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FilmsAsia: Asian film reviews
Soh Yun-Huei
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   Double Vision  



 

Double Vision

Reviewed by Soh Yun-Huei

Chinese Title: Shuang tong
Director: Chen Kuo-Fu
Writing Credits: Chen Kuo-Fu, Su Chao-Bin
Cast: Tony Leung Ka Fai, David Morse, Rene Liu, Leon Dai, Yang Kuei-Mei
Genre: Mystery thriller
Country: Taiwan, Hong Kong
Language: Mandarin
Year Released: 2002
Runtime: 113 min
Rating: *** (out of four stars)

Double Vision is yet another Asia-USA collaboration, but unlike most movies this year that were produced this way, Double Vision is actually not a bad show. Directed by Chen Kuo Fu and produced by Columbia Tristar, Double Vision does suffer from two things - firstly, it’s been marketed to resemble a horror movie, but it’s not that at all. Secondly, the movie takes a huge hit in credibility with a very lame denouement that really feels like a slap in the face. That said, however, Double Vision is at least a step in the right direction, and barring a few stumbles, is solid entertainment for almost its entire 115-minute running time.

Huang Huo-tu (Tony Leung Ka Fai) is what you would call a miserable bastard – he’s ostracized by the fellow policemen at his workplace for exposing the corruption that runs in the Taiwanese police department two years ago; his daughter Mei Mei (Huang Wei Han) has remained mute ever since her (unsuccessful) abduction by one of the policemen implicated by Huo-tu; and his wife Ching Fang (Rene Liu) is filing for divorce. When we first see Huo-tu, he is basically living in his office, looking morose and seemingly detached from his surroundings. His general unpopularity has caused his removal from the Homicide department to the much more static Foreign Liaison Office.

Things change for Huo-tu when an American cleric living in Taiwan is murdered in what seems like a chain of mysterious serial killings. An American FBI profiler, Kevin Richter (David Morse), is flown in to assist in investigations. Huo-tu is given then unenviable task of escorting the American around. They soon form a close rapport, however, and find out that the person committing the murders could actually be trying to gain immortality. Further investigations leads to the uncovering of a secret that is potentially life-threatening to all those who find out about it, and both Huo-tu and Kevin’s lives are seemingly put on the line.

It’s no fun to give away too much of the plot of Double Vision, suffice to say that a large amount of red herrings are thrown at the audience. Double Vision’s plot is also one that should not be given too much thought, as the more one thinks about the movie, the more implausible it gets. It’s quite apparent that one of the inspirations for the film is David Fincher’s Seven, and although Arthur Wong’s cinematography is not on par with Seven, it holds its own against other Asian movies.

Final Word: It really could have been better, if it knew where to stop. In its current form, Double Vision’s denouement takes away so much from the film that it’s impossible to rate it any higher.