Director: Clarence Fok Yiu-Leung
Presenter: Wong Jing
Cast: Alex Fong Chung-Sun, Yuen Wah, Sammy, Jo Koo, Pinky Cheung Man-Chi, Winnie Leung Man-Yi, Law Lan, Roderick Lam, Timmy Hung Tin-Ming, Samuel Pang King-Chi, Lo Yin-Ying, Wong Tin-Lam, Liu Fan
Cheap horror-comedy from the film industry that does it best. Don't Open Your Eyes is rarely scary or chilling, though it does possess its funny bits. In many ways, that would qualify this movie as success.
Alex Fong sees ghosts in Don't Open Your Eyes, yet another cheapo horror-comedy from the Wong Jing fun factory. The combination of Wong Jing, cheap, and horror-comedy is probably enough to impel any fan of quality filmmaking to jump off the 41st floor of their Hong Kong highrise, but there are positives here. For one thing, this movie has Yuen Wah, the guy from Kung Fu Hustle! Sadly, Yuen Wah has been in a trillion films since Kung Fu Hustle, thereby ruining any chances of his casting actually being novel. But this movie was directed by Clarence Fok, who directed Naked Killer! Sadly, Clarence Fok has been mired for years in crappy New Option sequels. But this movie actually amuses part of the time; isn't that worth something? Maybe, but finding quality in this film is a glass half-full or half-empty sort of thing. Expect a lot and you'll get nothing. Expect only a little, and you may actually be amused. Basically, you get what you put in - in a strange, inverted kind of way.
Fong is Seven, a cop who gains spectre-seeing ability when his aunt (HK horror legend Law Lan) passes away. She tells Seven that he is now cursed with ghost-seeing eyes, and cannot tell anyone lest bad things happen to him. No matter, people figure out sooner or later that Seven can see ghosts. This is especially true for Uncle Bing (Yuen Wah), a veteran cop with keen supernatural intuition. Not only does he know some cool pseudo-Taoist tricks, but he also worships a statue of General Kwan and respects the spirtual world. The police don't however, as embodied by Seven and Bing's female boss (Winnie Leung), who orders that Kwan be put away. Unfortunately for her, the police station is about to be put under seige by the ghost of evil bastard Killer (Roderick Lam). Seven was responsible for Killer's death, and now he's back with a huge vengeance. With the aid of his still-living cohorts (played by Pinky Cheung, Samuel Pang, and Liu Fan), Killer wants revenge on Seven and just human beings in general.
Enter shtick, and plenty of it. Seven sees ghosts, but that power doesn't seem to have much use, at least initially. All it does is leave Seven open to plenty of freak out moments, a factoid magnified by his easily-frightened personality. In contrast to his cool demeanor and manly job, Seven is a wuss who seems as scared of ghosts as he is of criminals - a pretty bad set of traits for a law enforcement individual. Not that the film spends time on that point, because it doesn't. Seven romances his new assistant in the police records room, who's played by the perpetually misused Jo Koo. A vastly underrated actress, Koo looked to be heading places after her debut in Fruit Chan's The Longest Summer. Unfortunately for Koo, her role in this film is 'the girlfriend.' DJ Sammy plays 'the sidekick', a daffy cop named Keung who acts braver than he really is and generally exists only to react completely counter to anything happening onscreen. Somewhere in here there's something resembling actual tension, or perhaps some sort of Sixth Sense-type mystery. It's all very common for this sort of horror-comedy exercise, which begs the immediate classification: bad movie. To expect anything more would be too much.
And yes, Don't Open Your Eyes is a bad movie - though that may be by design rather than execution. The film never flirts with anything other than mediocrity, and seems to wear its cheap exploitation roots on its chest like some sort of badge of honor. In addition to silly freak-outs by Seven, we're treated to a sequence where Winnie Leung gets stripped down to semi-nudity by a randy ghost, some hints of ghost-human intercourse, and flashes of energetic staging that recalls Hong Kong's early nineties heyday. We also get surprisingly funny sequences, including some minor bits involving the gang attempting to depower a ghost by pretending they're not scared. Clarence Fok gives the film enough minor flair to make for a sometimes diverting B-grade film, and some of the jokes do work. Alex Fong is oddly miscast, but DJ Sammy and Wong Tin-Lam (in a minor part that lampoons Election) are funny, and Yuen Wah is still pretty cool even if he is incredibly overexposed. That may not sound like much, but hey, we're looking for the good points here.
Watching this film is like turning on your water faucet and expecting it to dispense H20. Basically, if it manages to fulfill its most rudimentary functions then maybe you should be satisfied. Don't Open Your Eyes fulfills its minor functions, and while it may be a total waste for those expecting The Eye, it's not one for those who wasted time on Horoscope 1 - The Voice from Hell or Step Into The Dark. If you saw those movies, then this one is right up your alley - and it may actually be much better than either. What does that mean for most of us? Probably nothing, as years of reverent Asian horror have made these minor horror-comedies into unwelcome cinema pariahs. But someone out there has to be at least partially amused with this thing. I know I was, because I went in and got exactly what I expected. What I didn't expect was the headache induced by too many flashes of cinema lightning. Basically, the screen goes white way too often in this film, which causes momentary visual discomfort, and even possible permanent damage. But once upon a time, I saw a movie called Hong Kong X File; reminded of that experience, I would term the headache caused by Don't Open Your Eyes to be much less harmful, and perhaps even fun. Perspective is everything.