Web of Deception (1989) / Thriller-Crime

MPAA Rated: Not rated, but I'd give it a PG-13 for violence
Running Time: 90 min.

Cast: Brigitte Lin, Pauline Wong, Elizabeth Lee, Joey Wong, Waise Lee, Pauline Wong
Director: David Chung
Screenplay: Lui Fa

 

 

Web of Deception is a mix of Hitchcockian suspenser and a late 80s yuppie nightmare flick, offering a few genuine thrills, but not smart enough to stay a step ahead of the audience.  Those who regularly read my reviews are already aware I love Hitchcock, Hong Kong films, and Brigitte Lin, and won't be surprised to learn that I had some higher expectations going in.  I probably shouldn't have, since good Hitchcock is highly emulated but rarely replicated, so it's unlikely that director David Chung (Magnificent Warriors, It's a Drink It's a Bomb) was going to be one of the rare few that could be successful in the genre.  Giving him some credit, Web has some nifty twists and during some stretches, a good deal of suspense.  However, whereas Hitchcock was able to cover over plot manipulations and some necessary contrivances with wit and style, Chung leaves his showing for us all to see.

Brigitte Lin plays Jane Lin, a successful lawyer contemplating a move to Canada, but a snag in her plans develops when she receives some blackmail threats.  Jane confides in her faithful assistant May all of her worries, not realizing that May is the culprit.  Meanwhile, May's roommate Queenie gets herself in a pickle when her twin sister, Cat, is released from prison, and she needs a large sum of cash to bail Cat out of her current troubles.  May's plan is for Queenie to break into Jane's house and steal her stash of loot, but you know what they say about the best laid plans...

About the best thing you can say about Web of Deception is that it sports a fine cast of women, each performing quite well in their respective roles, especially Joey Wong (Chinese Ghost Story) who is quite convincing in a dual role as the good-hearted Queenie and the morally corrupt Cat.  Brigitte Lin (The Bride with White Hair) lends class in a rare role that doesn't require her to utilize her physical talents, and Pauline Wong (Mr. Vampire) does a masterful job as the woman struggling between her loyalties.

Where Web of Deception ultimately falls short primarily lies in the pedestrian script, not really smart enough to keep us in suspense, and often times making little sense, especially in a bewildering (and largely unnecessary) twist ending.  I'll be scratching my head for a long time after this doozy.

Web of Deception will probably only be of interest to the staunchest fans of the main actresses, who may be pleased seeing them in different kinds of roles than the kung fu epics they are normally associated with.  Perhaps even lovers of schlock domestic thrillers, like Poison Ivy or The Hand that Rocks the Cradle may find this a welcome addition to their bad suspense collection.  All others will likely find this to be a waste of time and talent, with good performances and sporadic moments of interest lost amid bad plotting, bland music, and implausibities that can't maintain semblance to the intricate web they are trying to create.    

2003 Vince Leo

 


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