Forest of Death
Hong Kong 2007
Directed by Danny Pang.

Another Pang Brothers misfire, this one is hardly a movie at all but feels like a couple episodes of a bad TV series strung together. Ekin Cheng plays a biologist, angry at his girlfriend May(Rain Li) for hosting a paranormal news show and twisting his scientific facts to support spooky stuff about the "Forest of Death", where many go to commit suicide. Ekin would much rather talk about REAL science, like his current project, a machine that can respond to plants emotional states and which also doubles as a plant lie detector. You know, serious stuff.

At last Ekin finds a very rumpled and disheveled looking Detective (Shu Qi) to take an interest in his work. They become a crime fighting team, of sorts -- she's a cop; he can sort of read the emotions of plants. Together they investigate a rape that occurred in the Forest, then later try to track down May, who has gone missing somewhere inside.

The pacing is all wrong in this film, which climaxes at the halfway point, switches gears, then lumbers forward to an ambiguous ending. After watching it, a friend suggested, "So, what, aliens live in the forest?" which -- what the hell, it's as good a guess as any.

I can see why Shu Qi and Ekin Cheng would sign up for this movie, regardless of how stupid the premise sounded. After all, the Pangs have done fairly well by them, giving a showcase to Shu Qi in The Eye 2 and Ekin a juicy double role in Leave Me Alone. But not this time. Both are given a "you just got out of bed and look like hell" makeover, which does neither of them any favors but does hint at a possibility that with age Ekin will have a much more interesting and expressive face. Now if he can use it to do something besides talk to plants, well, we might have something.

Rating: Marginally Recommended (Marginally Recommended)

Posted by Peter Nepstad on August 31, 2007.

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