February 20, 2008

THE EYE 2 (2004) a solid sequel from the Pang Brothers

(2004, Hong Kong/Thailand)

The Eye 2 has renewed my interest in the Pang Brothers. After really enjoying The Eye (2002), I cooled off after seeing their Bangkok Haunted and The Tesseract, both of which failed to grip my attention.

The Eye 2 succeeds as a well-conceived sequel, faithful to the premise of the original, without copying it. There’s a new set of characters and a whole new haunting.

Reversing the locations of the first film, the story starts in Bangkok as Joey (Shu Qi) tries some shopping therapy to get over a messy break-up. After her ex refuses her phone calls, she attempts suicide. Her near-death experience activates her ability to see ghosts…

As she returns to Hong Kong she discovers she’s not only pregnant, but haunted. When she's trapped in a hospital lift, a terrifying incident convinces her that a ghost is trying to kill her unborn baby.

This could be the worst film to watch if you’re expecting a new baby. Shu Qi gives a sustained and emotional performance, spending much of the story terrified that she’s going to lose her baby. It’s difficult not to sympathise with her enduring this gruelling ordeal, despite some revelations about her character.

The haunting scenes are imaginatively shot and cleverly conceived. Though I didn’t find as many scares as creepy as the first film, there are some powerful and grisly shocks. The only real mis-step in the story was when a rapist attacks her, the character looked more like a sitcom geek. The next scene didn’t work for me, as he appeared again covered in comedy bandages.

Considering that the Pang Brothers former careers were in grading (tweaking the colours of film for continuity and a stylised look) and editing, they avoided the trend for flashy editing and surreal grading.

Oxide and Danny Pang are currently in the US, directing a remake (is that called re-directing?) of Bangkok Dangerous, starring Nicolas Cage. Perhaps they found time to go see Jessica Alba in The Eye remake that's just been released.

Meanwhile, I’ve got to catch up on their Ab-Normal Beauty, Omen and Eye Infinity, the third of the original Eye films.

The Eye 2 is on DVD in the US and UK, though I watched the Hong Kong disc which has DTS sound and an alternative ending.

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