April 07, 2006


Black Night posterJust when you thought it was safe to go use the bathroom, along comes BLACK NIGHT to tell you that if you don't slip on the soap, drown in the tub, suffocate in the shower curtain, or get electrocuted by a lamp you could still hit your head on the toilet. Three part movies have always been with us and ever since Applause released THREE they've gotten even more popular, what with THREE...EXTREMES and the new Tsui Hark/Ringo Lam/Johnnie To "jigsaw" flick rumored to be in the works. BLACK NIGHT has a Hong Kong section ("Next Door" by Patrick Leung), a Japanese section ("Dark Hole" by Takahiko Akiyama) and a Thai section ("The Lost Memory" by Thanit Jitnukul).

Watching its world premiere at the Hong Kong Film Festival I was deeply impressed. I thought I had seen poor movies before, but I had never really considered the notion that three directors, working really hard, could make a bad movie three times worse. It's obvious, really, but I think you need to see this concept in action to really get it.

Patrick Leung's segment kicks things off and at first I only noticed how bad its story was. But, after watching the next two segments I realized that at least Leung's had looked good and moved briskly, qualities the next two segs lacked. Lots of accidents happen in the home, but Leung has to orchestrate one of the most complicated, silliest household accidents I've ever seen in order to make his movie work. I guess directors really are smarter than you or me because how else could they think of these things? When I walk into my home I'm instantly on guard against a million little things that could go wrong and kill me. But for Leung, he needs to orchestrate a symphony of stupidity involving a shower curtain, a full bathtub, running water, a locked door, a marble, a pair of handcuffs and a tile wall in order to get his plot engine to turn over.

Black NightBut I came to miss his slick visuals when we moved on to "Dark Hole" which I was hoping would be a little bit naughty. No such luck. Shot on an old VHS tape the director found in the glove compartment of his car and video toastered until it begged for mercy, "Dark Hole" is about a childhood friend of a little girl who has grown up to be a monster. The monster lives in the water, and at this point I was detecting a theme: wetness! Draggy and repetitive I kept checking my watch waiting for the monster to show up and when it did I was excited to see that it showed up in the quickest reveal shot in the world, lasting approximately .0005 seconds, which was understandable when I realized that the monster looked like a rubber boot with tentacles glued to the bottom.

At this point, the guy sitting in front of me cracked open a bottle of red wine and began to guzzle it. There isn't enough wine in the world to get you through BLACK NIGHT, but at least he had something to take the edge off when he rolled into "The Lost Memory". It's hard to believe that the guy who directed BANG RAJAN has sunk so low, but life is full of surprises. Some kind of silly hootenanny about child abductions (I think), a car accident, head trauma and, of course, water, none of it made any sense until I realized it was stealing liberally from THE SIXTH SENSE at which point I yawned a little and rolled over in my sleep. Least among its sins, and certainly one of its more entertaining moments, was when we finally see the hot stud who is the object of desire for the film's two nubile young starlets. This guy looked like the kind of middle-aged gentleman you might see going through the trash cans outside your house on recylcing day, or maybe working a toll booth on the New Jersey Turnpike. At least there was laughter.

Patrick Leung and several of the actors were on hand for the screening and I felt a little uncomfortable as waves of inappropriate laughter regularly rippled through the audience. But then I considered that these were the people who had cranked out this lousy flick hoping to use it to part me from my money. And I started laughing, too.

April 7, 2006 at 01:20 PM in Film Reviews | Permalink


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Tracked on Apr 8, 2006 1:37:51 PM


You have to sort of wonder if Bang Rajan was a total fluke or if Thanit Jitnukul really directed it - nothing he has done since - Legend of the War Lord, Sema The Warrior, 102 Bangkok Robbery, Andaman Girl and Art of the Devil (not to be confused with the much better Art of the Devil 2) - would even be considered good - just completely mediocre.

Posted by: Brian N. | Apr 7, 2006 4:02:14 PM

Bad movies exist so that critics can write great reviews.

Posted by: Akikonomu | Apr 9, 2006 6:50:33 PM

I just saw this film, and I burst out laughing through it too. I felt rather guilty but I was so sick of the hysterics, the from zero of deadness to 100 percent screaming acting, and a host of other things. I finally got to the point, I whispered to my friend, "I just want this guy killed so he would stop his tears and shouting." and my friend, "Kill him now!!" at which point, the father slips on the soap and hits his head. I spotaneously laughed so much that everyone looked at me.

I am relieved that other people felt the same.

Posted by: d | Apr 14, 2006 12:01:11 PM

This movie sucks....

Posted by: Kim | Aug 18, 2006 9:39:33 AM

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