Murders Made to Order

Though this sequel to Sting of the Scorpion has the characteristics of a hurried and slapdash production, it still contains an intriguing story and a dark gritty atmosphere. Unlike Sting of the Scorpion that did not really focus on Maggie Siu’s character until the second half of the film, Maggie carries this one from beginning to end. Her quietly serious and driven performance is certainly the best thing about the film. Some sloppy plotting, scenes that feel incomplete, lapses in logic and the large usage of film scenes from Sting of the Scorpion evidence the low production values of this movie.
In a Black Cat like prologue Cynthia Khan is given a gun in a restaurant and instructed by Waise Lee to assassinate her target and escape through the kitchen. When Cynthia tries to escape though, she finds her way blocked and her employers trying to kill her. She is barely able to escape. This oddly is the last we see of Cynthia in the film. Taking place two years after the Sting of the Scorpion came to a dramatic finish, ex-policewoman Maggie is imprisoned in an insane asylum. The police realize that Waise runs an assassination agency and they release Maggie to go undercover and infiltrate the “killing for hire” group.
Upon her release, Maggie discovers that her childhood friend and then betrayer, Inspector Cheng, is still alive and is responsible for her assignment. Faced with the choice of going back into the asylum or carrying out her orders, Maggie descends into the sleazy world of hostess girls and drug addiction in order to get close to Waise. She gets to show her toughness on a few occasions – a knife through the hand, a bottle over the head – and then she puts a plank full of nails through a guy’s skull – an undercover cop. She goes into hiding (though it is in fact her house from the previous film) and Waise thinks he has a perfect killing machine on his hands.
The action doesn’t really get going until the second half and then is at most only barely competent, but the context of the action scenes make them enjoyable to some extent. The film lacks some of the emotional bite of the first film, but viewing the continuing adventures of Maggie has an almost voyeuristic feel to it – from being betrayed by her friend, losing her boyfriend, becoming a killer, losing her mind, becoming an addict to final redemption. It makes me wish that there were further films made of this character. It is somewhat surprising that Maggie didn’t become a larger film star – she provides a terrifically understated but intense performance – and she is certainly attractive – but instead she found her fame in the world of TV. Appearing also as Maggie's friend is Chan Kwok-bong.

My rating for this film: 6.0