"The Eye is pure horror/noir and there's nothing colorful or wacky about it. This is some pretty intense stuff and no punches are pulled."
- Mighty Peking Man
The Eye (2002)
Director: Pang Brothers (Oxide Pang, Danny Pang)
Producer: Peter Ho-Sun Chan
Cast: Angelica Lee (Sin Je), Lawrence Chow, So Yut Lai, Candy Lo Hau-Yam, Ko Yin Ping, Edmond Chen, Ben Yuen, Winson Yip, Chutcha Rujihanon, Pierre Png, Wang Sue Yuen
Running Time: 98 min.
Plot: At the age of two Mann went blind. Eighteen years later, a new and risky corneal transplant operation restores her vision; but a series of inexplicable events lead her to believe there is more than meets the eye to her new-found gift of sight.
Availability: This title is available at HKflix.com
NUMSKULL'S REVIEW: Much like the well-intentioned but underwhelming Inner Senses, The Eye stays a healthy distance away from the camp where past Hong Kong horror films have traditionally spent their summer vacations and attempts to capture the tension and dread typical of newer Japanese films in this category. Alas, it falls short of its mark. It's certainly better than the dinky little Kiddie Koaster, but can't match the thrills offered by the roller coasters that the big kids ride (and wait three and a half hours in line for).
We've got Angelica Lee as Mun, a woman with bony Carrie-Anne Moss shoulders who has been blind since age two. She undergoes a corneal transplant with the elder Dr. Lo to restore her vision, then begins to see ghosts and flickers of an unfamiliar place while at home. But, since the sensation of seeing is new to her and she doesn't quite trust her new eyesight yet, she does not fully realize that these are supernatural phenomena. At least, not at first. Eventually, the movie shows us so damn many phantoms, apparitions, revenants, and what have you while advancing the rest of the plot at a snail's pace that the only horrified cries from the audience will be along the lines of: "Okay. She sees ghosts. WE GET IT!!!"
At long last, the younger Dr. Lo, the specialist who has been helping Mun get acquainted with her new fifth sense, assists her in tracking down the cornea donor to get some answers. Off to Thailand they go, and the facts they learn about the previous owner of Mun's peepers are more disturbing than the visions she's encountered thus far.
And so on.
The Eye isn't a bad film, but, all things considered, I wasn't impressed. The big problem is that it has very tough competition in Japan's crop of horror movies from the last few years and it's hard not to make unfortunate comparisons. It doesn't have Ringu's tick-tock impending doom; nor Kairo's quiet, bizarre otherworldliness; nor Kakashi's smothering sense of isolation; nor Ju-On's primal, jolt-a-minute rawness. What it does have is one very effective scene involving an elevator, a fact-based ending that scores a few points for ballsiness, and a premise with more potential than was utilized. That's about it. I won't make the absurd generalization that Hong Kong can't make a good horror film, because the potential is certainly there. Keep trying, people.
NUMSKULL'S RATING: 6/10
MIGHTY PEKING MAN'S REVIEW: I'm not gonna compare Oxide and Danny Pang's "The Eye" (2002) to Shyamalan's "The Sixth Sense" (1999). There's a reason for that. It's because I never had the opportunity to enjoy or even celebrate "The Sixth Sense" like the millions of other people who called it a revelation in modern filmmaking. I wanted to enjoy it, but was forced to dismiss the film as if it never existed, at least in my mind. The sad thing is, everytime the discussion of great movies come up, people mention "The Sixth Sense". All I can do is just sit there and hope nobody asks me what I thought of it. If they do, I explain my reasons which usually make fans of the film cringe. It's ashamed, cuz if fate lead me to a different direction, I probably would have really enjoyed the film. But no, it just didn't happen that way.
I thank Elroy for that. Now, if you haven't seen "The Sixth Sense", you might wanna skip the next two paragraphs and go on to the next one. If you did watch it, get ready to feel my pain.
Elroy is a friend of mine who I knew for about 10 years, but biographical shit about him is far from important right now. He's a good friend, but he's also a punk-ass Navajo mutherfucker. Before you call me a racist, keep in mind that he calls me a "gook" or "chink" just because I'm Filipino. Hell, he calls my other non-Asian friend the same names just because he likes Anime (which Elroy refers to as "Gook-toons"). All this racial name-calling is all in the name of fun. However, when I said "punk-ass" I meant it.
Two years ago, when "The Sixth Sense" premiered on DVD, I cruised to a friend's house where I was invited to watch it with a few of my friends. I had heard everything good about it and was pretty pumped-up to watch it. Just as we popped it in the DVD player and pressed PLAY, tragedy struck. Elroy opened his big-fat mouth and said "Hey guys, did you know that Bruce Willis is dead throughout the whole film?". We all just kinda glanced at Elroy. I think there was a total of four of us present at the time: Walter, Tony, Elroy and Me. I don't remember exactly, but Walter and Elroy had already seen the movie in the theatre. Me and Tony didn't. For Tony it didn't matter, cuz he simply didn't care about mainstream movies, especially ones that have developed some kind of popularity (he's pretty much against anything "popular". Oddly, he likes to wear a "Transformers" Decepticon t-shirt so go figure). It did matter to me though. But I didn't notice how crucial this "matter" was until we were 20-minutes into the film where I realized that Elroy had ruined this film for me. Elroy, if you're reading this: FUCK YOU. Fuck you very much.
This brings us to "The Eye" - written and directed by the Pang Bros. ("Bangkok Dangerous"), who are currently making a helluva name for themselves all over the world, including Hollywood. I'm not gonna get much into the plot, all you really need to know is what it says above (see PLOT). Unlike, "The Sixth Sense", I was able to enjoy this film to it's full potential, which lead me to believe that "The Eye" is truly one of the most entertaining films to come out of Hong Kong in the last 5 years (looking at the credits, it's probably considered a Thai/HK production). It's also a turning point for for the horror genre of Hong Kong, which usually consisted of goofy things like floating heads, cheesy looking vampires, and flying ghosts that could have easily hung out with "Casper". Nothing goofy here, "The Eye" is pure horror/noir and there's nothing colorful or wacky about it. This is some pretty intense stuff and no punches are pulled.
Newcomer Angelica Lee ("Princess-D"), is outstanding! Even though her approach to the character she plays is very laid-back, she brings out a natural fierceness that the audience easily identifies with. There's something that separates her from the vast amount of Asian actresses. Her settling beauty is comfortable to the eye (no pun intended) - therefore, she brings more realism to the film's dark tone. Why don't we just say that I couldn't picture someone like Kelly Chen or Shu Qi pulling it off like she did. Not to say that Angelica Lee isn't sexy or attractive, she's just more of the "girl next door". The only other talent that I recognized right off the back was the likeable Candy Lo ("Time and Tide"), who has an extended cameo. The only performance I was kinda skeptical about was Angelica's love interest - he seemed to do an 'OK' job in the acting department, but the fact that he came out kinda nerdy got annoying after awhile. It may have been intentional since we're dealin' with a blind girl..but that's really nit-picking on my part, cuz it doesn't effect the value of the movie at all.
Even though I mentioned that "The Sixth Sense" is the true contender in terms of comparison, "The Eye" also has an element that is very similar to Hideo Nakata's "Ring". But forget about those two films. "The Eye" may have been sparked off by them, but in my opinion, it's just as wholesome and may just be more clever than both of those films.
Once again, fuck you very much Elroy.
MIGHTY PEKING MAN'S RATING: 8.5/10