Monday, 23 June 2014

Human Pork Chop (2001) and the Hello Kitty Murder

‘Human Pork Chop’ is an extremely vile opportunistic piece of Cat III exploitation filmmaking cashing in on a deeply disturbing horrific true-life crime. It was put into development simultaneously with another production by other filmmakers also based on the atrocity ‘There Is a Secret in My Soup’ as soon as the story was covered in the Hong Kong media becoming an overnight news sensation and was released in the same year of 2001. At the time of writing, I have yet to see this other film to make a comparison. The Hello Kitty Murder was a shockingly gruesome example of just how barbaric, cruel and depraved the human race can be.

The Hello Kitty Murder

On March 17th 1999, a gang of three men kidnapped Fan Man-yee known as Ah Map a 23-year-old prostitute and the mother of a one-year-old. While working in a brothel in Kowloon she met gangster Chan Man-lok a 34-year-old Triad member who would become one of her regular clients and together would often indulge in long nights of sex and getting high on crystal meth (also known as ice). On one of these occasions though, Ah Map would make the literally fatal mistake of stealing Chan’s wallet containing HK$20,000 (US$2,560/UK£1,508) as it would cost her her life. This despite paying it all back plus compensation of HK$77,505 ($US10,000/UK£5,868) because Chan decided to put a further HK$124,000 (US$16,000/UK£9,391) interest on her debut. When she could not pay it Chan ordered two of his accomplices Leung Shing-cho aged 27 and Leung Wai-lun aged 21 to abduct her from her home and take her to his seven-room apartment at No. 31 Granville Road, Tsim Sha Tsui that he used as his base of operations where they imprisoned her for one month. The initial plan to hold Ah Map was to whore her out until her ever-increasing debut was paid off.

However, under the intoxication of ice purely for their own amusement when they were bored the three sadistic shitbags while laughing manically at Ah Map could not resist the temptation to torture her every day. A battered, bruised and disfigured hooker was not going to attract any customers. For those of you who do not know the effect crystal meth has on its addicts melts their brain turning them into batshit crazy psychopaths capable of committing the most evil acts with not a care in the world or for the consequences. They beat her with iron bars and water pipes, would sometimes use electrical wire to string her up by her hands as they beat her, and would leave her hanging there overnight. They burned her by dripping melting plastic over the soles of her feet until her skin would blister and ooze pus and they poured chili oil into her wounds. They poured oyster sauce over her face and made her drink oil. They even pissed on her face and in her mouth and hit her if she did not swallow and forced her to eat the faeces of one of the men’s 14-year-old girlfriend from a shoebox. They would also make her laugh aloud as they caused her pain as a game; if she did not pretend to be happy, they would punish her harder. When tired of committing all this evil they would go into another room to play videos games as Ah Map drifted in and out of consciousness.

After such a prolonged period of brutality she died sometime in late April. She passed out and died overnight and her body was left on the bathroom floor for a couple of nights as the pieces of shit decided what to do with her while they went out to a nearby arcade. They eventually put her body in the bathtub and dismembered it with a wood saw. Chan decapitated her and his two cronies stripped her flesh, put her intestines in bags, and stored it in the refrigerator. To hide a possible stench they boiled her body parts in which when the three men boiled her head they would also cook themselves noodles over the adjoining hob and would sometimes stir the head and the noodles with the same spoon. They then threw her body parts out along with the apartment’s rubbish except for her skull. As the apartment was full of Hello Kitty dolls, they stuffed it into a giant mermaid one. The whole of this ghastly procedure took over 10 long hours.

This callous savagery came to light the next month when the aforementioned girlfriend of one of the vicious scumbags known only as “Ah Fong” who would join in Ah Map’s torment from time to time walked into a local police station. She reported the sordid crime and said she was having continuing nightmares of being haunted by the spirit of the luckless woman she helped to butcher. After following up her claims and making the horrifying discovery of Ah Map's skull in the Hello Kitty doll, one of her teeth and the internal organs in the fridge in exchange for immunity she testified in court describing in detail the terror she witnessed and sometimes partook in. While the jury at the six-week long trial accepted the men did not kill Ah Map with intent, they determined she did die because of the abuse they inflicted upon her although the little left of her remains could not identify how she exactly died. The three remorseless ghouls were convicted of manslaughter, forced imprisonment and interruption of the lawful bury of a dead body and sentenced to life in prison with no review for parole for 20 years. Until the building’s demolishment in 2012 the apartment remained boarded up and in the months following the grisly slaying of the poor Ah Map, CCTV in Granville Road’s stores captured a ghostly female form lurking around after closing hours late at night.

Human Pork Chop (2001)

You have read about the horrifying real life incident now for the movie version in review. Not much of a synopsis is needed as really you have essentially already read one. The events depicted here do not deviate too much, from what actually happened with the only significant changes being the fictional characters based on the real life people involved in the case. The film opens with the police discovering the remains of prostitute Grace Li played by Emily Kwan (the Ah Map here) in an apartment. The police arrest her pimp Chan Wan Hok as opposed to Chan Man-lok (Yiu-Cheung Lai) and his two accomplices Yang Joe Fai (Sai-Wing Yip) and Cheung Wai Kei (Sammuel Leung) who are the Leung Shing-cho and Leung Wai-lun here but none of the three are portrayed as Triads and Chan is Grace’s boss not her client. Also arrested with them is the entirely fictional wife of Chan, Sister Yin (Amanda Lee) who is present in the apartment witnessing the abuse of Grace but does not take part in any of it and pities her but is powerless to help. The rest of the proceedings uses the plot device of jumping back and forth between the police interrogation and the flashback sequences of Grace’s kidnapping and torture for stealing money from Chan’s wallet and her eventual demise and dismemberment.

That is it really; you already know the outcome with all of this just being a tedious and pointless exercise in repellent inhuman behaviour that leads to the horrid inevitable. It is not the actual content I have a problem with it is just how it is presented; a despicable and disgusting tragic act that plumbed the deepest darkest depths of humanity’s dark side is exploitatively depicted. Director Benny Chan Chi Shun just made the movie to take advantage of a sensational news story at the time by profiting from it, as it is nothing more than gratification of it with no sympathy or thoughts at all for Ah Map and her family including her orphaned child.

Most of the nasty true events that happened are recreated here and slightly altered making for excruciatingly unpleasant and harrowing viewing. The most revolting of which is the forced coprophilia scene. Grace is made to eat the turds from a toilet to unblock it and also the excrement of fellow hooker Gigi (Sau Yue Chan) who takes the place of Ah Fong but here is a young woman in her late teens/early twenties taking a dump on a piece of newspaper that is shoved in Grace’s face. I have seen plenty of extreme gore in my time but the sight of human waste and vomit inducing acts involving it such as this freak me out more. Like for example the scene in Fred Vogel’s ‘August Underground’ (2001) when the captive woman is degraded with her own faecal matter. This makes my stomach churn more than anything else seen in it. The only gore to be seen is in the climax when Grace’s body is dismembered.

Other scenes of depravity were especially written for the movie. Used to illustrate Yang and Cheung’s sub-human mentality so you know what kind of horror is in store for Grace they murder a woman’s poor little dog by stuffing it in a bag and repeatedly bash it against the walls of an alleyway. Do not worry it is not a real animal killing like the many in Ruggero Deodato’s ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ (1980). There is also the moment that is taken right out of Wes Craven’s ‘The Last House on the Left’ (1972) when Chan pulls a Krug and makes Grace piss her pants. The acting all around is decent. The cheap looking cinematography enhances the griminess of this whole macabre affair that compensates the squalid settings of Chan’s dingy brothel and his shithole apartment. The industrial like music in the opening title sequence is suitably unnerving but the majority of the soundtrack throughout the rest of the film is in odd contrast to the bleak atmosphere with an energetic electronic synth score.

There is no emotive pull here as even Grace herself is painted as an immensely unlikable character. She is an annoyingly obnoxious rude lazy pathetic junkie waste of space and when she becomes the victim it is just about seeing what is done to her rather than being right there alongside her during her plight through hell feeling compassion for her and the pain she experiences. Not that she deserves such mistreatment in being humiliated, degraded and tortured no human being does; well except for paedophiles obviously, I would cheerfully do this to former Lostprophets frontman Ian Watkins for a month. Although it is hard to give a shit about someone like Grace, and by the end of it all, it is just about being thankful that this wretched film is over. These sights of such wickedness to another human being will wear you down after a while though so in that respect it works but the attempts at black humour in an effort to break this up to put you in a comfort zone only to take you right back out of it again which is the norm in Cat III entries gets lost under the constant shadow of bleakness that looms large.

There is a sequence in the third act right near Grace’s death that is her flashback within the flashbacks of her ordeal. As she is getting high smoking crystal meth, which she has stolen from Chan’s stash right next to the Hello Kitty doll her skull will end up in the camera pans to the right of the screen from her close-up as she inhales to the doll then dissolving into her flashback. These are a couple of tender moments between her and her grandmother as we learn Grace also has a baby and that the father is in prison. This serves as an attempt to sympathize the viewer with the character and maybe argues for the movie as a documentation of the pitfalls and consequences of drug addiction. It is too little too late though and ineffectual when you know she selfishly chose a life as a sleazy drug addict rather than take care of her child and witnessing her pathetically take her abuse while pretending sometimes to like it and making efforts to please her captors just so they will give her some ice to feed her addiction.

The problem is the lack of backstory depicted for Grace showing the audience where her life went wrong to draw us in emotionally. Of course, Ah Map herself was a prostitute and used crystal meth although this did not necessarily make her an addict and might have been a casual user just sharing it with clients to make them happy. None of this necessarily made her a bad mother either as it could have been a means to an end. It is reported that she had a troubled past being abandoned as a child and raised in an orphanage but here there is none of this and Grace is presented from the outset as just being a trash bag.

The reason why I covered the true-life incident so extensively was to bring it home to you the inhumanity of it all in comparison to how this tragic real source material has been drawn from directly more than just inspired by for ‘Human Pork Chop’. A grim depressing mean spirited affair graphically depicts the hopeless miserable final days of a helpless woman whose suffering actually happened down to a T to a real human being but executes it in such an exploitive manner as nothing more than a geek show with no pathos given to her story. This is in severely bad taste making for ugly rotten repugnant dross. Truly atrocious filmmaking.

* out of ****

Dave J. Wilson

©2014 Cinematic Shocks, Dave J. Wilson - All work is the property of the credited author and may not be reprinted or reproduced elsewhere without permission.

NOTE: I could not find a trailer for ‘Human Pork Chop’ only an upload of the full movie and it is only available on disc in Hong Kong on DVD from Winson and in Thailand on DVD/VCD. The HK version that was reviewed here is slightly censored in several places although it really does not take away the powerful impact of the scenes. The Thai version is uncut. Cinematic Shocks does not promote piracy but this is the only way you can see the film unless you are willing to pay $216.99/£127.58 for it from Amazon and this dreck is nowhere near worth that. Say what you want about Youtube uploads and file sharing on torrent sites without this the rare stuff would be lost.