The Eye (2003)
Director: The Pang Brothers
Angelica Lee/Mun Mun
Lawrence Chou/Dr. Wah
Blind since she was two years old, cutie Mun Mun (Lee) finally gets a chance to see the world after a successful cornea transplant. All is peachy until harsh side effects begin to manifest themselves; yes, she starts seeing enough dead people to put Haley Joel Osment to shame and they’re CREEPY! With the help of a baby-faced doctor (Chou), she tries to figure out what in Bruce Willis’ name is going on.
Holy mother of all that is holy in a strip club on lesbian "whipped cream" night, I haven’t been this scared since the last time I got pinched by a 385-pound biker bouncer for trying to get a five finger discount on a 3-hour lap dance. "The Eye" packs quite a wallop and taught me a lesson the hard way. YEAH!!!
Granted, on paper the narrative found here is far from original. For me, it echoed "Body Parts" in its transplantation angle, "The 6th Sense" in its ghostly happenings and it even went as far as to basically lift a key scene directly from "The Mothman Prophecies", but like my grandpa used to say before he left this shitty world: “It’s not the ingredients that make the Chili kick; it’s the cook and how he goes about it in the damn kitchen". I’m happy to report that the Pang Brothers aced this snack with their genre pots and pans and gave Chef Boyardee a run for his croutons.
The first hour of "The Eye" literally had me with my hands in front of my eyes like a porn actress getting slapped on the cheeks for the first time with a beef jerky. The staging and the visceral executions of the “apparition” sequences were beyond terrifying and let me tell you that it felt great to be frightened by a horror movie again. This film often puts us in the heroine’s shoes as we see what she sees, feel what she feels and it was deliciously nerve-racking. If it wasn’t the clever use of out-of-focus shots keeping me on my toes, it was the film's eerily communicated entities (all about those black clad Reapers) or the effective use of subtle CGI whooping my skull. Tag to that, an expert use of various sounds and moans that gave me the shit fits and you get one goose-bump-inducing ride. NOTE: The moan emanating from the chilly female spirit almost gave me a heart attack. DAMN!
Now some might argue that the movie’s first hour is a tad redundant in terms of what it puts out. But for me, the film’s endearing Oriental spiritual nature, the squirm-inducing “ghost visit”, the baffling quick cut dream sequences and the mystery behind it all, had my attention noggin focused on the screen full throttle. At the same time, the themes of solitude and the overall plight of the lead character (that dear Mun Mun) touched me and complimented the supernatural craziness, making the watch that much more engaging. Angelica Lee (Mun Mun) also had her acting steaks well buttered, was extremely photogenic and quite a treat to gawk at for a buck and half. She had me hooked.
The scare factor did vanish at the hour mark to make way for the solving of the mystery though, but that was fine and dandy for this party boy. One more scary jolt and I would’ve dropped dead (is that a bad thing...hmmm). Although our heroes figured out the enigma a tad too quickly for my taste, the proceedings were still involving and I adored how it all came together in the end. The icing on the corpse was the thrilling explosive finale that brought the tale and its themes home through jaw-dropping images and lots of damage. Needless to say, I was signed, sealed, delivered, Fed Ex'd, and Express Mailed on this movie once the end credits rolled.
Anything negative to say about this fear pit? Well, I did find some of the scene transitions to be a tad abrupt, but that’s minor. The overall spooky score also took the “tacky” highway during some of its lighter moments (what was that techno all about when they took the picture?) and the film also sported a few inconsistencies (i.e. I’m pretty sure that anyone getting an eye operation, taking into account that they haven’t seen anything in their entire lives, would have their bandages removed for the first time in an overly lit room). Come on! That’s just rude! The girl hasn’t seen light since she was 2 years old! Shut the freakin' lights, Doc. In the same vein, why didn’t that camera flash hurt her eyes? I let it go though and so should you.
Lastly, I had trouble buying the fact that Lawrence Chou (Dr. Wah) as a psychotherapist. I don’t know how old the guy is in real life, but he often looked like he’d be more comfortable delivering my paper on a skateboard then being behind a desk. That’s not to say that the man beneath the role is a bad actor (at all!), he just looked too young and that affected his credibility factor early on...until I got used to him. No biggie; just thought I’d mention it…cause I’m that guy!
Overall though, "The Eye" was quite a rewarding watch. I still get the creeps watching horror movies now and then, but this flick did it to me on a whole other level. I don’t know what it was, maybe my hormones, lack of sleep, lack of alcohol or maybe it was just that good! I felt like a born-again horror virgin in terms of being frightened, it was great to get my fear cherry popped again. SEE THE EYE!
No gore here, but we get enough heart-stopping apparitions to make us forget about Ketchup.
Angelica Lee/Mun carried the role on her little shoulders like a vet. Not only that, but she also looked gorgeous on screen too. Lawrence Chou (Dr. Wah) looked too young for the part, in my opinion, but he still delivered a fine performance.
T & A
None here but looking at Lee’s beautiful face and big expressive eyes was enough for me. Ahhhh….I’m so sweet!
The Pangs Brothers’ background in editing was apparent here via their tightly presented dream sequences and scare scenes. Add to that, some potent slow motion, some wild shots, a knack at capturing momentum, effective synch of sounds/ images and know-how when it came to milking suspense and you get a grade A horror fix.
Oxide Pang's soundtrack was "on the ball" most of the time. When it went aggressive during the “ghost” scenes, it provided those bits with so much more impact. Too bad they went the cheesy way for the softer moments, but that’s just my North American ass talking...maybe in Asia, that shtick is regarded as way kool…who knows? I sure don’t.
"The Eye" rocked! Sure, the elements and the conventions found here have been done before in other genre efforts, but they’ve never ruined me in a positive way like this bad girl did. The execution was beyond outstanding here, making this exercise an intense, scary and compelling experience to sit through. View this one in the dark and expect to have a hard time counting dead sheep afterwards. I can’t wait to see what the Pang Brothers whip up next! Whatever it is, I’m soooo there! Bring on more of that spicy horror Chili guys! My grandpa would be proud!
Malaysian born actress Angelica Lee's real name is Lee Sin-Jie. She’s also a successful pop singer in the Hong Kong and Taiwan.
The Pang brothers are not newcomers to Hong Kong cinema. They've done a lot of editing works (e.g. The Storm riders) before. In the late 1990s, they moved to Thailand. They directed their first film there and it became a big success. Filmmaker Peter Chan then invited them back to Hong Kong to direct this film. Their editing backgrounds have allowed them to maximize the flexibility and capacity of the narrative.
Tom Cruise’s production company has acquired the rights to "The Eye" so expect an American remake. Whatever man…WHATEVER!
The Eye is set to launch in limited release in the States on June 13, 2003.