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April 1st, 2002 Issue #102

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.

Body Puzzle
(2001; CineArt Pictures)

Cover art courtesy Deltamac.

A Masterpiece
Highly Recommended
Very Good
Marginal Recommendation
Not Recommended
Definitely Not Recommended

Cantonese: Yan tai ping to
Mandarin: Ren ti pin tu
English: Body Puzzle

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 A withdrawn and paranoid individual, Raymond is ostensibly in the country to visit his sister, Diana (Gigi Lai Chi), but he is obviously holding something back from her.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 courtesy Deltamac.
Click here for a still of Patrick Tam Yiu-man from the movie (courtesy Deltamac)

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).

DVD Specs:

Deltamac #DVD88052 (Hong Kong label)
Dolby Digital 2.0
Sync Sound Cantonese and Dubbed Mandarin Language Tracks
12 Chapters Illustrated In the Menu With (Tiny) Clips
Letterboxed (1.83:1)
Coded for ALL Regions
86 Minutes
Contains moderate violence, gore, and language

DVD menu courtesy Deltamac.

Film Board Ratings and Consumer Advice

Hong Kong: IIB
Singapore: PG


The print contains sections marred by light speckling, the image is a bit dark, and compression errors pop up on occasion. The Cantonese version was produced with sync sound (though the local actors are awkwardly looped) and the monaural audio is passable. There are no supplementary materials.

BODY PUZZLE is available at Poker Industries.

Click here for more information about The Hong Kong Filmography

Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2002. All Rights Reserved.
E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com

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