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dwatts
11-04-2002, 12:11 AM
I have had only a little exposure to Asian cinema. Given that my primary interest is the horror genre, that exposure has been through films such as Freezer, Audition, Battle Royale and Tetsuo – Iron Man.

Freezer and Audition are brilliant films. They contain great performances, strange twists and 90 minutes of entertainment that US cinema seems unable to achieve in this genre. Battle Royale is, in my opinion, grossly overrated. About the only people who would be shocked by a film about school kids killing each other are middle Americans who watch the middle of the road films Hollywood throws out. For me, given the genre they work in, nothing much of consequence happens in the film, and it’s just a noisy trip to nowhere (excluding the marvelous opening sequence). To make matters worse, they added some CGI blood and people are buying it again. I favor less CGI these days, and refuse to embrace red splotches as an “enhancement”. But I digress.

Asian cinema has gotten itself a reputation of being leaders in the genre. This may or may not be true, but one thing is certain, our opinion is skewed. You see, all we get to see are the very best of Asian horror cinema. The majority of Asian horror cinema is not at the level of Freezer or Audition – and finding out where it really lays is something of a problem, since buying other films is not too easy.

During a trip within Germany this weekend I stumbled across a store that was offering two Asian movies for $15 each. One of them, Victim, is discussed here. The other “Nightmare” will be in a separate post.

MINOR SPOILER

I should state right up front, that I rather enjoyed Victim. I certainly am happy to have it in my collection, and will no doubt watch it again. Having said that, it is a strange film that misleads the audience, but when the true nature of the film is revealed, it never goes back on the ruse. In other words, it is a film that will lie to you – but at least it will lie to your face.

This film is out of Hong Kong. It is the story of a computer expert who is kidnapped and tortured, and then left for dead in a haunted house. Police find him there, but after the event he is “changed” – acting differently to his girlfriend. The house is haunted - apparently – but the spirits of a family (man, wife and child) who died there. The husband killed the woman and the child after he found the wife cheating on him.

The haunted house scenes are very well done indeed. There are some genuine chills here. These include a scene where you do get to see a misty ghost – or at least what appears to be a ghost – disguised as cigar smoke.

However, by the end of the film, the whole ghost tale has been dispensed with. The victim has used the ghost story to hide something else, and once it becomes clear that this is the case, we never go back to investigate that strange house. As a horror fan this is a pity, especially given the genuine scares. Once the horror is done with, we have a thriller. A pretty good one, it must be said. Certainly as good, or better, than most of the formulaic crap out of Hollywood. However, I felt a bit cheated. The film is true to itself, but I was expecting something else.

As I look back I’d have to give this one a 7 out of 10. Not bad at all. But I have tipped you off that it is not a horror flick. This should not really spoil the film for you (since the film explains this itself a long way before the end.) But I might have liked to have known before I bought the film, so I could weigh up alternative purchases before laying down the cash.

Still, as I said, a good film worth seeing.

Gorehounds: One minor road accident near the beginning, that’s it.

Transfer: This DVD is from MEI AH Laser Disc Company. The print is hardly definitive, but it more than adequate. A few scratches here and there, some speckles. Certainly more than good enough.

Extras: Trailer – synopsis in Chinese. Trailer of another film too, another thriller.

Linn
11-04-2002, 07:20 AM
The original ending shown in theaters and now on the VCD, made it clear that he was possessed all along. The dvd has the non-horror ending.

dwatts
11-04-2002, 11:35 AM
Yep, just found this out. Clearly, for me, the VCD has the better ending - as the DVD fails to tie up the plot.

KillerCannabis
11-04-2002, 03:23 PM
Sounds promising. Is there a R1 copy out yet? Or will I have to hunt down the VCD?

Bods
11-05-2002, 04:37 AM
Originally posted by KillerCannabis
Sounds promising. Is there a R1 copy out yet? Or will I have to hunt down the VCD?

Tai Seng have put out a DVD, but it's just their usual job of import-HK-DVD-and-jack-up-the-price. The VCD can still be had easily from any of the online HK stores, such as DDDHouse.com where it's only HK$20 (so US$2, plus postage = US$6).

Though it has to be said that the director disapproves of the theatrical/VCD ending (though I myself think it's better). Excellent movie in any case.