Rape Trap

Reviewed by YTSL

There have been certain Hong Kong movie actresses and actors -- most notably, Michelle Yeoh, Charlie Yeung, Jet Li and Takeshi Kaneshiro -- who caught my eye in the very first film of theirs that I viewed.  For others (including Brigitte Lin -- really, truly!), it’s been a case of my having taken a while to develop an appreciation of their now patently obvious abilities.  The popular TVB star who this (re)viewer thought possessed an immensely electrifying presence in “Love and Sex among the Ruins” -- and is the primary reason for my electing to check out this Category IIB offering with the kind of exploitative sounding English language title that makes one think that it’d be a sure fire bet to a Category III work -- is one such individual who I have latterly recognized as falling into that second category.

Michael Tse, Ada Choi and Anthony Wong
As things stand, the largely pedestrianly put together RAPE TRAP owes much of what watchability it has to Ada Choi’s against-the-odds compelling portrayal of a young woman who had the misfortune of loving a miserably spineless man who is not above persuading his girlfriend to enter into a paper marriage with a stranger in return for a quick and theoretically no further strings attached $600,000 payment.  To be sure, there are bigger names, like Anthony Wong (whose trouble causing character is referred to as Ted Huang in this effort’s frequently frustratingly typo ridden -- cf. there being many an occasion when someone is asked to “keep clam” rather than calm... -- English subtitles) and arguably also Michael Tse (who has a pretty thankless role as the physically attractive but otherwise quite contemptible Liang Chun Hwa), in the cast of this1998 movie.
For some people, there might be the additional draw of RAPE TRAP’s possessing supporting appearances by former kung fu movie star, Eddy Ko (who plays a police Captain Keng Tung Wai) and the she of the infamous “Mystical Breasts”, Diana Pang Dan (as an unnamed but quite noticeable good time gal).  However, the duo who look to have been disproportionately charged with infusing the seriously unsophisticated film’s story with a significant amount of often anguished humanity along with some degree of sincerity and sense of common decency are Ada Choi (whose Li Shan Shan character is the work’s most put upon -- plus major sympathy-earning -- as well as main personality) and the surprisingly effective Woody Chan (who essays a well meaning lawyer by the name of Chen Chi Pang).
Woody Chan, Eddie Ko and Diana Pang Dan
The far from high budget or concept RAPE TRAP begins with a scene -- that takes place in Mainland China proper, like the rest of this Steve Cheng directed effort -- in which she who soon is revealed to be sought after by the police as well as is called Li Shan Shan is shown getting some of her blood transfused to an unconscious man who later gets identified as a Hong Kong businessman named Ted Huang.  After spotting some of those who were looking to track her down, the desperate acting woman bolts out of the hospital, hops on a motorbike, and -- with the cops in hot pursuit -- speeds off on a perilous path that ends with her meeting with an accident, being thrown into the sea, getting washed ashore, having a head injury and waking up in (another) hospital with amnesia.  As if this was not already a bad enough situation to find oneself in, as we get to the movie’s seven minute mark, this vulnerable -- and hardly stereotypically criminal -- appearing individual is seen plus heard getting informed by a judge that “You shall be hanged at 7 a.m. tomorrow”.
By way of a flashback format, Shan Shan is shown during what initially looked to be happier times but are quickly revealed to be disturbed by her unworthy boyfriend’s dissatisfaction at being the furniture shop owner’s assistant rather than the (co-)restaurateur that he seeks to be.  Despite Chun Hwa telling the supposed love of his life that “I don’t want you to suffer”, he gets Shan Shan involved in an illegal scheme that placed her in a position to easily fall victim to a RAPE TRAP hatched by the devious man that she had fairly innocently sought to help.  And sure enough, this -- which, it ought to be noted, was not shot in all that tantalizing a manner (and thus is not a scene that I can envision satisfying violence and/or sex craving smut-hounds) -- is what happens.
Understandably traumatized by the ill doing that was wrought unto her, Shan Shan gets her woes considerably added to as a result of getting accused, and then found guilty (despite the efforts of her caring legal counsel), of attempting to murder her rapist.  At this juncture, there should be little doubt that RAPE TRAP adheres more to the conventions of a melodramatic crime drama than any other kind of film.  Accordingly, it is only to be expected that this eventful -- but actually not all that exciting... -- effort is one whose main tale would encompass some salient as well as sudden twist that will reveal itself just before the movie draws to a close.  In a better work, this structural maneuver would bring about a satisfying tying up of remaining loose ends or be the bonus flourish on an already niftily bowed package.  Tellingly, this often disappointingly shoddy offering proved to, instead, possess the sort of concluding narrative turn that I found myself greeting with some incredulity plus even ridicule, and served to confirm how pointless as well as slight it is.

My rating for the film: 5.5