Written by: Carroll Jenkins on October 16th, 2016
Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, 1992
Approximate running time: 92 minutes
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen (Theatrically)
Language: Cantonese with burnt-in English subitles
Director: Yuen Ching Li
Writer: Chi-Wah Lau
Cast: Deric Wan, Jing-Shan Hsu, Sing Chen, Jeffrey Falcon
Synopsis: A village is terrorized by the regional revolutionary government which inducts / enslaves the locals. Men are target practice and women are used as sexual playthings, but at least the women get fed.
A low budget HK CAT III spin on the women-in-prison genre, but not your typical exploitation fest like, for instance, Jack Hill or Jess Franco, or most other American / European Women In Prison films. This is a serious effort with a political and humanitarian agenda to promote. It features a tender romance for the ages while demonstrating the callous evils of communism. It does have some gratuitous moments but they mostly end in tragic drama. It is brutal, violent, and almost relentless in it’s atrocities and torment but, nevertheless, the tale is told in a compelling manner through sympathetic characters and melodramatic story arcs. The villainous captors are exceptionally nasty, ruthless, vile, brutal, horrendous, and despicable.
The somewhat crude documentary style actually helps sell it as realistic, with the one-time director keeping things moving at a good pace. Even so, don’t expect something ultra grim such as Lost Souls because the overtly melodramatic (but never campy) style constantly tips us off that “it’s only a movie”. It features some humorous segments that generate more pathos than laughter due to the oppressive environment but provides a necessary respite in such a grim film. We the audience are assaulted due to the empathy we develop with the unfortunate innocents and the atrocities they endure. Will there ever be deliverance? Well, there are some good martial arts courtesy of Jeff Falcon, Hon Kwok-Choi (also action director), and female body builder Tu Kuei-Hua. Chui Ging-Sin displays more of a dancer style than the others.
OOP Universe laser disc with burned in Chinese / English subtitles. One of the ‘lost’ films of the HK CAT III boom. It does appear that some brief cuts were made to gore scenes so that it could be released at all.
Caged Beauties endeavors to illustrate the necessity of humanitarian value based government over ‘tribal rule’. It is gritty and violent but it’s heart is in the right place. Just a pity it was machine gunned and then stabbed.