In 1988, the Hong Kong Office for Film, Newspaper and Article Administration designed and introduced a new rating system similar to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), restricting access to certain films based on age and parental presence. The most notorious of these ratings was Category III, equivalent to the MPAA’s NC-17 or X rating. It wasn’t all low-grade filth — dramas, adult comedies and imported films with moral values that crossed the line with censors like The Last Temptation of Christ also received the rating. But from the late 1980s to early 1990s, a legendary run of shocking cinema gave the term CAT III its own meaning in the hallowed halls of exploitation filmmaking. Films like Sex and Zen, Erotic Ghost Story, Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky and A Chinese Torture Chamber Story all have stirring reputations of their own (deservedly so). It’s the kind of stuff about which fans still whisper.

There may be no CAT III director-actor duo more iconic to the era than Herman Yau and his leading man, Anthony Wong. The two were responsible for Ebola Syndrome, The Untold Story and Erotic Ghost Story II, among others. You might recognize Wong from Hard Boiled or the Infernal Affairs trilogy; Yau, of course, continues to make bangers to this day in Hong Kong, including Shock Wave 2. Their time making these gory, explicit classics before moving on to other fare for their local film industry speaks to the general acceptance of CAT III’s more extreme content as simply part of that industry, which feels deeply unlike the Western film industry — where the two have become underground legends of their own right across generations of exploitation fans.

If you’re curious where to start with Yau and Wong, there may be no easier entry point than 1993’s Taxi Hunter, now available in Region A with a new Blu-ray release from 88 Films. Kin (Wong) is a mild-mannered insurance salesman with a pregnant wife (played by Hoi-Shan Lai) working overtime to make ends meet as they approach the birth of their first child. He’s tormented by the horrible behavior of Hong Kong cab drivers, who treat everyday people like trash. When one cabbie causes the death of his wife, Kin starts a cabbie killing spree that puts him in the crosshairs of his cop brother-in-law, Yu Kai-Chung (Rongguang Yu).

On the surface, there are similarities to Falling Down, the Michael Douglas-fronted midlife crisis picture from the same year that gave voice to the spiritual suppression of late-20th century middle-class life in America. But that’s not what this is. Neither is it a simple, gleeful splatter-fest. The strangest and most subversive quality of Taxi Hunter is how fundamentally kind Kin ultimately is even when he’s become a serial killer. The comedy, not the killing, is the discomforting element of the film.

Compared to Yau and Wong’s other CAT III classics, Taxi Hunter is profoundly restrained. There are a handful of “holy shit, I can’t believe I saw that” moments but nothing extreme per se. No dismemberments, for instance, that I can recall. If you’re curious what the fuss is about but not ready for the big leagues, this is a good introduction.

Special Features

  • Double-Walled Matte Finish O-Ring featuring new artwork by Sean Longmore
  • Double-sided fold-out poster
  • High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation in 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
  • Lossless 2.0 Cantonese Mono
  • Newly Translated English Subtitles
  • Audio Commentary by Hong Kong Film Expert Frank Djeng
  • Hunting For Words — An Interview with Scriptwriter and Producer Tony Leung Hung-Wah
  • How to Murder Your Taxi Driver? — An Interview with Action Director James Ha
  • Falling Down in Hong Kong — An Interview with Star Anthony Wong
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Stills Gallery
  • Reversible cover with new artwork by Sean Longmore and original HK Poster Art