The Eye Review
Some of the finest films in recent years have hailed from the East. Japan, Korea and Hong Kong have thriving film industries that are often either overlooked or misunderstood. When you say you're watching a film from Hong Kong, people quite often automatically assume it'll be some martial arts flick. If you mention Japan people think of anime and people just stare blankly if you say Korea.
The thing I love about DVD and the Internet is that it opens you up to films you'd never even considered before. Now, I spend almost as much on Asian and Oriental films as I do on western releases. Most of the time I'm buying blind, but I've yet to make a mistake and some of my favourite films from the last couple of years I didn't know a thing about until I placed the DVD into the tray.
The Eye (Jian gui) is one of those films (much like Il Mare) that I bought just to make an order worthwhile. I hadn't seen any reviews or even any posts in the forums on it before buying and I'm pleased to say that it's fantastic. Many have compared the film to The Ring - they're both slow boilers and offer plenty of spine tingling moments, but I actually think The Eye edges it with some truly scary moments. There were at least five or six moments in the film where I wanted to hide!
Mun (Angelica Lee) is 20 years old, and she's been blind for most of her life. When she has the chance to regain her sight by way of a cornea transplant, it seems that her life is about to take a turn for the better. However, once the operation has been performed things just don't seem quite right. She's plagued by various visions - some scary, some more mundane, and she sets out to discover who the cornea came from for the transplant to see if it explains the events she's experiencing.
The Eye works well as it slowly but surely piles on more and more intensity. Much like other similar films, it's a story of discovery - why is Mun afflicted and how can she free herself from the visions. As the story progresses she uncovers more and more about her donor - a woman called Ling from Northern Thailand.
Angelica Lee is excellent. The film is entirely carried on her shoulders and she brings a calmness to the part of Mun which is very much integral to the film and she reacts perfectly to events as they occur. The direction by the Pang Brothers (Oxide Pang Chun and Danny Pang) is assured and keeps the film moving at quite a pace without rushing things along.
As with many Region 3 discs, the picture quality leaves quite a lot to be desired. Anamorphic transfers for a lot of their homegrown releases are in the minority and The Eye is no different. We get a fairly average non-anamorphic transfer that suffers from some digital compression artefacts and an indistinct picture. The lower resolution means that the picture isn't as sharp as were used too and at times the colours can seem a little intense and overpowering.
That said the print is in fairly good condition with a few specs and spots preventing it from being perfect.
What the disc lacks in picture quality it more than makes up for in the audio department. The DTS soundtrack is outstanding with a huge amount of surround activity and plenty of meaty bass to shake the floorboards! The sound direction makes good use of the speakers with audio being firmly locked to the centre. A big thumbs up.
An unfortunate side effect of the non-anamorphic transfer is that the subtitles sometimes struggle to fit within the frame. Thankfully it's mostly OK although they are far from perfect. There are quite a few minor grammatical errors, although these are to be expected on a non-western release. All in all they're serviceable but not perfect.
Not really much to say - just the three trailers for other releases. Disappointing, but not really surprising!
The Eye is a fantastic film with plenty of atmosphere and jumps at just the right places. The Pang Brothers have done a wonderful job of mixing a slow-building plot with just enough suspense to keep you glued to the screen. The DVD is the usual story for a Hong Kong release - average picture, great sound, hardly any extras but one BIG advantage, a very low (sub £10) price tag! Go on - give it a go. What have you got to lose?