Leveling with Labels
Conventions Pt 2: The Art Show
August 2006; Water
Heraldry, Pt 4: Charges
by Andrea Tan
Genre: Fantasy, suspense
Cast: Angelica Lee, Lau Siu Ming, Lawrence Chou, Zeng Qi Qi, Rain Li, Jetrin Wattanasin
Director: Pang Brothers
The Pang Brothers - Danny and Oxide (yes, sounds like a ghetto rapper but that is seriously his name and I'm not making it up) - are back again with the new film Re-Cycle after much success with their previous horror flicks, The Eye and The Eye 2. Incidentally, Re-Cycle re-teams the directors with The Eye star, Malaysian actress Angelica Lee.
Despite being categorised as horror, Re-Cycle turns out to be more fantasy with a touch of suspense (this is why I categorise it under those genres). The first half-hour of the film does appear to look like another horror story, but that is only meant to misled the audience.
The film centers on Ting Yin (Angelica Lee), a bestselling novelist who recently had her books adapted into a movie. She is currently working on a new novel, a ghost story called 'The Recycle'. But Ting Yin has a problem: she can't seem to move past the first chapter. Each time she finishes chapter one, she stops, and feeling unsatisfied with what was written, deletes the chapter and begins anew.
Strange and yet familiar happenings begin to haunt her. As she soon discovers, whatever she had written for her story has turned into reality in her own world. It isn't long until she herself gets sucked into a strange realm pursued by a ghostly character she created earlier. From one warped world to another, she goes on a frantic search to find a way out and back to her own world.
As expected from any Pang Brothers film, eye-popping visuals are the main attraction in the story. The setting and feel may be a bit on the morbid side, but the imagery is beautiful in its own way. Impressive camera shots, a great score, and amazing colour palettes were used. It is quite an assault to the eyes with all these incredible visuals.
Actress Angelica Lee did a brilliant job portraying the emotional demands required for her character Ting Yin. And I can see why the Pang Brothers chose to work with her again after The Eye.
I've never seen either of the Pang Brothers' previous works, but this one impressed me a lot for its creativity and uniqueness from other typical Chinese - or rather, Asian - films. Visual brilliance aside, the story does have a good concept. Unfortunately the delivery of it gets confusing midway. It was coherent at the start but when Ting Yin falls into the fantasy realm, certain things in the story just don't add up or make sense. The flow is disjointed at several points, which bothered me throughout the film.
At the end of the movie, there is closure on the main theme of the story, which is about abandonment. But to fully understand - well, at least attempt to - some major aspects of the plot requires some equally major back-tracking. Even then, it's still confusing at some points.
Re-Cycle is worth a watch. The story may be tattered with loop holes here and there, but the theme on human nature does keep it grounded - just as long as you can control yourself from analyzing the plot (which yours truly didn't because it's a reviewer's nature to do so).
Nevertheless, Re-Cycle is still fantastic. An interesting tale inspired from the computer recycle bin, where files may have been deleted and emptied, today still remain hidden in the hard drive until they gets overwritten months later.
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