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When comes to Hong Kong cinema, suspense thriller that explores Hitchcockian territory is quite a rare genre. Such case is David Chung's WEB OF DECEPTION -- an entertaining, if silly whodunit about betrayal, corruption, deception and greed.
Brigitte Lin is Jane, a troubled barrister who is about to relocate to Canada and leaving behind her faithful assistant May (Pauline Wong). However, Jane finds herself being blackmailed by an unknown party and suspects it's either May or her shady broker Miss Chow (Elizabeth Lee) might have something to do with this. As the movie progresses further, May is actually the one who send the blackmail note to Jane all along. Apparently she feels betrayed and under-appreciated after so many years of hard work but Jane doesn't even bother to take her along to Canada.
Meanwhile, May's roommate Queenie (Joey Wong) desperately needs a huge sum of money to clear her twin sister, Catherine's (also Joey Wong) debt she has owed the triad. When May knows about Queenie's situation, she suggests her to stage a break-in at Jane's mansion where she keeps the money inside a bag stored somewhere in the basement. At first, it's suppose to be a simple plan but things suddenly goes wrong. It turns out that Jane doesn't attend to a company party as scheduled, and ends up struggling with Queenie during the particular night. Queenie ends up dead, and Jane is naturally freaked out. She quickly calls May to help her solve the matter. At the same time, Catherine happens to be at the mansion as well and determines to exact revenge for her twin sister's death and plans to take the money together.
All three lead actresses (Brigitte Lin, Pauline Wong and Joey Wong) deliver top-notch performances. Joey Wong is particularly convincing in her dual roles where she requires to portray the timid-looking Queenie and the sassy Catherine. David Chung's direction is wickedly entertaining, especially the way Jane, May and Catherine who ends up pretending as Queenie trying to outwit each other in a cat-and-mouse game of duplicity (the dinner scene is especially notable here) and double-crossing. Chung knows well how to sustain a fair amount of claustrophobic tension (in which the movie is mostly set inside Jane's mansion) throughout the movie. As a cinematographer himself, Chung is efficient enough when comes to visual palette and moody lighting.
However, WEB OF DECEPTION is not without its share of flaws. There are times the movie requires suspension of disbelief and not to mention lots of contrivances, while Chung seems to be more interested to portray strong female characters and leave the male counterparts (e.g. Waise Lee's thankless role as Inspector Li) largely ignored. The surprise twist in the finale is mind-boggling and rather questionable, even though I can see Chung wants to leave the ending for an open debate.
While WEB OF DECEPTION is far from perfect, it remains entertaining enough for fans of Hong Kong cinema wanted to see something different than the usual genre offerings.
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