in the 40's, a large medicinal manufacturing plant in Guangzhou,
"Kwong Cheong Tong", is hiring. To his luck, Leung
Kwong was hired simply due to his resemblance to their missing
Third Master of 10 years. While at work, Leung encounters
strange incidents one right after the other. In one case,
Leung was attacked and was saved by a mysterious young woman
(Fu Yung) who claims that Leung is actually Third Master who
she has been waiting for the last 10 years. In order to get
to the bottom of the mystery of the missing Third Master,
Leung goes to Singapore with his girlfriend, Hsiao Chen, in
hopes of finding the truth. Their trip to Singapore only brings
them back to the original source, "Kwong Cheong Tong".
The longer it takes to Leung to solve the mystery, the deeper
he falls into the persona as Third Master. He becomes romantically
involved with Hsiao Chen and Fu Yung, not able to distinguish
one from the other. As Leung gets closer to the truth?danger
gets closer to Leung...
If you have seen last year’s dismal “Kung Fu Chefs”, you’ll know how low you should set your expectations going into this movie. Yes, the makers of that dud- director Yip Weng Kin, writers Wang Bo and Cyrus Cheng, and stars Vanness Wu and Ai Kago- decided that they should team up to make a horror movie this time round. The best part about it? They have decided to set half of their movie in Singapore!
I kid you not- the movie begins with shots of Singapore’s Marina Bay, Raffles Place, Chinatown and Kampong Glam for reasons that are just as inexplicable at the end of the movie. After all, the entire story is set in the 1940s and doesn’t at all fast forward to the present. If that sounds like a bad sign, you haven’t seen anything yet. Indeed, just about nothing at all works in the movie, and if you need a contender for the worst movie of the year, then look no further.
Let’s start with the story, which is more a mishmash of Hong Kong B-grade horror movie clichés. The ghost is a lady who always appears in a red dress. The reason she’s stalking the slow-witted Leung Kwong is he looks like someone she had a doomed relationship with ten years ago. Oh it turns out when she was alive, she uttered that cursed line “Even if I’m dead, I will haunt you as a ghost” to her lover, which is supposed to explain why she continues to linger as a lost soul.
There is also some other subplot of three sons, including the Third Master whom Leung Kwong is supposed to resemble, fighting over the legacy of the Kwong Cheong Tong medicinal hall business. What intrigue there is supposed to be in these two narrative threads is drained completely by Yip Weng Kin’s uninspired execution, which attempts neither to build suspense nor maintain some semblance of pacing. Worst of all, the movie tries to be smarter than its audience by pulling a “Shutter Island” at the end- but since Yip is no Martin Scorcese, this twist is clumsy and plain idiotic.
If Yip is clueless about pacing or suspense, he is equally daft to the horror genre. There is not one- I repeat, not one- scary moment in the entire movie. It isn’t surprisingly really when the camera angles are all over the place, the editing is just as messy and the special effects so poor they belong in a school project. Even the score by Brother Hung seems straight out of a Troublesome Night movie that he had previously composed for, becoming repetitive and downright annoying during the course of the film.
But what is truly frustrating about the movie is how inept Vanness Wu and Ai Kago’s acting is. There is not one moment that you buy into Vanness’ appalling performance, whether acting scared as Leung Kwong or acting haughty as the Third Master. Ai Kago does no favours for herself or her audience by basically reprising the same cute-shtick that she used for “Kung Fu Chefs”. Even veterans Law Lan and Yuen Chang Yan cannot redeem the dreadful acting by the leads.
So really, there isn’t anything to be proud of having Singapore featured so prominently at the start and at the end of the movie (yes, those iconic Singapore backdrops make a return right through the closing credits)- simply because this is a shockingly bad film that should only gain notoriety. Heaven help us if the quintet of Yip Weng Kin, Wang Bo, Cyrus Cheng, Vanness Wu and Ai Kago decide to torment us with another reunion!
SPECIAL FEATURES :
The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio comes in both the Mandarin and Cantonese track, though it’s ironic we get a Canto track for films like these where its leads are really speaking Mandarin and not for other Hong Kong movies where its leads are speaking in Canto. Otherwise, the dialogue is occasionally difficult to discern from the mix, especially with the overbearing score often bleeding into the exchanges. Visuals are clean but not quite sharp.
by Gabriel Chong
Posted on 28 August 2010