Director: Park Yu-hwan
Cast: Ariel Lin, Kara Hui, Jiang Wu, Chen Xiao, Lan Ching-Lung
Runtime: 1 hr 32 mins
Rating: PG13 (Some Violence)
Released By: Shaw
Opening Day: 20 April 2017
Synopsis: Miaomiao was soaked in pain after suffering grave physical and mental hurt. Her life became a lifeless backwater. All she wanted was to live in peace and quiet, yet the murderer did not let her go, and even laid his evil hands over the whole family. Seeing her desperate mother, helpless brother and the cruel killing of her father right before her eyes, this weak girl wiped her tears and decided to fight back. But why did her efforts to save the family end in vain? She racked her brains, but could never change the results. As destiny played tricks upon her repeatedly, she was in profound agony.
Kara Hui is a great actress. This reviewer’s parents have spoken much about her kungfu roles in Shaw Brothers Studio films in the 1970s and 1980s. The Hong Kongactress of Manchu ethnicity has also managed to portray a wide range of roles on screen with much success. In Malaysian director Ho Yuhang’s At The End of A Daybreak (2009), Hui portrayal of a divorced mother earned her acting awards at the Hong Kong Film Awards, Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards, Changchun Film Festival, Pacific Meridian, Asian Film Awards, and Golden Horse Awards. At the recent Hong Kong Film Awards, the 57 year old actress was recognised for her performance in Andy Lo’s Happiness (she plays a cognitive disorder patient), making her the inaugural and a three time winner of the Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actress.
Jiang Wu is a great actor. The younger brother of Jiang Wen, the 49 year old born in China’s Hebeiwas a member of the Beijing Experimental Theatre Troupe. He has starred in countless critically acclaimed films, including Zhang Yimou’s To Live (1994), Peter Chan’s Wu Zia (2011) and Jia Zhangke’s A Touch of Sin (2013). He is also a director, having helmed Let the Bullets Fly (2011) and its 2014 sequel Gone with the Bullets.
So what are two great actors doing in this messy movie by Korean writer director Park Yu Hwan? It is unfortunate that they are supporting characters for what was meant to be a star vehicle for Taiwanese actress and singer Ariel Lin. The 34 year old actress, best known for her role in popular Taiwanese idol drama (she rose to popularity with 2005’s It Started with a Kiss), plays a survivor of a sexual assault. A meaty role like this would have been the dream of any aspiring actress – but alas, the storytelling of this sluggish film spoilt it all.
Inspired by a criminal case in China's Fujian province involving the murder of a family of four, the film begins by painting a happy picture of a family and how their lives are changed with the younger daughter Miaomiao (Lin) is brutally attacked. Tragedy strikes again when everyone in the family except Miaomiao is murdered. She then embarks on a journey to uncover the truth. The strange thing is, the series of events is on loop, and viewers are left confused instead of being intrigued.
As audiences, we try to be clever and spot clues which may unveil the big twist at the end of the 92 minute movie. However, we aren’t sure where the film is headed. It ultimately becomes rather silly – which is rather unfortunate because the ensemble cast seemed to have put in a lot of effort to play their roles.
Hui and Jiang are naturally great performers, playing Miaomiao’s loving parents who are embroiled in a mysterious series of events. Lin tries her very best to emote, but she is seen screaming and running for most of the movie, and it does become frustrating after a while. Mainland Chinese actor Chen Xiao plays her older brother. He doesn’t have a lot to do, but he is eye candy for female viewers. Elsewhere, Taiwanese actor Lan Ching Lung is the assailant. The 38 year old is a good looker who has his fans from idol dramas, but he also does not get to flex his acting chops in this movie, being in shadows and behind mask most of the time.
(Despite the compelling setup and the ensemble cast’s remarkable performances, the sluggish movie is a failed suspense thriller)
Review by John Li