INSANITY (暴疯语) (2015)

Genre: Thriller
Director: David Lee
Cast: Lau Ching wan, Huang Xiaoming, Alex Fong, Fiona Sit, Nina Paw, Michelle Ye
Runtime: 1 hr 43 mins
Rating: NC-16 (Some Drug Use and Violence)
Released By: Shaw
Official Website: 

Opening Day: 2 April 2015

Synopsis:  Three years ago. Fan (Lau Ching Wan) suffered a schizophrenic breakdown, killed his wife (Michelle Ye), and unsuccessfully attempted to kill himself. He was arrested and sentenced to rehabilitation in a psychiatric facility indefinitely. Chow (Huang Xiaoming) is Fan's psychiatrist. He believes that after years of treatment and against all odds, Fan has recovered. He is determined to see Fan discharged. However when Fan is released back into society, he suffers discrimination and once again finds himself at the brink of collapse. One night, Fan kills a drug addict, and turns to his only friend Dr Chow for help. Chow fears if the event is uncovered, his career will be destroyed. He decides to help Fan and conceal the truth, while at the same time being tormented by the media and public opinion. But Fan's clinging to Chow only makes things worse. In order to undo his mistakes, Chow decides to heal Fan secretly. However, in the course of the treatment, can Chow make his way out of this bottomless psyche whirlpool?

Movie Review:

This reviewer would watch any movie starring Hong Kongactor Lau Ching Wan. The multiple award winning actor isn’t your typical Prince Charming, but his acting chops is so engaging, you’d be totally absorbed by any role he takes on. The 51 actor made everyone with a heart weep as a jazz musician alongside Anita Yuen’s cancer stricken girl (Derek Yee’s C’est La Vie Mon Cheri, 1993), had everyone playing the guessing game as an inspector caught in a cat and mouse game with Andy Lau’s thief (Johnnie To’s Running Out of Time, 1999), lampooned Hong Kong showbiz playing a self depreciating actor with an ensemble cast (Lawrence Lau’s My Name is Fame, 2006) and had viewers tensed up at the edge of their seats as one third of a cop trio with Louis Koo and Daniel Wu (Alan Mak and Felix Chong’s Overheard, 2009).

This time round, he plays a man who suffers a schizophrenic attack and accidentally kills his wife. He is then admitted to a mental institute and eventually deemed fit to return to society. Another murder soon happens, and one dark secret after another begin surfacing.

Lau is expectedly excellent in his portrayal of a mentally ill murderer (come on, what else would you expect from the actor who has taken on very varied roles, including a ghost, a crass triad member and a fireman amongst them?) – he delivers a controlled performance, making audiences wonder whether he has really fully recovered to be fully accepted in this unforgiving society we live in. The film begins with Lau as a very disturbed individual who beats up his on screen wife Michelle Ye, before he gradually pulls away layer by layer of the easily loud and showy role to have audiences emphathise with him.

Lau garnered two nominations at the 34th Hong Kong Film Awards, one for this performance as someone suffering from schizophrenia, and another for playing a property developer who would stop at nothing to get his deal sealed in Overheard 3. Which one would get him the prize? We only worry that having two nomination nods would cancel out his chances of winning.

However, David Lee’s (Yes, I Can See Dead People, 2008) film isn’t all perfect. Starring opposite Lau is Mainland Chinese actor Huang Xiaoming (The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom, Women Who Flirt). The rather odd pairing (one grizzly “Black Prince Charming” and one smooth skinned good looker) only goes to show how Lau manages to do so much more by giving so much less. Huang plays Lau’s doctor who befriends him after his discharge, and going on to help him cover up for a murder to protect his own reputation. The 37 actor screams quite a lot in the 103 minute movie, on top of squeezing every emotion he has to attempt playing the role well. Luckily for him, he has the looks to lessen the impact of naysayers commenting on his less layered acting.

The supporting cast includes familiar faces like Fiona Sit (Hello Babies, Golden Chikensss), Alex Fong (The Lost Bladesman, The Great Magician) and Nina Paw (Special ID, Rigor Mortis), who again manages to creep viewers out with a disheveled grandma role.

Walking out of the theatre, one cannot help but have the impression that the filmmakers had some trouble deciding whether this adequately entertaining movie wants to be a film with a social message about mental illness, or a full fledged whodunit slasher flick. 

Movie Rating:

(Lau Ching Wan impresses again why he is one of the best Hong Kong actors of his time in this adequately entertaining movie)  

Review by John Li


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