Issue #245a         HOME          E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com        BACK ISSUES             January 3rd, 2005

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The Eye 2
(2004; Applause Pictures/MediaCorp Raintree Pictures)

Cantonese: Gin gwai 2
Mandarin: Jian gui 2
English: Seeing Ghosts 2

RATING: 6/10

REVIEW:

Danny & Oxide Pang’s THE EYE was an exceedingly satisfying, perfectly self-contained HK horror thriller that did not require a follow-up, but strong box office in Asia and robust foreign sales made one inevitable. Faced with yet another romantic break-up, Joey Cheng (Shu Qi) flies to Thailand, makes a number of expensive purchases and then checks into an opulent hotel. She instructs the staff to make sure she is awake at a certain time, then goes up to her room and takes a massive overdose of sleeping pills. As she planned, the staff arrives in time to have her sent to a local hospital, but the incident has no apparent effect on her boyfriend, Sam (THE IRON LADIES’ Jesdaporn Pholdee), who seems as aloof and non-committal as before. Furthermore, upon returning home to Hong Kong, Joey is distressed to learn that she is now pregnant. Even though Sam continues to avoid her, she decides to keep the child. However, Joey’s previous brush with death has somehow left her able to detect ghosts, some quite horrifying. She is also experiencing inexplicable visions, like a strange woman (Eugenia Yuan Lai-kei) ending her life by leaping in front of a train. Her claims are dismissed as symptoms of pre-partum depression, but it is becoming increasingly clear to Joey that the suicide victim’s spirit is intent on invading her womb.

Shu Qi Shu Qi Jesdaporn Pholdee

The "I See Dead People" sub-genre spawned by THE SIXTH SENSE certainly struck a chord with HK filmmakers, resulting in not only THE EYE but also VISIBLE SECRET (which also starred Shu Qi), VISIBLE SECRET II, NIGHTMARES IN PRECINCT 7, and even a comedy called MY LEFT EYE SEES GHOSTS. In the wake of so many trips to the well, THE EYE 2 inevitably suffers by comparison, but can still be recommended, thanks in no small measure to a commendable performance by Shu Qi. In a role that relies entirely on acting, rather than her much celebrated looks, Shu Qi is very effective at conveying the turmoil and extremes her character experiences. The degree of empathy she is able to build in the viewer also makes a pivotal sequence in the second half (where Joey learns the reasons behind Sam’s renouncing of her) truly heartbreaking. If the horror content had been as potent, THE EYE 2 might even have surpassed its forerunner. There is some memorably macabre imagery (one particularly eerie moment features an apparition floating in an elevator like a water-logged corpse) but an equal number of such moments ultimately fail to resonate. One senses that the directors realized this because Payont Termsit’s score often shifts into overdrive in an attempt to generate the sort of chills that evolved more naturally last time.

The presentation of the material also seems a bit less assured; one leaves the film not entirely convinced that the events of the climax were meant to be as darkly comic as they play out. In fact, the memorable moments here are not born of the supernatural at all (specifically, a very unpleasant depiction of stomach pumping, a procedure commonly featured in movies but rarely shown in detail) and the film is at its most potent when detailing the life-draining toll that loneliness, uncertainty, and chronic depression can exert. Veteran action choreographer and Shaw Brothers cult favorite Phillip Kwok Tsui is nicely utilized in a supporting role as a monk who comforts Joey, and the film’s use of sync sound gives one a welcome opportunity to hear his real voice.

Shu Qi Eugenia Yuan Shu Qi


PRESENTATION:

A HK/Thailand co-production like the original, THE EYE 2 ran a mere 80 minutes in some territories, but the DVD offers the Pangs’ preferred version, restoring 14m of footage. The anamorphic presentation looks excellent, with the finest details in close-ups coming through very well. The original sync sound Cantonese track (which is sprinkled with some English, Mandarin, and Thai) is available in Dolby Digital 5.1 or DTS, along with a Mandarin dub (5.1 only); all are sufficiently dynamic (Pholdee is dubbed in the Cantonese version by Lawrence Tsou Tsun-wai, who co-starred in the first film, while Shu Qi’s voice is heard on both tracks).

In a welcome change from the norm with HK discs, the English subs are deactivated during the brief periods when English dialogue is heard. A more downbeat alternate ending (in Mandarin only, with no subs) is included, along with a 14 minute "Making Of...." (with the same subtitle options as the film) featuring interviews and some on-set footage, a trailer (which gives away the film’s best shock), and trailers for other Mega Star titles. On a less than auspicious note, the DVD opens with a mobile phone commercial which, thankfully, can be easily bypassed.


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Images in this review courtesy of Mega Star. To read captions, hover mouse over image.


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DVD Specifications

  • Hong Kong Release
  • NTSC Region 0
  • Mega Star Video Distribution #MS/DVD/488/HK
  • Dolby Digital 5.1/DTS
  • Sync Sound Cantonese and Dubbed Mandarin Language
  • Subtitles (Optional): English, Traditional & Simplified Chinese
  • 20 Chapters
  • 16:9 Enhanced (1.80:1)
  • 94 Minutes

Ratings & Consumer Information

  • Hong Kong: IIB
  • Quebec: 13+
  • Singapore: PG
  • Contains moderate violence and horror

FILM REVIEW RATINGS KEY:

  • 10 A Masterpiece
  • 9 Excellent
  • 8 Highly Recommended
  • 7 Very Good
  • 6 Recommended
  • 5 Marginal Recommendation
  • 4 Not Recommended
  • 3 Poor
  • 2 Definitely Not Recommended
  • 1 Dreadful