Troublesome Night IV

Director: Herman Yau
Hong Kong
97 minutes

I took a gander at HKMDB and noticed that there were 19 films made in the Troublesome Night series between 1997 and 2003. Whoopee, so many more films for me to look forward to! Ok, not really. Somewhere after the seventh or eighth I stopped watching them as they began getting cheaper and cheaper. Before that though there were some enjoyable moments in the films and I was surprised to realize that I had missed the fourth in the series from one of my favorite directors, Herman Yau, who can go like no one else from exploitation trash to serious social films at a moments notice. He is also the only Hong Kong director I have had dinner with and he came across as a really funny swell guy. So I am a fan, but he makes films at such a pace that I can’t even come close to keeping up with his output. My guess is that if Lincoln Center ever does a retrospective of his career (fat chance), Troublesome Night 4 will not be among them. It is fairly mild medicine comprised of three tales of which two don’t have any sting and the third is much more comical than scary. In truth, it looks like Herman used the film as an excuse to vacation in the Philippines and to meet some soft core Filipina actresses who agree to shed their clothes on celluloid. For a Troublesome Night film, this has a surprisingly amount of nudity and Herman seemed a lot more interested in that than he did in creating chills. But who can really blame the guy?

Troublesome Night 4 has three of the stalwarts of the series – Louis Koo who appeared in the first seven films in the series before he learned how to say “No”, Wayne Lai also managed to find himself in seven of the films – but both these guys are pikers compared to Simon Loui who seemed to show up in nearly every low budget horror film of the period – he was in thirteen of the Troublesome Night films and is probably wondering where his career went. Of course one of the fun things about those early TN films was the large casts that were needed in order to make three separate episodes. Many of these were up and coming actors - some who went on to bigger careers but most of them fell back into working in television once the low budget horror films ran out of gas.

Venturing out of the safe confines of Hong Kong for travel to Southeast Asia has never been a healthy thing in Hong Kong films though it is generally Thailand that brings on death or curses, but occasionally the Philippines gets in on the act – Fatal Vacation where a group of Hong Kong tourists are kidnapped and killed, Marianna where Sally Yeh is terrorized by zombie lepers and even Leslie Cheung’s luck ran out there in Days of Being Wild. A planeload of passengers from Hong Kong are on their way to Manila – two of them are on their honeymoon (Louis Koo and Pauline Suen), one fellow (Timmy Hung, son of Sammo) is unknowingly delivering an urn with a girl’s ashes to her home, a businessman has brought his secretary along for some fun (Raymond Wong and Karen Tong in a running gag where ghosts keep interrupting their tryst) and the rest are part of a tour group led by Emily Kwan. Three of these (Simon, Wayne and Cheung Tat-ming) are friends going for the whoring and are pleased when Emily informs them that “guns and whores are commonly found here”. And finally U2 and K2 are along for the ride to it seems promote their workplace, the infamous China City Club where they are hostesses. Since neither of them (Marianna Chan and Joey Choi) have any particular involvement in any of the stories, one might guess they are either just in it for the eye candy or are friends of Herman.

The first two stories have zero bite to them. Allan (Timmy) begins seeing the ghost of the dead woman (Via Veloso) that he is carrying to her home which isn’t all that bad since she is naked some of the time and in the second segment the newly married couple has a falling out after she suspects him of having a fling with an exotic dancer (Anna Capri). But the film hits comic gold in the third piece. After a few frustrating days the horny threesome decide that tonight they are finding some girls to whore with but they get much more than they bargain for in a finger chopping night of ghosts and zombies who judge them for their wicked whoring. It is like the Three Stooges trying to get laid and is quite loony and funny. The extremely well-built (the “oh my god” expression on Wayne Lai’s face when he sees her naked charms is hilarious) Filipina in this one is Aya Medel and to say she is an eye full is total understatement.

My rating for this film: 6.0