Directed by: Herman Yau
Further adding to Fortune Star's program of shot on- and direct to video movies, it's not akin to Andy Lau's Focus: First Cuts program as it's so far dealt with directors that have occupied the block before but based on Herman Yau's A Mob Story, the program not only benefited but Yau's list of credits did. Billy Chung's Undercover followed in the program and now busy bee Yau is back with Chaos. Packed with choices, Yau's and to a large extent writer Lau Ho-Leung's instincts are correct but there's too many aspects highlighted here when A choice needed to be made.
Set in 2046 (make of that what you will) and the classic, opening text scroll describes what this particular future is like. Crime is of course at an all time high, prisons are overcrowded and expensive so walls have been built around cities. Once they were prisons run by the government, now the inmates run this safe haven for the "scum" of the earth. Some innocence is born into it, like Ling (Crystal Tin) and her daughter Yan (Charmaine Fong). But now the walls are about to crumble when a police car carrying two cops and a prisoner crashes through one of them. Only two characters survive, Mickey and the cop Cheung Tai-Hoi but who out of them (played by Gordon Lam and Andrew Lin) is the real cop? The world they are now in wants to viciously find out and some have found their saviour in the return of one of them. All while a deadly virus is spreading...
The opening is also very low-fi Blade Runner in an amusing way and certainly there is an excitement in the air (especially after the gory A Mob Story) that Herman Yau will pour it on. Because obviously the scenario is the musing of a B-movie and filled with so much hatred, darkness and therefore being an unashamed candidate to attack the senses of an audience. But since Yau opts to go with writer Lau's emotional angle (and it's not a bad gut feeling), Chaos literally becomes it as it can't juggle enough balls in the air to even make the actual positive aspects stands out.
Chaos deals in family issues, past and present and how to save innocence in this dirty, hellish world where death is not considered fear but salvation. Yau finds the time therefore to really shake us about by showing scenes of kids being killed, tendons being slashed as a punishment and by all accounts, the fairly low-budget atmosphere gets to you. Even the score with its imposing sounds plays a huge part in this but soon matters derail as the pace seriously lags and it's a character piece covered in as much dirt and mud as the movie's surroundings.
When you don't care, interest peters and the magic that comes out of that IS a muddled nature. Simply put, the recipe for Chaos was blended well and perhaps there was opposition to an idea brought forth of just going balls out gory, trippy with a ramped up pace in a package deal filled with the best cheesy factors imaginable. Yau isn't a man of that kind of pace but of ideas and damn it, Chaos had it by just thinking up its scenario. As it stands now, it's not even a blimp even during the few minutes it does turn shameless.
Joy Sales presents the film in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, with anamorphic enhancement. Dark as made originally, the transfer replicates the video image well with good sharpness and colour.
Audio options are Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1, Cantonese DTS 5.1 and Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1 but as I'm not equipped with such a system, my assessment of this disc aspect will be left off this review.
The English subtitles are coherent and error free. Traditional and simplified Chinese subtitles are also included. Extras come in the form of a Chinese only subtitled Making Of (10 minutes, 54 seconds) and trailers for Chaos, fate and Hi, Dharma 2.
reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson