10,000 Bullets   Exploring the world of Cinema from the Arthouse to the Grindhouse™

Lost Souls (Image Entertainment) 
Written by: on May 8th, 2009

Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, 1980
Director: Tun Fei Mou
Writers: Fei Mok, Tung Yau Yip
Cast: Fei Ai, Shen Chan, Ming Chen, Han Chiang, Chih Hung Chiu, Kin Ping Chow, Fung Hung, Hsin Nan Hung, Ming Lai, Jenny Liang, Peng-fei Li, Tun Fei Mou, Lao Shen, Yu Chang Tang, Ching Ho Wang, Tien Tsai Wei, Tang Tak Wing, Kam Bo Wong, Hsiang Lin Yin

DVD released: March 17th, 2009
Approximate running time: 94 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Cantonese, Dolby Digital Mono English
Subtitles: English, Spanish
DVD Release: Image Entertainment
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.98

Synopsis: Illegal immigrants from Mainland China attempt to cross into Hong Kong. They face drowning, starvation, kidnapping, extortion, beatings, rape, police, gangsters, deportation, imprisonment, torture, and death.

This is one sobering experience. Is this art, is it philosophic, is it exploitation? Emphatically, YES and NO. Be forewarned that this is one of the most notorious CAT III films, presented fully uncut, and it justly deserves it’s reputation. It can also be defended, somewhat, as more than meets the eye.

This film is not for everyone, not even all purveyors of obscure film. In its defense, it is tightly paced, features excellent locations and sets, startling shot setups. The performances by all involved are stunning. You bleed with the hapless illegals and plot revenge against the despicable villains. There is a shocking amount of violence and nudity (both sexes but primarily female). It is gritty and grimy and almost entirely believable.  It is an exceptional piece of filmmaking.

It depicts filthy and obscene characters, gross and inhumane exploitation of fellow humans. This is an Animal Farm judgment against humanity as implicitly base and degraded. It’s also a judgment against the viewer for reveling in the scenarios depicted. The film is astonishingly well made considering the strong content – this is no Last House on the Left. There are many appealing characters, both emotionally and puriently, and there is lots of action and excitement. And if you enjoyed any second of it, you are hopelessly depraved. But take consolation in the realization that all humanity is likewise cursed.

No, there’s not much of a plot. Yes, there are so many scenes of beatings, rape, humiliation, and torture that you almost become desensitized. The constant tension is mostly broken by scenes of flight, capture, and the death of loved ones. But it is riveting – will you hate yourself for watching? Maybe not, but you will reflect on your reaction.

The DVD:

Another excellent release in the Shaw Brothers Cult Collection from Image. Widescreen, anamorphic, original language, English subtitles. The film is grainy and sometimes poorly lit, but the documentary aesthetics are obviously intended. The only extras are recent trailers.

Is Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness the work of a pulp hack, or a masterpiece that examines the primitive and obsessive nature of man?  Most champions of that work would flee in a panic of disgust from this spectacle. This movie is not intended to be enjoyable, and the viewer’s loyalties and motivations are betrayed just as the characters are. A powerful work that will leave an impression – that doesn’t mean you will appreciate or even tolerate it.  But you will remember it.

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