them once he finishes. 

Inspector Robert Wang (Carter Wong) is on the case but seems to be mostly saddled with a bunch of buffoonish underlings, one of whom picks up the bloody pop bottle at the crime scene and joyfully exclaims, "Hey I found this liter bottle. Look. I can get the deposit!" Thankfully, his superior Chief Lam Ko (Dan Lau) sets him up with a competent new partner named Stephen Leung (Lun Chia, credited as "Stephen Leung") who's quickly risen to the ranks of d.i. (detective inspector) thanks to training at Scotland Yard. Robert feels emasculated that he can't bring the killer to justice on his own and initially has a difficult time getting over his jealously of Stephen.

Seeing how this isn't a mystery, it's soon revealed who the killer is. Though he ("Chan Wei Man" / Michael Wai-Man Chan) is never actually named, he's illegally immigrated to Hong Kong from the Mainland along with his miserable wife Hai-Yen (Lily Chan) and their baby. The couple live in a small slum apartment in a dangerous neighborhood and struggle to get by. The man does his best working odd construction jobs and selling oranges but the authorities are always a threat. He's arrested by authorities and has to pay a stiff fine. Their baby is always crying, always sick and in need of frequent medical care. Hai-Yen goes to work in a sleazy nightclub, starts staying out late at night and starts refusing to sleep with her husband. It's soon clear why: She's met a wealthy gangster named Carl (Johnny Ngan) and is planning on ditching hubby for him and taking their baby with her. When Hai-Yen and two of Carl's thugs come for the baby, a fight ensues and the baby gets killed when a cabinet is accidentally knocked over on it. The man loses it and starts strangling Hai-Yen until she busts a kettle full of hot water in his face. That's more than enough to send him into cuckooville.

While investigating the murders, shaggy-haired, Playboy-shirt-wearin' karate cop Bruce (Bruce Le, one of the Clones of Bruce Lee) gets on the bad side of a bunch of thugs led by drug-trafficker / crime king Mr. Kong (Tao Chiang). He sends out a bunch of men, including his big buddy Yang from Thailand (Bolo Yeung), to fight Bruce on a dock, in a junkyard by the beach (where Yeung flips over a van using his bare hands!) and other places. Bruce also stops a group of butcher-knife-armed rapists in a park and, along with Robert, confront yet another group of rapists, this time armed with gardening tools, holding a tied-up and gagged woman hostage in an abandoned house. This all has nothing to do with the serial killer story and these scenes are clearly here only to increase the amount of action / martial arts scenes they can pack in. In fact, all of the scenes with Kong and Yang feel like they're from another movie entirely. Seeing how neither Chiang nor Yeung are credited, perhaps they were!

Needing "a female cop posing as a whore" to try to trap the killer, whiny policewoman Judy (Monica Lam) is drafted for that thankless job. She gets a few mildly creepy though otherwise harmless customers before finally striking gold and luring the actual psycho in. However, he manages to get her gun from her, shoots Stephen in the arm, leaps through a window and escapes. After viewing a TV news broadcast showing his sketch and learning there's a 30,000 bounty now on his head, the killer then decides to go after Robert's girlfriend, Ann Chow. During the film's best scene, he chases her through the parking garage, has a little cat-and-mouse game with her using two elevators and then manages to break into her apartment. There, he slaps her around, punches her in the gut and kicks her. She returns the favor by throwing shit at him and kicking him in the groin. Ann manages to get out a call to the police during the struggle, but they're unable to get there in time and the maniac strangles her to death.

Answering another police call of a dispute in an apartment building, the police find Carl, who's lost all of his money, and Hai-Yen, who's now working in a brothel to keep them afloat, arguing on a balcony. During one of the most incompetent rescue attempts ever seen in one of these things, Bruce attempts to jump on the balcony from the roof in clear view of the enraged Carl so he simply grabs Hai-Yen and jumps off the balcony with her as two flimsy dummies plummet to the concrete below. The finale has all of the main cops engaging in a nighttime rooftop battle that includes a metal pole, broken bottles and another dummy falling off a roof. But wait, there's more! Bruce Le still has his sights set on stopping Kong and his men.

This low budget movie clearly has no clue what it wants to be and the attempted melding of martial arts action, police investigation and serial killer suspense / horror is a clumsy one. The psycho stuff is more interesting than the routine cop nonsense but, sadly, the film spends too much time on the latter and not enough on the former. There's some merit here; mainly a very good performance from Chan, the harrowing flashback scenes detailing the killer's descent in madness, adequate fight choreography and some fair suspense at times, but it never all quite comes together as a cohesive whole. And if you take a drink every time one of the cops refers to a victim as a "whore" you'll be in a coma at the end of 90 minutes. The soundtrack features stolen music from Keith Emerson and Seals and Croft (!)

While there's a decent widescreen print floating around, unfortunately it's not subtitled in English. I had to settle for the full screen, degraded VHS quality one, which is dubbed. The dialogue and voice actors used in the English-language version are horrendous and the attempts at comedy and witty banter are embarrassing.

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