Get out your popcorn and settle in for another installment of the Gaping Head Wound Playhouse 10 O'Clock Tuesday Movie. And would you believe we finally have something with an actual gaping head wound in it? I never thought it would happen.
Sometimes, you just run across a movie and take a chance with it without knowing anything about its plot, history or stars. That's just what I did with Lady in Black (Duo ming jia ren 1987). I can't even recall what movie on YouTube to which this movie was cross-linked, but I do remember it being a horror movie. I don't have a lot of experience with Hong Kong movies in general but have seen a few, and I thought I was getting into a fun little 80s Hong Kong horror story. Lady in Black boasted the great Brigitte Lin, star of Bride with White Hair, so I was expecting a potential ghost revenge story. I was completely off the mark, and it took me about twenty minutes to figure out just what was happening. What I got instead was an engaging thriller with twists in all the right places.
The film opens with May (Lin) in a very tense Psycho-esque scene in which she forges a check, embezzling a large sum of money from her own company and cashing the check at the bank.
|I figure that's a lot of money no matter what the exchange rate is.|
She succeeds with the plot, handing off the money to her own husband Kin to cover a gambling debt.
|I hid all the money in my turtleneck. Plenty of room.|
|He just seems like a hard-luck guy going through a rough spot... at first.|
On the way back home on the boat, Kin disappears. May finds him on the stern of the ship, drunk and planning to commit suicide. May rushes to save him as he is about to jump, but she instead falls overboard, holding him by the hand. She pleads for him to pull her out, but this is his chance. May is the one that embezzled the money, and there is no way to connect it to him. He lets go, and May falls into the wake of the boat as a rope slashes her face and throat. Kin acts concerned, screaming for help after she disappears beneath the waves, and a search is made for May's body with no results. Her disappearance is written off as an accident, and her reputation is destroyed when the embezzlement evidence comes to light. Kin thinks he has a new life ahead of him, and he plans to lead it with a lot more ambition than he had in the past. He puts his father-in-law in a home, spends almost no time with his own son, and begins making moves on his boss' daughter, all the while pushing himself out there to get involved with two-faced land development deals that promise to advance his position and make him very wealthy. But this is the cinema world. Crime doesn't pay, and men like Kin can't get away with murder... or was it murder? While Kin puts the finishing touches on destroying his old life, he may soon come to find that he was just as irresponsible and inept at the perfect crime as he is with finances.
I enjoyed this movie a lot more than I expected, and it helped going in without knowing just what was in store for me. I didn't even like writing up the synopsis of the first twenty minutes of the movie, but I have to plug my events with something. Nevertheless, this is one of those movies that I think simply needs to be seen, so I'm adding it to my little movie live tweet show in hopes that it gets a little more exposure that it deserves. It's a nice little thriller with some good payoffs, some heart-wrenching cruelty, and a few well-played nods to Hitchcock style.
I've had this movie on my mind for a few months and felt like doing this write-up to give me a little extra incentive to get it on my schedule. I was afraid I might not be prepared so soon and planned to feature it in a couple of weeks after a few more Best of Spectreman rerun blocks, but as soon as I finished my synopsis, I looked over at Trash Tuesday's blog entry and saw their plans for a Hong Kong action double feature. It was a sign. Now, I feel like I have to do it right away, so tune in after #TrashTue to the #GHWP hashtag on Twitter this Tuesday night to find out just where Kin and May's difficult marriage is headed. The movie starts after a short break following #TrashTue's final film, so keep an eye out for a start time of about 10-10:15EST.