In Mandarin with Chinese and English Subtitles
Director: Roy Chow Hin-Yeung
Cast: Aaron Kwok, Ning Chang, Tam Chun Yat, Chin Kar Lok, Cheung Siu Fai, Josie Ho, Wang You Nam, Chan Koon Tai, Michelle Ye, Lin Chun, Dong Yong
RunTime: 2 hrs
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films & Scorpio East Pictures
Rating: NC-16 (Gore and Violence)
Opening Day: 23 July 2009
LING Kwong is a 40 year old, self-assured Chief Inspector of Police. He solved numerous difficult cases on his own, has a flawless track record, and is soon to be promoted to Superintendent of Police. Everyone sees him as the future head of the Hong Kong Police Force. Ling has a perfect family – a beautiful, gentle wife, a charming son and a posh lifestyle. In every sense, he is as enviable as he is successful.
His perfect life takes an abrupt turn when he wakes up after fainting in a dilapidated building, on one of his operations. He wakes to discover his short term memory damaged, and is more shocked to find his best colleague killed in the same building – BLOODY HOLES all over his body, mercilessly blood-let by an ELECTRIC HAND DRILL!
Ling’s colleague is the third victim of this series of “bloodletting murders”. Using the most inhuman means, this serial killer makes each victim witness his own slow death, in supreme terror and unimaginable pain! The extreme cruelty of the murders appalls even the most experienced policemen, and after each killing, the murderer simply disappears and leaves no trace at all to the clueless police.
At the height of his life, Ling encounters this most vicious murder throughout Hong Kong’s crime history. He must catch the killer at all costs and to avenge his friend’s death. But as Ling sift through the clues of the murders, he finds that all the evidences are pointing toward himself as the murderer! The deeper he tries to dig into the truth, the more suspicious he becomes!
All this time, Ling’s short term memory continues to desert him. He is losing the last trustworthy evidence – himself. Ling is being pushed to the edge of madness! Is he really the murderer - or not?
It’s not often you see a film like “Murderer”, a movie that pulls off a sleight of hand so skilfully that it throws you completely off-guard. Such is the nature of Aaron Kwok’s latest thriller- or so it would have you believe. Indeed, its greatest con is letting you think it is some sort of murder mystery, when in fact it is a comedy.
I kid you not- despite its eerie looking poster with Aaron Kwok putting on his best demonic smile, a poster allegedly deemed too scary to be plastered on MTR trains in Hong Kong, this is actually one of the funniest movies of the year. But to be sure, that’s probably not what the filmmakers had in mind- would you otherwise tout your movie as one “from the producer of Lust, Caution and the screenwriter of Fearless”?
Yes, there is a considerable amount of pedigree involved here- besides Bill Kong the producer and Christine To the screenwriter, there’s also “In the Mood for Love” lenser Mark Lee Ping-Bin and “2046” composer Shigeru Umebayashi. I can’t imagine any of them would have signed up for this in the right mind, a film best appreciated as a comedy of errors so ludicrous and preposterous it can only be considered as a massive embarrassment for all.
Right from the start, one can sense something amiss as first-time director Roy Chow (better known as Ang Lee’s assistant) fails to establish any sort of suspense. Police Inspector Ling’s (Aaron Kwok) partner is found seriously injured at the bottom of a dilapidated apartment building and Ling himself is found unconscious on one of the upper floors. These events take place so quickly it’s hard for anyone to be engaged or involved in the story.
Then Ling wakes up, realizes he cannot remember what happened that day the apartment, starts investigating and finds all the clues pointing back at him. Not just is the pacing of the film jerky and uneven, one quickly finds that there doesn’t seem to be any sort of buildup- rather, clues are just suddenly thrown at the audience, coupled with flashy editing and loud music. It almost seems as if director Chow wants to scream ‘hey look here’s something important’ to wake you up from the movie’s induced stupor.
If that isn’t bad enough, there’s also Aaron Kwok’s zealous overacting to contend with. The popstar known for his dance moves has recently been taken very seriously as an actor after his two-time Golden Horse Best Actor win and this recognition seems to have gotten to his head. Kwok gives a self-important performance that grows increasingly unbearable and worse, unconvincing. Unless he had so subtly intended for this film to be a comedy, it’s hard to imagine how this role would help him transform into a bona-fide actor.
But all that becomes surprisingly tolerable when “Murderer” pulls an M. Night Shyamalan on its audience two-thirds into the movie. It’s a twist all right, one so absurd and ridiculous it has to be seen to be believed. Were it of a supernatural nature, it still would be more credible than the medical-scientific bullshit it actually is. And at this time, it is simply impossible to take this film seriously, or regard it as anything else than a complete farce.
It’s really not often you see a movie like this, one that looked so promisingly with its bevy of talents, but turns out so spectacularly bad you can’t help but feel pity for everyone involved. Well the only consolation is that it still manages to be entertaining by how dreadful it is, so you haven’t actually wasted two hours of your life. Besides, we all need some comic relief now and then, don’t we?
(That’s one star for being so unintentionally, embarrassingly, jawdroppingly hilarious- for all the wrong reasons)
Review by Gabriel Chong