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Issue #138a HOME E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com BACK ISSUES December 16th, 2002

Haunted Office
(2002; S & W Entertainment/Surprise Pictures)

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

Cantonese: OFFICE yau gwai
Mandarin: OFFICE you gui
English: Office Has Ghosts

This middling horror thriller (co-directed by Marco Mak Chi-sin, Bowie Lau Bo-yin, and the infamous "Not a Woman") unfolds predominantly in an office high rise where nine deaths occur every year without fail (why anyone would still be willing to work there after all of this carnage speaks volumes about the HK economic slowdown!). New employee Pat (Karen Mok Man-wai) encounters a forlorn albino woman in the elevator and a mysterious laughing woman in the bathroom. The latter is found dead in her office shortly thereafter, having committed suicide by hanging. The scenario soon repeats itself, with the victim found this time with her face rammed into the photocopier. Forced to work alone one evening, Pat is in for a night of terror, courtesy of the unearthly thing that dwells down the hall. Meanwhile, on a different floor, rich low-life Richard (Jordan Chan Siu-chun) has just inherited his father's company and schemes to get 40-year veteran Mary (Helena Law Lan) to resign, so that he will not have to pay her HK$10 million pension. However, this proves more difficult than expected and Richard must soon also deal with the spirit world. Toy designer Ken (Stephen Fung Tak-lun) and collections worker Shan (Hsu Chi/Shu Qi) also see the albino woman that Pat encountered. Shan has been tormented by this mysterious apparition for some time now, so Ken tells her to resign and never return. However, the girl refuses, claiming that she needs the work to support her family. The white-haired phantom continues to torment Shan and finally makes a demand of her that Ken is determined to avert at all costs.

The parallel storylines intersect nicely and the production is consistently slick and accomplished, a definite step above the (now) threadbare TROUBLESOME NIGHT series and its ilk. Unfortunately, we once again have the problem endemic to so many HK horror thrillers: there are few surprises and no genuine shocks here. The cast is effective (in addition to the aforementioned players, Yuen King-tan also puts in a characteristic appearance), and the direction and camerawork are dynamic, so the film remains consistently watchable, even when the individual plot threads start to wind down an all-too-familiar path. One leaves the show wondering just when HK filmmakers will finally be able to come up with the right mix of innovative storytelling and indelible shocks to create a truly noteworthy ghost thriller, instead of continuing to hold back and producing yet another modestly engrossing timewaster like this.

Cover art courtesy Deltamac.

Karen Mok. Image courtesy Deltamac.

Jordan Chan. Image courtesy Deltamac.
Deltamac #DVD88087 (Hong Kong label)

Sync Sound Cantonese (Dolby Digital 5.1 & 2.0) and Dubbed Mandarin (Dolby Digital 2.0) Language Tracks

Optional Subtitles In English and Chinese (Traditional or Simplified)

12 Chapters Illustrated in the Menu With (Tiny) Clips

Letterboxed (1.85:1)

Coded for ALL Regions

NTSC Format

89 Minutes

Contains moderate horror, mild language, and mild sexual content

DVD menu courtesy Deltamac.


Hong Kong: IIB
Singapore: PG

Aside from a few unstable lines early on, the transfer offered up on this dual-layer DVD looks quite nice. The image is sharp and colorful, and the element features only scattered markings. The stereo mix is terrific, with the right amount of power and atmosphere to compliment the shocks. There is occasional reverb on the 5.1 track but it is never pronounced enough to take you out of the movie. The English subtitles lag slightly behind the dialogue but there is no trouble telling who is saying what. A Mandarin trailer is the only extra. There is a fairly smooth layer change at 51:56.

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