The Cat (1991)

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The Cat
The Hong Kong poster for The Cat
Alternate titles
Flagicon Japan.png The Cat: Nine Lives (1991)
See alternate titles
Directed by Lam Ngai Kai; Mio HaniJP
Producer Chua Lam et al.
Written by Chan Hing-Ka, Gordon ChanHK;
Mio HaniJP
Music by Philip ChanHK; Shunsuke KikuchiJP
Special
effects by
Kazuo Sagawa, Shinji Higuchi
Funded by Golden Harvest, Tokuma Enterprises, Nippon TV
Production company Paragon Films
Distributor Tokuma Japan CommunicationsJP; Golden HarvestHK
Rating IIHK[1]
Box office $2,733,592[1]-2,753,592HK[2]
Running time 100 minutesJP
(1 hour, 40 minutes)
87 minutesHK
(1 hour, 27 minutes)
Aspect ratio 1.85:1
Rate this film!
4.50
(4 votes)

The end of the century, Hong Kong. The "blood" of the "beasts" awakens... (世紀末・香港。“ (けだもの)”たちの“血”が目・覚・め・る・・・。)
„ 

— Japanese VHS tagline

Come see what the cat dragged in
„ 

— English tagline

The Cat (老貓,   Lǎomāo, lit. "Old Cat"), marketed as Wisely's The Cat (衛斯理之老貓,   Wèisīlǐ Zhī Lǎomāo, lit. "Wisely's Old Cat"), is a 1991 Hong Kong-Japanese science fiction film directed by Lam Ngai Kai and written by Chan Hing-Ka and Gordon Chan based on the novel The Old Cat by Ni Kuang (aka Wisely), with special effects by Kazuo Sagawa and Shinji Higuchi. Funded by Golden Harvest, Tokuma Enterprises, and Nippon TV and produced by Paragon Films, it stars Waise Lee, Christine Ng, and Gloria Yip.

In exchange for the Japanese backing,[3] an alternate version of the film entitled Nine Lives (猫 NINE LIVES,   Neko: Nain Raibuzu, lit. "The Cat: Nine Lives") was also filmed. Written and directed by Mio Hani, it replaced Lee with Japanese actor Hidekazu Akai. This version saw release first, playing for just one day at the Tokyo International Fantastic Film Festival in September 1991.[4] The Hong Kong version was eventually given a wider theatrical release by Golden Harvest beginning October 22, 1992.[1]

Plot

A novelist named Wisely writes about a recent experience he had with three individuals, including a cat. He begins writing about his friend Li Tung: one night Tung is awoken by a mysterious knocking sound and walks upstairs to investigate. He bangs on his neighbor's door. The hammering stops and a man wearing glasses named Errol opens the door and talks with Tung. After complaining to the man, Tung analyzes a girl in a black dress, dubbed the "Princess", holding a black cat, called the "General" by the girl, inside the apartment and is startled when the man shows him his bloody hand, leaving the man to shut the door on him. As soon as Tung returns to his apartment, the knocking resumes to Tung's displeasure. The following morning, Tung leaves his apartment complex to begin work and sees the man, girl, and cat vacating in a truck. Tung goes to their flat and finds intestines wrapped in newspaper; soon the authorities launch an investigation, with investigator Wang Chiehmei determining the intestines are from a cat and have only been there for roughly two hours. That afternoon, Tung enjoys dinner with Wisely, Wang, and Wisely's girlfriend Pai So.

Writing the story, Wisely states that he believes the girl and cat to be good-natured aliens, and notes that "kindness is bound to bring evil". In the historical museum, the General and Princess steal an archaeologist-perplexing device, dubbed the "octagon" by the Princess, they intend to use as a weapon, with the assistance of her ally Errol who bags a security guard witnessing the pair robbing the object. The three of them walk around the museum and see a dead, possessed, homeless man looking at them behind a window. His eyes pop out of its sockets and bleed terrifying the alien girl before it disappears. They soon are attacked by a strange large cone-shaped monster that suddenly bursts through the window at them and becomes an even larger toadstool-shaped creature. It grabs and slays a security guard, shocking the Princess who runs away with Errol and the cat. Wisely discovers the girl and cat's whereabouts and seeks their newly acquired flat. He hears the Princess telling the cat they must find a second octagon to defeat the "Star Killer" and return to their planet; the duo then discover Wisely in their home and the cat attacks him before Errol knocks him unconscious.

The following morning, Wisely finds no trace of the duo and returns home. While at home with his girlfriend, he learns that the octagon was stolen. Therefore, he visits the museum, where he notices that the walls are covered in parches (though there are no indications of fire) and discovers some hair which he determines is from a cat.

Wisely and Wang Chiehmei obtain the dog Lao Pu from his dog-loving owner Chen to locate the cat. Sometime later, five police officers, including Wang, enter a building where they are possessed by the monster; Wang subsequently steals firearms from a group of terrorist gun dealers by wiping out the group.

Meanwhile, at the museum where another octagon is stored, Wisely, a group of people, and Lao Pu wait for the cat to reappear and rob the second device. Before long, the cat appears, taking the object. Lao Pu attacks the cat and follows it (with the object in its jaw) out of the museum, with the group in pursuit. In his car, Wisely follows Lao Pu chasing the cat into a scrap yard. Upon entering the scrap yard, Lao Pu again spots the cat and runs after it, resulting in a ferocious conflict between them. The cat tricks the dog into getting electrocuted and briefly collapsing. However, Lao Pu quickly wakes up and sprints after the feline. After slashing at the dog's side, the cat jumps at the hound, lifts him, and slams him to the ground. Wisely searches the junkyard for the pair and finds a collapsed Lao Pu. Lightning crashes and Wisely hears the cat meow loudly. He captures the cat and traps it in the bonnet of his car to the cat's displeasure. However, the cat manages to escape running away from Wisely extremely fast. He then finds the cat's tail still stuck in the bonnet.

Sometime later, at a university lab, Professor Yu tells Mr. Chen that Lao Po is still alive and will fully recover in a few weeks. After watching Chen take the dog away, an assistant hands Wisely an envelope with the cat's tail inside; Yu then says that analysis shows the tail is from a cat that died "scores of years ago", leaving Wisely in disbelief. The cat reunites with the Princess and her assistant during the day. While in bed with So that night, he sees the cat in the bedroom with them. It jumps at the envelope with its tail inside and tears it in an attempt to retrieve its tail. However, after throwing the cat away from the object, it curls up on So's shoulder. Wisely attempts to set the envelope alight when he is stopped by the alien girl who dashes into the room (with Errol following behind), picks up the General, and she and Errol tell the pair that they and the cat are aliens who fled their planet due to an "evil influence". While they tell the pair about their reason behind being on the Earth, a man stands outside loading guns oblivious to them. The Princess fits the cat's tail back on the feline while the man straps the guns and grenades to himself. The man fires rounds at the group. Wisely attempts to set him on fire throwing four Molotov cocktails at him but accidentally misses and sets his outside pool alight.

Wang then walks into the room where the group is taking cover; upon stepping inside So realizes that he is Wang and exposes her location. The group moves to another area of the room to avoid Wang, who shoots at everything in his sight; Wisely successfully throughs a glass bottle at Wang which infuriates him further and he fires in their direction. Wisely heads to the roof to escape as the rest of the group hides from their attacker; their aggressor pursues him to the roof where he is electrocuted, plunging to the foot of the house. Errol sets himself on fire and leaps off the roof to the Princess' disbelief. He lands on Wang and falls into the fiery pool with him. The Princess sees Errol's motionless body on the pool surface. The Princess, Wisely, and So run away from Wang again upon him surfacing and sprint to their car while he exits the pool.

The trio, alongside the cat, drive to the local observatory. Upon entering, the Princess explains that, without Errol's assistance, she must return to her home world; they then proceed upstairs to the telescope where the Princess looks at the stars through the telescope and spots the star of her home world which flashes brighter than all other stars in the night sky. So looks into the telescope and sees a red beam coming from the star. The Princess excitedly states that her species has contacted them. The beam shines into the location and lights up the alien's device on the floor. This makes it glow red and turns the cat into the galaxy's most powerful knight.

The group leave the observatory in Wisely's car and So runs into the police station. Wisely, the Princess, and the General enter another building where people dine. Oblivious to everyone except the cat, that the cat is warning them about it, a red slimy substance drips into the room. Suddenly, a heap of it flows in and becomes like a cobweb that traps several people. Wisely advises everyone to run through the back of the room. Several people exist but return as a humanoid insect-like creature follows them into the room. Wisely throws a cash register at the creature to prevent harming a woman. In an instant, several arms destroyed a wall and killed some of those in the room. Wisely, the General, and the Princess leave the room and run down a corridor with the creature following behind. Wisely, who has the octagon, and the Princess run up a set of stairs and are soon attacked by a giant limb. Wisely sees blobs following them up the stairs as well and tosses the octagon to the Princess ahead of him; he then leaps to the Princess's location on a high stair to escape the ooze not far below him. The Princess and Wisely make it to the roof where the monster, now in a multi-headed form, confronts them by creeping up the side of the building. Upon its heads combining into one, which is first humanoid before evolving into a large mouth, the General grabs the octagon off Wisely and flies into the monster's mouth. Inside the Star Killer's body, the cat combines with the octagon and its meow causes the beast to explode. As a glistening substance rains down on them, Wisley asks the Princess how she can return home. She explains to Wisely that the substance allows her and the cat to return to the stars. Wisely watches as they fly into the night sky.

The ensuing morning, Wisely encounters So and the police outside the building, and a correspondent asks Wisely to recount what occurred, but Wisely declines, telling her that she can read about it in his next book.

Staff

Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.

  • Directed by   Lam Ngai Kai
  • Written by   Chan Hing-Ka, Gordon Chan
  • Based on a story by   Ni Kuang
  • Produced by   Chua Lam, Michael Lai
  • Executive producers   Anthony Chow, Peter Lam
  • Planned by   Johnathon Chow, Anna Chim
  • Music by   Philip Chan
  • Cinematography by   Mak Hoi-Man
  • Edited by   Peter Cheung, Keung Chuen-Tak
  • Production design by   Ho Kim-Sing, Leung Bing-Kwan
  • Assistant directors   Mau Kin-Tak, So Jing-Man, Dang Chuk-Gwan, Jeng Wing-Hang
  • Directors of special effects   Kazuo Sagawa,[5] Shinji Higuchi (uncredited)[3]
  • Assistant directors of special effects   Sam Leong, Chan Wing-Chiu
  • Visual effects by   Minoru Nakano (uncredited)

Japanese version

  • Directed by   Lam Ngai Kai
  • Co-directed by   Mio Hani
  • Written by   Mio Hani
  • Executive producers   Masao Kobayashi, Takeo Mutai, Chua Lam
  • Co-executive producers   Seiji Urushido, Raymond Chow
  • Produced by   Yasuhiro Nose, Seiji Okuda, Chan Tung Chow
  • Music by   Shunsuke Kikuchi
  • Cinematography by   Yuji Okumura

Cast

Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.

  • Waise Lee   as   Wisely
  • Christine Ng   as   Pai So
  • Gloria Yip   as   Princess
  • Lau Siu-ming   as   Errol
  • Lawrence Lau   as   Li Tung, Wisely's friend
  • Philip Kwok   as   Inspector Wang Chiehmei
  • Ni Kuang   as   Mr. Chen
  • Chua Lam   as   Professor Yu
  • Chui Kin-wah, Kong Long   as   gun dealers
  • Wan Seung-lam, Kong Long, Jeng Yee   as   Wang's assistants
  • Simon Cheung   as   police officer
  • Kwok Bei-Dak

Japanese version

  • Hidekazu Akai   as   Wei
  • Gloria Yip   as   strange girl
  • Pal   as   Wang
  • Gemma Too   as   Sonia
  • Charles Cho   as   Frederick Lee
  • Kwon Hoi San   as   old man
  • Kai Hong
  • Shuichi Ikeda   as   Wang (voice)
  • Yuko Mizutani (voice)
  • Chieko Honda (voice)

Appearances

Monsters, aliens, and weapons

Production

The Cat was in production as early as 1989.[a] The sequence in which the titular cat battles a dog took six months of filming and employed seven trained cats.[4] The special effects director who was initially tasked with realizing these scenes was fired after just three days due to animal endangerment and was replaced by up-and-coming Japanese effects artist Shinji Higuchi. Because it would have been too costly to demolish the set that had already been prepared, Higuchi was required to pick up the shoot as-is. He worked on the film for one month before having to return to Japan, requesting that a director be found in Hong Kong to complete the remainder.[3]

The film was also an early project of Shinichi Wakasa, who contributed "special props".[5] Other Japanese staff included Kazuo Sagawa as SFX director[5] and Toshio Miike as SFX production designer.[6]

Gallery

Main article: The Cat/Gallery.

Alternate titles

  • Old Cat (老貓,   Lǎomāo, literal Chinese title)
  • Wisely's The Cat (衛斯理之老貓,   Wèisīlǐ Zhī Lǎomāo, extended Chinese title)
    • Wisely's Old Cat (literal translation)
  • The 1000 Years Cat (alternate English title)[1]
  • Nine Lives (English title for the Japanese version)[4]
  • The Cat: Nine Lives (猫 NINE LIVES,   Neko: Nain Raibuzu, initial Japanese title)[4]
  • War of the Beasts (妖獣大戦,   Yōjū Taisen, Japanese VHS title)
  • Karate Cat (Karaté Cat; France)

Theatrical releases

Japanese release

According to Shinji Higuchi, Japanese sponsors signed on to back the film midway through production under the condition that an alternate version be filmed starring a Japanese actor.[3] Golden Harvest producer Chua Lam recruited Mio Hani to write a screenplay, but found that the story she'd devised was so much different and more extravagant than the original novel that he also hired her as the director.[4] The resulting film, entitled Nine Lives, stars Hidekazu Akai as a man named Wei, who replaces the novelist character Wisely. It was screened at the Tokyo International Fantastic Film Festival in September 1991.[4]

U.S. release

The Cat was screened at Alamo Drafthouse's theaters on January 25, 2022[7] and was distributed by Hyperreal Film Club at Hotel Vegas & The Volstead in Austin on January 30, 2023.[8]

Reception

The Cat holds an audience score of 53% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on over 50 ratings.[9] Writing for Cinefantastique, Steve Biodrowski called the film a "haphaz[a]rd combo of horror, sci-fi, mystery, and action" that is "such a botch that even hardcore Hong Kong film fanatics may have trouble sitting through it."[10] Dennis Harvey of 48 Hills, meanwhile, declared it "nuts in the best possible way," elaborating, "[I]t is a berserk pileup of fantasy effects, gangster gunplay, and crazy sci-fi horror setpieces landing somewhere between The Terminator and The Blob. Of course it's ludicrous, as well as near-senseless, but isn’t that the charm?"[7]

Video releases

Mega Star Video Distribution VCD (1993)

  • Region: PAL
  • Discs: 2
  • Audio: Cantonese
  • Subtitles: English, Traditional Chinese

Tokuma Japan Communications VHS (September 2, 1994)

  • Tapes: 1
  • Audio: Japanese

Mei Ah VCD (1996)

  • Region: NTSC
  • Discs: 1
  • Audio: Cantonese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Special features: None

Deltamac VCD (March 1, 2000)

  • Region: PAL
  • Discs: 2
  • Audio: Cantonese, Mandarin
  • Subtitles: English, Traditional Chinese

Deltamac DVD (May 23, 2003)

  • Region: 3
  • Discs: 2
  • Audio: Cantonese, Mandarin
  • Subtitles: English, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese

Guangdong Audio-Visual DVD (December 3, 2003)

  • Region: PAL
  • Audio: Mandarin
  • Subtitles: None

Guangdong Audio-Visual VCD (December 5, 2003)

  • Region: PAL
  • Discs: 2
  • Audio: Mandarin
  • Subtitles: None

Joy Sales VCD (June 26, 2007)

  • Region: PAL
  • Discs: 2
  • Audio: Cantonese, Mandarin
  • Subtitles: English, Traditional Chinese

Joy Sales DVD (November 20, 2008)

  • Region: NTSC
  • Discs: 1
  • Audio: Cantonese (Dolby Digital 2.0), Mandarin (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese

Metropolitan Filmexport DVD (2011)

  • Region: 2
  • Discs: 1
  • Audio: Cantonese
  • Subtitles: French
  • Special features: None
  • Notes: Packaged with Robotrix (1991).

Videos

Original Hong Kong trailer
Hyperreal's trailer by Forest DeLozier

Trivia

  • Ni Kuang, author of the original novel upon which the film is based, makes a cameo as the dog owner Mr. Chen.
  • As a tie-in to the Japanese version of the film, Nine Lives, Tokuma Shoten published a Japanese translation of Wisely's novel in June 1991. A still from Nine Lives appears on the cover.
  • The Cat is the fifth film to be based on a novel in the Wisely series. The first, The Seventh Curse (1986), was also directed by Lam Ngai Kai and produced by Chua Lam, with special effects by Kazuo Sagawa.[11]

Notes

  1. Shinji Higuchi recalled being invited to the project the year after he worked on Golden Harvest's The Peacock King,[3] which was released in 1988.[5] Furthermore, Toshio Miike places his work on the film in 1989 in the filmography from Toshio Miike's Secret Special Effects Chronicle Vol. 2 (p. 4).[6]

References

This is a list of references for The Cat. These citations are used to identify the reliable sources on which this article is based. These references appear inside articles in the form of superscript numbers, which look like this: [1]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "The Cat (1992)". HKMDB. Retrieved 26 May 2023.
  2. "Hong Kong Movie Box Office 1992 [Chinese Movies]". Angelfire. Archived from the original on 12 December 2007.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Horai, Sanae (2012). "Autodesk×Digicon6 コラボ企画 Top Creator's Eye ~CG業界のフロンティア達の視点~ 『のぼうの城』樋口 真嗣 監督 インタビュー". Area Japan.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 "Nine Lives" 1991, p. 34
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Wakasa 2017, p. 279
  6. 6.0 6.1 Miike 2021, p. 4
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Harvey, Dennis. "Screen Grabs: The fascinating cringe of 'Breezy'". 48 Hills. Retrieved 30 May 2023.
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Hyperreal Hotel: The Cat in Austin at Hotel Vegas & The Volstead". Do512. Retrieved 30 May 2023.
  9. "The Cat (Lao mao)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 29 May 2023.
  10. Biodrowski, Steve (18 November 2007). "The Cat (1992)". Cinefantastique. Archived from the original on 20 April 2008.
  11. Murase 2015, pp. 269-270.

Bibliography

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