Demoniac Flash
Hong Kong 2005
Directed by Tony Leung Hung-wah.

Anthony Wong walks up to a tombstone and starts playing the harmonica, but it turns out to be only a dream (or was it?). And so begins DEMONIAC FLASH, a movie as coherent as its English language title -- it sort of seems to make sense, but when you get right down to it, it really doesn't.

Most of the characters in DEMONIAC FLASH are psychologically damaged in some way, headlined by Anthony Wong, who accidentally let his boy get run over by a truck, and who immediately becomes crippled himself in reaction to the mental trauma, walking on crutches or using a wheelchair. His wife sits in the corner, blind, and talks crazy talk. His neighbor (Nicola Cheung) is a nutty author who dreams (or did she?) of killing someone, then actually gets into a situation where she can kill when two young thugs stumble into her home. Her boyfriend (Ken Wong) tries to help, but his sister (Natalie Ng) hates her because she acts crazy. His sister also keeps dreaming that a Filipino transexual maid keeps tying her up and trying to rape her (or did it really happen?).

What is dream? What is reality? The movie asks the questions, but can't find answers. It seems to advocate for the mentally disfunctional at one point, and lament the prejudice of society, but then all these nutjobs do seem pretty unhinged and cause quite a lot of problems. What's the point? And why does the trash lady have to keep reappearing in a spooky way, when she's got nothing whatsover to do with the story? Why is she in there so damn much? Why is she scrambling, hunched over, towards me? [Suddenly snapping awake] Ah. I've returned to reality and can start writing this review. But boy, that dream was getting weird. I think I even dreamt I liked DEMONIAC FLASH. No such luck.

Anthony Wong delivers a good performance, and makes his disability believable. But DEMONIAC FLASH relies too heavily on the old cliche of a person waking up from a dream, and everything seems normal, then one more scare happens, then the person really wakes up (or sometimes, another round is added).

Note that the boy in the story is killed while carring a stuffed Donald Duck. The duck is then suspended from the boy's ceiling, covered in blood. Personally, I think this is the true authorial statement of the film, released just ahead of the grand opening of the new Hong Kong Disneyland. I'm just not sure entirely what the message is supposed to be. Or perhaps it is all just a dream?

Rating: Not Recommended (Not Recommended)

Posted by Peter Nepstad on October 30, 2005.

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