One night Malena and Pablo, a sister and brother traveling together in Argentina, discover a diary that details crimes committed twenty years ago. That same night, the past and present ... See full summary »
A salt storehouse near the sea may be haunted. A penniless ex-con dies a gristly death in a house he can ill afford. The detectives assigned the case are Min, newly reinstated after a ... See full summary »
After writing a series of articles about pedophilia, the journalist Ji-won receives threatening calls on her cellular and she changes her number. Her close friend Ho-jung and her husband ... See full summary »
Winnie Leung is a lonely woman that likes to make puppets and write her diary, and she misses her boy-friend Seth Lau, who left her after breaking up their relationship. Winnie leaves ... See full summary »
When taxi driver Ah Huat's son is kidnapped, he resorts to extreme measures to raise the $1,000,000 ransom. But when the kidnapper reneges on the exchange, Ah Huat takes the most extreme measure of all: he kidnaps the kidnapper's child.
A serial killer is preying on the rich and influential, exposing their sexual proclivities, dismembering them and dumping them and their severed body parts in various locations around ... See full summary »
In Spain, the sports journalist Juan has a perfect life with his wife Sonia: they have just had a baby and moved to an old house that needs to be repaired in a fancy neighborhood. When ... See full summary »
Álex de la Iglesia,
Yu-jin and her blind mother move to a small village from Seoul. On her first day at the new school, Yu-jin gets picked on by her classmates. Along with other victims of hatred, Yu-jin puts ... See full summary »
I'm sure some of you out there would conveniently associate Kelvin Tong's reputation with the dismal Men in White, forgetting that the writer-director had his success stories in his earlier works Eating Air and The Maid. You can tell clearly that I did not really enjoy MiW, nor his experimental Love Story, but with Rule #1, Kelvin Tong gets my vote of confidence henceforth, if he steers clear of bad comedy, and pretentious art house flicks.
What I do like about his movies, each one of them, is how he grips you right from the start. How it develops then on is a different tale, but his introductions are nothing short of mesmerizing. Here, he demolishes all preconceived notions you have when watching a movie, and warns you of sorts about the experience you're going to go through with Rule #1, that is, to throw all assumptions out of the window. In fact, the opening scenes were frantic and leaves you just enough to continue questioning in which direction the movie will propel itself forward.
And thankfully, it made all the right moves, despite momentarily lapses in succumbing to cheap scares that don't really add much value to the movie. Yes, we know how Kelvin crafts scenes that will send shivers down your spine until the crescendo (even Men in White's introduction had shades of this), and they all work here too, except that I thought that they were a little unnecessary except to anchor the movie in the land of the supernatural. It's central plot doesn't become clear until midway through the movie, and from then on it lunges to a higher plateau at breakneck speed, with the audience probably second and triple guessing themselves all the way to the finale, with flashbacks at times becoming a little too spelt out for good.
It's a smart move to have this movie made in Hong Kong, where he has able crew (Cinematographer Keung Kwok Man lensed the movie and made it look really edgy) and leads like Ekin Cheng and Shawn Yue to carry the movie through. Ekin plays the head honcho in the police force's Miscellaneous Affairs Department (MAD, heh), which handles the 2% of calls synonymous with the X-Files. His Inspector Wong's drunken antics and devil may care attitude seem to stem from his long serving years in MAD, but he survives day to day with his mantra Rule #1 - There is no such things as ghosts - which he imparts to team rookie Sergeant Lee (Shawn Yue), who slowly learns that the mantra and scientific explanations seem to run contrary to what Wong really knows. I thought Yue gave a tremendous performance in his role as the pained Lee in John Constantine garb, who in his second chance at life seemed to have opened his eyes to ghosts who walk on this earth. While scenes where the two male leads play off each other are limited, I particularly enjoyed the one where they staked out their prey, which had them banter on rather matter-of-factly at how they would approach the impending scenario, before their greatest fears come alive, and that rug from under our feet starts to stir.
Sure there are familiar shades from movies like Fallen and Suicide Club, and a lot of "waking up" moments, but they never did once mar my enjoyment of the movie as it went along. Rule #1 had enough suspenseful moments to thrill, and Kelvin Tong seemed very assured to be in familiar grounds of horror. Those expecting an all out fright-fest may be slightly disappointed as it turns on the supernatural spin a lot more than the boo-moments, and fans of Fiona Xie will find that their Mediacorp darling still got relegated to a flower vase role in a one-dimensional performance, despite this being her second movie outing (after One Leg Kicking). Here she plays the dutiful girlfriend to Sergeant Lee, and that's about it, being half-asleep most of the time (no, nothing sexy about that too).
Mark my words, Rule #1 is Kelvin Tong's best movie to date, and definitely very well executed, as good as or even better than any Asian thriller in recent memory. He has shown again that he can craft commercially viable movies with relatively original stories to tell. Note the release date on your calendar, and give it a go next week!
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