film reconstructs a dark and complex emotional world behind
a shocking crime taken from the tabloid headlines- the bodies
of two naked girls discovered in the woods and a young man
charged with murder. Director Ho Yuhang's precise, offbeat,
luminously shot images and stunning montages reveal underground
passions suffused with tension in the dizzying moments before
violence erupts. Chiling, stylish and disturbing, this tale
of the illicit affair between a confused 23-year-old and an
underage high school girl is a kind of modern Malaysia film
There are movies made for the mass audiences, and their success is measured by their box office takings. Then there are movies made for the art house crowd, and their success is measured by the number of prestigious accolades received internationally. From the number of film festival laurel leaves on this DVD cover, you can easily tell that Malaysian Ho Yuhang (Rain Dogs) did not make this film to please the popcorn movie crowd. The result is an oddly satisfying film which requires patience to sit through. And we mean lots of it.
The male protagonist of Ho’s screenplay is a 23 year old man who meets a high school girl through the internet. Their sexual relationship is soon discovered and he is in danger of being sued in court by the girl’s parents. The boy’s mother manages to settle the issue with money, but soon find herself duped when the girl’s parents insist on suing him after receiving the money. One incident leads to another, and a tragic finale awaits the different characters in the film.
Based on a tabloid story in the news, this movie could have easily exploited on the sensationalism and made audiences hooked from beginning to end with in your faces and tell it all images. But Ho decides to tell this deep psychological drama with another approach which may not go down well with most people. The unconventional shots, the oddly edited sequences and the disturbingly quiet sound scape make this production an uncomfortable experience. But this is probably what the award winning filmmaker aims to achieve – a foreboding sense of uneasy discomfort which hynotises you in a mysterious manner to watch on.
Wai Ying Hung (a famed female action star in the yesteryears) plays the protective mother with grit and empathy, making her a clear winner at many festivals. There is a disturbing edge on how Wai’s mother character cares for her son, and this marks the film’s anchor. The confused son is played by Chui Tien You, whose decent good looks complement the character’s dark personality. The young girl is played by the wide eyed Jane Ng Ming Hui, whose idealism complements the dark tone of the film nicely. Also, watch out for acclaimed director Yasmin Ahmad in a cheekily written role.
The 94 minute film’s minimalist approach may not be for everyone, but certain images are stunningly executed, and they somehow manage to touch our souls – they seem to talk to us, telling us that within everyone, there is something romantically disturbing to be discovered. This film demands for your patience, and the payoff is a thought provoking sensation which works on a different level from those loud explosions and noisy gunfights in a forgettable and dispensable Hollywood production.
This Code 3 DVD contains quite a bit of features. First up is a 22 minute Making Of, where you’d hear from Ho his inspiration for the screenplay, and also footages from the various international film festivals the production has travelled to. There are five minutes of Deleted Scenes (interestingly, there is a NC 16 rated scene involving some scenes of intimacy) where you’d catch a glimpse of actress Yeo Yann Yann. There is also a collection of Trailers and Teasers to round up this section.
There is nothing to complain about the movie's visual transfer. You can choose to watch it in its original version (with a mixture of Mandarin, Cantonese and Malay dialogues) or the dubbed Mandarin version, both in Dolby Digital formats.
Review by John Li
Posted on 4 July 2010