Set Up
Hong Kong 2005
Directed by Billy Chung.

One can only assume that the title of this disappointing film refers to the glaringly obvious, contrived, and totally illogical set up to the story. It's too bad, too, as director Billy Chung can usually deliver a satisfying genre film. While SET UP has its moments, for the most part it is tedious and predictable. After sitting on the shelves for over a year, it got a token theatrical release at the same time that Billy Chung and Wong Jing's more successful collaboration (KUNG FU MAHJONG) hit theaters.

Moon (Christy Cheung) and Tak (Michael Tse) are about to get married. But, just days before, she decides to have Lasik eye surgery, then recover from the operation by herself in a house she's never visited (their future home) with only her girlfriend Yan (Winnie Leung) for company. Luckily for her, her friends give her bridal shower gifts like pepper spray and a harpoon gun, all of which she takes with her to the new house. Of course, the operation goes a bit wrong, so she will be blind for days. Yan takes care of her, but soon enough a desperate group of criminals move in to wait for their buyers for a big multi-million dollar deal. There's Man (Marco Lok), the quiet one, Pao (Roy Cheung), the leader, and Kei (Tony Ho), the crazy murderer-rapist. Pao keeps everything cool until a guy shows up to install new curtains in the place, and things slowly unravel and lots of killing and raping ensues. Well, thank heavens for that harpoon gun.

SET UP is a brutal film with a couple very strong moments. How the curtain man tries to get the attention of a local cop is an especially gripping scene. Roy Cheung is a strong performer as usual, and the way he offers to protect Yan from the violent rapist, in exchange for her services, is a chilling example of how to psychologically bend people to your will when they are desperate to stay alive. A certain sadness permeates all the proceedings of SET UP. There are no good guys, just people, trying to do what they can to stay alive, and usually not succeeding. Unfortunately, the story is so contrived that SET UP must also fall into the same category.

Rating: Not Recommended (Not Recommended)

Posted by Peter Nepstad on October 13, 2005.

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