And now another unexpected treat from Singapore, a little revenge thriller, with more than a dash of the supernatural. There’s enough in that alone to make me curious, but it chooses an interesting way of telling the story, whilst far from unique, actually works!
“Blood Ties” introduces us to Policeman Shun (David Leong), who is working undercover. When his cover is blown, the criminals he is investigating break into his apartment, rape and murder his wife, and then shoot him in the head. All in front of his younger sister Qin (Joey Leong), who is hiding in a closet. The devastation goes on, when it appears in the press that our hero was possibly corrupt. 7 days after his death, his bloodstained sister turns up at his ex-partners house, asking for help. Because, as part of the 7th night tradition, his restless spirit has possessed his younger sister in order to exact vengeance. Not only that, but his Mother (an unexpected role for the great Pei-pei Cheng) is trying to get some answers from his boss, and something so does not feel right there.
This really was a little gem of a film, because it not only was able to put together a compelling storyline, and was able to mix up realism along with the supernatural, but because it was able to deliver the film in a complex time-shifted narrative, that actually served the story well. Unlike the more recent Hong Kong thriller “Punished” which I looked at a few weeks ago, it actually got away with not only mixing up the timeline, but also giving away what should have been the killer twist very early on in the film. It kept up a relentless pace, and was able to deliver numerous storylines with equal tension. We got the storyline from 7 days ago, the night of revenge, and Pei-pei carefully investigating her Son’s Boss. They them tie together beautifully, and still has time to add a couple more surprises in the dénouement!
It is filmed beautifully, using different film stock to delineate between the different moments in time, and is smart enough to be as graphic as it needs to be, without ever feeling exploitative. Even moments that could be as dull as being in an office with one character trying to have a sly look at a PC is put together wonderfully. Actually, thinking back on it, this is a very graphic film, but it never feels too over the top, and it isn’t comic book violence – it is dirty and bloody and painful. There are several moments where the audience will look away, or between their fingers – one scene in particular is going to cause the Male demographic to squirm very uncomfortably.
The star of the show however, without question is young Joey Leong. She has a complex role to play – being not only a young girl who has experienced some horrible crimes, but also when possessed by the vengeful ghost of her brother. In those latter moments, I could really buy that someone else was in there behind her eyes. This could well be the emergence of a great new star – although worryingly, her second film role is as a possessed girl by the same Director. I have hopes though!
When you take the film apart, there really is nothing new here. There is a possessed girl, violent revenge, corrupt Policemen, even the twists you will have seen before. But the jigsaw is put together so well, and with nothing extraneous. This makes it Highly Recommended