Victim
MEI AH
 
Starring:
Lau Ching-Wan, Tony Leung Kar-Fai
Directed By:
Ringo Lam
Year:
1999
Run Time:
103 mins
Producer: Mei-Ah
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Languages:
CANTONESE 5.1, Mandarin 5.1, Cantonese 2.0, Mandarin 2.0
Subtitles:
English, Chinese (T & S), Korean, Malaysian, Japanese, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Thai
W/S Subtitles:
Yes
Ratio:
1.75:1
Region:
NTSC 0
Genre:
Thriller / Drama - IIB
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MOVIE
8/10

Manson Ma, a computer expert, is kidnapped, driven to a deserted hotel and hung upside-down like a piece of meat having been beaten.
After the kidnappers contact his girlfriend as to his whereabouts, Ma is rescued by CID officer Pit (Leung Kar-Fai). However, on his return to the station for questioning, Manson appears merely the outer-shell of an extremely disturbed individual.
The hotel in which he was held was the scene of a horrific murder years before, and many believe it still holds the tormented spirits of the dead. As Manson's girlfriend tries to come to terms with her partners disturbing behaviour, Officer Pit digs deeper into a case which may not appear quite as clear-cut as once it did.
Is Manson possessed? The guinea-pig for some horrific experiment in possession, or is there something else behind his increasingly malevolent new persona?
Come the conclusion of this Ringo Lam thriller, you may still be struggling to find an answer.

With the movies spellbinding first 20 minutes feeling very much like a straight down the spine nerve-jangler, its sudden change of pace to that of a police procedural drama is rather disappointing.
That's not to say that either genre is poorly treated by Lam's excellent direction - the sequence in which Pit searches the haunted hotel in almost total darkness, save for random flashes of lightening, is a master-class in tension.
Sandwiched in between this, and the final 10 minutes, is a well crafted and gripping mixture of investigative police work and character development.
Sadly, it's the obvious switch from one style to the other which reduces the overall effect of the production.

Both leads are quite superb in their respective roles, Lau ching-Wan and Leung Kar-Fai both turning in eye-catching performances.
Ching-Wan's creepy, shuffling, monosyllabic Manson is a disturbing character to behold, particularly when his head cocks to one side to reveal a dark, twisted glare. Much of the film works due to the way Ringo Lam handles Manson's plight, as he straddles the line somewhere between psychopath and haunted, broken man.

I've not seen nearly enough of Leung Kar-Fai as I'd have liked recently, and his performance here only makes me more determined to check out his back catalogue.
Pit is also a man possessed, but instead it is his work which seems to have overtaken his soul. The fractured relationship with his wife, along with his flashes of temper, make him all the more real, and in the process far more interesting, than your typical movie cop.

It's a great shame director Ringo Lam couldn't have been more certain of the style of film he wished to follow, as the finished article comes across as something of an indecisive effort.
The Victim could have easily been either a superior supernatural spell-binder, or a top-class police thriller in the mould of Lam's previous classics. Unfortunately, due to the uncertain genre-hopping of this 1999 film, it will have to remain an extremely entertaining miss-fire from Lam's barrel of explosive filmmaking.

PICTURE
7/10

Scratches, a lack of detail at times, and some rather obvious smearing in darker scenes doesn't leave the sweetest of tastes in the mouth.
Detail levels are good, but Mei-ah make this excellently photographed movie appear drab and dated at times.

SOUND
8/10

Filmed in Dolby Digital Stereo, this disc's 5.1 remix isn't that much of a step up.
However, thanks to the skin-crawlingly effective soundtrack, and some nice directional effects, this aspect of the DVD is by far the most accomplished.
No problems with hiss, crackles or oddly-placed ambient effects, just a very solid 5.1 soundtrack.

SUBTITLES
8/10

Adequate subtitling is found throughout, with few lines of dialogue being unclear, and many being near perfect.
Dumbing-down of the script is evident on occasion, although not strikingly so, and for once the subs are nicely sized and placed in time with the dialogue.

EXTRAS
4/10

The typical pointless synopsis and cast and crew listing can be found alongside trailers for the main feature and Bullets Over Summer.

CONCLUSION
7/10

The film's presentation on Mei-Ah's DVD resembles most of their older discs - average in almost all areas, excellent in none.
I'd still recommend this for purchase though - quality actors, some excellent direction, and a conclusion that leaves an uneasy feeling in the pit of your stomach are certainly enough to overlook the films meandering style.

MOVIE 7/10
PICTURE
7/10
SOUND
8/10
SUBTITLES
8/10
EXTRAS
4/10
MENUS
3/10
PACKAGING
6/10
OVERALL 7/10