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- Nau of Sands
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Muk lau hung gwong (1999)
Director: Ringo Lam
Runtime: 90 min
Country: Hong Kong
Victim is a Crime Thriller directed by Ringo Lam, a Hong Kong director quite active in the 80sand 90s. He was quite fashionable when it was said that Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs was inspired by his City of Fire, and he had quite a few successes in Hong Kong theatres with Crime thrillers.
He made a short passage in the USA, at the same moment John Woo decided to leave Kong Kong. It was around the Hong Kong retrocession to hina that worried a lot pleople of the movie industry there. But, once in America, Ringo Lam had trouble in finding producers to back his projects, and ended filming Jean Claude Van Damme movies (Maximum Risk and Replicant).
So he decided to go back in Hong Kong and resumed his career there, still shooting some Van Damme's movie sometimes.
Victim is not a topical Hong Kong thriller, it has some originalities that are probably experimentations done by Ringo Lam. The plot counts some twists that are done to make the viewer hesitate between the kind of movie he is seeing : it oscillate between a Crime thriller, a Police inquiry, a Ghost story... and each twist is not definitive, leaving the possibilty of other hypothesis.
It is quite interresting to follow because it has a real suspens in it, and you have the feeling the movie can chose any direction at some points. But the wrong point is that the movie never enters in a clear category either and may disappoint lovers of any of the genres involved.
The main character Ma (Ching Wan Lau) is a former worker of a printing state company, now unemployed and full of debts. He appears to be the main suspect in a killing of a mobster in a parking.
But when the police wants to inquire on him, he has disppeared, abducted in exchange of a ransom. He is found back, chained in a desert house known to be haunted because in the 30s a man killed all his family in a strange manner.
All this is mysterious, why would anyone abduct someone covered with debts ? And since the abduction, his personnality has changed and his wife doesn'recognize him.
What has happened ?
The movie has another concern : to portrait the crisis of a middle class ruined by Stock Market speculation, and couples in difficulties. For various reasons all the characters face harsh difficulties in their private and professionnal life, but the only true victim is Ma, unable to recover from its financial difficulties, he feels like a failure and expects nothing from life anymore, this is the point of the movie.
It is a very decent movie, though not great. Maybe it lacks some entertainment and would have nedded a better rythm. It is obviously a movie aprt in Ringo Lam's filmography, there is some gunfights but there are not the essential part here. I ll give it a 4/6
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