The story concerns a love triangle (or maybe in this case a quadrangle?) between Carrie Ng, another women and the scientist from Heroic Trio, James Pak. One of the women is found dead - cut into in small pieces (thus literally the "remains of a woman") and the two others are charged in her murder and sentenced to jail. For some reason I never quite grasped, they are being retried and slowly the truth behind the murder unfolds through flashbacks.
Loletta Lee enters the story as a Christian social worker that visits prisoners to preach the bible. The last 10 minutes of this movie is very confusing and I probably missed something, but in a plea to the Asian film NG for help, I found out that no one really understood the enigmatic ending.
Nevertheless, Carrie Ng’s performance makes
the movie worth while (though she was much less glamorous than I like seeing
her - she looks so good when she slashes red lipstick across her mouth)
and she in fact won a best actress award for the movie. Apparently the
movie Legal Innocence is also based on this same true case.
This is a movie that I did not enjoy watching. Nevertheless I did not fast forward through any of it. This is also a film which I would hesitate to recommend to many of my friends (especially those who don't know me too well!), and one which I most definitely would not want to watch if anyone else were in the room. Yet, it actually is a movie that I honestly think is a well made, quality production deserving of serious consideration. Why the seeming contradiction?
Well, let's just say that the subject-matter of REMAINS OF A WOMAN is an extremely unpleasant one which seems to me to be both disturbingly and memorably covered and rendered by the makers of this movie. Murder, mutilation, drug taking (sniffing, smoking, shooting up), unpleasant (as well as pleasant)-looking sex...all of them are shown in substantial detail. A loathsome man, three needy/gullible women...all are convincingly portrayed by good actors (One of whom, Carrie Ng, made Taiwanese movie history by being the first actress to win a Golden Horse award for her performance in a Hong Kong Category III-rated film).
Should you decide to watch this movie, I predict that not only will you be affected by many of the things you will see over the course of the film but quite a few of its images will linger on in your mind -- and probably nightmares – for quite a while to come.
N. B. This was my first taste of a Hong Kong "true crime" story (another notable example: "The Untold Story: Human Meat Roast Pork Buns") and film that falls squarely into the "over the edge" category (See Chapter 13 of Stefan Hammond and Mike Wilkins' "Sex and Zen & A Bullet in the Head" The Essential Guide to Hong Kong's Mind-Bending Films" ). It was also only my fourth -- at most! -- experience of a Category III movie (the first, "Naked Killer" was also directed by Clarence Ford/Fok and boasts Carrie Ng among its stars – but what a different kettle of fish it is entirely!). Perhaps these facts can account for the significant effect that this movie had on my emotions. But then again, perhaps not! :)
My rating for this film: 7.5