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DR. LAMB

One of the most notorious films to emerge from the Category III cycle of nineties-era Hong Kong cinema. A gory serial killer drama, DR. LAMB appears to have been conceived as a rip-off of TAXI DRIVER, crossed with MANIAC (1980). I know many of you feel this film is some kind of transgressive masterpiece, but I find it an overrated bummer.

The Package
     Category III is an adults-only rating given by the Hong Kong censorship board. Other notable Category III films to emerge from Hong Kong in the 1990s include INSANITY, EBOLA SYNDROME, RUN AND KILL and RED TO KILL. The latter two films were helmed by DR. LAMB’s co-director Billy Tang, Hong Kong’s most notorious filmmaker.
     1992’s DR. LAMB (GOU YEUNG YI SANG) was co-directed with Danny Lee, a Hong Kong movie star whose acting credits include John Woo’s seminal THE KILLER. As a director Lee would go on to co-direct another notorious film, 1993’s UNTOLD STORY, a far more graphic and frankly much better serial killer saga.

The Story
     A young boy is bullied by his heartless stepmother, and grows into a woman-hating taxi driver. Said taxi driver is picked up by cops one day as part of an investigation into obscene photos. Investigating the house where the guy lives with his father and siblings, graphic pictures of murdered women are uncovered. He’s detained at the police station and questioned about the photos, but steadfastly denies having committed the crimes depicted. After a lot of coaxing and beating, however, he breaks down and confesses to the crimes.
     Apparently “Dr. Lamb’s” killing spree begun one night during a routine taxi ride. His passenger, a bitchy young drunk woman, drove him nuts and he strangled her. Afterward he took the corpse to his home and dismembered it with a hacksaw.
     Back in the police station a woman cop is reluctantly coerced into playing Lamb’s victims in recreations of his crimes. During one such recreation a severed breast spills out of an evidence bag and lands on the woman cop’s back.
     Following this we get a flashback showing how that severed breast came to be. Turns out it was sliced off another drunk woman passenger by Lamb, who then had sex with her corpse and videotaped the act.
     A final flashback has Lamb describing how he nearly managed to refrain from killing a third woman but did so anyway…before the video tape he made turns up showing the aforementioned breast slicing and corpse defilement in the flesh. As a result the not-so-good doctor is imprisoned for the rest of his life.

The Direction
     DR. LAMB has a kinetic overlay typical of Hong Kong actioners of the time, mixed with much slasher movie grossness. Yet it isn’t quite the taboo-busting gore fest its been cracked up to be. In fact, the film’s opening half is essentially a police procedural, with cops trying to ferret out a confession from the protagonist and his family. As such it’s quite repetitive and uninspiring. Things don’t pick up until the extended flashback sequences, which commence with a graphic killing followed by a disturbingly protracted, yet curiously restrained, dismemberment.
     The film can safely be called misogynistic. In the opening scenes the title character is driven mad by his shrewish stepmother, and he’s later accosted by several obnoxious women in his cab. The film, however, lacks the intelligence and craftsmanship of something like HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER, and so never succeeds in making the title character in any way emphatic.
     Adding to the problem is Simon Yam as that character. Yam has a menacing presence without question, yet he, with his muscular physique and movie star looks, is never convincing as the maladjusted loser he’s supposed to be playing (the corpulent Kent Cheng, who plays a cop here and headlined the following year’s RUN AND KILL, would have been a better choice).
     In the end DR. LAMB’S only satisfaction is as a shallow gorefest with snatches of pitch-black comedy--not nearly enough, however, to make for a good movie!


Vital Statistics

DR. LAMB (GOU YEUNG YI SANG)
Grand River Film, Heroes United Films

Director: Danny Lee, Billy Tang
Producer: Parkman Wong
Screenplay: Law Cam Fai
Cinematography: Kin Fai Miu
Editing: Hung Choi
Cast: Danny Lee, Simon Yam, Kent Cheng, Pik Yu Chung, Si Man Hui, Eric Kei, Emily Kwan, Hoi-Shan Lai, Siu-Ming Lau, Julie Lee, Parkman Wong, Siu Ling Wong, Usang Yeong Fang

     

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