DVD review: DOUBLE VISION
by David Blackwell
DOUBLE VISION (aka Shuang tong) is one of the best horror movies I have seen in years. DOUBLE VISION was filmed in Taipei,
Taiwan, and it easily beats any of the horror movies Columbia Tristar (Sony Pictures) has released this year. The
movie has it's fair share of twists, surprises, and shocking moments. DOUBLE VISION is one part supernatural thriller,
one part cop movie, and one part horror movie mixed with a some drama and a little humor. The movie has a very complex script
with lots of details. DOUBLE VISION is one of those movies you should watch twice.
The movie opens up with a woman giving bith to twins. One is born stillborn and has double pupils in each eye). Next, the
movie flashes forward years later to a scretray finding her boss dead in his office. Her boss is a CEO of a big corporation
and he appears to have died from drowning with no water in sight. Soon, a mistress of a politician is found dead (she appears
to have died from being burned alive with no fire in sight). The Taipei Police begin to suspect that they have a serial killer
on their hands. They call in for help from the FBI when Father Lorenzo is found disembolwed in his sleeping quarters with
a Taoist talisman (Gou Di- a summons to the underworld/a curse from the devil) carved into his chest.
Officer Huang/Huo-tu (Tony Leung) , part of the Foreign Affairs division after blowing the whistle on poilce corruption,
meets FBI profiler Kevin Richter (David Morse) at the airport. Huo-tu and Richter soon find out that the victims had pellets
shot into their air conditioning units carrying a bug born fungus. Huo-tu is a cop who has shut himself off from his wife
and daughter (Mei-mei) into his work after Mei-mei was taken hostage by Huo-tu's cousin two years ago (and Mei-mei hasn't
spoken a word since). Huo-tu is open to a supernatural explaination to the crime where Richter believes in a logical one.
Huo-tu's bosses have brought in the FBI man for show and Huo-tu is warned that things will get worse for him if Richter solves
There is an interesting dynamic between Kevin Richter and Huo-tu. First there is a wall between the two and then they open
up to each other as they work the case. The killings are liked a Taoist cult (the True Sage cult) that belives one can acheive
immortality if they go through the five Hells (Frigid Hell, Fire Hell, Disembowement Hell, Heart Extracting Hell, and Tonuge
Removal Hell) and the person must be gravely ill. They find out much of this information from Dr. Sheng who tells about the
legend of a Chinese Man who killed half humans centuries ago and acheived immortality (and had double pupils).
DOUBLE VISION is quite the movie. It has a nice pace to it and it manages to surprise the viewer. The main character, Huo
tu, is well acted by Tony Leung. The music score provides the right mood for the scenes. Luckily, the score isn't one of those
crappy scores heard on many Asian movies.
The script has lots of interesting ideas as it mixes in culture, Taoism, politics, and science. There are some humor bits
like Richter lighting up a cigarette (in a clasroom where he is giving a lecture to visiting law enforcement) only to have
the camera pan to the No Smoking sign which he shuts off. Later in the movie, it is funny to see Huo-tu realizing he has locked
himself out of his car and then the scene turns into one of frustration as he finally breaks the car window to get into his
Director Chen Kou-fu does a great job directing the movie from the way it is paced to all of the little details to the
way the shots are framed. I would like to see him do another great horror movie like DOUBLE VISION. The casting is on the
mark for the movie and I liked David Morse as Kevin Richter (despite sometimes it looks like he is just chewing scenery).
The DVD was remastered in High Defintion. The movie looks and sounds great in 2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen. My only issue
with the DVD is the way the subtitles work on the DVD. You can watch the english Dubbed version, but you need the subtitles
on to get some stuff being said (or written) in Chinese. Yet why doesn't some of the stuff said (in Chinese) in one scenes
automatically have subtitles (when the subtitles are shut off), but if you can't turn the english subtitles off even when
you go back to do it while watching the english dubbed version. The only subtitles needed in the english dubbed version are
for some of the Chinese text and the one scene where the Taiwan cops are talking to Richtor (although they do have some unknown
male voice say in English what a place is when the Chinese titles for the location come up on the screen in the English dubbed
version). A little other thing making me scratch my heads is that they didn't even attempt to have English dubb
voices that sound like the characters when they speak in Chinese. Also why couldn't they have left Tony Leung's voice in when
he spoke english in the movie instead of having the dubb actor do the lines (and the guy sounds nothing like Tony Leung)?!
The DVD has some trailers- DOUBLE VISION, SO CLOSE, BAD BOYS II, and COWBOY BEBOP: THE MOVIE. Other
than a few language options and a few subtitle options (but one wonders why there is only a Spanish subtitle option and no
dubbed Spanish track), the DVD doesn't have any extras. If you are looking for a good horror movie or psychological
thriller, watch DOUBLE VISION.
this review is (c)October, 2003 David Blackwell. Email any comments to firstname.lastname@example.org For site updates and added content, go to http://www.livejournal.com/users/enterlinemedia
UPDATE (3-20-2004)- There is an unrated director's cut that is available in some other countries that is only
4 minutes longer and basically amounts to four more minutes of gore in one of the scenes.
UPDATE (10-18-2004)- Columbia has reduced the price of the DVD to $19.95 SRP a few weeks back.