Yut Lai So
Yin Ping Ko
Trivia I'm sure it'll come as a shock to no one that the remake rights have already been picked up by Cruise/Wagner productions in the States, and that it'll get the go ahead any time now after Gore Verbinski's Hollywood remake of The Ring has made some decent money.
On another note, the Pang Brothers have just finished filming Alex Garland's The Tesseract over in their native Bangkok.
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The Eye (2002)
8th Apr 04
This is the story of Mun, a beautiful young woman, blind since she was a small child, who is finally going to get the chance to see again thanks to a pioneering eye transplant. Things appear to be going well as Mun learns to see again and decipher shapes and colours into recognizable objects and people and what have you, until she starts to literally see things that aren’t really there. The doctors are convinced it is simply the mind playing tricks on her, struggling with the concept of seeing again and the effects will pass, but Mun is not so sure. Eventually, Mun convinces the good looking young doctor friend that she’s not crazy, she really is seeing ‘things’ and they head out to find some answers, inevitably starting with, whose eyes were they before?
Oriental cinema has come a long way over the last decade, obviously benefiting greatly from the box-office success of The Ring trilogy. You really can’t mention horror from the East these days without mentioning Hideo Nakata’s movie and that's not such a bad thing, he seems to have set a standard which it appears successful directors from his region must aspire to. Here it’s the turn of the Pang Brothers (whose last outing Bangkok Dangerous was lapped up by critics everywhere) and they do a real good job. Their visually intense, fast cutting flair for just the right shot at the right time hasn't been envisaged so well for so long and here’s a movie which allows them to do it all and quite comfortably.
Throughout The Eye we are treated to a host of hideously frightening imagery. How would you cope if you hadn’t seen your world for twenty odd years and when you do, it’s not all yours? What Mun can now see is visions, fragments of lives passed and memories of a future yet to happen. At times the film is admittedly slow, but at many junctions the pace of the imagery is frantic, especially when cutting between Mun’s world and the real world, i.e. switching between what is real and what is not (or rather what is real and what was or will be). Not surprisingly, the visions all center around death, whether the protagonists are dead or are about to be; it takes no genius to work out who the shadowy black figure who is often just hanging around in the background is meant to represent.
Back to the eyes, whose are they? Well, having read many books and comics as a child, this was the very first thing I wanted to know, something skillfully avoided as long as possible by the filmmakers. I remember specifically a story of a guy who gets a killer’s hand transplanted onto his arm, and the guy then goes out and commits murder. That’s not what happens here, that’s not what I’m getting at. I’m saying that surely this would be the first thing you’d want to know when getting new body parts, i.e. the source. As soon as I started seeing funny things (like the elevator scene, or the boy that’s lost his report card - I get the shivers just thinking about it now) I’d be like, ‘okay then, who the hell did these eyes belong to anyway!’ I have to admit though, that was the only thing I could complain about in this film, and I suppose you could argue patient confidentiality and what have you, so maybe she wouldn’t have tried that first after all. However, when she does find out about the donor and the donors life, the similarity to her own is frightening. This is especially true as the film draws to the end, where the story has been conveyed so strongly that you attain a horrible realization of what is going to happen in the closing frames just before she herself does. I saw this baby in a sold-out theatre and there's really nothing quite like hearing 400 people gasp at the same time.
Rounding up, The Eye really is a bit of something very special and will really scare you. Not only that, but it’s one of those rare films that saves the best till last, and completes a full circle, with the climactic carnage truly worth the wait. So what if the moralistic Japanese market demands the poetic ending where everyone gets their just desserts, especially Mun, so what. This film is great, and will make you jump on many an occasion, so remember to buy a big popcorn.
Versions Bizarrely, there is no US VHS release for this baby. The best version in terms of picture and sound quality is a Korean release on the 'Enter One' label, although the English subtitles run out of sync after the first 30 minutes!
The best version for us English speakers is once again the US release, although all versions are uncut and the R0 Tartan release is very cheap from CDWOW