After losing everything in a stock market crash, Ng Chi Kit (Franco Jiang) flees with girlfriend Tsui Siu Suen (Vivian Hsu) and a sum of money to be spent in luxury before they both commit suicide. Both willing and hesitant at the same time, as they are robbed Chi Kit has to accept a well-paid offer to essentially act as a gigolo for Moon-Hung (Yeung Siu-Man) who is also terminally ill. The indecent proposal if you will draws the lovers apart...
The second of director Fu Lee's movies and second 1995 collaboration with Vivian Hsu (first being the Category III drama Angel Heart, the most read review on this site), Devil Angel showcases quite a bit of the same mature thinking, the crude eye for Category III softcore drama but also the portrayal of extreme polar opposites of stirred emotions and that makes it quite a few nothces more compelling than prior director-cast team-up.
There's nothing like setting the stage for darkness ahead by filming a piece of animal cruelty in slow motion at the start of your film and while inexcusable, we are on our toes and even soon are paying attention to Fu Lee's vision. Devil Angel IS melodramatic and certainly seems to push lazy buttons via voice over but there is something to be said for the sincerity in Hsu's voice talking of how conflicted she is to leave her mother in favour of a man she's bound to. This conflict of emotions, the extreme range of them will remain a key center stone of the film that actually is going to get it valid places.
That Fu Lee is letting us act as rag dolls in the wind along with our characters isn't a sign of being indecisive or displaying lack of skill in where our sympathy should lie. Point is, these two young people are hellbent on killing themselves with guns, in a very specific way and no wonder certain things are heightened to their extreme... including hesitation and indecisiveness. The determination when death is imminent lights up the movie and while emotions in subsequent sex scenes that is intended to show how Siu Suen and Chi Kit don't want to leave each other aren't exactly heightened when it's all set to the score from Braveheart, it has to be said Fu Lee once again treats the sex scenes with more narrative thought than most Category III filmmakers of the 90s.
Various detours into shocking splatter violence, be it via flashbacks or dreams shows a keen eye for the artistic as well and the further we get into the mix of stolen score, plot beats from An Indecent Proposal and quite incredible abandonment and callousness each character displays, Devil Angel manages to rise above the limited, crude competition with its want to provide substance. The skill is there, it may not be fresh but it's there nonetheless and not only fans of the shameless, B-movie thrash should look at Devil Angel. It's got eye and brain candy as a matter of fact.
The DVD (World Video):
Video: 1.60:1 non-anamorphic widescreen.
Audio: Mandarin Dolby Digital 2.0 and Cantonese Dolby Digital 2.0
Subtitles: Permanent English & Chinese.
reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson