Victim (1999) / Horror-Thriller

MPAA Rated: Not rated, but probably R for strong bloody violence
Running Time: 90 min.

Cast: Tony Leung, Lau Ching Wan, Amy Kwok, Emily Kwan
Director: Ringo Lam
Screenplay: Ringo Lam, Joe Ma

Review published March 3, 2000

Victim marks a return of sorts back to Hong Kong for director Ringo Lam (City on Fire, Maximum Risk) that can be viewed either as a success or a failure, depending on your point of view.  It's a success because Lam shows he is still one of Hong Kong's premier directors, displaying excellent sense of style, actor handling, and also shoring it all up with realistic dialogue.  It's a failure because Victim, while strengthened by an interesting a plot, just isn't as compelling as one could hope for given the subject matter.

Lau Ching Wan (Running Out of Time, Lifeline) plays a computer engineer facing the loss of everything he owns due to a financial downturn.  Things get even worse when he becomes the lead suspect in the murder of a two-bit criminal who was acting as middle-man in an attempted transaction.  Tony Leung (Ashes of Time, Infernal Affairs) is the rogue cop who finds Wan beaten and tortured in a house reputed to be haunted by the ghost of a man who murdered his wife and son in a gruesome and bizarre fashion.  Upon Wan's return to his former life, his girlfriend and others recognize he is not acting the same, and suspect he may be possessed by the ghost of the murderer, putting their lives in danger.  Now it's up to Cheung to try to put the pieces together and find out what's the true story.

Lam's Victim is well-made, with some good performances, interesting plot twists, and a writer/director who shows adept skill.  However, as solid as it is in most areas, I can only give the film a modest recommendation because, as a whole, it is curiously uninteresting, and what should have built up to edge-of-your-seat suspense, lays dormant for the duration.  Victim is worthy of a viewing if you like a little quirkiness in your Hong Kong features, just don't expect a big payoff. 

Qwipster's rating:

2000 Vince Leo