Written by: Carroll Jenkins on May 31st, 2010
Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, 1982
Director: Po-Chih Leong
Cast: Eddie Chan, Sylvia Chang, Kent Cheng, Billy Lau, Eric Tsang, Simon Yam
DVD Released: December 18th, 2009
Approximate Running Time: 87 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Mandarin, Dolby Digital Mono Cantonese
Subtitles: Chinese, English
DVD Release: Joy Sales
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC (Hong Kong)
Retail Price: $5.13 ($40 HK)
Synopsis: A serial killer slashes his victims then strangles them with their own white stockings. All the while in full transvestite garb. The police captain in charge of the precinct is a secret admirer of a tomboyish late night radio talk show host. When a victim is murdered outside the radio station, ‘Sissy’ starts psychoanalyzing the killer over the air.
Hong Kong loves hybrids, and this is a romantic comedy slasher. In some respects it comes across almost as a parody of slasher films, as there is dark humor to be found even in the thriller scenes. The murder set pieces are quite stylish in the manner of Dario Argento and are most effective. The synth soundtrack for these scenes is excellent and helps create suspense and tension.
Kent Cheng plays the police captain with the infatuation for Sissy (Sylvia Chang). A decade later he portrayed the victim in the seminal and deadly serious Cat III Run And Kill. But this is the early eighties and besides robotic dancers and ‘new wave’ styles, we get a funny and touching romance between ‘Fattie’ and ‘Sissy’. A young Simon Yam is the third wheel, he also appeared in Run And Kill. Eric Tsang (Fatal Vacation) has a brief appearance as a punk who robs a convenience store with his girlfriend while wearing KISS style makeup.
Widescreen 1:78 anamaorphic with English subs, mastered from a good print, interlaced transfer. Original 2.0 Cantonese or Mandarin tracks.
Striking cinematography and stylish direction of the murder scenes combined with an engaging romantic comedy subplot and excellent performances; all combine to make He Lives By Night come as highly recommended. The combination of scares and romance make it an excellent date movie, but don’t spill the popcorn.