Friday, 30 July 2010

Human Pork Chop (2001)

Human Pork Chop begins with a police search of an abandoned apartment. During the search, a skull belonging to local missing girl Grace Li is discovered. A number of suspects thought to be involved in the disappearance (and probable murder) of Grace are brought in for questioning. Main suspect is motel owner Hok, whose wife Yin is also arrested along with local youths Gigi, Keith and Joe. Although initially denying any involvement, the terrible truth about what really happened to Grace is recounted in lengthy flashback sequences, interspersed with the continuing police investigations…

After a night out with Gigi, Grace explains that she has nowhere to go following a fight with her boyfriend. Gigi suggests that she could stay at Hok’s motel and Hok is happy to agree on the basis that Grace works at the motel. It is soon obvious that Hok is involved in prostitution and drug dealing and we get the impression from Grace that she is certainly no stranger to selling her body or using drugs.

Before too long Hok starts to receive complaints about Grace’s poor appearance and her drug use. Warned by Hok to clean up her act, Grace leaves the motel but not before relieving Hok of the contents of his wallet! After a chance meeting with Hok, Grace is brutally beaten in the street by Hok, Keith and Joe, despite stating that she is pregnant. Promising to repay Hok, Grace fails to deliver the funds and is eventually tracked down to the apartment that she shares with her grandmother and new born son. Grace is taken to Hok’s home where she is held against her will and subjected to further beatings, scalding and has plastic straws melted over her legs. She is forced to sleep in a cupboard and made to sit in the fridge. After Hok discovers that Grace has found his secret drug stash, he replenishes his supply with a quantity of pure drugs to teach Grace a lesson and ignores Yin’s warning about the strength of the drugs.

Grace takes the drugs and overdoses on the kitchen floor whilst reminiscing about happier times. Assumed to have simply passed out, Grace’s body is left on the floor overnight. The following morning Yin realises that something has gone wrong and after placing the body in the refrigerator for a while, Hok decides that the corpse must be disposed of. Wearing plastic overalls and facemasks, Hok dismembers the body with the aid of Keith and Joe who are then given the job of dumping the body parts amongst the garbage around the city. The hands, feet and head are boiled down in the apartment and the skull stuffed inside a cuddly toy. Hok and Yin move out and advise the others to keep a low profile however Joe is arrested and the story unfolds.

The film then ends rather abruptly with a brief voice-over stating that Hok, Keith and Joe pleaded guilty to manslaughter, illegal imprisonment and interruption of a lawful burial, receiving sentences of life imprisonment.

Produced and directed by Bennie Chan, Human Pork Chop mines similar territory to both The Untold Story and There’s a Secret in my Soup, with all three films reportedly based on factual events (HPC and Secret… dealing with the same case). Chan’s film has attained a certain notoriety for its’ depiction of the gruelling abuse that Grace Li suffers during the second half of the film despite the footage not being exceptionally graphic for a Category III film. By far the most disturbing footage is an episode where Grace is forced to eat faeces from a blocked toilet before having her face scrubbed with a fresh deposit!

By the end of the film there are several plot flaws that remain unexplained. There is no real reason as to why an investigation into Grace’s disappearance is being carried out. It also seems rather inconceivable and na├»ve of Hok to leave Grace’s skull behind a cuddly toy in an empty apartment when he has gone to such lengths to dispose the rest of the body! Minor grumbles aside Human Pork Chop is a chilling example of oriental cinema at its’ finest.

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