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  Publicity Stills of "The Matrimony"
Courtesy of Cathay-Keris Films

Genre: Supernatural/Romance
Director: Teng Huatao
Starring: Leon Lai, Rene Liu, Fan Bingbing
RunTime: -
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films
Rating: PG
Official Website: www.hbpictures.com

Opening Day: 8 Feb 2007


How much can you love someone?

Would you stay together in times of joy and in times of sorrow, for better or for worse?

Would you give up everything and risk your life?

How about selling your soul and cutting a deal with the ghost?

That is exactly what Sansan does. She is so madly in love with Junchu that she decides to befriend the dead Manli. Little does Sansan know that the day she succumbs to curiosity and opens her heart to Manli is the day that will change her life forever …

Movie Review:

There are movies which the ending just ruins it all, because, at the end, the filmmakers want you to know that all that you sat and endured through wasn’t real. It was a dream… or a story. The Matrimony is one such movie. And the worst part of it? The ride wasn’t even enjoyable in the first place.

Like many other horror movies, The Matrimony uses the theme of undying love to justify the presence of the dead haunting the undead. And like many other horror movies, there are many familiar elements that fans of the genre will recognize, like the woman in long hair dressed in red, or the dark attic at the top of the stairs where strange noises emanate from.

To its credit, the movie does boast some excellent production values. The art direction is something to watch for, especially with the use of colours and their contrast. Similarly, much effort has been put in to recreate the mood and feel of 1930s China. All this is beautifully captured by Mark Lee’s cinematography.

Unfortunately, these aspects are wasted on a story with little originality and a buildup that eventually amounts to naught. Moving amiably during its first hour, the story only picks up with more suspense and tension during the last half an hour. While this is somewhat riveting to watch, there are few surprises where the events are leading to. As if realizing that this is the case, the screenwriters decide to rewind the proceedings and start back at zero which in my opinion totally ruins the movie.

The actors do little to enliven the story. Leon Lai carries a stoned expression for the most part of the film. No doubt the character is mourning the death of his loved one, but there is a difference between acting and stoning and Leon Lai’s performance sadly reflects the latter. Rene Liu is as reliable an actress as ever, but the story does not give her much to do except play the subservient wife whose dedication to her husband leads her to make sacrifices with the undead.

Indeed, there was much anticipation when the movie was released in cinemas as it had the rare distinction of being one of the few ghost movies to emerge out of mainland China. Moreover, it came out of the reputable Huayi Brothers studio. But good technical values do not and cannot save a by-the-numbers plot and a cop out of an ending of The Matrimony.

If this is the kind of ghost movie that mainland China is going to churn out, they will be better off hedging their bets on other genres.

Movie Rating:

Review by Gabriel Chong


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