77 Silk

Silk” is a very interesting sci-fi take on the Asian Ghost Genre. A pan-asian team of scientists are after moths of searching able to capture a ghost, for reasons a little muddled. It seems on the surface they are interested in harnessing energy, for feeding the scientific mumbo jumbo of a Menger Sponge. Now a Menger Sponge is a real scientific/geometric concept, but here it is a plot device that might do such varied things as provide power, enable anti-gravity, capture ghosts, see ghosts and apparently shoot ghosts. Just don’t think about it too hard. This Ghost seems to be mouthing some words, so a Taiwanese detective, Tung, who is both a crack shot and a specialist in reading lips, is bought in to assist. Tung then leads the investigation into the story behind the Ghost. Of course this is an Asian Ghost story, so our Ghosts is somewhat vengeful.

Silk is one of those films that it feels like the Writers and Director have their one shot at getting all their ideas down in one film. This has the effect of a film being wonderfully stimulating and interesting, but also somewhat cramped and eventually unfulfilling. Aside from the lead scientist, the rather unhinged Hashimoto (Yôsuke Eguchi) and the nominal lead detective Tung (Chang Chen), most of the other characters are ciphers – we never really get to understand their roles and motivation. Never is this more exposed when Su (Barbie Hsu) seems to go off the deep end rather quickly, seemingly only because a new member of the team has been introduced.

The character of Tung also provides problems – he is not nearly entertaining enough to lead the movie – he seems too one note. The back story of his dying mother provides interesting motivation, and a nice touching element to the conclusion, but I was never quite sold on him. Indeed, only Karena Lam’s girlfriend character has any real empathetic element to her, and she is rather woefully underused. Yôsuke Eguchi is a heap of fun, I always finds him delightfully charismatic, even if his character is possibly a little over the top.

However, there is a lot of intelligence and craft on display, and it is the little touches that make this film. There is a wonderful atmosphere to the whole piece, along with some great visual effects (and to be fair a couple that are far from successful). Two small elements made me smile – firstly when Tung asks about how they found the Ghost, one of the researchers tell him they have been looking all over the world, only to find one right on their doorstep in Taiwan. The other was Hashimoto’s use of a footfall counter every time his superior called him a cripple. It is those little touches which elevate this film from a standard scare fest.
Although the film does slip into a somewhat cliched “Ghosts killing humans in somewhat elaborate ways” in the last 30 minutes, it does actually try something a little different in the conclusion. Things do not quite go to plan for Hashimoto, and the motivations on the non-corporeal side at least are fleshed out in a somewhat different way.
In the end, I really rather enjoyed the film, and on the whole I can overlook its faults. I do wonder if the story it has to tell might have been better suited to a short television series rather than a movie, but it certainly sits in the Recommended file.

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