Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Slim Till Dead (Hong Kong 2005)

The traditional murder-mystery genre takes an almost interesting twist in Slim Till Dead ( 瘦身), a film that also makes a laughable attempt at social commentary by taking a dig at Hong Kong's obsession with weight loss. We're all familiar with movies that try to make you stop and think about the world you live in, but the message in Slim Till Dead is really a moot point because the film just doesn't take itself seriously.

Sergenat Tak (Anthony Wong) can't seem to land that one big case that has eluded him for so many years. It's always been the usual run-of-the-mill stuff, until the day he finds a skeletal-looking corpse stuffed into a box in an alleway. The body is that of Ivy, a popular model from a slimming center, and her body has been marked with a label that says, "70 lbs". It turns out that the models weight at her time of death was...you guessed it, 70 lbs. Tak finally has a big case on his hands, and if that weren't good news enough, he finds out from his partner Bull (Raymond Wong) that he's the top candidate to take over as the new superintendent. However, his dreams are soon dashed when he finds out that the position has been given to another man by the name of William Hung (played by none other than the writer/co-director himself Wong Jing). To add to his defeat in the promotion department, Tak's homelife isn't any better. His wife Ling (Sheren Teng) refuses to have sex with him, and manages to make him feel even more inferior by seemingly knowing more about his cases than he does! See, Ling used to work on the same police force as Tak does, so she knows a thing or two. To keep adding to the problems in Taks life, we learn that he has trouble handling a firearm because of a traumatic shooting incident from his past where an innocent bystander was killed. At this point, you really want something to come into Tak's life that helps him out. That's when we meet Tin Fuk (Wu Qing Zhe), a reporter from Mainland China who knows all about the person killing these models, and he wants to assist the police in bringing the man down. Tin Fuk tells Tak and his crew that the main responsible for these killings is Ken (Jing Gang-Shan), who was suspected of killing a woman in the same manner in Mainland China. Ken continues to elude Tak and other members of the police force, yet still finds time to meet with his lady Cherrie (Cherrie Ying), who happens to be the assistant to the top model in the biz and a body-slimming consultant at Forever Beauty salon. Other models begin disappearing in the same manner as Ivy, and the models find themselves chained in a room of mannequins and mirrors. The killer (with help from a voice distorting device), informs them that they must reach 70 lbs before the end of one week of they'll be killed. It's literally a race against time for Tak, Bull and the others to find this crazed killer before more beautiful women turn up dead!

That last line may have sounded sarcastic, but that's basically what's going on in Slim Till Dead. Someone is going around and killing all of the beautiful, thin women in Hong Kong. The story isn't completely absurd, as psychopaths seems to abandon all rhyme or reason to why they're killing people in the first place. The problem is that the movie has so many different elements involved that it's hard to keep focus on which ones are important. Not to mention the fact that for a movie based around serial-killer, Slim Till Dead never manages to take itself as serious as the content might suggest. It has wacky dialogue at times, and even an even wackier score. Some shots in the film seem so completely unnecessary (various montages reminiscent of a music video) that they really distract from the overall visual tone of the movie. Acting-wise, I'm always excited to see Anthony Wong in action, but his role as Tak wasn't anything special. The scenes with him arguing with his wife are borderline annoying. Crystal Tin, playing a model by the name of Sisi, puts in the most interesting performance out of all the actors involved. Slim Till Dead really asks for it's viewers to keep on guessing who they think the killer is. This is always a fun thing when watching a murder-mystery...except when the guilty party is so completely obvious! I won't ruin the ending for you (lord knows the movie does that well enough on it's own), but let's just say that things aren't always what they appear to be.

It's predictable, unimpressive, possibly an example of Anthony Wong owing Wong Jing a favor, and completely forgettable. I've seen a lot worse than Slim Till Dead, but I've also seen much, much better. (Lee)

Grade: D


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