All of A Sudden
"If you like movies that prominently feature leggy Chinese women with big, pointy nipples getting wet and taking their clothes off when they weren't wearing much in the first place, have I got a movie for you."
All of A Sudden (1996)
Director: Herman Yau
Producer: Jenny Wong, Yeung Ka On, Anita Tong, Rankie Fung (executive), Nam Yin (executive)
Writer: Candy Cheng (story by Nam Yin)
Cast: Irene Wan (a.k.a. Pik-Ha Wan), Simon Yam, Alfred Cheung, Wong Tze Wah
Running Time: 99 min.
Plot: A psychological thriller starring Irene Wan as a woman who is inadvertently kidnapped during an assault. The assailant (Simon Yam) turns out to be the husband of a woman Wan's husband had an affair with before her death.
NUMSKULL'S REVIEW: If you like movies that prominently feature leggy Chinese women with big, pointy nipples getting wet and taking their clothes off when they weren't wearing much in the first place, have I got a movie for you.
The fact that this suspense thriller from the director of The Untold Story carries a category IIB rating is a minor miracle; it's far more explicit than the comparatively tame Too Many Ways to be Number One, and even Naked Killer for that matter (there...all three category III films I've seen to date in one sentence. Hah!). There's no shortage of blood, and it contains a fairly long and in-your-face sex scene (no, I don't mean oral when I say "in-your-face"), and, perhaps, the single most shocking moment I have ever seen in any movie...not shocking as in "Woah, I didn't see that coming" but shocking as in "Holy mother of fuck, I can't believe they showed that." After seeing chopsticks used as sexual torture devices, death by excessive fornication, and some stupid cop taking a great big bite out of a severed dick in the aforementioned C3 films, I guess I shouldn't be too surprised by much of anything that Herman Yau pulls out of his hat, but still...damn!
The plot, convoluted by HK standards (isn't that an awful thing to say?) yet easy to follow, revolves around Ho-Yee, a wealthy woman with an unfaithful husband called Lam and a nameless son (unless, in an act of unspeakable cruelty, the kid was literally named "Baby"). After a hilarious opening sequence where two guys get into a car accident, one of them says "If you catch me, I'll let you squeeze my tits" and then tries to flee the scene, a woman with whom it is later found our Mr. Lam has had an extramarital affair (or HAS he...?) plummets to her death. This triggers a chain of events in which Ho-Yee gets kidnapped by the dead woman's husband, Tsui Chin-Tung, then, inexplicably, gets released, and...uh...so on. Too many spoilers are a no-no in any review and that goes double for films like this one.
This seems to be Irene Wan's last role. She most likely got it because the arbitrary forces of genetics chose to instill her with enough sex appeal to give a full-grown elephant a heart attack, but, to be fair, her performance isn't bad at all. The films has its ups and downs but it generally pumps along at a satisfying pace, and even when it legs...er, LAGS, she manages to arouse enough interest in the viewer so that they stay abreast of the situation and member...REmember, sorry...that no movie is perfect. After all, this film falls under the boner...uh, BANNER of "suspense thriller"...we're not dealing with Dicks'...oops, I mean Dickens' A Tale of Two Titties...um, Cities here. Cum on. Sorry...COME on. When she kneads...er, NEEDS to get something off her chest, she does it well enough so that you won't autoerotically...whoops, that's autoMATICALLY think that someone just hand job...uh, handed the job to her. Some of her most excitable spots...EXCITING spots, sorry...are when she says she can't swim so she boobs...um, BOBS up and down in the water, when she gets angry at her husband for measuring the value of her life in nipples...er, NICKELS and dimes, and when she starts spreading thighs...LIES, that is, to protect herself and Booby...uh, Baby.
Simon Yam doesn't seem comfortable as the kidnapper with the dead wife, but then again, he's not supposed to. His character is hardly a bloodthirsty psychopath who mows people down like blades of ass...uh, GRASS (c'mon Numskull, new paragraph here)...he's just a guy who wants some payback and resorts to some rather unsavory means to get it. He loses points, however, for his somewhat bored expression during his sex scene with Irene Wan. I suspect a good number of you would have happily murdered your own mothers to have been in his (ahem) position, but then again, maybe I'm misreading his face and he's really just disappointed that this isn't an all-out porno movie.
Everyone else fills their role sufficiently. Lam is a real worm and Inspector Mak, the cop in charge of the investigations, becomes a surprisingly sympathetic character about half way through the film after displaying some of the traits that made the police in The Untold Story such buffoons.
The occasional moments of stupidity detain from the film's overall credibility. An armed security guard sees Tsui Chin-Tung assaulting Mr. Lam with a baseball bat, so he runs away. Another guard says he was "sure, sure, sure" he saw a certain event, then, in the next breath, admits he can't be sure because he's old and his vision is poor. The brakes on Ho-Yee's car get tampered with, but they work just fine until she's placed in a life-threatening situation. Lam says to Ho-Yee: "You're always on top of me"...and it's a COMPLAINT. The line "He was an old classmate of this guy" is incorrectly translated as "He was old classmate of this gay." Pig's brain soup broth is made with water used to wash a live rat (are we ignorant Westerners to assume that pig's brain soup made with CLEAN broth is supposed to be scrumptious?). Worst of all, there are no subtitles for the dialogue during the opening credits (the subs, by the way, are burned onto the picture, but still legible).
All of a Sudden doesn't come close to the level of intrigue generated by the best American thrillers (SEVEN, baby!), but it's clearly a cut above the direct-to-cable trash they show on premium channels at 3 AM. It's one of the few HK films I've seen with noteworthy music (courtesy of Brother Hung) and, in general, a refreshing change for anyone tired of the endless cop and kung fu movies that pour out of that city. Plus, boobies.
NUMSKULL'S RATING: 7/10