Sergeant Lee ( Shawn Yue) is injured in a shoot out and is assigned
to Miscellaneous Affair Department (MAD). There, he paired up
with Inspector Wong (Ekin Cheng), a jaded and alcoholic veteran.
Wong explains MAD's rule number one- there are no ghosts. For
every seemingly inexplicable phenomenon, there is a corresponding
scientific and rational explanation. MAD begins investigating
a string of bizarre teenage suicides. As Lee and Wong follow
the clues, something sinister is coming their way.....
The Miscellaneous Affairs Department is the Hong Kong Police
Department’s equivalent of Mulder and Scully of the
Its pseudonym hides the truth of its purpose- to investigate
complaints of paranormal activity that the police’s
hotline receives. Housed in a dilapidated warehouse and staffed
to the bone with only two employees, it receives a latest
addition in the form of Detective Lee Kwok Keung (Shawn Yue).
Rule No 1 refers to the first maxim of the department- there
are no ghosts in this world. It is a very utilitarian perspective-
imagine the mayhem if people’s suspicions were confirmed,
that there were vengeful, murderous ghouls out there among
us. So it is then the job of newbie Detective Lee and veteran
Detective Wong (Ekin Cheng) to reassure people that there
is really nothing to their suspicions.
It is indeed an intriguing premise- one that combines elements
of horror with cop drama. And I am glad to say that it has
been executed with great flair by none other than our very
own local writer director Kelvin Tong. In fact, Rule No 1,
Tong’s sophomore horror movie (not counting the intentionally
campy ‘Men In White’) is easily his most accomplished
and assured work to date.
Tong has already proven with The Maid that he knows how to
deliver effective scares, with creepy atmospheres, sudden
‘boos’ and loud noises. Part of the success of
Rule No 1 lies in his ability to create scenes of genuine
suspense, so even though he does resort to cheap scare tactics,
the overall experience is still a bone-chilling one.
But the scares are not the only fun to be had here. A scene
near the climax where Detective Lee and Wong are waiting for
the ghost to appear is milked for great laughs, the repartee
between them at once a welcome break from the tense proceedings.
Such are the flashes of great brilliance in Tong’s sharply
written script which elevates this above the conventional
Hong Kong ghost movie.
In this regard, Tong is aided immeasurably by his cast and
crew. Shawn Yue is charismatic as ever on screen, but the
real surprise here is Ekin Cheng. The once icon of cool in
the Young and Dangerous series has of late been making fewer
and fewer celluloid appearances, but this counts among one
of his best. As the middle-aged alcoholic Detective Wong,
Cheng carries the role with an intensity that almost steals
his scenes with Yue.
Alas, the same cannot be said however of our local starlet
Fiona Xie. No doubt her role as the doting girlfriend is only
a supporting one, but one wishes that she would tone down
the cute factor that she desperately overplays here.
Effectively intriguing and chilling, Rule No 1 is one of the
best Asian horror movies this year. The fact that it’s
written and directed by one of our born and bred talents is
a fact that deserves even more praise. If you’re a fan
of horror, make it then your number one rule not to miss this
gem of a scare.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
The Making Of: The cast and crew of Rule No.1 share
their experiences on the set, as well as their own take on
the film’s central conceit- there are no ghosts in this
world. Unfortunately, this comes only in a Mandarin audio
track, so the voices of the Hong Kong stars are dubbed over.
film comes with dual audio tracks in Mandarin and Cantonese
and Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1 for each. As usual, it is a
joy to watch the movie in its original Cantonese audio track,
and more so with Dolby Digital 5.1 to make the experience
even more thrilling.
by Gabriel Chong