While remaining committed to the horror genre, Nick Cheung’s second outing as director is a huge improvement on 2013’s Hungry Ghost Ritual. Again casting himself in the lead, Cheung this time leaves writing duties to Yeung Sin Ling (Inner Senses, The Bullet Vanishes) to tell the story of an exorcist, whose unconventional methods attract the attentions of a spunky young journalist and a murderous demon. Complemented by rich production values, lively performances and an inventive screenplay, Keeper Of Darkness succeeds as detective story, spectral romance and even streetwise comedy, while resuscitating our confidence in Cheung as the new renaissance man of Hong Kong Cinema.
This week on Radio 3 I talked about local action thriller Helios, featuring a star-studded cast that includes Jackie Cheung, Nick Cheung, Chang Chen, Janice Man and Choi Siwon. The story of a notorious arms dealer who steals a nuclear weapon in Korea and hightails it to Hong Kong features some epic action sequences, only to be hobbled by some seriously frustrating politic mumbo jumbo.
After the commercial success of their debut Cold War (the highest-grossing Hong Kong film in 2012) writer-director team Longman Leung and Sunny Luk set their sights higher with Helios, a pan-continental terrorism thriller that sees law enforcement agencies from South Korea, China and Hong Kong scramble to recover a stolen nuclear weapon.
Chow Yun Fat returns for a second helping of comedic hijinks in the follow-up to Wong Jing’s 2014 holiday blockbuster From Vegas To Macau (released in mainland China as The Man From Macau). A bankable supporting cast and exotic locations should prove an attractive combination over the Lunar New Year break, but beyond Chow’s perennial popularity, sloppy plotting and colloquial humour will likely see From Vegas To Macau II have limited international appeal.
Nick Cheung follows a string of critical and commercial hits with his debut as writer-director, a seasonal horror flick in which he also takes the leading role. While Cheung has a keen eye for detail when it comes to the traditions associated with the Hungry Ghost Festival, his scripting is flimsy and cliched while his direction lacks atmosphere or genuine chills.
You can read my full review here