HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Scooby-Doo & Batman: The Brave and the Bold
People You May Know
Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw
Ash is Purest White
Bruce Lee & I
Doraemon The Movie: Nobita's Dinosaur
Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood
Invasion Planet Earth
Ferdinand
Buddhist Spell, The
Steel and Lace
Reivers, The
Angel Has Fallen
I Lost My Body
At First Light
Free Ride
Crawl
Transit
Blank Check
Mad Monk, The
Wind, The
Holly and the Ivy, The
Atlantique
Now, Voyager
Wolf's Call, The
Nostalghia
Nightingale, The
Eighth Grade
Irishman, The
Betrayed
Lords of Chaos
Operation Petticoat
Dead Don't Die, The
On the Waterfront
Last Faust, The
Moonlighting
Art of Self-Defense, The
Ironweed
Booksmart
Prisoners
   
 
Newest Articles
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood: Interview with Director Rene Perez
Shit-Eating Grim: Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom on Blu-ray
Stallone's 80s Action Alpha and Omega: Nighthawks and Lock Up
Python Prehistory: At Last the 1948 Show and Do Not Adjust Your Set on DVD
You Could Grow to Love This Place: Local Hero on Blu-ray
Anglo-American: Joseph Losey Blu-ray Double Bill - The Criminal and The Go-Between
   
 
  Deadly Secret, A Promise Not to TellBuy this film here.
Year: 1980
Director: T.F. Mou Tun-Fei
Stars: Jason Pai Pao, Yueh Hua, Ng Yuen-Jun, Shih Szu, Kwan Fung, Dick Wei, Tso Tat-Wah, Wai Wang, Tong Kam-Tong, Liu Lai-Ling, Ngaai Fei, Benny Lai, Ho Bo-Sing, Chan Shen, Chiang Cheng
Genre: Horror, Martial Arts, Weirdo, Adventure
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: "I'm innocent!" screams young kung fu student Ti Yuen (Ng Yuen-Jun) as jailers drag him off to share a cell with shaggy-haired long-term convict Ting Dien (Jason Pai Pao). Wrongfully accused of raping his sister-in-law, Yuen figures out he is the hapless pawn in a scheme hatched by his evil seniors Man Kwai (Dick Wei) and Man Niang Sang (Kwan Fung) together with the no-good Master Qui Cheung Fat (Tong Kam-Tong). It is their intention that Ti Yuen befriends Ting Dien so the latter will share his 'Deadly Secret' so they can extract that information later. Every day Ting Dien endures horrific tortures concocted by corrupt magistrate Ling Tui Si (Yueh Hua). Tui Si also wants the Deadly Secret but the near-superhuman Ting Dien won't crack. One night Ti Yuen hangs himself in despair but Ting uses his mystical martial arts powers to revive him. Taking pity on the youth, Ting Dien trains him in the arcane art of San Chiu kung fu and shares the sorry tale of how he came to learn the secret seemingly every kung fu killer is after.

A Deadly Secret spins one of the more intricate plots for a Shaw Brothers kung fu film. Rife with ambiguity and intrigue the unorthodox narrative opts for an answers first, questions later style of storytelling that serves the central mystery very well. It was written by the staggeringly prolific Ni Kuang, of whom it is easier to list the Shaw Brothers films he did not script than those he did. Even more interesting, A Deadly Secret was an early effort from one of the most controversial filmmakers in Hong Kong cinema: T.F. Mou Tun-Fei. His claim to infamy came later with Men Behind the Sun (1988), a gross-out shocker depicting real-life atrocities committed by the Japanese military on both Chinese prisoners of war and civilians during the Second World War. This bad taste epic went on to become Hong Kong's equivalent of a video nasty and yet Mou Tun-Fei's early works in his native Taiwan included anti-Communist propaganda and dramas inspired by Italian neo-realism.

On joining the Shaw stable Mou Tun-Fei delivered Melody of Love (1977) a sweet romance starring a young Danny Lee then co-directed horror anthology Haunted Tales (1980) with the great Chu Yuan and true crime shocker Criminals 5 – The Teenager's Nightmare (1977) with horror and crime specialist Kuei Chi-Hung. But his most notable work for Shaw Brothers would be Lost Souls (1980), a brutal and sadistic account of illegal immigrants held captive and sexually and physically abused at the hands of human traffickers. Compared by some to Pier Paolo Pasolini's Salo, or 120 Days of Sodom (1975), opinion remains divided as to whether the film is a searing indictment of social injustice or merely a brazen and vile exploitation epic. Either way it set the tone for Mou Tun-Fei's subsequent output. Following the financial success of Men Behind the Sun he struck back with the conceptual sequel Black Sun: The Nanking Massacre (1995). He also dabbled in hardcore pornography with Trilogy of Lust (1995) though in the wake of his controversial reputation has yet to secure funding for third film in his war crime trilogy.

Mou Tun-Fei's propensity for melding social satire with brutal torture scenes is rendered somewhat more palatable here within the context of a labyrinthine wu xia morality play. Whereas someone like Chu Yuan revels in the game play and mystery in his outlandish swordplay fantasies, Mou Tun-Fei utilizes the form to expose the cruelty, hypocrisy and self-interest he, somewhat cynically, perceives in society at large. As such A Deadly Secret fits neatly into the brief cycle of darker, angrier Shaw kung fu films from the Eighties that took a more jaded look at conceits like chivalry, brotherhood and filial loyalty within the Martial World: e.g. Eight Diagram Pole Fighter (1984) and Usurpers of Emperor's Power (1984). Judging from his filmography Jason Pai Pao was that rare kung fu star that relished an acting challenge. In A Deadly Secret he gets to sport crazy hair, brood mysteriously, endure brutal torture, rant like a loon and kick all sorts of ass. In a neat conceit the most notorious criminals in China confess their crimes just so they can be locked up with Ting Dien and force him to share the Deadly Secret. Naturally he proves less than cooperative as trick photography lends Pai Pao's invincible martial arts moves the proper mystical air. Away from his crazy old kung fu master makeup, he also gets to play the dashing romantic lead in flashbacks. Ting Dien's love interest is none other than Ling Tui Si's saintly daughter Seung Wa, the one person to whom he would consider revealing his secret though, rather sweetly, she never asks. Seung Wa is played by Shih Szu who only a few years prior was among the studio's top box office draws. It is a trifle disheartening to see the former queen of kung fu reduced to a meek and much-abused love interest. Only a few years later she left the studio to round off her career in low-budget fantasies like Chinese Magic (1983). Nevertheless, evidently drawing on his previous romantic dramas, Mou Tun-Fei paints a surprisingly affecting, impassioned story of tragic love. Though the frenzied finale treads close to bleak-humoured farce it resolves the mystery in spectacular fashion.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 1158 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
  Rachel Franke
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: