The Park

Reviewed by YTSL

That which had been hyped up by its publicists as Hong Kong’s first 3-D horror movie has attracted a whole bunch of negative criticism.  In Singapore, the potentially intriguing offering’s case was not helped by such as the “Straits Times”’ designated film reviewer not having been furnished with an advanced copy of it to view.  Over in its supposed home territory, this 2003 offering -- that came out in time for Halloween in a number of countries -- has been: savaged by the “South China Morning Post”’s Paul Fonoroff as being “[v]irtually devoid of chills and thrills”; and derided by a respected local film writer, Shek Kei, as being “very simple, coarse, rough and dumb” (See Jerry Chan’s English translation of what Shek Kei had to say.)

So much did the latter appear to revile THE PARK that he evidently felt obliged to make clear that this shot-in-Thailand work -- whose cast members include individuals with names like Cherman Boonyasak, Pubate Maganit and Chalerm Taweebot -- “is not a pure Hong Kong film”.  Probably more to the point is Shek Kei’s also having pointed out that “[t]he entire film only had several scenes that called for viewers to wear 3D glasses but had no 3D effect at all” (Again, cf.  Alternatively put: This movie is one that actually doesn’t need to be viewed through 3D lenses for the most part.
Perhaps because I had been warned in advance about this being so, I wasn’t terribly disappointed by THE PARK’s having as few 3D scenes as it did.  As it turned out, I also came away thinking that the eye-catching cinematography of Andrew Lau -- who also directed and co-produced (along with John Chong Ching and Lee Man Fai) this work -- and Ng Man Ching that was on display most definitely was one of the hardly high concept movie’s high points.  At the very least, it -- and probably also Danny “The Eye” Pang plus Pang Ching Hay’s assured editing -- was responsible for ensuring that this viewer’s eyes was provided with more interesting sights to feast on than her brain was given food for thought over the course of her taking in that which largely takes place in a derelict fairground.
In the opening scenes of THE PARK, however, the titular area is full of folks -- particularly, it seems, children -- out to enjoy themselves doing such as riding a colorfully painted carousel and going on a brightly lit ferris wheel.  As the film proceeds to show though, about all it takes to stop all the fun is for one fatal accident -- that’s made more dramatic because it involved a young girl -- to take place; and this especially if it’s followed shortly afterwards by the very public suicide of the amusement park’s anguished owner (bedecked in a clown suit, and whose choice of way to die involved hanging himself from one of the fairground’s chief attractions).

Fourteen years later, one more death looks to have taken place in the long abandoned space.  A young reporter named Alan (played by Edwin Siu) -- who had been but a boy, and also been there (with his younger sister), when the fatalities that led to THE PARK’s closure occurred -- went missing while out checking out the evidently haunted grounds.  Refusing to accept -- like her professional exorcist mother (The too frequently under-utilized Kara Hui Ying Hung easily out-acts every other member of this film’s sometimes dubbed to their detriment cast) appeared to have had -- that her brother was now permanently lost to her and others, Yen (Bobo Chan has the work’s primary part) organizes a search party to help her scour the area for him.

Perhaps the only way that THE PARK’s makers could come up with to prolong the search and the generally far too predictable movie -- whose last plot twist was the only one I hadn’t anticipated -- was to make the search party’s seven members as hapless or even downright asinine as their actions revealed pretty much all of them to be.  Still, in doing this, the vast majority of these characters -- who include a pair of truly annoying lovebirds who are far more interested in each other than the task of looking for a friend, the kind of nice, sensitive guy who can be too caring for his own good, an overly high-strung female known as YY (who gets played by Tiffany Lee), a digital camera-toting colleague of Alan’s, and a young film maker who came equipped with a skateboard and flask filled with alcohol -- were made to be horribly close to being some of the last people you would want to spend time with or watch doing just about anything.

My rating for the film: 5.5

Andrew Lau and Tiffany Lee