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Overall Rating

Awesome: 7.69%
Worth A Look57.69%
Average: 7.69%
Pretty Bad: 26.92%
Total Crap: 0%

3 reviews, 8 user ratings

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Double Vision
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by Brian McKay

"No, the Foreigner song is not on the soundtrack"
4 stars

Sometimes it’s a fine line between good and strange. I’m still not sure which side of the line DOUBLE VISION falls on, so let’s just call it “good ‘n strange”. Borrowing elements from films like SE7EN and SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, and maybe a dash of X-FILES, it stirs them all up in a Hong Kong action/horror movie wok. The result is a strange blend of flavors, but none of it really goes down badly and you can find more than a few bits of tastiness in there as well.

Inspector Hauang Huo-Tu (Tony Leung Ka Fai) of the Taiwanese Police is your archetypal “burned-out cop on the edge”. He is haunted by a demotion, unsolved murder cases, a divorce from his estranged wife looming on the horizon, and a young daughter who can no longer speak after a traumatic incident. When a string of bizarre murders begins to occur, murders which seem to defy scientific possibility, his department turns to the West for help.

Someone is killing seemingly random victims with random methodology. A corporate executive is found frozen to death in his office on a summer day. A politician’s mistress is found burned to death in her apartment – with no sign of any fire having taken place. The only things the victims have in common is a black fungus found on the brain which appears to give them deadly hallucinations.

When they are unable to determine what the fungus is or how the killer is getting it into the victims’ bodies, they seek help from the F.B.I. crime lab. In addition to analyzing the mysterious fungus, the feds send one of their best agents over to serve as an advisor. But agent Kevin Richter (David Morse) isn’t the “stand by and advise” kind of guy, and of course wants to jump into the investigation feet first. He is paired with Huang Huo-tu because Haung speaks the best English, and because nobody wants to deal with the arrogant American. This leads to some rather amusing moments as the two headstrong cops are forced to work together when they can barely understand each other, and also provides for some particularly funny items of judicial translation on Hauang's part, as well as the requisite clashing egos.

As they become more involved in the investigation, they soon discover that the murders seem to be imitations of several ritual killings found in some ancient cult teachings. The cult has been resurrected in modern day by two eccentric billionaires, who apparently follow the belief that a “chosen one” may achieve immortality through the ritualistic killings. And the mark of the chosen one? The double-pupiled eyeballs of the “seer”.

See, told you it was strange. And at times the muddled plot, heavily laden with Eastern mysticism, may throw the average viewer. All of this, mixed in with the bi-cultural cast of characters and constant flip-flopping between English and Taiwanese subtitles, makes for a rather unique viewing experience. The serial killer investigation aspects are handled proficiently, and the partnership of Leung and Morse is the best bi-racial cop pairing since Michael Douglas and Ken Takakura in Ridley Scott’s Black Rain. The two play off of each other well, and while there’s nothing groundbreaking about the “at-odds cops from different worlds who grow to value and respect each other” routine, it is still enjoyable to watch. Morse gives a particularly solid performance, even if his burned-out FBI profiler character is a walking cliché’ by now. But then, have you ever known this guy to give a crappy performance? Meanwhile, Leung plays it a bit too monotone as the edgy cop at times, but he comes through in the clutch. Most of the supporting actors, both Asian and Western, do a fine job, and the film, while uneven in both its pacing and genre appeal, is consistently watch-worthy. There is an especially grueling slaughter between cops and cult members using everything from guns to swords that is a sight to behold, and the editing is rather clever in that it uses jarring segues that are momentarily disconcerting, but which then make perfect sense.

And there’s no Foreigner songs in it, thank God. (Though every time I see that title, I start hearing that guitar riff in my head. Ohhh, yeah . . . fill my eyes . . . with that – NO! Not gonna sing it). While DOUBLE VISION isn’t the impeccable Asian crime-suspense thriller that we’re still waiting for, it’s certainly a worthwhile step in the right direction.

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originally posted: 05/03/03 19:34:16
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 San Francisco Film Festival. For more in the 2003 San Francisco Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/18/05 Archanist_101 Almost similar to "The Ring" & "The Grudge" but, no CIGAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 4 stars
9/14/04 Gabe A beautifully shot, atmosferic thriller. 4 stars
6/27/04 James awesome 5 stars
2/28/04 Ingo It's not bad, but it's not done with compassion. 3 stars
2/08/04 shirokuma beautiful..astonishing visuals and hilarious special FX. A must see for Takashi Miike fans. 5 stars
8/13/03 Karl Very creepy 4 stars
8/11/03 Corky At times great and chilling, occasionally awful; I'm still trying to figure this one out. 3 stars
6/01/03 Volauvent disgusting 2 stars
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  05-Aug-2003 (R)



Directed by
  Kuo-fu Chen

Written by
  Kuo-fu Chen
  Chao-Bin Su

  Tony Leung Ka Fai
  David Morse
  Rene Liu
  Leon Dai
  Kuei-Mei Yang
  Wei-Han Huang

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