(Gwai wik) (2006)
Directed by Oxide Pang Chun & Danny Pang

Artistic& Entertainment Value: * * * ½

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Tsui Ting-Yin (Angelica Lee), a writer in Hong Kong, is starting a new novel, but as she does so strange events begin to occur, which seem to parallel things about which she has just written. Suddenly, Ting-Yin finds herself trapped in another world composed of and inhabited by various abandoned things, whether these are discarded ideas, ignored promises, forgotten relations, or lost objects. There she meets a little girl, Ting-Yu (Yaqi Zeng), who promises to take her to a place wherefrom she can return to her own world, but to get there, the pair must travel through a number of dangerous locations.

Re-cycle, which was directed by the Pang brothers (Oxide Pang Chun and Danny Pang), is a fun, intriguing, and visually impressive film.


The story the directors relate is well told and quickly draws the viewer into the movie's fictional universe. Having outlined both the present circumstances and the past of the protagonist's life, so that she is made into an engaging individual, the narrative grows increasingly more eerie, until it suddenly propels the woman into a somewhat frightening, but still wonderful and beguiling fantasy world. All of these elements come together nicely, and the effect is surprisingly intense. I should also add the the various revelations about the protagonist that come near the movie's conclusion are effectively handled. Instead of being merely contrived surprises, they are developments of what has already been shown, and are, consequently, actually likely to be affecting.


What is more, the fantasy world in which Ting-Yin finds herself is imaginatively conceived. It is presented as the place to which whatever has been discarded goes and where all such things accumulate. It is, in fact, a strange, ghostly realm of whimsy and fear. I was quite taken by the concept of such a locale and was kept engaged with the film as a result of this fascination.


The movie has, I might add, a sufficient number of visually impressive moments to bring such a land to life. Over the course of her wanderings in this other universe, Ting-Yin passes from a ruinous version of Hong Kong filled with creaking Ferris wheels, to a jungle adorned with hanging corpses, or, rather, inhabited by long necked, angry men with gaping maws, to a wasteland of giant abandoned toys, to a crumbling bridge spanning a deep chasm, to a red lit cavern swarming with aborted fetuses, to a mountain pass haunted by the spirits of the forgotten dead, to a valley in the air above which great boulders and peaks float weightlessly. All of these places are likely to catch the viewer's eye, and every one of them is evocative of some emotion or another, whether this is awe, surprise, or horror.


Re-Cycle is a consistently attractive, sometimes disturbing, and invariably intriguing film.

Review by Keith Allen

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