Murders Made To Order – Half Baked

Country: Hong Kong
Genre: Action/ Martial Arts/ Bullet Ballet/ Girls With Guns
Director: Lee Kwok-Laap
Year: 1993

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

NOT WORTH YOUR TIME

I suppose that it’s folly to hope that a sequel to a mediocre movie would be worth watching, but Murders Made To Order, the sequel to Sting Of The Scorpion, even disappoints by those low standards.

And it’s a shame, too, because it didn’t have to be that way.

The action by coordinators Chan Fei Lit and Bruce Law, taken in isolation, isn’t bad. The cinematography is gorgeous throughout. The music score, often the bane of early 90s Hong Kong productions, is actually pretty good. The composers wisely utilize a sitar theme, which lends the settings a sense of mystery they probably don’t deserve. And the actors are in general quite effective, to the extent that they aren’t sabotaged by the dialog and situations.

Maggie Siu shines as the feral Chi, the cop done wrong by Inspector Cheng (Lester Chan, much slimier than in Sting of The Scorpion, and that’s a good thing). Cheung Kwok-Leung is appropriately loathsome as Mr. Tu, who runs a murder for hire racket. Waise Lee does great work as Lung, Mr. Tu’s right hand man. Lung develops feelings for Chi, which puts him in conflict with his duty, which may include killing Chi. And even Chan Kwok-Bong is convincing enough as an eager beaver who can’t wait to join the triads.

The problem, as it often is, is the script. It doesn’t make a lick of sense, not because the story is illogical per se but because the screenwriters are so incompetent.

At the end of Sting Of The Scorpion, Chi tried and failed to kill Cheng, which in itself makes no sense. Chi had a clear shot, and Cheng didn’t even try to escape. Chi is shut up in the loony bin, but Cheng of all people bails her out. He wants her to go undercover in a hostess bar, which he suspects uses the hostesses as assassins.

We see an example in the first scene, which features Cynthia Khan (who promptly disappears from the movie without a decent explanation) in a straight ripoff of the restaurant scene in La Femme Nikita. How does it compare? Well, the action is energetic enough, there’s a little martial arts thrown in (which is a plus), but the rocket launcher is left out, with nothing to compensate it with. And the scene ends with a complete non sequitur. It’s a distinct disimprovement.

But the screenwriter does add a new wrinkle. It seems that the organization kills the assassins after they’ve dispatched their target, natch. After all, that eliminates the link to the organization, and who is going to miss a hostess, anyway? I kind of like it. It’s nice and cold blooded.

I’ve made Murders To Order sound halfway reasonable, but I assure you, it’s not. Escapes are way too easy, there are continuity errors galore, the strategies are bullshit, and logic is violated left and right. There are plenty of scenes which are either repetitive or which serve no purpose at all, and this in a 75 minute movie.

As a result of the incompetence of director Lee Kwok-Laap and the writers, Murders Made To Order seems very long indeed in spite of the short running time. My advice is to skip this one, along with the prequel, Sting Of The Scorpion.

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