The Untold Story (aKa The Eight Immortals Restaurant: The Untold Story and Bat sin fan dim: Yan yuk cha siu bau) is a 1993 horror film directed by Herman Yau (Ebola Syndrome, The Untold Story III, Shock Wave 1/2, The Legend Is Born: Ip Man, and Ip Man: The Final Fight). It was written by Kam-Fai Law (Cold War, The Untold Story 2, Death Rim, and Legend of the Dragon) and Wing-Kin Lau (Taxi Hunter, Love to Kill, Full Alert, and The Untold Story III). It was produced by Danny Lee (Final Justice, Just Heroes, Shoot to Kill, City Cop, and The Untold Story III) who also co-directed some uncredited scenes for this production. It’s one of the infamous Category III rated films. It was followed up by two unrelated sequels 1998’s The Untold Story 2 and 1999’s The Untold Story III. It grossed HK$15,763,018 at the box office in Hong Kong during it’s theatrical run.
Wong Chi-hang (played by: Anthony Wong from Infernal Affairs Trilogy, Ebola Syndrome, The Untold Story 2, Ip Man: The Final Fight, and The Four) brutally beats a gambler named Keung (played by: James Ha from The King of Wrestlers, Born to Fight, and L.A. Connection) to near-death for refusing to lend him money before burning him alive. He quickly flees the Hong Kong police by burning his identification documents and changing his name. The film then flashes forward to Macau in 1986, where a family discovers a bag of rotten limbs washed up on the beach. Police officers Bull (played by: Parkman Wong from The Killer, Just Heroes, City on Fire, and Triad), Robert (played by: Eric Kei from The Night Rider, Love to Kill, and Street Kids Violence), King Kong (played by: Lam King Kong from Shoot to Kill , Taxi Hunter, and Vigilante Force) and Bo (played by: Emily Kwan from Full Alert, Victim, Nightmare Zone, and The Untold Story III) arrive on the scene before being joined by their supervisor Inspector Lee (played by: Danny Lee from The Killer, City on Fire, Gung buk, and No Way Back). The cops examine the limbs and take them in for examination. Wong Chi Hang is then shown to be working at the Eight Immortals Restaurant where he receives and tears up a letter meant for Cheng Lam (played by: Siu-Ming Lau from Police Story 2, A Better Tomorrow II, The Legend of Drunken Master, and The Medallion), the former owner of the restaurant.
The restaurant is still in Cheng Lam’s ownership and Wong is unable to procure it officially without the former’s signature, who is mysteriously absent. Inspector Lee orders the other cops to investigate the restaurant after reading the letter about the missing owner. When interviewed, Wong tells Bull and Robert that Cheng Lam has gone away and sold the shop to him while Pearl (played by: Julie Lee from The Ghost and A Chinese Torture Chamber Story) tells Bo of the letters from the mainland the restaurant has received. Wong shoos the cops away after giving them free pork buns made from the flesh of his victims. Wong is caught trying to dispose of evidence while under surveillance linking him to Cheng Lam by Robert and Bo and is detained by the team while trying to cross the border to China. Inspector Lee pieces the whole case together which proves that Wong murdered Cheng Lam and his whole family before stealing his restaurant. Wong confesses after being beaten by law enforcement. Wong shows the press his wounds after the incident. He gets thrown in prison and ends up in the same block as Cheng Poon (played by: Shing Fui On from A Better Tomorrow 1/2, The Killer, Thunder Cops II, and Prison on Fire), Cheng Lam’s younger brother. He gets revenge on the real monster as he’s trapped there as a prisoner. They find out Wong’s real identity and discover other crimes he committed. After being tortured by others in prison and knowing his days are numbered, the psychopath gets desperate. Can he somehow survive this nightmare and get paroled after a few years????
When it comes to Category III films, The Untold Story is probably the most known and popular one from the list. I remember back in the day, everyone was talking about it and it was considered one of the sickest Asian features ever made at the time. When it was put out in the states, the home video release was sold out and out of print pretty quick so I never got to this 90’s horror film until now thanks to the great folks at Unearthed Films. A serial killer who serves up his victims at his restaurant is interesting story and concept for the sub-genre. The script had a nice balance of suspense and horror with a touch of comedy thrown in for good measure. You probably recognize Anthony Wong from one of his many bigger Asian productions but this one is his greatest performance. He can’t stop killing as his power increases and he feeds his victims to the same officers that are trying to hunt him down. Wong could have went way over the top with this role but he played it serious and it worked much better that way. The rest of the supporting cast is loaded with familiar faces from other major Asian productions which includes Shing Fui On, Siu-Ming Lau, Parkman Wong, and Danny Lee. Very impressed with the acting in this, not a single weak link out of the cast, everyone brought their best work on this movie. The Untold Story gets really dark and nasty, it has enough gruesome kills and gore with quality special fx for it’s time to make any horror fan satisfied. The family massacre and rape scene is brutal and it doesn’t hold back at all. The Untold Story lives up to it’s reputation and it finally has a great home video release in the states, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Unearthed Films! This 1080p (1.78:1) transfer is a major improvement over the previous 2004 DVD home video release from Tai Seng. This one will never be reference quality or anything due to how it was shot but it’s the best it’s ever looked. It has two different audio options which includes Cantonese: LPCM 2.0 Mono and Mandarin: LPCM 2.0 Mono. The audio is solid here for it’s blu ray debut in the states. All of the dialogue is very clean, the chaos is elevated, and the music has a nice boost to it. It has English subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features from Unearthed Films! This one is loaded with a variety of audio commentaries and tracks. Each one is very different from each other and you learn lots about the production for it. The first two are from the original DVD release and the last one is a brand new exclusive for this release. “Audio Commentary” with lead actor Anthony Wong. He chats about how he got into acting. The performance based on a real life person. He talks about the scripts usually being bad for Cat III flicks. He goes some of the cast and his experience on the feature. He brings up working with the director on this project. “Audio Commentary” with director Herman Yau and moderated by Miles Wood. He chats about how he got the gig. He talks about it being based on real life events. He goes over the cast for it. He mentions the special fx work and the overall shoot. “Audio Commentary” with film critics Ultra Violet’s Art Ettinger and Cinema Arcana’s Bruce Holecheck. They cover the Cat III films and Hong Kong cinema for this track. They chat about the home video history of this film here. Plus they mention some of the actors other work and performances for the feature. It has an “Isolated Film Score” which is a real nice extra featuring the music of the film by itself in LPCM 2.0 on the disc.
“Category III: The Untold Story of Hong Kong Exploitation Cinema” directed by Calum Waddell is a little over 83 minutes and it’s a full length documentary on the films that got the Cat III rating back in the day. It has interviews with Sean Tierney, Bey Logan, Daniel Chan, Mike Hostench, James Mudge, Calum Waddell, Gan Kwok-Leung, Godfrey Ho, Anthony Wong and Josie Ho. It has all kinds of clips from many of the features that were put under this label. This is top notch and it really makes you want to seek out some of these more unknown gems that are brought up in this. They chat about the censorship and the different ratings during this time when they were cracking down on these darker movies. They talk about most of the major films that were put in this infamous category plus earlier ones that were before this all happened like Shaw Bros pictures that fit the same mold. They bring up some of the most important directors and actors when it comes to Cat III and it’s history. It basically covers and talks about everything that you would want to know about this period in Hong Kong cinema. “Cantonese Carnage” is a little over 13 minute interview with Rick Baker. He chats about starting a magazine, label, and store based on his love for the genre. He chats about providing the U.K. with these unique releases. He talks about Category III and it’s films. He goes over censorship and some of their success. “Q & A with Herman Yau” is a little over 7 minute discussion with the director. He chats about the difference of the markets when it comes to his work. He talks about the censorship with cinema. He gives his thoughts on the future of it all. It has 2 different “Trailers” for The Untold Story plus various Unearthed related previews. It also has a slipcover and a 4 page booklet. This one should be in every horror fan’s collection, it’s another home run from the Unearthed Classics line. It’s one of the best home video releases of 2020. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!