The Cat (Lao Mao)
Director – Nam Lai Choi, Screenplay – Gordon Chan, Producer – Choi Lan, Photography – Mak Hoi Man, Music – Chan Fei Lit. Production Company – Golden Harvest
Waise Lee (Detective Wisely), Christine Ng (Pai So), Gloria Yip (Alien Girl), Siu-Ming Lau (Errol), Philip Kwok (Wang Chieh-Mei)
Police detective Wisely is drawn in to helping a beautiful woman, an old man and a cat that live in his apartment building. He discovers that they are involved in the theft of an octagon artefact from a museum. They explain to him that they are actually aliens who have been stranded on Earth and need to the power octagon in order to return home. At the same time, a giant monster capable of possessing dead bodies also tries to obtain the octagon and takes over the body of Wisely’s partner.
This Hong Kong entry jumps in on a mini-spate of cops-vs-aliens films inspired by The Hidden (1987). As a film, it is so dissociated from plot as to be almost totally incoherent. However, coherence is never something that Hong Kong cinema has ever particularly considered a necessity.
Hong Kong films are worth seeing for their way-out imagination – director Nam Lai Choi (aka Ngai Kai Lam) also made Erotic Ghost Story (1987) and the utterly whacked out Story of Ricky (1991), which feature highly in terms of all-out dementia. The Cat goes overboard on the heavy artillery, delighting in slow-motion shots of guns blowing up the contents of the hero’s entire living room, or its villain rotating a machine-gun impaled through the body of a hood to gun down a room full of thugs. The real set-piece of the film is an amazingly sadistic battle between a dog and an alien-possessed cat in a junkyard – with scenes of the animals slamming one another through car bodies, being electrocuted and strangled and the cat finally getting its tail severed, which are conducted with an amazing ferocity. The sequence is bizarrely shot as a parody of the stylistics of A Chinese Ghost Story (1987) and Wu Xia stylistics with the animal fights taking place in mid-air half the time, shot in backlit mist with every blow highlighted in stylised closeup and slow-motion. The creature effects are highly entertaining too – the monster being a spaghetti-like mass with glowing intestines, shaped like a giant turd that flies through the air, and then turning into a giant Claymation animated mass as it attempts to swallow an entire skyscraper at the climax.
There are times when The Cat is downright bizarre – like the would-be scenes of erotica between the hero and his girlfriend, which bizarrely focus in closeups on parts of her body, dripping in ludicrous amounts of sweat. The film also throws in jokes about Hong Kong’s then upcoming return to China in 1997. Incredible.
Director Ngai Kai or Ngai Choi Lam has made a number of other genre entries including:- the ghost comedy Ghost Busting (1986); the wacky horror film The Seventh Curse (1986); the revenge film Her Vengeance (1988); the Wu Xia fantasy Peacock King (1988) and its sequel Saga of the Phoenix (1990); Erotic Ghost Story (1990); and the ultra-gory splatter film Story of Ricky (1991).