Starring: Sean Lau, Elanne Kwong, Joey Meng
Directed by: Danny Pang
SUMMARY: A slice of Hong Kong horror from the creators of The Eye.
Danny Pang pops up at the beginning of this DVD to thank you for buying it. No, thank you, Mr Pang, because what we have here is a nice little murder mystery with some pleasantly lurid trappings.
Our grizzled hero is Inspector Wong (Sean Lau, Keifer Sutherland if they ever do a US remake), a grumpy cop who works all hours to avoid spending time at home with his severely autistic son. One night he questions a weird guy with a white-painted face who claims that he’s about to murder someone, but doesn’t take him seriously and lets him go. Lo and behold, the murder is committed, and Wong and the rest of his team find themselves scrabbling to cover up their incompetence.
In the meantime, the baddie goes on a spree, offing people in a manner that alludes to various fairy tales such as Cinderella, the Red Shoes and Hansel and Gretel – culminating in a standout moment when a hogtied and roasted corpse comes rolling into sight during a kiddies’ panto. The clues all point to a psychiatric hospital and to one of its erstwhile inmates, a crazy painter lady whose nightmarish canvases seem to have inspired the killer’s actions. But no matter how straightforward the case may be, you can rely on this particular police department to muck it up with a combination of stupidity and infighting (by the latter stages of the investigation, Wong and his team aren’t even on speaking terms).
The story follows a slightly predictable course, but it’s handled in a fresh and stylish way, with plenty of oddball characters, slick, energetic direction from Pang and some intense performances from Lau and co. It all builds towards a suitably OTT runaround last reel with hostages, trials and booby traps. More style than substance perhaps, and it does rather test the limits of just how many crazy people you can have in one film, but overall a taut, enjoyable thriller. The DVD comes with a “making of” featurette and an interview with Lau.