The Cat [Lao mao] (1992)

Connections, connections…

I’d stumbled across a reference to the Hong Kong action film, The Legend of Wisely (Wai Si-Lei chuen kei) because someone said it had the same basic plot as Franco Nero’s Top Line — but had been done better.  However, when I looked it up, I learned it was one of a number of movies based on the novels of the extremely prolific pulp writer, Ngai Hong, featuring his famous character Wai Si Lei (or Wisely…or even Wesley).  Wisely was a popular novelist, adventurer and scholar; an expert on the supernatural who based his novels on his real experiences (which, in the movie The Seventh Curse, his creator also claims in the Fourth wall intro, using almost the same words Wisely uses to describe where he got his ideas).

Not only that, but I was familiar with at least two of those films:  The Wesley’s Mysterious File, which I had seen (a so-so effort which, oddly, turned Wise…ummm, “Wesley” into a member of a Men in Black type agency) — and a bizarre HK SF film which I had heard of, but had never been able to find, The Cat.

And I was even more amazed when I actually located it on Youtube.

Now, before we start here, we need to remember that this is a Hong Kong film, and your opinion of this one is going to rely heavily on how well you can handle the eccentricities of Hong Kong films.  Even the most routine HK effort has a tendency to stray into the strange and unimaginable — and indulge in lots of very silly slapstick comedy.

Not that The Cat really gets into slapstick that much.  Well, except…

We’ll get to that in a minute.

One of Wisely’s friends can’t sleep at night because the people in the apartment above him make these awful banging noises all night long.  When he goes to complain, he is spooked by their cat — and when they move out abruptly the next day, he finds a pile of fresh intestines left behind…

When he goes to Wisely with the story, the writer soon finds himself on the trail of a mysterious series of robberies, some horrible murders, and what turn out to be visitors from another world.

This is a film with a lot of manic energy and some very impressive low budget effects.  The “Star Killer” creature — particularly the final version — is a horrible monstrosity in the same vein as the Eighties Blob, or John Carpenter’s The Thing.  Only with claws.  And fire.

But the sequence that everyone remembers is the slapstick junkyard fight between the alien Cat and a monster, terminator-like dog Wisely borrows from a friend, which is silly, kinetic, exciting — and even throws in an electrical display.

All in all, this is one of the better Hong Kong SF films out there.  But only if you can handle the bizarre absurdities of Hong Kong’s idea of what SF is.

Those of you who can will enjoy this film.

And the rest of you, those of you who are too mired in the need to have everything not only explained — but to have that explanation make some sort of sense as well?

Well, at least you can’t say I didn’t warn you.

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