Pity poor Daniel Hong (Chin Han), a mild-mannered eye surgeon who is buffeted at homeby the war between his wife Natalie (Vivian Wu) and blind mother Mrs. Hong (Lisa Lu). His lifeisn’t going to get any easier, however. This night, while he is called away to the hospital, his oldfriend Patrick (Joe Lando) descends on the house. Patrick has spent the last ten years in prison forthe murder of his parents. He has escaped from custody, and he arrives at the Hong residence,hungry…for revenge. He believes it was Mr. Hong, his godfather, who actually committed themurders. Mr. Hong, however, is already dead. Just to tangle things up a bit further, Patrick andNatalie were lovers prior to the crime and Patrick’s conviction, and his return reignites theirpassion.
This is a tale where all the characters think they know the truth, and are all wrong at somelevel. The blindness motif is carried a bit too obviously into the literal world with Mrs. Hong’sdisability and her son’s ironic profession, but the film should still be commended for having aprecise theme and working it out so vigorously. There are some scenes that are visually quitestartling, where Mrs. Hong confronts Natalie, completely unaware (at least at first) that she isalso facing Patrick. Though a compact 78 minutes, the film nevertheless does feel a bit lethargic,as if its material might have been better suited to a short feature. Still, a committed work ofpersonal expression.
The sound is limited to 2.0, but this isn’t a huge liability. This is a dialogue-driven feature,and it doesn’t require spectacular sound design. Even so, the environmental effects (largely nightbreezes and insect calls) are nicely rendered in a low key sort of way. The dialogue is clear andundistorted.
The picture is blessed with fine blacks, excellent colours and contrasts, and is quite sharp.The aspect ratio is 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, and is free of edge enhancement problems,though there is some minor pixelation. What is surprising is the degree of speckling for a 1998film.
One of the things I appreciate about so many Pathfinder releases is that the extras, while notnecessarily plentiful, are almost always thoughtful, no matter what the profile of the film mightbe. Here we have a commentary by producer Karen Koch and writer/director Anna Chi. Thoughit takes the two a couple of minutes to become comfortable with the format, they go intoextensive behind-the-scenes detail. There are bios for the cast and director, there is a still gallery,and finally there are storyboards (which, interestingly, were done using photographs instead ofdrawings). The menu is scored.
This isn’t going to find a wide audience, and I don’t think the film is entirely successful, butit IS a focussed, thoughtful work, and it’s nice to see independent filmmaking being given achance.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Cast and Director Bios
- Still Gallery