One of my favourite Directors’ Oxide Pang has a new film out. Usually I can mark these as being a win, even if they don’t tend to review too highly (some people just can’t get past ‘The Eye’). Sadly, this time the reviews were right, as evidenced by friend of the blog Neko’s little writing here. But please come back after reading what she has to say!
In “Sleepwalker” we are introduced to Yi (Angelica Lee), a 30-something dressmaker. She has obviously suffered some trauma that her friends and colleagues tread lightly around, and she suffers from Sleepwalking. In a parallel story, a female Police Detective is struggling to solve the kidnapping of her young Nephew. However, could the trauma of Yi’s past be somehow linked to this modern event? And could what she gets up to in her dreams somehow solve the mystery?
I am at a loss to describe quite how awful this is. So much so, I actually watched it twice just to make sure I was not being unfair. But no. It is officially my first crushing disappointment of 2012.
So much of what is wrong in the film is made clear in the opening 20 minutes or so. I am used to the Hong Kong Police being shown to be inept, but I just could not get past the fact that our Police Detective is closely related to the kidnapped boy. Even if they were short staffed, that’s just wrong. As the story unfolds, this gets even worse, with cases being linked, obvious evidence being ignored, and frankly its just amateur story writing.
Not only that, but there is a clue dropped early on, that is so frighteningly obvious, it takes away and sense of shock later on. Then the story gets muddled and confused and drops in a character that has an interesting back story. BUT FOR NO OBVIOUS POINT OR STORY DEVELOPMENT REASON WHATSOEVER! And then, with all this (which actually is not THAT unusual in a film by either Pang Brother), the film just gets dull and boring. It certainly is pretty enough, and there are a couple of scenes which are very attractive. Angelica Lee looks stunning with her array of excitingly coloured hairstyles, but to be honest she is doing this in her sleep (both literally and story wise), and most of the other acting verges on the risible.
It was also made for the 3D market, which fortunately I was not exposed too – but again, it seems to make no use of this format, other than a couple of severely out of place moments.
I do wonder if a better film is hiding in here. It just seems to be put together badly, the story beats seem out of sync, and it almost feels that it is just combining several half developed ideas the Oxide had hanging around, but was unable to coalesce into a tangible whole. It ends up having nothing to recommend it for – it is neither scary or thrilling, it does not make your mind even think about what might be going on. Without the story problems, it could have just been forgettable average. But with them, it is just awful.
The only thing I can hope is that Oxide did this for the paycheck. Making a film to pack the seats for a few weeks I hope give him the resources and opportunity to work on his much more interesting personal work such as a 3rd Aaron Kok Detective film. Not Recommended.