Re-Cycle (2006)

Directed by: Pang Brothers
Written by: Danny Pang, Oxide Pang, Cub Chien, Sam Lung & Pang Pak-Song
Producers: Danny Pang, Oxide Pang, Alvin Lam, Usanee Mangkornsin & Sangar Chatchairungruang
Starring: Angelica Lee, Jetrin Wattanasin, Lau Siu-Ming, Zeng Ya-Qi, Lawrence Lau & Rain Li

Buy the DVD (1 disc) at:


Awards at the Hong Kong Film Awards 2007:
Best Sound Design (Nakom Kositpaisal)
Best Visual Effects (Ng Yuen-Fai, Chas Chau, Emil Yee & Alex Lim)

Nomination at the Hong Kong Film Awards 2007:
Best Actress (Angelica Lee)

Nominations at the Taiwan Golden Horse Awards 2006:
Best Actress (Angelica Lee)
Best Art Direction (Narongchai Aunn-Jai)
Best Visual Effects (Ng Yuen-Fai, Chas Chau, Emil Yee & Alex Lim)
Best Sound Effects (Jadet Chawang)

Re-united for Re-Cycle with the actress they steered into multiple, deserved awards for her performance in The Eye, the Pang Brothers have not been able to replicate the affecting success of said Hong Kong horror but instead merely shown glimpses of what superb forces they can be in movies such as Diary and Ab-Normal Beauty. Thinking visually and dramatically but not always succeeding in other words so with the assault Re-Cycle, is the Pang Brothers spell breaking? Nah, it's a hugely problematic, competent work that manages to be partially terrific... again. Such a waste and not a waste of time.

After a trio of successful romance novels (one of which is adapted for film), author Ting Yin (Angelica Lee) is about to tackle the supernatural in a book called "The Recycle". Her working methods is about immersing herself deeply into her topics and Ting Yin have past broken relationships that are equal to open scars. Trying to forget and move on, as she starts writing strange things starts happening around her. A presence in the apartment, a filled bathtub, a strand of hair... all things that are only the beginning of a journey into an eroded supernatural land of death, run down apartment complexes, ferris wheels and zombies. Being guided by an old man (Lau Siu-Ming) and young girl Ting Yu (Zeng Ya-Qi), Ting Yin tries to make sense of the horrific world and find her way to the exit point of it...

One of the consistent aspects of the Pang Brothers is their ability to deliver technically and therefore they are differentiating themselves a whole lot from what Hong Kong cinema can offer. With both Thai and Hong Kong crews always attached, they create quite elaborate Hong Kong products that certainly technically competitive and EASILY can compete internationally. With an intent to provide that kind of ride and often deeper emotions balanced against it, it's really only The Eye that has succeeded. We were truly frightened along with Angelica Lee's character which is such a key and hence why Re-Cycle stumbles a whole lot before affecting quite a bit by the end.

Oxide and Danny may be dealing in startle horror and age old scare tactics with a wink occasionally here as Lee has to deal with creepy, out of focus beings in her apartment, LONG strands of black hair and phones delivering cries of babies but regardless, it's not a ride leading into the alternate dimension that is a fun springboard for the terror. In fact, Re-Cycle is criminally dormant basically up till Lau Siu-Ming's first scene.

Despite not approaching the "Re-Cycle world" if you will with recognizable imagery and rules, any attempts at freakish and hellish imagery thrown at the clueless audience and Ting Yin, simply doesn't register. It's certainly doing the right things by again not replicating imagery from other movies but the movie requires its stomach to be filled a little before the terror is felt in any regard. Therefore, Lau Siu-Ming's cryptic explanation of the content of the "Re-Cycle world" is absolutely vital. As explained, what Ting Yu is experiencing is abandonment, forgotten things, forgotten people and from this point, magically there's enough flesh for us to gain an entry into the intent of the Pang Brothers.

The multiple scenarios involving among other things a bridge of zombies and the show stopping tunnel of aborted babies shows a duo of brothers with incredible, disturbing imagination but also pure, emotional intent is behind all of this. When revealed, Angelica Lee finally lights up as she's given material finally to work with but again, Re-Cycle presents sporadic genius touches of emotional horror that just needs to be put to use for longer stretches of film. Again, wasted time but not a waste of time.

The DVD (Universe):

Video: 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen.

Audio: Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1, Cantonese DTS 5.1 and Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1.

Subtitles: English, traditional Chinese and simplified Chinese.


* Audio commentary with directors/co-producers/co-writers Oxide and Danny Pang who are joined by actress Angelica Lee and visual effects director Ng Yuen-Fai. The brothers sit together and in a separate session, Lee and Ng provide their comments. Thankfully same subtitle options as the feature are provided for this Cantonese language commentary. Touching upon the working method as dual directors, special effects, set design and themes, the Pang's provide a decent, if not overly informative overview of their work. Of particular interest is mentioned working method when sharing directing duties, stories behind the reaction of the fetus tunnel and the rather confusing ending gets a detailed explanation. Lee adds sparse notes about her acting challenges as does Ng but that pair do not go into any immense detail about their work. Unfortunately the track has many gaps without comments so have your fast forward button nearby.

*Star's Files for Pang Brothers and Angelica Lee but merely contain filmographies.

There's also a 2 disc edition released containing deleted scenes and the making of among other things.


reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson