The Eye 2 (2004)

Directed by: Pang Brothers
Written by: Jojo Hui
Producers: Peter Chan, Lawrence Cheng & Jojo Hui
Starring: Shu Qi, Eugenia Yuan, Jesdaporn Pholdee & Phillip Kwok

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Nomination at the Taiwan Golden Horse Awards 2004:
Best Supporting Actress (Eugenia Yuan)

Attempting suicide while in Thailand, Joey (Shu Qi) has to get back to dealing with life again as it turns out she is pregnant with ex-boyfriend Sam's (Jesdaporn Pholdee) child. Having been near death and now bearing new life, Joey has unwillingly invited the spirit world into her everyday settings. The sights become more intense, frequent and threatening, seemingly focusing on the unborn in Joey. One particular long haired woman (an underused Eugenia Yuan who is also Cheng Pei Pei's daughter and award winning co-star of Three: Going Home) stands out...

Igniting their careers through the Thailand produced Bangkok Dangerous, twin brothers Danny Pang and Oxide Pang emerged in a big way on the Hong Kong movie scene with The Eye in 2002. One of the actual good variations of the "I see dead people"-storyline as made popular by The Sixth Sense, style and dramatic effect reigned via the brother's eyes and Angelica Lee's lead performance. Continuing in an unrelated way in the sequel, the spirit world keeps on intruding, this time possibly being threats to pregnant women. Mothers unite against them the filmmakers say but expectedly comes up with a twist that leaves an impression. Too bad it's a late one and that The Eye 2 very much is merely a demo reel partially for the Pang's, not the effective combo with a story as seen prior.

It's certainly not choosing to be as much of a terrorizing journey as The Eye where our lead was portrayed as genuinely frightened of a surrounding she never saw and shouldn't see. Applause Pictures again makes sure this is a solid looking production and having said solid, I mean the setting of The Eye 2 is more laid back and real. With a ghostly (but not ghastly) looking Shu Qi entering the picture exchanging stilted English dialogue with the Thai performers (as per usual for a Pang Brother's movie, a mixture of Thai and Hong Kong personnel was employed behind the scenes as well), there is a feeling of "only" an above average, yet another horror exercise on display. Pang's are active in creating mood via blurry, jazzed up visuals but they're running on an empty gas tank mostly, showing that they can when they in actuality haven't gotten a hall pass to enter these areas.

With Jojo Hui (Three: Going Home) writing you would expect something better served up but the portrayal of Shu Qi's Joey is endangered because everyone involved want to feature basics only. Distraught, depressed and even a bit unsympathetic, get a baby into the picture and the journey towards responsible, protective motherhood begins, wrapped in scenes of threatening horror. It's a starting point that certainly could be only that if the creepy factor does its thing to push the thematic along but while there is a streak of exceptional "I see dead people"-scenes, including another effective elevator scenario by the Pang's (obvious yet subtle CGI aids greatly here), it's simply too slight and doesn't aid much of anything. We understand Joey's protection plot and even when flashing the spirituality scenario in Phillip Kwok's welcome supporting act, it's a backdrop that again is as basic as anything featured before.

But something thankfully happens late as the Pang's and more importantly writer Jojo Hui realizes the potential for the story to go actual emotional places. There's some terrific dramatic development during the end reel at the hospital where intentions of the spirit world takes on a whole new meaning for the film and The Eye 2 definitely goes out on a high note. Shu Qi embodies the needed turmoil and distress to the requisite degree up this point but takes her act up to equal terrific level when the film hits its stride here. Bonus kudos also goes to a few black comedy tangents, at least in this reviewer's mind, where Joey frankly gets fed up with the spirit intrusions.

But another but starts this paragraph as it's too much, too little, too late for The Eye 2 to make as much of a lasting impression compared to any of Danny and Oxide Pang's prior, "big" works. Obviously better than any low-grade quickies to come out of The Sixth Sense-wake, the series at hand manages to feature an end reel that outshines about 10-12 of those cheap cash-in's. It still ain't a complete movie, despite the performers also waking up at exactly the right moments the crew does.

The DVD:

Mega Star presents the film in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, with anamorphic enhancement. Minor wear and a few lines through the print detracts briefly but this is still a fine presentation on all fronts.

The Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 (and its DTS 5.1 counterpart) also includes Mandarin, Thai and English dialogue but as I'm not equipped with such a system, my assessment of this disc aspect will be left off this review. The Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1 option seemingly dubs only the Cantonese dialogue and Shu Qi is actually doing her voice on this track as well.

The English subtitles contains a few minor grammar errors that no one will have a problem internally correcting. In a rare touch for Hong Kong dvd's, the subs are deactivated during English dialogue segments. Traditional and simplified Chinese subtitles are also available.

On the extras front we start with a Mandarin language alternative ending (2 minutes, 39 seconds) that unfortunately does not come with any subtitles. It does seem to finish up the story in a more dark manner. Maybe. Mega Star had one of their rare good initiatives and decided to subtitle the Making Of (13 minutes, 40 seconds) into English however (with additional choices being traditional and simplified Chinese). It's geared almost exclusively towards fluffy, promo talk with minimal behind the scenes footage and stories. Nothing anyone needs to see more than once.

Teaser- and theatrical trailers for The Eye 2 as well as spots for Golden Chicken 2, Xanda, Silver Hawk and Elixir Of Love are offered up in the the More Attractions-section. Finally Cast & Credits has bilingual cast & crew listings and biographies/filmographies for producer Peter Chan, the Pang Brother's and Shu Qi. The crew's bio's has decent career outlines but Shu Qi's career is rather hastily covered.

reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson