Diary is a skillful, beautiful and impressive little mindfuck thriller. With a very limited cast and one single location Oxide Pang still manages to go all-out and deliver his best film to date.
Bangkok Dangerous is a film that's surviving the test of time surprisingly well.
The good stuff
A pretty low profile film that is sure not to reach the West any time soon, but fans of the Pang brothers should do well to seek it out anyway.
The Storm Warriors is definitely not a masterpiece, but taking it at face value, it's an almost perfect piece of entertainment featuring some stunning art direction.
Re-cycle is a fine blend of fantasy and horror, coming from the Pang Brothers. The film starts like a typical horror film, but as the plot thickens fantasy and drama elements take the lead, while never truly overshadowing the film's horror roots. Inspired imagery, an original fantasy world and solid acting make this another stand-out Pang production.
One of the weirder Oxide Pang projects. It's almost like watching two separate films, bound together by the main character's love for morbid beauty. Sharply edited, full of neat little camera tricks, bold use of color and some intruiging, dark scenes. Not the easiest film to categorize, but definitely recommended if you're looking for something different.
In the end, Som and Bank is another very solid entry in the oeuvre of Oxide Pang and will have a hard time failing fans of the original Bangkok Dangerous.
The Detective 2 is a very solid sequel, somewhat different in tone and execution as the first film, but that's not really a bad thing.
Oxide Pang succeeds again in making a visual masterpiece, although less experimental and in your face as his other films.
Like I said before, Sleepwalker is a pretty simple film. Everything is neatly revealed and tied up at the end, the plot doesn't contain any real big twists and runs smoothly from start to finish.
Even though Oxide and Danny Pang still operate as a duo, they are spending more and more time on their own individual projects. The Conspirators is the latest entry in Oxide Pang's Detective series (C+ Jing Taam, B+ Jing Taam). While storywise a straight sequel to the previous two films, The Conspirators feels more like a quick spin-off than the final conclusion of Tam's detective adventures.
I never quite understood the decline in critical reception of Oxide Pang's work. I still see him as one of the more consistent directors working in Hong Kong today. While his films are plagued by some recurring problems (like slightly overdone scores and less than perfect use of CG), there is enough quality in each of his film to warrant a modest recommendation. Still a lot of people seem to detest his films for whatever reason.
The Conspirators sees Tam moving to Malaysia in a renewed attempt to solve the murder case of his parents 30 years earlier. He teams up with a local detective (played by Nick Cheung), but finds himself the target of a lethal attack soon after. He is clearly closing in on the ones who made him an orphan, but the closer he gets the more dangerous his work becomes.
Even though this film brings an end to the overarching story of the Jing Taam series, The Conspirators does lack a sense of real urgency. Somehow Tam's exploits fail to truly engage, lessening the impact of Tam's quest. Visually it's still miles ahead of most of his peers (the coloring in particular is amazing), though Oxide Pang should really look out for unnecessary use of CG, as it does hinder the overall effect of some scenes. Aaron Kwok returns as Tam and does a splendid job, Nick Cheung plays Tam's surprisingly amusing sidekick.
While still a very solid film, The Conspirators can't meet the quality level of the previous Jing Taam films. It's still worth your time though, especially when you've enjoyed the previous two films.
A solid start to Oxide Pang's career. The colorful cinematography and sharp editing are already present, but the level of execution isn't quite there yet. A decent but somewhat predictable and episodic plot keep the film advancing at a steady pace, making this an enjoyable, though slightly forgettable film.