Tuesday, June 26, 2012
There's No Place Like (Dream) Home...
Getting right to the point, Cheng Lai-sheung (Josie Ho, also one of the film's producers) is a Hong Kong resident working two jobs to make ends meet and to save enough to buy a condo in a prime location by the harbor. The tale is told in flashbacks that go back and forth but not so much as to confuse the viewer.
We learn that part of the reason Cheng wants that very specific location is to make sure her dying father has a view of the water, as he was a seafarer and loves the ocean. It also has something to do with a period in time when she was a young girl and had a friend who was forced out of his home. It's obvious that by the time she is in her 20's she has become near-obsessed with this certain place and will do anything - and I mean anything - to get it.
We've all wanted something. Whether it is a car, a house, or just the latest Tarantino on DVD or tall non-fat mocha. But few of us would ever go to such extremes to make something our own.
Cheng has an obvious imbalance somewhere, to strike out at every turn to make sure this condo becomes hers. But while this movie has been labeled a blood bath, it is not without its merits and substantial plot.
While Cheng's friends are out partying, spending money, and getting laid, Cheng is saving every ounce of money she brings in working two jobs, squirreling it away to put a down-payment on a fantastic and truly out-of-her-reach waterfront condo. We are shown in flashbacks her younger years and the struggles she's been through to get to this point. As a child, she was forced to share close quarters with her brother and less-than-fortunate family, watch as the government evicts good neighbors from their rat-infested quarters, and be dealt an unfair hand in life. As mentioned, she now works two jobs and has no social life at all, just to attain her far-reaching dream. Her father is ill and needs an operation, and even her rat-fink married lover won't help her by giving her some cash to help her afford his medical care. (Of course that only goes to show us how selfish Cheng really is: if her father was that gravely ill, why would she not use some of her savings to pay for his surgery?)
There really is no element of surprise here. After the first initial murder, we're pretty aware that Cheng is fucking bat-shit crazy. We know she is going to go to any means possible to get that goddamned condo. She offs everyone that gets in her way and some that don't. I don't think it's spoiling things any to put that statement out there. It's the entire film. The violence, the gore, the unbelievable madness - it's all just twisted together like a pretzel. It is, however,important to the film makers that we understand why she has went off the deep end. And so we have our flashback scenes to make it all seem justifiable. As if that makes it okay for Cheng to spill someone's guts and let them die slowly. With intestines and body parts strewn across the floor, it's clear Cheng has issues.
Worse yet, she has no remorse. At the moment she finds out the condo has been sold out from under her, viewers will squirm - knowing what she has already done in order to procure this ridiculously over-priced real-estate. But only those who randomly chose this film to watch will be utterly shocked. Films like this get watched by word of mouth, not by swift and skilled marketing ploys.
Here's the thing. Truthfully, I am in love with this film. I'm not saying it's the next best thing since sliced bread. I am saying as someone who appreciates both gore and substance, it rocked my boat. This film is fucking nuts. But in a good way. It's a balls to the wall exploitative gore-fest by every stretch of the imagination. But the acting is good, the plot is relevant and current, and despite the sometimes confusing flashbacks, it moves along at a rapid pace.
And you seriously have to see the death-by-vacuum scene.