Directed by Oxide Pang & Danny
Produced by Peter Chan & Lawrence Cheng
Written by Oxide Pang, Danny Pang & Jo Jo Yuet-chun Hui
Director of Photograpy Decha Srimantra
Music by Orange Music
Cast: Lee Sin-Je, Lawrence Chou, Chutcha Rujinanon, Candy Lo & Edmund Chen
2002/98 mins/Color/5.1 DD
1.85:1/Cantonese/Hong Kong/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Palm Pictures Home Entertainment DVD
In my recent review for 28 DAYS LATER, I chastised the film for being a re-tread of old ideas and culling too many plot points from other films. However, I'm here today to praise THE EYE, another film which is comprised mainly of ideas which we've seen before? So, what's the difference between the two films? THE EYE adds one discrete plot device which puts a new twist on an old idea, and allows the film to succeed.
THE EYE tells the story of Mun (Lee Sin-Je), a young woman who has been blind since age 2. She undergoes a cornea transplant to regain her sight. The surgery is successful, and Mun slowly gains the ability to see. She begins to notice shadowy figures around her, and realizes that she can see people that others can't. She consults a psychologist, Dr. Lo (Lawrence Chou) for guidance. Dr. Lo is unsure what to make of Mun's story, but several frightening incidents convince Mun that she is seeing ghosts. With Dr. Lo's aid, Mun feels that must learn about the donor of her new corneas in order to understand what is happening to her.
You don't have to be a film historian to see that THE EYE is clearly influenced by past films such as MAD LOVE, THE HANDS OF ORLAC, BODY PARTS, and most notably, THE SIXTH SENSE. (With a dash of INDEPENDECE DAY thrown in for good measure.) But, as noted above, THE EYE adds a subtle new touch to these old stories. In THE SIXTH SENSE, and even films like DON'T LOOK NOW, the characters suspected that they were seeing ghosts, but the gift of sight is new for Mun, and she doesn't realize that she's witnessing a supernatural event. This creates a new dynamic for the story and for the audience as well. When Mun encounters a new person, and we are seeing the world through her eyes, we are unsure if the person is alive or dead. And, in the scenes where the audience is certain that the person is a ghost, there is an air of dread as we yearn for Mun to flee. This novel approach to the subject matter helps to carry the first half of THE EYE until the mystery begins to unravel.
That new twist aside, THE EYE is simply a very well-made movie. The film was directed and written by Danny and Oxide Pang, a pair of filmmaking brothers. (Jo Jo Yuet Chun-hui also contributed to the screenplay.) This team has constructed a tightly written story, which is able to steer around its own plot-holes. But, more importantly, the Pangs have created a great-looking movie which squeezes the maximum amount of suspense out of every scene. Unlike many modern thrillers which create a languid pace, THE EYE has a fairly high shock quotient, and many of these scenes will have the viewer leaping from their seat. And then there's the elevator scene, which is one of the creepiest movie moments in years. The last third of the film drags somewhat, but the finale is exciting and features some nice special effects. THE EYE is far from original, but it's a very effective ghost story and the scariest Asian film since RINGU.
THE EYE opens on DVD courtesy of Palm Pictures and Lions Gate Home Entertainment. The film is letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer has been enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. For this review, I compared the Lions Gate release to the Panorama Entertainment DVD from Hong Kong. For starters, the new Lions Gate DVD is the clear winner as it features an anamorphic transfer. Also, the image on the Panorama disc is very dark. By comparison, the Lions Gate disc features a much brighter image, but it's actually too bright at times, and halos are very visible. The new transfer does reveal some defects from the source print, but these are minor. Overall, the image is stable and the colors are good. THE EYE features a very precise sound design, which aids in the film's shocks. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track on the Lions Gate is quite good, even surpassing the DTS track on the HK release. The Dolby track offers clear dialogue and nearly constant use of surround sound and excellent bass effects to punctuate the scare scenes. The disc features the original Cantonese and Thai audio track with English subtitles. The subs are bright and easy to read. This transfer shows some issues, but it's better than the HK release.
The Lions Gate DVD contains a few extras. "The Making of THE EYE" is a 15-minute featurette which is pretty standard fare. There are interviews with the cast and crew, but not many comments from the Pangs. We learn some about the origins of the story, but don't get enough background into the film's influences. There is some behind-the-scenes stuff and a look at the special effects. The disc also contains the original U.S. theatrical trailer and the U.S. TV spot, both letterboxed at 1.85:1.
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2003. ©