Puerile Scenes And Misuse Of Able Players At Root Of Foolish Film's Weakness.
This hybrid Horror/Mystery/Crime/Comedy, et alia, movie fails to please under any classification that it might be placed, despite some able acting and worthy production values, because of a confusing story that obviously is cobbled from disparate sources that lack a tonic necessary to maintain any effective scenes that may occur but that are always quickly shattered by inane writing. "Alan" (David Wu), along with his partner and former lover "Laura" (Michelle Reis) are Hong Kong Police Department detectives assigned to investigate a series of suicides having common constituents, including reference to "Auntie" or "Granny" Lung, as well as to a quaint publication titled "Handbook of Suicide", a morbid volume that would seem to be targeting an unhinged and depressed reading audience. As the detectives begin to probe into the fatalities, a former investigator, "Pierre" (Dayo Wong), residing within an insane asylum (his quite equally daft girl friend is called "Cardin") is released and, as the writers would have us accept, is deployed to assist Alan and Laura because he had been looking into the Granny Lung affair when effects from whatever he may have discovered brought about his madness. Although reality is adulterated with dream segments in the confusing screenplay, the detectives eventually determine that vinegarish Grannie Lung (Law Lan) owns a bookshop and, according to demented Pierre, is in league with the Devil, providing him with souls of suicide victims in exchange for her being permitted to retain the companionship of her own recently deceased son, who merely wants to get on with his death. This is all substantially enough to maintain some sort of storyline, but subplots are added having to do with Alan's womanizing tendencies, and there are dreary sequences involving flatulence as well as other juvenilia that, in the face of some well-performed turns occurring throughout the film, cripple the movie as it lurches towards its welcome conclusion. A type of measurement that will reduce this film's possible worth is the unconquerable difference between a well-tailored scenario and a farrago, such as in this instance, but nestled within the silliness are some solid performances from many in the cast, acting laurels going to Lee Suet-Man for her work in a brief part as one of Alan's flames. Whereas the film cannot gain energy from its muddled plot, and its elements of mystery are dissipated through tasteless attempts at comedy, cinematographer Jimmy Wong is consistently inventive. The piece did poorly at the box office, not helping director Wellson Chin's faltering career. A DVD version provides excellent visual and sound quality, with available (and generally accurate) traditional Chinese in addition to English language subtitles complementing its mixed Mandarin/Cantonese dialogue.
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