Hong Kong Digital
is a recurring series of movie reviews by John Charles -- associate
editor / film reviewer for Video Watchdog magazine and the author
of The Hong Kong Filmography.
A serial killer is bludgeoning and dismembering victims in Singapore and the first of his crimes corresponds with the arrival of Raymond (Patrick Tam Yiu-man). A withdrawn and paranoid individual, Raymond is ostensibly in the country to visit his sister, Diana (Gigi Lai Chi), but he is obviously holding something back from her. When trash bags filled with body parts are discovered, Diana's boyfriend, Guo-how (Thomas Ong), is put in charge of a police task force that is working in tandem with noted forensic pathologist Dr. Chao (Kent Cheng Chuk-see). Guo-how and Chao hear of a similar case in Thailand and, upon travelling there to learn the facts, run into Raymond, who claims to be on a business trip. Further suspicious actions on Raymond's part leave Guo-how wondering if Diana's brother is indeed the man he seeks.
Kent Cheng Chuk-see as Dr. Chao. Image
BODY PUZZLE should not be confused with the like-named Lamberto Bava film from 1992, though the two do share some basic similarities. The Italian picture, however, features a far more interesting premise and careful direction, two qualities sadly lacking here. The mystery is obvious and some of the conclusions reached by Chao and Guo-how would be dismissed by anyone else as conjecture. Meanwhile, there is so little story, the movie is really over by the 75 minute mark. The final reel is essentially nothing more than superfluous chatter. After working exclusively on television for the past few years, Kent Cheng makes a welcome return to the movies playing a character based on celebrated Singapore pathologist Chao Tzee-cheng, to whose memory this picture is dedicated. The producers and director Laurence Ma Yuk-fai (who also served as co-writer, art director, and co-editor) apparently hoped that BODY PUZZLE would launch a series of movies centered around Chao. After such an inauspicious start that now seems unlikely, which is a shame as Cheng's brilliant but a congenial protagonist would be a welcome addition to another feature. Wong Bong's score is very similar to the music he originally composed for THE UNTOLD STORY (1993).